Author’s note: The “I” in my writing is kind of a royal “I”. My wife Praxy is always with me; the “I” is mostly a “we”.
Who can sleep well the night before a big “day”? Not me. I went to sleep OK, but woke up a 4:45am of the morning of our flight to Tampa, Florida. Grrr! Made coffee, then went over to fire up the computer. Walking back, I saw to my amazement and disgust that the clock now read 4:00am. GRRRRRR! I guess I was soooo excited that I couldn’t tell time for a while. A few minutes later and Praxy was up as well. Nothing to do but final packing and house cleaning. I decided to fix a big breakfast as the connection in Minneapolis was pretty short. Turned out that it was a good idea.
The weather was almost perfect. Easy drive to Spokane, flight on time. Up into the air and off to Minneapolis. An unremarkable flight except for some pretty fair turbulence over Montana. There was a good snow storm way down below, the pilots found the smoothest air at 39,000 feet. Still too bumpy for me to read or do crossword puzzles and I got a little nauseous. Boring.
Into Minneapolis and, sigh, a long “airport split”(bowling). Maybe a 5-10. We had about an hour on the ground, but a 25 minute walk took care of a lot of that time. (My first trip to Asia got me a 7-10 airport split in Hong Kong on the return to the US. One hour of fast walking and two security checks. 5 minutes in a store for souvenirs. I was carefully watching clocks all the way, getting ready to run. We were the second to the last people to board, but only because the last people had misplaced their boarding passes and we snuck by them. We were there on time, but barely. Hong Kong International is HUGE). The only short line for food was a pizza place. After we got our pizza, I realized why the line was short. The pizza sucked. Totally. But I was hungry and gobbled it down. I would have stopped at Subway, but the line there was long and we were only shortly into our walk.
Into the air and off to Tampa. Foggy around Minneapolis, but it soon cleared off of the farm lands far below. This was a beautiful flight, with a full moon in the sky and lights from hundreds of towns and cities. Many small towns had these odd rectangles of light with haze in the center, and I sat there bemused trying to figure out what it was. Friday night. Hmmm. Ah HA! High school football games! Crossed the Mississippi and other rivers I couldn’t recognize. It seemed to take 20 minutes to fly by Atlanta. Then, over the Gulf of Mexico. Dark, but I noted to myself that this was the first time I’d seen the Gulf. Nice smooth and easy flight and landing.
Luggage on the carousel just fine. Yay! Called the motel and the courtesy car picked us up in a few minutes. Yay again! The driver was a naturalized US citizen from Cuban that had been in the US for 25 years. Very nice man, we decided to book with his van company for transfer to the cruise ship terminal and back to the airport on Dec 23. I tipped him well. Yay the third time! We got to the motel, checked in, everything running smoothly. Total Yay again! I commented to Praxy about how well things were going. It is rare when everything goes to plan. Oops.
Got to our room and slid the key card into the lock. The little door lights flickered red and yellow but otherwise…Nothing. Tried every possible rotation and angle. Still nothing. Glared at it and mumbled curses with the next try. Nothing yet again. Back to the office to get new keys and they sent security up to help. The guard showed up and I tried the new keys. Nothing for me and nothing for him either. So the guard used his master key to let us in and he took our keys down to get them recoded. We were exhausted and I didn’t want to run downstairs again. About 10 minutes later he shows up with the third set of keys. Nothing once more, but I had low expectations by this point. (LOL!) Clearly this wasn’t going to work, so I requested another room. We repacked our stuff and moved and the guard let us into THAT room with his master key. After about another 10 minutes, the guard shows up again. This time, to our relief, the keys worked. Finally, shower and bedtime. Later we found that another couple had the same problem, there was a glitch in the motel’s computer system.
Considering the amount of time, distance, and coordination, everything went great. The pizza and key things were both minor annoyances and I’m not the least bit upset with the motel about the keys. Poo happens.
Next morning, we were up at 9 for breakfast. Then we walked to a rather ritzy and expensive mall about 1/2 mile away for lunch. Lunch was the only thing we bought.
Today is now a rest day. I planned this day as an emergency backup day in case of bad weather, aircraft mechanical problems, or bad luck. Since we are ahead of schedule, we’re going to eat a nice dinner and I’m going to try to watch a basketball game in the local sports bar (Gonzaga). I doubt if they will get the feed from the Pacific Northwest, so the backup to the backup is to stream the game in our room on my computer.
I didn’t bother with pictures today. Most everyone has seen a jet, airport, motel, and mall. We will leave the motel at 11:00am tomorrow for the cruise port. That should be much more interesting to photograph and document.
I don’t know when I will be able to post again. Internet time onboard cruise ships is very very expensive. I’ve also heard it is slow, so uploading pictures could get costly. The cheapest plan I figured I could use started at $75. Seems a bit steep. I’ll check into it, though.
But…I’ll be back. If I can get interested in writing about a rather mundane flight across the US, I’m sure I’ll continue when things DO get interesting.
Ken 12/1/12 3:00pm EST