I woke up after much too little sleep, crawling into the lobby for breakfast, then getting my stuff together for the flight out. I was sure that I was carrying more stuff than on the way in, including some books. I put a few of the books in with my CPAP, hoping that my bags were under the fifty-pound limit. I had heard some horror stories on the way out about people having to pay over a hundred dollars more for an overweight bag. Then I hauled my stuff up to the lobby and asked them to call a cab. After a few minutes of sitting I decided to wait outside.
The sound of jets was very noticeable outside. I was about a mile from Nellis AFB, and there had been a lot of jets in the air the night before. I looked up and over at the sound and saw four jets cruising through the air in a diamond formation. A little later a couple of them were flying at each other. I was wondering if these were the Thunderbirds, the US Air Force precision flying team. I found out later that they were. And also, much later, that one of the pilots had died in a crash. They put on a good show, but precision flying is a dangerous business, they and the Blue Angels are always losing pilots. The taxi finally pulled up, and I rode in the front with the driver and talked on the way.
The driver told me his daughter was interested in becoming a writer, and I gave him a card so she could follow my blog. We had an interesting conversation about a number of subjects. We got to the terminal and he was very helpful in getting my bags out, and soon I was checked in at the American Airlines outside check in, my large bag weighed (I came in five pounds under the limit!) and I was heading into the terminal and the dreaded TSA checkpoint.
What I don’t like about TSA, even when they are nice, which isn’t often, is the lines you have to get into and the hurry up attitude of everyone. I don’t hurry well. I have learned to have my computer bag already out of my carryon so I can save time. I got everything into their containers and through the scanners, and went through the person scanner without a hitch. Then it was to the trams to the actual gates. They actually didn’t try to rush me this time. That’s good, because I never hurry up when rush, and in fact slow down.
What always cracked me up about McCarran International were the slot machines and other gambling games all over the place. There was a whole bank of them by the gates, with an attendant to make change for people wanting to play the slots. Las Vegas doesn’t want you escaping with any money they might be able to get. In three trips I have spent a total of seventy cents on the slots, and that was at the Piute Indian Truck Stop outside of Valley of Fire State Park. I know the house has it rigged to win enough to make a living, and I’m not really interested in helping them.
I tried several times to get in touch with Budget and tell them that they car was not coming back. At least not today. All I could get were messages, and I left a couple of my own letting them know what was going on. I finally gave up. I had a flight to catch, and my message let them know what happened. I would deal with the mess when I got home.
I had bought seat upgrades to get more leg room, and that actually made the flight more comfortable. The seats still were butt numbing, but you could actually get up without making your fellow passengers move for you. A really nice young man helped me to stow my bags overhead, I strapped in, and started a conversation with the guy in the Virginia Tech shirt. He was a true fan, and knew a lot about my school as well, so we had a good conversation about sports and what had happened in the day. I made a comment about how I really hated the Uconn Women’s Basketball Team, and the nice young man beside me said, “and we were getting along so well.” That was when I noticed the Husky on his sweatshirt. Oops. We still got along for the rest of the trip.
We landed at Charlotte International on time, and then it was another long walk to another gate. First, I checked to make sure they hadn’t changed the gate. That had happened in the past, and I had made the long trudge to a gate only to find that the flight had been changed to another terminal. Somehow one of the food courts was on the way, and I stopped at a BBQ place to get a full meal. Not too bad for airport food, and I wish I could remember the name so I could shout them out.
The flight to Tally boarded on time, then sat out away from the gate for about fifteen minutes before moving. I never did find out what was going on, but since I was a prisoner on the plane it really didn’t matter. Again I got the extra leg room, which meant I didn’t have a seat in front of me since that was the arrangement of the first class section. The young lady next to me was an FSU student and I talked with her a bit, then went to reading. We landed close to on time in Tally, then had an inordinately long wait for baggage. I had to crack up when they announced arrival at Tallahassee International, and advised that we check the gate of our connecting flight if this wasn’t our final stop. Yeah, check the gate at Tallahassee, the International Airport with four gates.
Last time through I had to wait for the second shift of taxis. With the baggage delay, and another bunch of passengers from another flight getting theirs, I was afraid it was going to happen again. And it was getting on to midnight. Fortunately, almost everyone else here had someone waiting for them, and there was a cab right outside the exit. Another cab ride, another conversation, and then I was home. The cats were all waiting for me (except the black cat, who as usual was hiding when I’ve been away for more than a day). All healthy and asking for petting. Even Bobbie, my eighteen year old bobtail who has been diagnosed with kidney failure for the last year and a half. He’s thin as a rail and is always drinking water, but as soon as I sat down in my office he was in my lap, purring away. Tough kitty, and I was glad to see him.
I slept the sleep of the dead that night. I had held up for two weeks of constant travel, a couple of sleepless nights, and the wonder of seeing some of the most beautiful places on Earth. It took a week to get back to normal, whatever the hell that is.
It had been a good trip. I had seen a lot, learned a lot, experienced a lot. Not everything had been good, but that was life. Fortunately the hit and run had not injured me, the snow had not forced me to stay up in Canyonlands, I hadn’t been mugged walking to the strip. I saw a lot of beautiful country, met some interesting people, learned some valuable lessons. I can’t wait to do it again. Later I would go through the hassle of dealing with Budget and the Insurance companies. The adjuster for Geico, my company, out of Arizona, was great, and smoothed everything over, so there was that. My premiums went up, but not by a huge amount, so I’m sticking with them.
I had nailed down all the locations for my post apocalyptic novel, had my spirits lifted, and made it back in one piece. What could be better. Next time I will avoid going into crowded areas like Las Vegas on a holiday weekend, and driving strange interstates under construction at night. I also learned that unless I get in much better shape, a problem at my age, not to sign up for adventures like four wheeling through the desert. I spent way more money than I should have, but met and talked with some interesting people. Starting off with Wonderhussy, the woman who does travel vids of the Great American Southwest and was my guide on my first full day out there, to the Lion Keeper at Lion Habitat Ranch, to all the Park Rangers, and finally to the people on the plane. I have learned through the years that the best thing you can accumulate are memories, and this trip crammed a lot of them into my brain.