11 February 2013

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

A world I know all too well
What follows is a tale of woe
Because of my waning travel mojo
Thanks to an angry winter storm named Nemo

Da Plane!  Da Plane!
This past Wednesday I flew to Orange County, CA, for some meetings in Huntington Beach. I did not realize until the morning of my departure that a nasty winter storm was headed for our little corner of New England.  It was due to hit with its full force at the time I was scheduled to land back home at Friday night. Throwing caution to the wind, I figured I'd find my way around and given the hyperbole with which TV weatherpeople pontificate, I proceeded with my trip.

On Thursday morning, this storm now had a name, the aforementioned Nemo (who, by the way, had a gender transition and somehow morphed into Charlotte), and it looked B-A-D. A couple of the people in my meeting who were also headed back to the East Coast decided to bail early and found seats on east-bound redeyes.  I was presenting at the meeting on Friday morning and felt obligated to stay. That said, I did call my airline o'choice to see if there were any seats left heading east on the redeye, and I was told no (first sign my travel mojo was in trouble). Friday morning dawned and the weather hysterics were in full seizure mode as they breathed out their warnings about the storm. I talked to the lone voice of reason, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, who confirmed, that indeed things were already looking bleak. By 10AM Pacific time, my connecting flight from ATL to home had been cancelled. Clearly, I was going to be overnighting somewhere. I opted to go to ATL because I figured I'd have better options from there. So I raced to the airport to find that I was yet again about #23 on the waitlist for First (so much for Platinum status) and I headed east. In the meantime, I was rebooked on the first flight home on Saturday (assuming said airport would be open). So I got to ATL and booked a hotel next to an entirely too creepy Waffle House. After a restless night, I was up early, surprised to find that my flight was still operating and on time. This would prove to be a filthy lie. No sooner did I get through Security than my phone lit up with a text from the airline advising my flight was cancelled.  I'll spare you the details but I spent the rest of the day at ATL, working my options, all of which were greeted with a 'no.' I was not going anywhere. My travel mojo had fled the building. None of the old tricks, valuable knowledge gained on the battle field of frequent business travel, worked. By the end of the day, stinking of airport hopelessness, I threw in the towel, and went back to another airport hotel by the creepy Waffle House, knowing that I was rebooked on another flight tomorrow. This one through Minneapolis. Because it made complete and utter sense at this point to fly north and west into another weather train wreck to get home to my blizzard-stricken family (by blizzard-stricken, I mean totally safe, with power, watching movies). So Sunday, it was my turn to get on the first flight to Minneapolis. It was a mess. Icy rain and show. Great. I was able to get on an earlier flight than I'd been booked on and I thought my mojo may be coming back. It wasn't. We sat at the gate for an hour. Then we backed out and sat on the deicing pad for, wait for it, another hour. But finally, we were out of there, and about 40 hours after I was originally scheduled to land, I was home.

Well, the only trains I rode were at the ATL and MSP airports as I played gambling for terminals. I'd thought about flying to Baltimore or New York to get on a train to get home, but Amtrak cancelled all service to the Northeast. Once again, thank you failing travel mojo.

So my rental car in Orange County was fine. My car, parked at the valet lot, suffered some pretty serious indignity as it was dug out by the parking staff. But the OMC did not fail me. It got me home!

It wasn't all bad. Many thanks to my sweet cousins and friends in ATL who offered a refuge from the proverbial storm. And a big thanks to the fellow road warrior who told the lounge dragon at the Sky Club that I was his guest on Saturday morning. Saved me from having to shell out $50 for a day pass. Have to pay it forward on that one.

Alas, it's good to be home. Now to just find a way to get my travel mojo back...

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