Monday, 23 June 2008

Back in Florida -- the Saga Part 3

Q., my new partner in airline adventures, asked if we could use it at the hotel. "Maybe" was the answer. We were tired and wanted to put down the carry on bags we'd been clasping for the past two hours (it's a little known fact that the longer luggage is carried, the heavier it actually becomes. Really. My once quite light bags were now about the weight of two loads of soggy laundry. Wet towels, maybe blankets. With an overweight cocker spaniel hidden inside. I swear!)

We decided to take our chances at the Sheraton.

We were told to go downstairs and look for the call area and call the Sheraton shuttle. Another trek across the airport, and no call area. But we did find a hotel reservation desk.

"We don't handle that." So the desk marked "Hotel reservation Desk" does NOT handle hotel reservations. I began looking around for John Clease or someone else from the Monty Python troupe. This was approaching the Ministry of Silly Walks in strangeness , for sure.

A man at another desk (one with no sign, so I guess he could handle a hotel reservation question) offered to call for us. "Which Sheraton? We had no idea...our pink papers said simply "Sheraton." He told us where to wait outside for the van. 10 minutes passed. 20 minutes. Finally a van marked Sheraton. We got on and rode over to the hotel. Went into the lobby, and up to the desk. The bags had at least doubled in weight since we boarded the shuttle.

"Wrong Sheraton", the woman told us.

Did you ever see the movie "The Out of Towners"? I was starting to feel very much like I was in an unintentional remake. My carry on was getting heavier by the second. By now it felt like bowling balls packed in bricks.

She called the van to wait and we re-boarded. The driver was very nice as he drove us to the other Sheraton. We checked in no problem. The vouchers would be honored, although nothing on their menu was under $10.00. We each left credit cards on file to cover the balances, and went up to our respective rooms, lugging bags that now clearly exceeded the weight limit for the elevator. Each.

30 minutes later we headed for the dining room. You have to love hotel dining room prices. A veggie burger was $15.00. A Cobb salad was $17.00. Poor captive travelers! But the food was very good...thank you Sheraton! We talked and ate, and made plans to meet at 5 a.m. to return to the airport for our 7 am flight.

The morning went smoothly. Van ride, airport security, a nice flight. The carry on bags had returned to their starting weight. I was feeling really good. We went to brunch in Miami Beach, near Q's home. A perfect return home. All is well, I thought.

Then I went back to my car. My cute Suzuki...or rather my ONCE cute Suzuki, because now the drivers side door and back door were smashed in! A kind passer by told me a recycling truck had hit my car...twice! Then left!

The next hour was spent completing a police report, gathering info from the witness and looking at my mushed car doors. And wondering if the universe was telling me to go back to PA.

Back in Florida --- the Saga, Part 2

The other person bumped from the flight was an acupuncturist, herbalist and painter. Not a bad match for a writer/vegetarian! She and I were sent in search of Bradley, an otherwise unidentified 6'6" man who "should be at the ticket desk" for our reservations and transportation arrangements.

At the ticket desk, there were no 6'6" men in sight. We asked another counter clerk, and were told he would see if he could find him, but he "would not search the whole airport." Hmmmm. A man clearly not in full grasp of the concept of customer service! About 10 minutes later, he returned. "He'll be out in about 20 minutes."

We waited. Other people waited from other presumably overbooked flights. Finally Bradley appeared. He took our paperwork and vanished. Another 20 minutes passed. He returned with several sheets. "Here are your reservations for the Sheraton. Here is your dinner voucher. $10.00. Good IN the airport."

Now, my dear readers, have you ever eaten dinner IN an airport? Has it ever in the past several years cost you $10 or less? Not to mention that we were to go to a It was already almost 6 pm. And we were OUTSIDE of the security gates, while most of the restaurants were INSIDE of the security gate! The prospects for dinner on the airline's dime were looking dim.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Back in Florida....The Saga, Part 1

Thursday afternoon, I left Central PA to return to BWI and Florida. It was an emotional departure, so I allowed myself plenty of time to make the drive. Stopped in Timonium, MD to fill up the SUV with gas (this HUGE silver Chevy Trail Blazer (pictured here with my sweet daughter) got an unbelievable 21+ MPG...way to go Chevy! I was serious impressed!), Had a cup of tea at Starbucks. Wandered around Borders a bit. Bought a book and some postcards, then headed for BWI.

All went drop off, security (what a waste of time and money that is!), and then to my gate.

Suddenly, the announcement. "We are overbooked." 30 minutes later, two free round trip tickets and a voucher for hotel and dinner in my hand, I was walking back down the concourse. I would not be leaving Baltimore today.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Blogging from BlogPotomac

As I write this, I am sitting in the first session of BlogPotomac in Falls Church, VA, just outside of D.C., one of my favourite areas of the country.

A room full of people like me who live online much of their day (and night.) A dim room, with the glow of a laptop in front of every person. A WiFi connection just for this event. Everyone connected. Great information, amazing energy, and a wonderful chance to learn from other corporate and personal bloggers.

My happy place.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Going back to the Susquhanna

Tomorrow night, I leave for a trip to Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, with a stop in Baltimore for book shopping somewhere along the way.

It's my first visit back to PA. in almost a year. I'll be playing with my kids (we've planned hiking, a picnic, and a trip to the Boyd's Bears teddy bear factory, scrapbooking with my friend Susan, and eating breakfast at another friend's restaurant.

There's even a morning at Roots, the huge farmer's market where I used to go every Tuesday to buy way too many fresh veggies and fruits (ask my kids about apple butter season! But oh, the house smelled soooooo good!) Lunch with Chastity. A visit with some old neighbors whose son will be coming down here to college in the fall. And LOTS of photos. LOTS.

But there is also one pilgrimage to the Susquehanna River. To stand by that water on a sunny day, remembering all the stormy, cold winter days when its icy beauty was a much needed source of strength as I struggled to leave a bad situation.

I wrote about my Susquehanna memories a few months ago. Now the day to make that return visit is almost upon me.

There is so much new in my life. And, G-d willing, even more new-and-wonderful just over the horizon. But a few minutes spent looking backwards, in gratitude, seems like the right thing to do.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Sometimes the thing you think you're going to hate....

My very favourite instrument is the is haunting, sad, soulful.

So when I was invited to a cello concert in Ft Lauderdale, I was thrilled. When I found out it was cello and sitar, I was confused. How could those two sound good different in tone and pitch. I wondered how they could possibly tune a sitar to compliment a cello.

When I found out that the cello was the one that had been altered, I almost didn't go. That sound that is perfect -- ALTERED??? How could they????????

But I went. And for three hours, I was entranced, Completely taken away. The haunting beauty of the cello remained, with the addition of an exotic overtone from the sympathetic 12 strings added to it. The sitar's sound wrapped around and under and through the cello's notes. I visualized color and design as I listened...great swirls and poignant dots of color.

And yet I almost did not go. I almost missed that magic because of the difference between the two instruments.

How many times in life do we say no to something because it's different...because it seems that it will alter that which we know and love? Or perhaps even alter us? I know I have been guilty of that. I almost was last night. And look what i would have missed.