So my trip. The backstory is that my brother and his wife booked a little trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and since they rented a two bedroom condo, they invited my mom and me to come along (my dad doesn't like to travel much so he happily stayed home). I was scheduled to fly out last Thursday, but my flight was booked through Houston; when hurricane Harvey hit and flooded the area, both airports in Houston were closed indefinitely. I wasn't sure I'd be able to go on my trip because my airline (United) was not allowing rebooking until just a few days beforehand; honestly, I had resigned myself that I was going to miss the trip but in the grand scheme of things, I really couldn't complain - after all, this wasn't anything compared to the loss of life and property in Houston.
I finally managed to get my flights changed a couple of days before I was supposed to travel, and all I had to do was get myself to Dallas - a mere 200 miles north. While Jeff was willing to drive me there, as luck would have it, a baby was born and I ended up hitching a ride with the new grandma and uncle, who'd been in town for the birth but were flying home on Wednesday. My flight was at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning, but hey - I could spend the night in the airport. And so my adventure began...
There are two airports in Dallas, and my free ride wasn't to the one I was flying out of. No worries, I just channeled my inner Mary Richards - yes, when I think of an independent woman role model, I go waaaay back to the Mary Tyler Moore show - and ordered an Uber to go from one airport to the other. Some of you might be thinking that this is not a big deal, but I've lived in suburbia my entire life and using a taxi or other public transportation is something that I've never had to deal with. My ride was perfect and my driver got me exactly where I needed to be. I felt like a city girl when I left the Uber.
Because you can only check a bag up to four hours before a flight, I knew that I would have to drag around my carry on suitcase with me; that really was the only true pain about this entire adventure. But again, small potatoes compared with what was happening in Houston. On the bright side, since I wasn't spending $25 to check my luggage, I decided to buy a day pass to the Admiral's Club - I figured that getting out of the hubbub of the main terminals in the airport for as long as I could (none of the clubs are open 24 hours, unfortunately) would be worth it, plus I ended up getting there just as they set up for their made-to-order guacamole bar:
I took full advantage of the Admiral's Club, having my dinner there (Italian wedding soup, hummus with fresh veggies and pita chips, and plenty of free drinks - alcohol was included in the pass but I just had iced tea), and I eventually settled down onto a really comfy chair in the corner for an evening nap:
My bags, plus cookies for dessert. They also offered fresh fruit, but who wants that when you can have cookies? LOL
Eventually I had to leave - I think I was the last person to go, but hey, if I can stay until 10:15 pm, then you better believe I was going to stay until the very last minute! I got on the skylink to go to the United terminal and wandered around a bit. I figured I'd end up in a chair for the night, but couldn't believe my luck when I happened upon a row of narrow couches tucked just off the main corridor. People were already camping out/sleeping on them, but as I walked, I found an empty couch and set up my bed:
Why yes, I brought an old pillow to the airport! I'm a planner, what can I say?
It really was this bright, plus there were random TSA announcements all night long - I defied them and did leave my bag unattended to run to the restroom in the middle of the night, hah!
I was surprised to sleep a little bit, despite the lights and noise and random people walking around. I finally got up for good shortly after 4:00 am, changed clothes, cleaned up, and even curled my hair (perks of having my suitcase); I got a cup of Peet's coffee because Starbucks wasn't open that early, and boarded my flight to Denver, where I slept the entire way - thanks to having my pillow, I was more comfortable than usual for sleeping on an airplane.
A beautiful pink sunrise in Denver, just as we were landing!
I had several hours layover in Denver before my flight to Albuquerque; first thing I did was remove the pillowcase and ditch the pillow, because I was OVER carrying that around on top of my suitcase and tote bag. I got some breakfast:
The blueberry scone literally tasted like nothing - a couple of bites into it, I decided it wasn't worth the calories. But yogurt and granola will always work for a nice little breakfast for me.
And I wandered around the airport shops - there's a full-on MAC cosmetics store that was fun to browse through, and I also stopped in at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a couple of treats...when in Colorado, right? But my biggest treat was still to come - just before our plane was going to board, I made a quick trip to the restroom one last time, and as I was coming out of the facility, a woman passed me on the way in and there was no mistaking who she was - Temple Grandin! You may know her from the movie about her life, or be familiar with her work in both autism and in animal behavior. I was so excited - I did a quick Google search on my phone and discovered that she was scheduled to speak at an autism conference in - wait for it - Albuquerque, where our plane was headed! She came to the gate and stood next to me, so I said hello and asked her if she was Temple Grandin (I mean, I knew, but I was being polite). Y'all, she was so nice! She said yes and immediately asked me if I'd like to take a picture...it's like she knew me, LOL. We took this picture:
I counted "1, 2, 3" so she knew I was going to take it - this seems to be her standard expression based on the conversation I had with her.
We talked about airports and traveling and comfort levels of how long a layover should be at the minimum and it was just a very neat experience to chat with such a lovely, intelligent person. I wished her a good flight as she boarded with the first class group, and then I boarded and we all flew to New Mexico. It was quite the adventure just getting there, and meeting Temple Grandin was the topper to my travels - by the time I landed in Albuquerque, I'd been in four airports in the last 24 hours!
Next post - the actual vacation recap!