Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Travel and Other Thoughts

The days are moving at a fast clip lately and I feel like I'm just trying to hang on. There is so much to keep tabs on, so many things scheduled, so much to do. I have to keep remembering to breathe and focus on the quiet holiness of the season.


Over then weekend (Dec 6th-7th), Jon and I drove to NYC with our good friends Dani and Clayton. It was Dani's 3rd trip into NYC and Clayton's first. On the schedule was a viewing of Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular, dinner at Paesano's in Little Italy, enjoying NYC from atop the Empire State building, taking in the sights at Rockerfeller Plaza and lunch at Stamatis in Astoria. We stayed at a cheap but decent hotel in Queens, right in Chinatown a few blow from the last stop on the 7 subway. Dani seemed to have a good time as usual, despite having to hobble around on a broken ankle with a boot and crutch, but Clayton seemed less than impressed (although he said he had a good time). I don't think he's the city type. Or maybe he's just not the WOW over the top enthusiastic type. Hard to tell. Dani's handicapped status proved to be useful- it pushed us to the front of the line at the Empire State building, saving us loads of time which otherwise would have been spent waiting in lines. The Rockettes were as amazing as always, as was the food at Paesano's. The owner/manager treats me so well these days as I've been bringing small tour groups to him for business repeatedly now.


On Sunday afternoon, Jon+Dani+Clayton drove back to VA and I hopped a plane from JFK to San Francisco. Why? It was my first mileage run (see flyertalk.com for details on mileage running) as I realized last month I'm only about 4k miles short to reach elite status with Delta. Elite status = upgrades to first class, preferred boarding, extra miles earned on trips, and other fun perks.


The flight out to San Francisco was a nightmare. We sat on the runway for an hour waiting for clearance to take off due to the high winds. That set us back an hour on our scheduled arrival into California of course (Originally 11pm, now midnight). Then the non-stop flight had to make an unscheduled landing in Kansas City to refuel because the headwinds were so bad it was draining more fuel than expected. That set us back another hour (now 1am expected arrival into SFO = 4am eastern/jenni time). Between Kansas City and SFO, 2 separate passengers had medical emergencies (passed out, stopped breathing, major problems kind of emergencies) and there was talk of detouring the plane for an emergency stop. Luckily there were 3 doctors traveling that night and they managed to get both patients stable whereas the plane could finish the flight to SFO, where the paramedics promptly came onboard while everyone had to stay seated. That set us back another half hour, but we were all happy to see the sick people were ok.


So by the time I get off the plane and out to the hotel shuttle area its 1:45am Pacific Time. (445am Jenni time!!!). I call the hotel for the shuttle and they advise me it is not a 24 hour shuttle; it stops at 1am. I cry and start yelling at the guy because I deliberately and specifically asked the hotel clerk when making the reservation earlier that day if they had a 24 hour shuttle to/from the airport as listed on their website and he confirmed they did. A very nice man in uniform (Air Force) took pity on me and paid the exorbitant cab fare for me to go the 1.5 miles to my hotel ($20). He said he'd want someone to help his wife if she were in my situation. Yay for unexpected angels.


I got to the hotel, checked in, complained to the manager about the shuttle problem, and went to sleep. Got up at 6am Pacific to work from the hotel (because it's expected that I be available for my team by 9am Eastern and I was officially working on Monday). Spent the morning working and at check-out time [11am Pacific] took the shuttle back to the airport. My plan was to head to the gate and continue work from there until my plane left at 11pm, taking lunch and dinner breaks. Only the printer at the hotel was broken so although I checked in I couldn't print my boarding pass and the airport kiosks don't let you print your pass until 6 hours before your flight. Gah! I trekked up to the Delta Crown room and pleaded my case- I only wanted to use their printer and promised to take no snacks, liquor, or other snazzy treats. The agent handling the desk was so kind and gave me a guest pass. I printed out my boarding pass and went to leave and he told me to relax, enjoy my stay and eat and drink whatever I wanted. I had 2 pretzels and then felt bad that I was using the service without being a paid member, and besides I was getting hungry for real food, so I headed to my gate, thanking the agent profusely on the way out for his kindness.


At the gate I settled in and alternated between working and napping until my plane was ready to board for the redeye flight back to VA. I slept on the flight as well as the subsequent one from ATL to IAD, but it's just not the same as being in your own bed. Once I got to DC I went to pick up my Dad to take him to a medical appointment and then I was off to work as usual in Rockville. It's been a long day and I'm so tired despite the fact its just past noon. No rest for the weary though- I've a lot of work to do today.


Aside from the busy work and travel schedule, there are bills to pay and associated budgeting to catch up on, things to clean and tidy at home, Christmas decorations to put up (including the tree), a Soroptimist meeting on Thurs to prepare for, surgery and follow up appts to take my Dad to tomorrow and Thursday, emails to answer, ParJen Consulting clients to bill, and husbands and doggies to cuddle and love. And there is God to be worshipped and focused on which cannot be pushed to the end of the list. And of course there is the trip to Las Vegas on Friday to pack for.


I like having a busy filled life, but it will be nice to slow down after the holidays.

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