I Made it to Tucson - on time, but barely

I'm now in Tucson, thank goodness. Before I begin sharing my Gem Show experiences, let me take you back...back to last Tuesday, the day before I was to fly out of Louisville and into Tucson. The day when all plans seemed reasonable, when life was good, when all was well, when I knew I was a lousy traveler but made sure all things were in place...

I started the day by gathering my beads and working projects and putting them away. This is a courtesy to my husband who has been out of state for the last three weeks. He'll be home before I will, and I want him to come home to a clean spot in the living room! LOL

At about 1 p.m., I spoke with Judy, my friend who had offered to take me to the airport (at 5 a.m. no less), to help me save money on parking fees. She was ready. She had set all her clocks in the house for 4 a.m. and planned to sleep in the living room to awaken to the television. There was gas in the car and she had already told "the office" that she may be a few minutes late in the morning (this way she could grab a quick nap after taking me to the airport).

Because I had purchased my tickets via Travelocity, I knew I could 'check-in' on-line anytime during the 24 hours before my flight. I was scheduled to fly out at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. I got on-line this last afternoon at home and played and surfed and e-mailed. I thought about checking in, but decided I'd wait until later in the evening.

At about 4 p.m. I started packing. It didn't take me but 30 minutes because I am an experienced traveler and knew ahead of time what I would be taking with me. I debated as to whether or not I should put on the "patch" (motion sickness aid called TransDerm using the drug Scopolamine to prevent severe reactions to motion - from which I suffer). But, I decided to wait until morning. For goodness sake, I was going to get up at 3:30 a.m. Plenty of time for the patch to begin working while waiting for my flight.

At 6 p.m. I took myself out to dinner. I knew this would be the last meal before traveling, a precaution against the patch not working completely. So, I fully enjoyed my favorite meal of French Onion Soup, Oriental Chicken Salad and Blonde Maple Brownie at our local Applebee's.

As I left Applebee's I noticed the wind was quite gusty and that it was 10 degrees or so cooler outside than when I had first arrived. While on the road home I heard the latest news flash on the radio - tornado watch in my county. I get to my town, stop at a gas station to fill up and the weather doesn't appear too bad. The station attendant assured me that 70 mph winds were being felt in a town 15 minutes west of me. Uh oh, this could be a problem.

I get home at about 7:30 p.m. and have to retrieve my trash cans from the front yard. Ok, at least it isn't hailing. The winds were pretty rough, but we've had worse. Inside I go to my computer to check-in and see that my wireless network is down. Guaranteed it's because the tower has been blown down. Shoot! Ok, don't panic, I still have dial-up. I get to Frontier Airlines' website and select "online check-in". 40 minutes later the silly graphics are still not up on my screen. I wander through the house, cleaning up a bit, checking my list for packing, etc. after 65 minutes and the website is still not up I realize that I won't be able to check-in. No biggie. I'm planning to be at the airport by 5:30 a.m. so I'll have time.

The news is now saying that the watch has been reduced to a warning, but beware of high wind gusts. Ok. Here we have steady winds of 70 mph and now experiencing gusts of up to 90 mph. All I can do is hope that this all dies down by in the morning.

I go to bed at 8 p.m. Hey, I'm getting up at 3:30 a.m., what do you expect? So, I'm lightly sleeping, not able to go deep yet, when I think I hear my phone (three rooms away). I figure it's the wind because quite a few squeaks and creaks are being heard throughout the house. Then my cell phone rings. It's next to me on the bed (one of three alarms I had set to wake me). I'm awake now! It's Judy. "Gee Char, I hate to tell you this, but my neighbors' pine tree is now in my yard and blocking my car. I don't think I'll be able to get it moved by 4:30 tomorrow morning". I assure her that, though these things don't normally happen, I do have a plan B. I'll get a cab.

Now I'm a bit nervous. Our area is having severe storms, forecasted to last through the night. I'm unable to check-in on-line. I don't normally awaken well before 5 a.m., and am supposed to get up at 3:30 a.m. Judy cannot come to get me. Do I call the cab company now? or wait til the morning? The winds are loud and obnoxious outside my window. I decide to wait until morning for the cab and snug into my bed for the night.

3:30 a.m. all three alarms go at once. I'm up. I'm out of bed. I turn off all alarms. I make a pot of coffee then hit the shower. After drying off, I put on the patch, I have a cup of coffee. It's approaching 4 a.m. I call the cab company. The only company I know to call is in Louisville. I schedule a 5 a.m. pick up. I tell the dispatcher I'm going to the airport for a 6:45 a.m. flight. I tell him I'm not in Georgetown, but in a rural area. He's convinced I'm in Kentucky and I have to tell him three times that I'm in Indiana, and that he needs to relay directions to the driver or the cabbie will never find my house. I'm assured all is well.

5 a.m. I have cash, coat and suitcase ready. All things in the house are either turned off or turned around. I even have the cabfare out of my wallet and in my pocket for easy access. I'm beginning to feel the affects of the patch so am confident that all is well.

5:15 a.m. No cab. I call the company. I'm assured that the driver is less than a mile from my home.

5:25 a.m. No cab. I call the company. A different dispatcher assures me that the driver is on his way. I tell him "not possible, he should be here by now" dispatcher puts me on hold, I need to pee.

5:30 a.m. No cab. Dispatcher calls me and tells me driver is trying to reach me. I tell him I have phone in hand and no one has called me. He says to give him 3 minutes. I hang up. The phone rings, it's the driver. "Where are you?" I ask. "Hey", he says, "I looked for your place. I found the church at **** road but your house isn't there." "I don't live by a church, you need to come through town and within 1 mile will see me." He attempts to argue with me. "Where are you now?" I ask again. "In New Albany", he replies. Oh hell, he's at least 25 minutes away! So I say "Listen bud, I'm hosed. I needed to be at the airport in the next 5 minutes." He starts to say something, but I interrupt with "You're an idiot and you've lost my business." SLAM goes the phone.

I am now in panic mode. It is now 5:40 a.m., it takes 30 minutes to get to the airport, I haven't checked in and now I have to drive! Good thing I gassed up, heh?

I bound out the door and throw my two carry-on suitcases into the car (told you I was an experienced traveler - never check a bag if you don't have to). I don't warm up, I immediately get out the drive and spin tires to get onto the main road. I hit town. There's an ambulance. Traffic is stopped because said ambulance needs to go down the road two cars in front of me. Traffic begins to move. The lights are all red. I'm starting to get nervous. I finally get to the highway. It is now 6:05 a.m. and I still have 20 minutes of driving to the airport. Yes, my foot hit the pedal and I stayed on 90 mph.

6:15 a.m., I hit Louisville International Airport. I miss the turn into the parking lot. Holy crap! I have to drive to the pick up area before having access to the parking lot. Yes, the man in front of me that is now fully stopped and looking at something on the seat beside him is important. But, not as important as my getting on my flight. HONK! I scare the bejeebies out of him, I'm sure. Anyway, I get to the parking garage. I don't care about parking fees now, I only care about getting on a plane.

I drive to the top floor, exposed to all weather conditions. I don't care. I park in the middle because I don't know where Frontier Airlines' counters are. I've always flown Delta. Oh hell. I grab my bags, lock the car and run to the elevator.

I'm on the first floor, and have two flights of stairs ahead of me. I glance at a clock. It is now 6:20 a.m. (amazing, I know). I don't think, I run. I took the first flight of stairs 2 at a time, the second flight I took the escalator (I have stopped thinking by now).

At the top of the escalator I turn to the left and in front of me is Frontier Airlines' counter. Empty of passengers, has two attendants. I run to the counter and ask for my flight. This really cute, young, wide awake young man grins and says "they're boarding now". Not possible! Can't happen! I put on my best pitiful look, explain that an idiot cab driver couldn't find my house, and could he please help me make my flight? He calls the check in area and asks if I can check in at the counter. Yes. Whew. He takes me through the standard questions. I respond appropriately. I'm free to go. "Where?" I ask. He says "through that hall, turn left, you'll see security." Oh no...security!

I get to security. Half of the city of Louisville is going through security. I show my ID and boarding pass. I try to get into the shortest line. A tough little old lady stops me and tells me which line I'm to go through. I tell her that my flight is boarding. She doesn't care. Two fellas ahead of me back out of the line to let me through - yes, I'm grateful but in too much of a hurry to say so.

I'm out of security, I'm doing the O.J. through the terminal (running like a madman). I'm hearing my name on the loudspeaker for last call for boarding. I see the check in area. The attendant sees me. With raised eyebrows she asks if I ran all the way. I cannot answer. I cannot catch my breath. She pats me down and locates my boarding pass. I get on the plane. I hand over my bags to an attendant. She helps me find a seat (the plane is virtually empty). I sit. I cannot breathe. The guy next to me is cracking up, trying not to laugh out loud. I realize that I haven't put my shoes back on from during the security check. I also realize that my coat is around my waist, my belly-bag/fanny pack is under my breasts, and I still cannot breathe. But, by God, I'm on the plane! Uh oh. Gotta pee! Yes, the flight attendant laughed when I got out of the lavatory.


Lora said...

OMG Charlene!! At least you got on the plane!! Have a good time!

AJ said...

What a wild tale! This is why I hate to fly, even though I enjoy the sensation of flying.

I'm so glad that you made it, though, and it was great to see you at dinner :)