Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Flight failures, baseball, and beer - a vacation recap

It's been more than a week since my last post, but I swear I have a good excuse.  And that excuse is that I went on vacation.  My first vacation in more than three years!!  I was more than a little excited when last Wednesday rolled around.  I had bought my plane tickets months ago and have been planning everything since then.

The start of my trip was rough.  And that's putting it mildly. 

Wednesday afternoon, I got a notification that my 7:15 p.m. flight would be delayed by 45 minutes. This worried me a little since I would only have an hour layover in Chicago-Midway, and the delay just took a significant chunk of that layover.  But I figured I'd just have to sprint and do my best.  When I got to the airport, the flight was even further delayed (mechanical reasons, we were told).  The plane finally arrived at 8:00 and we were told we'd be boarding in twenty minutes.  I also overheard the gate agents telling others that the connecting flights in Chicago were not going to wait for us. I knew the layover would be really tricky, so I went to the counter to see what my options were if I missed my connecting flight.  They booked me on the first flight out Thursday morning as a back-up in case I didn't make my flight.  We finally boarded the plane around 8:30 p.m., and I had a sliver of hope I'd still make it to my connection on time.  Then ... we were told they could not fuel the aircraft because there was lightning in the area.  They thought it might be twenty minutes.  I knew then I would not make my connection.

We finally took off at 9:15 p.m.  -- fifteen minutes before my connection would be leaving Chicago.  I resigned myself to a night in the Windy City, but when we landed, I wasn't offered a hotel voucher or any form of accommodations.  When I asked what I was supposed to do for seven hours until my flight left, I was told there were cots set up in an area of the airport.  So I went to that area and found a dark, cold (we're talking 65-ish degrees) room with 40 cots and a security guard with a stack of books on his desk.  I chose a cot where I could actually see the guard and settled in to try and get some sleep.  I knew I had a packed day ahead and needed rest.  The cots were not comfortable though.  A bar dug into my back and shoulders.  My hip hurt if I stayed on one side too long.  The blanket was barely warmer than a towel and don't get me started on the pillow.  I dozed on and off all night, apparently sleeping through a moment when a woman loudly declared she needed to go back to rehab and demanded an ambulance.

Thursday morning, I tried to find something to eat before I boarded my plane, but nothing opened until 5 a.m., and my flight boarded at 5:15.  And every place close to my gate had a line 20-deep.  So, I skipped it and settled on coffee for my in-flight beverage. That helped a little.  My morning flight left on time and landed in Dallas around 8 a.m.

Naturally, my bag did not make it.  They had all night to get it on the correct flight, but somehow that didn't happen.  Three other people on my flight suffered the same fate.  I hadn't eaten anything but airport peanuts since noon on Wednesday, so I was hungry.  Add that to my fatigue and the fact that I had been wearing the same clothes for almost 24 hours.  I was in a terrible mood.  And I let the lost baggage lady know it.  She took some pity on me and advised my luggage would probably arrive that afternoon and told me how I could retrieve it.  I was frustrated, but there was nothing more I could do.

Rachel picked me up, and our first stop was Taco Cabana for breakfast.  Those tacos tasted delicious, and I didn't care how bad I looked or smelled in that moment. Then we made a quick stop at a store so I could buy some clothes and toiletries to clean up at Rachel's place.  After a shower and some fresh clothes, I felt much better.  And at 11 a.m., as we were getting ready to leave, we got the call that my bag had arrived.  We decided to swing back to the airport to get my bag so we wouldn't have to worry about it later.  Not only did I get my bag, but the airline reimbursed me for the things I had to purchase that morning and gave me a travel voucher for all my troubles.  It didn't quite make up for my terrible flight experience, but it was nice anyway.

Finally, I felt like my trip could begin.  Rachel and I headed to my favorite place in Texas ...

Ahhhhhhh!!!  My happy place.
That's right ... Rangers Ballpark!! (I don't care what the real name is. This is what I call it.)

My trip was instantly redeemed in this moment.

I got a Texas craft beer (Revolver Blood and Honey, if you're curious), slathered on some sunscreen, and settled in for what I hoped would be a Rangers win.  It was really hot and sunny that day, so we didn't last long in our seats.  Thank goodness there were plenty of shady seats available.

Rachel and I finally got to watch a game together!

The Rangers did not pull out a win, but I got to watch the game with Rachel and meet Jessica, another Rangers fan I know from Twitter.  I'm calling that a win for me.

Rachel, me, and Jessica enjoying the shady seats and a great offensive show from Mitch Moreland.

After the game, Rachel and I headed to Ft. Worth to meet up with another person I know from Twitter for dinner at Back Forty Smokehouse.  Naturally, it was barbecue, and it was delicious.  I'm a terrible blogger, so I didn't take a photo, but trust me ... it was fantastic.  We enjoyed our food and talked for a while and then headed to a nearby sports complex for a friend's son's t-ball game.  It was quite the shift from the afternoon's Major League Baseball action, but still really fun.  And the team we were cheering for won this one!  After the victory, the four of us went out for drinks and more conversation.

Chance, Rachel, me, and Erick enjoying some beverages after the t-ball game.

My time in Dallas was fun and far too short.  I need to go back again soon.

Friday morning, I jetted off for part two of my vacation.  It was my best friend's birthday, and I was excited to spend the whole day and weekend with her.  This flight was much less eventful, and I landed in Austin around 9 a.m.  I immediately met up with Nikki, and we headed south to her parents' home in the Hill Country.  It was beautiful out there, and their new home is gorgeous.

Friday afternoon was lunch at The Leaning Pear, shopping in Wimberley, and a wine tasting.  Friday evening, we went to New Braunfels for dinner at the Gristmill and an Uncle Lucius show at Gruene Hall.

Texas wines --- come to me!

Apparently I pretty much stopped taking photos at this point. Sorry!

Saturday, we slept in (which I desperately needed), got cleaned up, and went to Fredericksburg.  We browsed the shops and stopped into Fredericksburg Brewing Company.  The beers at Fredericksburg were good, but would have been better had they not been served in plastic solo cups.  If that makes me a snob, I don't care. I mean, a few of their beers have won medals a the Great American Beer Festival.  They should take pride in them and put them in glasses.  From there, it was off to Johnson City for a beer tasting and dinner at Pecan Street Brewery.  The food was amazing and paired perfectly with the recommended beers.

Nikki and I relaxed for the rest of the evening, and pretty much took it easy on Sunday as well.  We watched some movies, drank some wine, and just hung out.  It was a nice way to end the trip.

My return trip included an early flight but everything was smooth on the way home. I actually arrived everywhere early.  Go figure.

Despite the rough start, I had a great trip.  It was really good to get away for a few days, watch some baseball, and spend quality time with my best friend.

Do you have a flight horror story like mine?


5 comments:

  1. Yay for the update! I can't believe you slept through the lady demanding an ambulance.

    Do they sell Wilson gear at the park?

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  2. Good god the first part of your vacation sounded horrible. I'm sorry the Rangers couldn't at least pull out a win to make it better - but at least it sounds like the entirety of your time is Texas was wonderful!

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  3. I'm glad your vacation went well once you arrived! My husband and I have friends in Dallas, so we've ben there a few times! We love it in Texas! What airline did you fly? My husband has a Southwest experience like that from when he flew to Oregon for his niece's wedding a couple of Septembers ago!

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  4. Ugh so sorry for how the trip started. I'd be in the mood from hell too. I'm glad you got reimbursed and given a voucher but that is painful. Luckily it sounds like the rest of the trip was great!

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  5. I have SO many travel horror stories. In fact, this post might have just inspired one for my blog.

    I'm glad you had a great time, even though getting there was such a challenge!

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