Sunday, August 12, 2012

For those of you who have read my journals before, you know how much I despise air travel. However, this trip was not nearly as disgusting. I guess if you flip a coin long enough it will eventually come up heads. On this trip it didn't exactly come up heads, but it also didn't come up tails either. I think it may have just landed on edge.

Cattle drive cartoonI got a pleasant surprise at the TSA check-in point. I knew the agent and as I walked up she greeted me with, "Hello Mr. Combs! How are you today?" Those behind me in line gazed upon me as if I were a rock star. With a smile on my face I proceeded to the screening station where I noticed they had installed new body scanners. Although I was unable to get my hands completely over my head as directed (due to back problems), the TSA agent said, "Close enough." Maybe she thinks I am a rock star too.

Sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. After putting my shoes back on I opened my carry-on bag to get out my travel folder to check for the length of my layover at the end of this leg. However, I couldn't find my folder. Inside that folder was my next flight's boarding pass, rental car reservation paperwork and hotel information. Panic! I must have left it back at the house! I immediately called my wife and asked her to go home and get it for me. After hanging up I walked to the security screening exit being careful not to cross over the line. I asked the agent if it would be possible for my wife to hand her my folder who in turn could check it and hand it to me. The agent informed me I had already come too far out of the "checked" area and would need to go through TSA screening again anyway. Drat! So I walked back to the entrance to the airport to await my wife. Then it hit me. I had placed the folder in an outer pocket of the bag. Double drat! So I returned to run the security gauntlet one more time. Fortunately, there was a new TSA agent at the check-in point so I didn't have to share my stupidity with everyone when embarrassing questions were asked. "Why Mr. Combs! Back so soon? Did you forget something or did you just enjoy the body scanner so much you thought you'd give it another go?"

Airlines delight in packing passengers in tight into small planes to route them to major hubs. So it came as no surprise that my puddle jumper resembled a can of sardines. Fortunately, it was a quick flight and I was soon "enjoying" the cornucopia of Minneapolis airport's restaurant row. Since there is not a "passenger's bill of rights" that guarantees minimum levels of food or drink on airplanes, travelers must fend for themselves in the airport or be forced to pay extravagantly in the air.

At the boarding gate an announcement came over the intercom informing us the flight was completely full. This always makes me grit my teeth. However, after getting on the plane, finding my seat and then seeing the door close I found the seat beside me to be incredibly vacant. As a good friend of mine likes to say, "Sometimes you just get lucky."

Chevy CaptivaThe plane arrived on time at 8:01 PM (which was 12:01AM in my home time zone) and I immediately went to retrieve my bag. What a surprise to see my bag was the first one on the baggage claim carousel! My luck continued as Enterprise gave me a free upgrade to a bright red Chevy Captiva. Maybe that gas guzzler upgrade was partially subsidized by the oil companies? ;-) The rental car agent was even kind enough to bring the car around to the door so I wouldn't have to hunt for it in the lot.

After loading my bags into the car I got out my GPS unit and stuck it onto the inside of the front windshield. I am so amazed by this little device. Here I am thousands of miles from home and it can get me everywhere I need to go. I am pretty good at getting lost and I hate to ask directions so it was definitely a godsend.

Within 15 minutes I was in the lobby of the Quality Inn on Spenard Avenue. Although it is not the nicest hotel in town, my wife got an incredibly cheap weekly rate in the midst of tourist season. Furthermore, the room came with a full kitchen plus there was a free continental breakfast available at the restaurant across the street.

After making a few phone calls I called it a day at 11:00 PM (3:00 AM my time! Ouch!). Even with the lateness of the hour I still had trouble getting to sleep. I was so excited to be in Alaska again!


Prologue | Index | Day 2