Most of us encounter these days.
“It’s just part of traveling.”
“Yeah, the sucky part.”
Early in our relationship, the universe stranded Susan and me in Minneapolis. Thunderstorms rocked the eastern half of the U.S. “We’ll put you up in the Holiday Inn and book you on the next flight to Albuquerque.” After morning brunch at the Mall of America, we resumed our trip. All in all, a positive experience.
Years later, with two preteen kids, our two-hour drive to Dulles airport ended with sad news. “Come back tomorrow. All flights through Chicago are canceled for the day.”
And today, almost as bad as our Chicago trip. We left home at 7:30 am EDT. Our connecting flight delayed, now due to land at 12:16 AM PDT. If we find our Airbnb by 1:30, I’ll be pleased. Twenty-one hours of domestic travel. Off to an ugly start.
Oakland International Airport wowed me. Impressive noise-suppressing acoustics. Ample seating at each gate, plenty of room to linger and mill about, to eat meals picnic style on the floor, to roll out a yoga mat and lie down. I ate a portobello wrap for dinner—filling, healthy, delicious.
We crept past eight o’clock local time. I try to avoid telling time using my morning time zone. My brain tells me I’m approaching midnight—closing time for me. I go to bed by ten most days. Eli and I walked down to Peet’s Coffee. A closed sign sat on their counter. I must look pathetic. “We’re already closed, but I’ll take your order anyway.” A decision to regret. Pouring the cream, I spilled a quarter of my coffee on their counter. I didn’t even tip.
Sophie and Eli amuse themselves by reading one-minute-stories printed on receipt slips spit from a kiosk. “Jeff, you should submit your stories.” Susan, as usual, is beyond encouraging. The crowd thins and thins again. We rule gate thirty-one, we have the space to ourselves. Our frustrated, pissed-off Eugene-bound co-travelers sit at gate twenty-nine, stewing, oblivious to our happy, caffeinated party just down the hall.
~ ~ ~
Today promised to be a slow day. A diner breakfast, lazy browsing at Cabella’s, birding in an arboretum, vinyl shopping by the university, regrouping at our rental house and planning the next few days. Last night, our car rental agency generously waited for our plane to arrive before closing up shop. Lodging check-in went without a hitch. Our house features comfortable seating and high quality bedding. As far as tough travel days go, this one almost went perfectly. Just that nasty delay on top of an already obnoxious lay-over. Hard to get here, time consuming anyway, but worth the trip.
Today’s highlight: we saw Stephen King (maybe) using the self-checkout at the Safeway. Also, no one broke their pelvis. Tomorrow we visit Crater Lake. Shaping up to be a nice trip.