It must be my lucky day!

This morning I was up early to catch the shuttle to the airport. The night before my new shuttle-friends made fun of me for booking what was probably a bit excessively early of a time but I was not risking missing this flight! When I got to the airport I used some of my extra time to grab an Einstein Bros Bagels bagel for breakfast before going through security. Yummmmmm! There was no Pre-Check line for me today so it took a bit longer. I still found their staff very efficient and almost unnaturally friendly. The burly young man who scanned my passport looked up at me and said, “You’ve changed your hair color.” I stared at him confused for a minute thinking I don’t know this guy. How does he know I dyed my hair? Is he stalking me? Should I be afraid? until I realized he was looking at the info/photo on my passport. Goodness Kris, you really need to get more sleep… There really wasn’t any covering up my dumbfounded stare so I just giggled and was like, “Since I got my passport…yes, I dyed it.” To which he laughed and replied, “I like it. The red really suits you.” Why thank you Mr. Handsome Homeland Security Agent. Apparently there really is something about my stranded hobo look that appeals to the men of Denver airport. At least today I was in clean clothes, although I’m not certain when the last time I washed my hair was… :s sketchy …
Fun Airport Security Fact: The George R R Martin Game of Thrones series books are printed differently than most books. It results in a thicker cover and different binding that shows up weird when X-Ray scanned. In both Denver and Edmonton security has asked to search my bag because there was an unidentifiable object in it. When I unzipped it both agents reached in, pulled out A Feast of Crows, laughed and showed it to their coworkers then let me continue on.

Once past security I grabbed a snack for mid-plane-ride and camped out at my gate. It felt weird to know that I would definitely have a seat on this plane. I still felt stupidly nervous though. I guess some habits are hard to break…plus they still could cancel the flight all together. Then the gate attendants called for boarding to begin. All I could think was “I’m getting on a plane!!!” Then she called my boarding group. And then I got on the plane. And it pulled away from the terminal. And it taxied down the runway. And it took off. And it flew all the way to New York!
You kept waiting for something bad to happen in there, right? Well so did I, but it didn’t!
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I got to Newark without a hitch. I even had an empty middle seat in my 3-seat row. Maybe my luck is changing?! I was by the aisle but the nice man next to me let me slide over and snuggle up close to peer out the window at NYC. Today I totally saw the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. It was just from the plane but, hey, still better than Denver. Frankly it was the most exciting thing I’ve seen on the trip so far. I think I’d be kinda sad to leave except that I plan to be back in NY in a matter of months with my old Wonder & Wanderlust travel-buddy Justine.

It was exciting to wander around a new airport, plus I was just so happy to be out of Denver. I’m sorry DIA. It’s not you, it’s me. You’re a perfectly nice airport but I am going to attempt to never return. Flights will no longer just be judged by ‘Which is cheapest?’‘ but also by ‘Am I willing to be stuck in that connecting airport for 4 days?‘ I had to change terminals so I hoped on a bus that took me to Terminal A. There was an Earl of Sandwich right by my gate so I munched down a sandwich and apple juice while I waited for what could be the fligt that actually takes me to my desired destination. Eventually the gate attendant made the announcement and I boarded the plane! Oh my god, I’m actually going to Nashville! I thought this day would never come!
There was no one beside me again on this flight. It was a smaller plane so I was able to scatter my belongings over both seats in my row. It turned out to be an extra blessing when the plane got so hot I thought my feet would melt. Putting them up on the seat next to me might not have been the most polite, but it kept me at a much better temperature.

When we touched down in at BNA (aka the Nashville airport) the plane literally broke into applause. I’m dead serious about this. Over 75% of our flight had just come from Denver and was arriving over 24 hours after their intended arrival time. Personally I was stepping off the plane only 68 hours after originally scheduled. “Only 68 hours?” you say. “It’s seemed longer.” Yes, yes it did. It was the longest 68 hour so of my life.

I was skipping through the airport I was so pleased. Soon I was skipping in time to thet live country music being played right there in the middle of the arrivals terminal. This city is already so cool. I caught the hotel shuttle out front and soon arrived at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. We are staying here until KG’s conference is over, as it is the host hotel. I’m so glad we are because it is indescribably amazing. However I will attempt to describe it later in its very own blog post. I met KG at a musical dancing fountain on the center of Delta Island (seriously, this hotel needs a post all of its own).She showed me to our room where I was reunited with my suitcase. So many clothes! I immediately changed. It didn’t matter that I had washed my one outfit last night, I was sick of it.
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We went for supper at the Jack Daniels restaurant in the hotel. One wall was made entirely out of whiskey barrels and the decor somehow embraced both classy hotel restaurant & dicey honkytonk. I had southern fried chicken & a Tennessee tea (which is basically a Long Island ice tea with JD in it). KG had a half-rack of ribs. In true Americna fashion the meals were too large to finish. I mean did they actually expect me to eat a full 3 dense pieces of fried chicken? Perhaps they did, but would they prepared when I simultaneously had a heart attack & slipped in a food coma after?
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We finished off our night with some hotel exploring…but that’s hush hush right now…
Love & Luck,
Kris

PS: Here’s my one nice picture of Denver…to remember the good times:
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#strandedinDenver

This morning I woke up with absolutely no idea where I was. I groggily rolled over to check the time on my phone and found it in its usual spot…on a totally unfamiliar end table in a unrecognizable room… For one surreal (and kind of terrifying) moment I could have been anywhere, until reality came crashing down, squashing me under the memory of Denver. Apparently the 40 hours with basically no sleep kind of did a number on me. Taking in my carry-on bag and one 2-day old outfit laid out on the desk I recalled that I was at the Holiday Inn Express Denver Airport and was going into Hour 35 of #strandedinDenver.
I found out it was too difficult to get to anything worth seeing in the actual city of Denver (there doesn’t seem to be a lot, mainly parks & art museums but it’s winter & I’m uncultured…apparently their public library is nice) so I got a late checkout and hung out in bed for awhile. Eventually I headed to the airport with hunger as motivation to get moving.

I took the chance to explored a bit more of my new home, aka the Denver airport, today. Before going through security I browsed the shops and halls in the main entry. Then I took the time to catalogue each of the stores & restaurants of Terminal B. Mainly I was on a search for a clean pair of socks (FYI I found some! They’re men’s but at least I haven’t been wearing them for days.). This adventure was inspired by a comment a friend made about looking into the DIA conspiracy theories. “What conspiracy theories?” you ask excitedly…or at least you would if you’re anything like me. I immediately took to the internet to read the blogs of crackpot fools and eccentric lunatics…or hard-hitting investigators, if that’s how you look at it.
It is “widely” believed that DIA is a secret headquarters of the Illuminati, New World Order or American Neo-Natzis. The last comes from speculation that the airport, taxiways and runways create a swastika when viewed from above. It’s believed that there are secret tunnels, chambers and bunkers beneath the airport that will house the new government of a post-apocalyptic government in our impending future. Backup for this can be seen “everywhere,” including in the creepy gargoyle in a suitcase mounted on the wall by the exit, the even creepier (and kinda disturbing) murals scattered about baggage claim and the creepiest red eyed horse (aka “bringer of the apocalypse”) statue in front of the building.
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Anyway, back to my day… Going through the security line was super-duper, uber quick. DIA has this fancy thing called TSA Pre-Check where about 1/5 (that’s my observation approximation) of travelers are randomly sorted into a separate section. First you are swabbed for drugs/explosives/whatever they are always swabbing for. Then you go through the metal detector/bag X-Ray area. So what’s so different? The second part is basically half-assed. You don’t have to remove your shoes or jacket or scarves. You don’t have to open up your bag or remove your laptop. You don’t have to go through the full-body scanner. You just breeze through the shorter line and continue on your way. So convenient.

Once back in my trusty Terminal B I gobbled up a grilled cheese & french onion soup for lunch, got whistled at by another young man (seriously, my unkempt hobo look seems to drive the men of the Denver airport wild with desire) then headed to the gate to wait for my flight. I use the term ‘my flight’ loosely as I didn’t actually have a ticket to get on the plane. I know it’s hard to keep track of all the journies I’ve attempted to take so I’ll remind you: 6:01pm flight to Nashville for which I was 3rd on the waiting list. You might recall that I was 3rd due to a United system screw-up and that the oh-so-helpful Customer Service lady had made a note on my standby pass that I was actually to be first. As so as an attendant join me at the gate I presented her with the most valuable (to me at least) note. The gate attendant then preceded to do absolutely nothing about it. She didn’t seem to care in the least that I was being conned out of my rightful place. Jerk. In the end it didn’t matter though. Departure time came & went and 2 hours later, when the captain still hadn’t arrived & they had been unable to board the plane, the flight was cancelled. Again. If you’re keeping track that is 3 consecutive flights from Denver to Nashville that have now been cancelled. It had been approximately 36 hours since they successfully got a plane sent off to that particular location. Were talking unreal bad luck for me guys.
When they announced the cancellation everyone immediately lept to their feet and practically sprinted to the Customer Service lines. I was last to arrive because I made a stop off at the gate desk. I’d be rolled over to the standby list for the next flight, right? Wrong! The jerk told me the standby list didn’t roll over between days…even thought that was against everything every other United employee had told me so far. What?!? Seriously United, work your shit out. So, as I said, I was last to arrive in the 3+ hour long CS line. I guessed I’d be pushing for 15 hours total now?

Mom & I Facetimed again so that I could rant & rave rather than taking my anger out in a physical way. ‘Why is that crazy chick over there trying to pry up airport seats?’ ‘Check out that crazy chick over there bowling people over on the moving sidewalks.’ ‘Did that crazy chick over there just turn into Godzilla?’ Flight cancellations & delays are one thing, but the inconsistencies in the United policies and the glaring lack of compassion in their procedures was incredibly frustrating. Mama P wasn’t taking anymore of it either. If you haven’t seen Mama P in her crusader for good/what is coming to us mode you are missing out. When she turns Mama Bear she can get shit done and make shit happen!
She called up my arch-nemesis Ron 😡 to try and get some results while I stood in line. I told her there wasn’t much hope. The guy behind me had just called Ron 😡 to change his flight reservation and Ron 😡 had told him the wait time to talk to someone was over 2 hours. I told the guy to stay on the line because the odds were good he’d still get through before we were able to see someone in person. Oh, Fun Fact: United finally added Hold!
But Mom had been warned of Ron 😡‘s antics so rather than say she wanted to change a reservation she said she had other issues. This got her a On Hold wait time of 12 minutes! Go Mom! I ignored her for awhile so she could talk to a mobile representative. Also, I was already seething and you all know how Ron 😡 gets me extra fired up! Instead I discussed ‘weather‘ with 3 young men in front of me. They all agree that it is a bullshit excuse. The on-the-phone customer service person wasn’t able to get me on the standby list for the next flight (that has to be done in person at the airport) but she coudk book me on a flight to Nashville through Newark tomorrow. I said do it! It was the same flight track as my already book Thursday flight, but 24 hours sooner. Plus it would be nice to have a confirmed ticket and not have to sit there feeling sick about whether there’d be any room for standby customers. Now let’s keep our fingers crossed that it isn’t cancelled!

Thanking my mother and every god I could like of (God…Zeus…Thor…they all control the skies, right?) I left the CS line. I guess 11 hours total will have to do 😉 Retracing my steps from the night before I hitched a ride on the hotel shuttle to the Denver Airport Holiday Inn Express. Tonight I made friends with a young man from Atlanta and some Southwestern flight attendants. They told me horror stories of people they’d met at Laguardia who’d been stuck for 5 days. It made me feel a bit better about my 3 days…although they were stuck in NYC, basically one of the coolest cities on the planet, while I was stuck outside of Denver, basically Canada but more boring.
The hotel had a laundry room so I decided to wash my 3 day old clothes. The only problem with washing the one outfit you own? What do you wear while you wash it? I wrapped my LuLu Lemon Vinyasa scarf my sister had given me for my birthday as a skirt and zipped my jacket up over nothing. That would have to do.
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Peace out from The Least Exciting Place Ever Denver!
Love & hopefully more Luck tomorrow,
Kris

Denver is a Hopeless Place (but I didn’t find love there)

Good Morning Denver! It’s us, Kristin & Kristin, your favorite airport hobos. We awoke this morning in our business cubical hovel. The 4:30am move was worth it. Sleeping on the airport floor is never ideal, but if it has to be done our little cave was probably the best place we could have found to do so. I’ve labelled it below in case you ever want to visit! Warm-ish. Dark-ish. Quiet-ish. And with a pile of garbage cans in front of the entrance as a built in security-ish system. Even with that we were still limited to a few scant and disjointed hours of sleep. Without knowing what was coming I already knew it would be a long day.
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We walked the terminal, picking up a McDonald & Starbucks breakfast, then went to wait at the gate for the 9:55am flight to Nashville. You may recall that we were 10th & 11th on the standby list and hoping with all hope that that would be good enough to get us there. The flight boarded…Groups 1+2…Groups 3+4+5…then it was just us desperate standby-ers left. When they started calling names things turned into a bit of a blur. They were hardly giving a person a chance to say they were there before they jumped to the next person on the list. A businessman boarded the plane. Then a lady in absurd purple sweater. Then an elderly couple. Then a young man. And finally there was just 1 spot left and a mother & son duo that couldn’t be split up. The child was not allowed to fly as an unaccompanied minor. Then I heard it: my name. It was as if the heavens had parted and the angels were singing…and then suddenly they were just moving on and calling the next name. Luckily that was KG. I lept to my feet with a super loud: “Here! I’m Here!” KG & I raced up to the gate where they broke the news to us that there was only one seat left (which we already knew). The attendant studied Kristin seriously, “How old are you?” “Um…25.” “Oh ok.” What did they think? I was her chaperon?? I basically shoved Kristin towards the ticketing agent.
“Go! Go! Go!”
“But…but…” she sputtered.
“GO!”
So, in the end about 5 or 6 people made it on to the plane, including…drum roll please…KG! Being that Kristin is attending a conference in Nashville that started with a meeting at 5 that night I figured it would be good if she could actually get to the city. One down, One to go! Go Team Go!

So that left me alone in Denver. Hour 13 in DIA. But I was not without hope…yet…
I set to work trying to figure out how to kill another 10 hours in Terminal B. I mean I could have wandered the greater airport but who wants to go through security if they don’t have to? Step One was make sure I did indeed have a chance to make that next flight. Last night the Customer Service desk lady had told us the standby list automatically rolls over to the next flight each time. So if you were 10th on the list for the morning flight and 6 people snuck on, then you’d be 4th on the list for the evening flight. I wasn’t going to blindly trust this would happen though. I spoke to the gate attendants and they confirmed that the list did roll over and had done so in this occasion. I was #4 for the 7:41pm flight.

There’s not a lot to tell of the next few hours. Mostly I camped out at one of DIA’s many free charging stations. I played on my iPad while my phone charged. Then played on my phone while iPad charged. I also ate. After yesterday’s snack food ‘meals’ I made sure to put away two square meals today. I had a Cantina taco salad for lunch and a pepperoni pizza from Wolfgang Puck Express for supper. They were both delicious…and the pizza was particularly picturesque.
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There was one particularly comical moment in my day. I was traveling down one of the moving sidewalks for no particular reason except to do my 40th or 50th length of the terminal. As I passed two young men one whistled. I stopped dead in my tracks and flipped around. This is not the reaction I would typically have to this happening. Frankly I’d normally just keep walking, but the idea of him doing it today was so completely proposterous that I may have over reacted. Whipping around I looked the guy, who appeared to be in his early twenties, right in the eye and said, “Are you serious?” He was utterly taken aback by this dramatic confrontation. “Ummm…” “I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me??” “Ummm…no…you look really pretty…?” “I’ve been here for over 20 hours! I’m still wearing yesterday’s clothes! I slept on the airport floor last night!” “Ummm…ok?…” The poor guy was not prepared for what a struggler I appear to be today. And once again I am ‘that crazy chick over there.‘ Is this becoming a theme on this trip?

As 7:41pm approached I got prepared to go to my next gate. Supper eaten? Check. Devices charged? Check. Bottle of water in my bag? Check. Know which gate I headed to? Check. Flight on time? Nope…Cancelled….CANCELLED! I don’t even have words to explain how frustrated I was. I stalked over to the Customer Service line and tossed my bag down at the end. It wasn’t as long as the night before…but when I say that I mean it was likely to be only a 3 hours wait, instead of 5…so still plenty long.

At this point I texted my mom asking if we could FaceTime while I was in line. It doesn’t matter how old you get sometimes you just need Mom to talk you down. However, we’ve already had an example of my mental state today and I wasn’t about to stop overreacting now. Pretty much the instant my moms face appeared on the screen I started to cry. ‘Hey check out that crazy chick over there sobbing in the line up.‘ I was just soooooooooo tired and sooooooooooo frustrated. (I didn’t count the number of o’s in either of those ‘so’s because I couldn’t decide which I was feeling more.) I ended up being in the Customer Service line for about 3.5 hours (bringing my grand 2-day total up over 10 hours) and my wonderful parents & now-in-Nashville roomie took turns FaceTimeing with me the whole time.
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It kept me from going on a Godzilla-style rampage through the Denver Airport. I mean that wouldn’t have been a good idea; it was obviously going to be my new home forever now. I needed to keep it looking good for my various guests. To add to the frustration they also cancelled the next morning’s flight to Nashville while I was progressing through the line. So no getting out of Denver tonight AND no getting out of Denver tomorrow morning. Denver was starting to feel like quicksand: the more I struggled the more it pulled me down to my doom.
Apparently the cancellations were due to ‘weather‘ even though it was perfectly clear in Denver and very nice in Nashville (according to KG). Worst. Explanation. Ever. But the domino effect of the east coast storms meant I once agin was staying over night with no compensation.
When I got to the Customer Service desk the lady helping me was, once again, very pleasant. She also looked sooooooo tired but did what she could to help me. There were no flights earlier than my Thursday one that she could actually book me on, but she could add me to tomorrow evening’s standby list. “Wait Kris!” you say. “Shouldn’t you already be on that list because of the roll-over.” Why yes dear reader, I should have been. But I was not. The Customer Service agent suspected it was due to the two cancelled flights in a row and how standby lists usually don’t transfer until after the time the flight ‘takes-off’ (even is that departure time is irrelevant due to the fact that the flight was cancelled). Because of this mistake I was sitting in 3rd on the wait list, rather than the 1st place position I should have had. How infuriating! The nice lady did make a note of the error on my standby boarding pass and told me to tell the story to the gate attendant tomorrow. Hopefully they’d move me up to first.

While I was having a emotional breakdown in line my mom had taken pity on me and booked me a hotel room at the airport Holiday Inn Express. I needed sleep. Anyone could see it (except apparently the mysterious whistler). I sought out the hotel shuttle and got my first breath of fresh air in 27 hours. Lovely! On the shuttle ride I sat in the middle of the most hilarious couple. This pair of gay men were appalled by my story (and the quality of our shuttle driver…and how early they had to get up the next day…and how cold it was out…lol) and gave the perfect dramatic reactions of horror to make me feel hollowly vindicated.
Being able to climb in a bed was the best feeling. And with the addition of a shower and some privacy I felt like a queen (a really poor & run-down queen with an uber pathetic kingdom but a queen none-the-less).

More Nashville Denver adventures tomorrow!
Love & with no Luck,
Kris