What a Trip! Part 1
Well! Going to Tucson was really quite an adventure. First, we had what I think qualifies as a BLIZZARD in North Texas, as I'm sure you all know since the super bowl was held here last weekend and people were all worried about getting in and out of town for it. So when did this lovely winter storm decide to hit? The day we were schedule to fly to Tucson! Yikes! It did NOT make the trip easy, but it did make it interesting.
We walked out the door at 4 AM last Tuesday morning (way too early for me, I am a night owl), only to be immediately pelted by wind and ice (I should mention I'm also more of a 70 degrees and sunny person too). I just about wiped out on the driveway trying to make it to the car as well- needless to say the ground was slippery and I was wearing very tall shoes.
It took something like an hour-and-a-half for us to crawl to the airport and we were terrified we'd miss our 6:10 flight, or at the very least, not be able to check our bags. In panic mode, we started devising plan B- Susie would shove her most essential items in my carry on and we'd buy her a wardrobe when we got there. Our travel experience was not starting out well, but oh, I had no idea how much worse it could get.
When we finally got up to the counter, they let us check our bags even though we were way past the 30 minute limit. This should have been the first clue that we weren't going anywhere. But, it didn't click in our minds and we shuffled through security and to our gate. Once there, we saw a pretty flight attendant get on the intercom and say "DFW airport is now closed." She was smiling, and I took this as quite the funny joke. DFW airport doesn't close, silly woman. We went and bought magazines and Chex Mix for the flight. But then the wheels started turning in my very sleepy head, and I was like, "wait, Susie, she was joking right?"
And so our flight was delayed. And then, delayed once more. We chatted with the military men also waiting to get on our flight and drank a LOT of caffeine. Finally, we heard that the airport was open again, but only one runway was usable. To make things more bleak, every plane had to be de-iced by a special machine before it could take off. US Airways bragged to us that they had their own de-icers, though, so we wouldn't have to wait to use DFW's and would be able to get going in no time. A couple of Diet Pepsis, some Starbucks and one Rockstar energy drink later, we finally got to board the plane! It was around noon and we were very excited. A six hour delay is hardly bad in blizzard like weather.
So, we eagerly boarded the plane and waited very patiently for an hour, while a de-icer went to work on our plane. This is a bit like being in a car wash; big machines spray really high pressure liquids at your windows and make a lot of noise. Gradually all the noise stopped... and at some point, flight attendants served cups of water. An US Weekly and a People Magazine later, we started to get fidgety. We realized we'd been sitting on the plane for two hours and had gone nowhere. Finally, someone came over the intercom and informed us that the de-icer had broken and we were waiting for them to repair it. ...REALLY??
We'd pretty much had it with ice, de-icing and planes at this point. They weren't even serving us cocktails, for heaven's sake! A half-an-hour later, they let us know via intercom that we were trying to get a new pilot. I didn't quite understand that, but I guess the pilot who was supposed to fly us was as sick of this as we were. About two minutes later, sounding defeated, they said we were giving up and heading back to the gate. I was pretty sure we weren't getting out of town at that point.
Back in the airport, we found out the flight was officially cancelled. We called the airline and found out we could either leave the next morning at 6:10 OR we could try to catch a 3:00 flight on Mesa, a smaller airline. Fearing a repeat of the day we'd had, I suggested we go for the 3:00. It was about that time, so we grabbed our stuff and raced to the new gate.
Turned out the hurry wasn't quite necessary because that flight, as you may have guessed, was also delayed. So we shared some delicious pizza, toasted a glass of cheap champagne (to celebrate our good fortune) and mingled with some nice people who were also having a difficult time getting out of the Dallas area.
Once we finally boarded for the second time, I have to admit I was skeptical about actually getting off the ground. There was a small scare about the one usable runway icing back over, but after about thirty minutes of waiting, we did indeed take off! It was kind of like an aviation miracle.
About an hour later we arrived in Phoenix (did I mention we didn't have a direct flight?). Happy to be anywhere but Dallas, we found a place to eat and attempt to relax. It was probably 7 or 8 o'clock by this time and we were getting slightly loopy. Between getting up at 3-something in the morning, massive doses of caffeine, and that champagne toast just before we made it out of DFW, our sleep deprived minds were becoming goofier by the minute.
The flight from Phoenix to Tucson was incredibly short. It seemed like as soon as we got up to our cruising altitude, we started landing again! I looked it up on my iPhone and it's supposed to be a 1 hour and 49 minute drive... I'm kind of surprised people fly between those two cities. Anyway, we had made it to Tucson by about 10:00 PM! We felt triumphant that we had made it to the beading mecca of the world and headed to baggage claim. We watched all the luggage spin in a big oval pattern as person after person claimed their belongings and went off to rent a car or meet their families. We waited, and waited and waited until there was nothing left on that belt but a couple of oddly colored, unclaimed stragglers.
So we headed to baggage service. Surprise, surprise, our baggage had been put on another flight. No worries, though, it should be here at 11:30 PM. What's another hour-and-a-half in the airport?! Why don't we just see about living in one?! :-D But we decided this wasn't so bad afterall; we would go stand in line for our rental car and by the time that was done, maybe our luggage would be here.
After about 15 minutes of waiting, the Budget Car Rentals guy was really nice and helpful and opened up a new work station so we wouldn't have to stand in line any longer. So by 11:45 we had our luggage in the back of our rental jeep and were hotel bound. The car rental fellow was even nice enough to give us directions to our hotel, which later proved to be wrong (but we still made it - thanks iPhone!). And we were tickled to see that our hotel room had
plastic, stuffed, sparkly headboards. We went to bed around 2 AM (3 AM Dallas time), but I was kind of tempted to stay up another hour just so I could stay I'd been up for a full 24.
I'm sitting here at work, in Florida, reading this adventure to AZ...and my supv. and I are laughing at the quips made throughout!! I come from New England, so I know all too well the mess a bad storm can cause! But we think you ladies handled this experience superbly!