…the end of my trip

I left my Twitter friends hanging last night. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that my travel luck has been…poor…lately. Ever since February, when Delta lost my bags twice in two weeks, things have gone crazy when I try to travel. This past trip, on my way to Cincinnati, my flight was canceled, they were going to keep me in the airport for ten hours before the next flight (after generously giving me a FIVE DOLLAR meal voucher) so I opted for rerouting to Dayton. But not before running into my ex-husband in an airport in a city in which neither of us live. Travel karma, I haz it.

So on the way back, I was bemoaning that I was once again facing bad travel mojo, as my flight was delayed an hour and a half (and once again US Airways wouldn’t let me on an earlier flight due to checked luggage. I HATE that policy), putting me home at midnight. I was grateful the flight wasn’t canceled (since it was the last flight out of the day) and thought that once I boarded, my travel woes were done. Not so.

The flight from Philadelphia to my town is not a long one, maybe 40 minutes. It was late at night, I was tired and a little irritable and so I didn’t appreciate it when the flight attendant spent the entire flight standing in the aisle talking to the woman in front of me. In fact, she spent so long talking to her that she did none of the final landing announcements (turn off portable electronics, put your seat backs and tray tables up, make sure your seatbelts are fastened) and didn’t take her seat until we were almost touching down. Ergh. So I was mildly irritated by that, but having her stand there did put m in the unique position of seeing the absolute panic on her face when a large thump sounded on our side of the plane. And then hear her say “what was that?” before she hurried to the front to call the pilots. I know, reassuring, right?

Turns out we hit a bird. Thankfully, it didn’t get into one of the engines, but it still scared the hell out of the flight attendant and a few of the passengers.

So as I’m sitting on the plane, I’m just thankful my bad travel mojo hasn’t resulted in death for anything but the poor bird. And as we land, I’m glad for the end of my travel adventures. Ahahahaha…how wrong I was.

Since we landed so late (not quite midnight) I called a taxi to come and get me rather than having Josh drag Brianna out of bed. I called from the plane to expedite the process, and only had to wait a few minutes after I got my luggage for the taxi to arrive. Well, it turns out another man had also called a taxi, so the driver decided to take both of us. Fine with me. Of course, as we’re leaving the airport, we see another taxi–from another company–coming our way. Um, yeah, turns out that guy had gotten into my taxi. He’d called a different company. No big deal, the town isn’t that big, we’ll deliver him to his hotel, The Country Inn and Suites, and I’ll get home within minutes. Riiiight. The taxi driver starts telling us a story of one of the drivers being mugged just minutes earlier, and then was telling me another was shot at several nights before. We talk about the crime in town for about 15 minutes while driving to…The Comfort Inn. When we pull up, I mention that the gentleman is staying at the Country Inn and Suites and off we go again, the taxi driver saying “oh okay, of course, I know where that is…” as he takes us ten minutes later…to the Marriott Residence Inn. At this point, I’m pulling out my iPhone to get the address (because I really don’t remember ever seeing the Country Inn and Suites so I can’t recall where it’s at) and the driver calls the hotel. Turns out the hotel is actually pretty close to where we started at the airport. So our third stop is, thank God, the actual Country Inn and Suites. We took that poor man on a tour of the area that he didn’t need to see–and he had to be up for meetings in five hours.

By this time, I’ve been traveling around with the taxi driver for almost 45 minutes, and am just giggling to myself because 1) my husband is asleep and if that driver had decided to drive me to Baltimore, I’m not sure he’d have noticed until morning and 2) I think the driver (Tony) was kind of glad for the company because he talked my ear off. and 3) at one point he’d pulled out a taser stick and demo’d it for me and the other passenger, and then told us of the gun he carried under his seat (we were talking about how dangerous it was to be a taxi driver). Is it weird that I wasn’t nervous about this adventure at all? At the end of it all, he got me home, yes he did charge me full fare for a trip from the airport (there’s no meter, it’s a flat fee) and he gave me his card so I could ask for him by name next time I needed a taxi. And you know what? I probably will. Because I’m crazy like that.

So, who wants to travel with me?

Just call us the Griswalds

Some of you might know the reference if you’re fans of the National Lampoon movies with Chevy Chase. You know the ones, where things always seem to go wrong on their trips? I swear, that’s my travel mojo lately, with lost luggage, plane delays and now, on our epic drive from Maryland to North Dakota…our truck breaking down.

Our trip started out fine, we got on the road by 7am and by 8am Brianna had only asked “are we at the hotel yet” twice (and again a bazillion times after that throughout the day). But about 5 or 6 hours into our trip, we had a noise. I was the first one to hear it, Josh thought it was just the road but…sadly no. It was an unwelcome kind of grinding noise. That came and went. With no discernible rhyme or reason. We stopped, we looked. Josh is pretty car savvy but he was stumped. We drove in circles. We braked and accelerated. We turned the 4 wheel drive on and off. We called my father-in-law who’s also car savvy. He was stumped. The noise came, it went, it got worse, it got better. We drove through rain and then snow and then rain and then perfectly clear skies. We went through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. We decided to drive past Chicago so we wouldn’t have to battle rush hour traffic in the morning. Josh said we were stopping at 10pm (Eastern time) no matter where we were, to get Brianna out of the car.

So we got to Chicago around 9:30 Eastern time (Chicago is central but we were still operating on Eastern time). I Twittered how pretty Chicago is at night and how much I love Chicago (I really do, it’s one of my favorite towns) and that I wished we were visiting. We drove through Chicago and…oh boy. The noise got worse. The car started pulling and then…things got worse, and worse. As much as I love Chicago, I also know there are some parts you just don’t want to be in at any time of day, but especially night. That makes knowing where to stop when you HAVE NO CHOICE really hard. I spotted a Walgreens/Best Buy just off the interstate and ordered (yes, I really did) Josh to take that exit so we could “break down” in that parking lot. And that’s exactly what we did. Right around 10pm (please see Josh’s statement in above paragraph. I blame him. Even if I was the one who Twittered I wished I was visiting Chicago.)

This is where we’re lucky. 1) we made it to somewhere well lit, out of harms way and 2) with a bathroom (important when you have a toddler.) 3) we have AAA so we knew we had options. 4) Aren’t on a timetable so had time to make decisions 5) got an incredibly awesome taxi driver. Having traveled the world and gotten a variety of taxi drivers, some just plain horrible and unfriendly, the fact that we got such a helpful, kind taxi driver in the middle of Chicago was truly a blessing. 6) were able to leave the truck in the parking lot overnight until 7)the ONLY Ford service center within miles that we just happened to be very close to opened in the morning and 8)we found a hotel room at a clean, comfortable hotel (albeit one that had no working heat in our room and a car alarm that went off outside FIVE times–but who was counting–at 5am. And they did switch us to a new room at 6am when we asked. A very nice, warm room with a view of Borders:P)

But our luck doesn’t stop there. Josh was able to get back and meet the AAA tow truck by about 8am and get the truck to the service center. The tow truck driver also mentioned how it was the only Ford service center in miles because everything else has shut down. In fact, it’s only a mile from our hotel so Josh was able to walk back. It’s now 10:20 and they called about 40 minutes ago to let us know the problem was already diagnosed and should be fixed by 1pm. They didn’t have the part, but found one an hour and a half away and had already sent someone for it. Wow! And it’s all only costing just over $500. I say “only” because we were expecting it to be something much more expensive and at least $1000, plus possibly more hotel and car rental costs, with a longer fix time. In the end, it turns out the right rear emergency brake lost a shoe that kept getting wedged/unwedged and finally wedged, causing the bad noises and undriveability.

So hopefully we’ll be back on our way sometime this afternoon. We won’t make it today (tomorrow sometime), but honestly, there are so many things that could have gone so much more horribly wrong that I’m okay with all this. I really think in the end we have been lucky with how it’s all worked out. And hey! I’m in Chicago. In a really cute, nice part of town. With a Lush store only a mile away. Clearly my guardian angel knows how to make me smile after all.

Las Vegas Day 1

So those of you who don’t follow my Twitter probably didn’t get to hear the adventure of my travels yesterday. The adventure of 2 delayed flights, being rerouted to a new flight through Salt Lake City and how Delta lost our bags. Yes, they managed to lose my luggage for the second time this month. As we speak, one of our bags is supposedly here in Vegas (though not in our possession yet) and the other is in, wait for it…Portland, Oregon. No, I don’t know how that happens. Especially since both were supposedly in New York last night and on their way here. Apparently, Portland is on the way? Then, to top it off, after we finally got here (late) last night, Hertz had our car reservation but no car with which to fill that reservation. Genius. But, you know, there’s really nothing you can do except keep a sense of humor about the whole thing and carry on.

We did walk around the casino last night (of course) and I watched the craps tables for awhile. I don’t understand craps at all so this morning we’re going to attend a craps lesson. Because I need something other than slots or blackjack where I can lose my money. Although with our run of bad travel luck yesterday (I mean, seriously, not much went right. Well. The planes didn’t crash. That’s something), but with our bad travel luck, I figure we’re due to win some major money here in Las Vegas. Right? Heh.

Since I woke up at 6am LV time, we’re going to grab the chance to have some breakfast, tour the casino and then go get some craps lessons. We have no other plans for the day. Jaci and Charlie should be here by lunchtime and then it’s off to the tequila bar in the hotel! (okay, not really, but it sounds like something wild and exciting).

Wish me good gambling luck! Oh, and pray our bag makes it from Portland.

Meet James


James was the bus driver on our wine tour in San Francisco. I told James, when I took his picture, that I was going to blog about him. See how happy he looks? Ha.

The tour left from the pier in San Francisco in the morning. As we drove through San Francisco on our way out of town, James gave us some history of the city and famous landmarks that we passed. About 15 minutes into the tour, he told us about the richest part of town and the mansions there, and one house in particular.

“The largest mansion belongs to an author—and I use the term loosely—Danielle Steel.”

Yes, he “used the term loosely”. I guess all those books she wrote don’t qualify her as an author. All those books that earned her that money that bought that mansion.

7 Deadly Zins

IMG_0836 I’ve been going through my pictures from my travels of the past few months. I’m going to be posting my family reunion pictures on Brianna’s blog, and my work photos here. San Francisco (RWA Nationals is first). I got there early since I was coming direct from my family reunion, and one of the first things we did was take a bus tour of wine country. We visited three wineries, but my favorite bottle of wine (which I’m now extremely ticked I didn’t buy) was one that I saw in a store after we stopped in Sedona for lunch. Seven Deadly Zins by Michael David Winery totally caught my eye because of the name, and when I turned it over and read the back label, I was completely enchanted. I can’t even remember now why I didn’t buy it.

IMG_0839 Schulenburg’s vines, grubby with GREED,
Embrace Lodi’s soil, to drink and to feed.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
Secure in it’s strength, weathered with PRIDE,
Standing like soldiers, the forest of Snyde.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
Hearts filled with LUST, ole Maley’s trees.
Court Lodi’s sun, and flirt with it’s breeze.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
Good Bishofberger did raise some GLUTTONOUS beast,
Vines fattened like turkeys before Thanksgiving feast.
Oh Lord, forgive me my zin.
With the tilt of the glass, I commit seven zins,
Oh Lord, with your help… I’ll do it again.

Seven of Lodi’s best growers gave their souls and the first fruits of each of their old vine vineyards to contribute to the layered complexity of this fanciful blend. Soft, supple pepper and licorice-clove notes merge into a sinful marriage of deep, brambly blackberries and lustful cherries. The finish is clean on the palate with hints of rich vanilla, cocoa, and mild tannins.

Isn’t that fun? Visit their website to check out some of their other uniquely named wines, including 7 Heavenly Chards, 6th Sense Syrah, and Icognito Pink. I would totally order some if the freaking state of Maryland would allow alcohol to be shipped in. Bastards.

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