Only recently has my business travel been almost exclusively via airplane. I still have a few local trips for which I will rent a car and hit the road, but nothing like before when the inverse was true. I once drove all the way from Houston to Amarillo (at some point can we please discuss The Big Texan?) stopping in Wichita Falls and Lubbock along the way. Thankfully, for the return trip I was able to catch a plane from one of of the airports’ seven gates, rather than make the 600 mile trek by car.
I’ve never had a problem with flying, but there was a slight learning curve when I begin to book multi-city flights, skipping across the country like a rock on a pond. Eventually, the rock sinks. Some issues are avoidable, like when you book a connecting flight, make sure you allow enough layover time. I’d rather relax in the airport for an hour than sprint off the plane and bowl people over with my carry on as I run in blind panic.
Some issues are unavoidable, like when your plane has a mechanical delay. It always makes me nervous to fly the day of a work event for this very reason, because too long of a delay could cause me to miss the entire reason for my trip in the first place. I first experienced this particular situation flying from St. Louis to Atlanta via Chicago O’Hare. I booked a 6 a.m. flight out of St. Louis in order to have plenty of time to make my connection to Atlanta, get to my hotel with a couple hours to spare, and make my event at 6 p.m. Sounds good, right?
Except, early flights mean that I barely sleep because I don’t want to oversleep. Funny how that works! I had prepared myself by having an energy drink ready for when I woke up, but I wasn’t not prepared at all for the rest of my day. After maybe three hours of sleep, arriving at the airport and lining up to board, we changed gates twice and left over an hour late. While it is a short flight from St. Louis to Chicago, when I refreshed my United app and asked the flight attendant if I could make it from C11 to F8 in time for my connection, her face said it all.
She told me that I could take the shuttle from C15 to Concourse E and re-book to the next flight. The next flight that put me in Atlanta during rush hour. Meaning I would be extremely late and/or miss my event.
When I exited the plane I made a choice that I was going to make this flight come hell or high water. With my computer bag bouncing on my shoulder and my carry-on trying to keep up, I proceeded to complete the most incredibly awkward walk/run that anyone has ever seen, gracefully tripping on my own shoes twice.
This was my first time in O’Hare since I lived in Chicago, so the nostalgia and the panic combined to fuel my adrenaline. When I ran up to my gate 13 minutes later, the gate attendant, with a look of shock, asked me how I made it so quickly. Between deep breaths, all I could say was, “I hurried.”
When I walked on the plane, every seat except mine was filled. I had the privilege of the airplane walk of shame, when you’re sweating and everyone stares at you while assuming you were just late to the airport to make the flight. What makes this boarding even worse was the business traveler next to me who watched as I attempted to throw my laptop bag under my window seat only for it to catch on the arm rest repeatedly. At this point, it wasn’t even 10 a.m.
I was exhausted, had somehow made it to Atlanta on time, and couldn’t wait to get to my hotel in the galleria area to take a quick nap prior to my evening event. After setting a thirty minute alarm, I laid down to a chorus of jackhammers that were being used to
destroy renovate the floor above me. After not having a nap, I discovered a baseball-sized bruise on the back of my leg from my laptop case slamming into it during my own personal Chicago O’Hare marathon.
Two weeks later, I had to make the same sprint, this time from C11 to E6. I shaved two minutes off my time, and left the laptop at work.
Those of you who know me (and now those of you who don’t), know that I have two endearingly particular talents: remembering most everything and keeping everything (within reason). The two can be even be linked! Please have a seat while I tell you from where I got this plastic bag in June of 2009. I kept it because it has the logo of a store we don’t have here – how could I throw it away?
I promise I am not a hoarder.
When I travel to a new city or state, or landmark within, I have two standard items that I always purchase: a magnet and postcards. Postcards are easy to transport and store, and between my mom and I , we have a fairly extensive collection. I started collecting magnets at an early age, so it’s a good thing refrigerators have lots of space! I’m fairly picky with the magnets, and try not to go overboard, but sometimes you visit a lot of new places and end up with a few more than planned. Because who doesn’t love Dole Whip?
When Mike and I decided that we were going to Hawaii this summer, we knew we wanted to do a lot more than spend six days roasting on the beach. We figured one of the best ways to really see the island would be to go on a few hikes. One of my coworkers recommended the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, and when I read that the pillboxes were remnants of World War II guard posts, I was sold on including it on our list. It was described as a moderate hike online, and while I am no athlete, I’ve done enough running in my life to assume I would not have any issues.
Within the first five minutes I knew I had made a huge mistake, and was certain I would be tumbling to my death. The hike starts out with a steep incline, which is fine until the moment you realize you’re going to have to get back down somehow. By the time the first incline finally leveled off, I was resigned that I’d come too far to quit, but luckily I was pretty mesmerized by the view.
When I said that the incline leveled off, it was not for long, and I was back to imagining in how many places I was going to break my leg, arm, skull. And then we reached the first pillbox.
We had to cut this hike short (can you sense how disappointed I was?), so we started the journey back down and did not continue to the second pillbox. If anyone saw my descent that day, I hope they took video. I would liken it to a scared goat on the side of a cliff afraid to move. Who am I kidding; goats don’t get scared.
Prior to the trip, Mike suggested that we pick up some inexpensive hiking shoes from Academy. Considering the “hikes” I had been on before in Cameron Park, Brazos Bend State Park, or even Muir Woods, I scoffed at the idea of purchasing and hauling an extra pair of bulky shoes. I was positive we didn’t need them, and that my cute little tennis shoes would be perfectly fine. You might think I’m exaggerating, and it’s quite possible I may never hear the end of this, but without the extra grip of the shoes I’m pretty sure I would have tumbled ass over tea kettles straight to the bottom.
It turns out that if you have a healthy fear of falling and an overactive imagination, this may not be the hike for you, but if you push through (and have the appropriate footwear) the views are stunning. I only wish we’d made it up there for sunrise.
For the past few years, my main travel goal has been to visit all fifty states in the Union. Once my recruitment jobs began taking me out of state, I began to check more locations off my list, and my most up-to-date map is as follows:
That leaves me with a LOT of stories to tell you about, and Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, and South Carolina left to visit. Technically, I’ve had an in-depth visit of the Albuquerque airport en route to Seattle courtesy of a torrential downpour out of Texas. In my six hours there, I managed to purchase a souvenir magnet and postcard for my collection, and drained the battery of my phone twice. However, I’m not going to count that as actually “seeing” New Mexico. I really only saw various New Mexico residents departing or arriving while tethered to my charger.
As it turns out, I’m not alone in my quest! A cursory Google search turns up all sorts of articles on the subject: How to Travel 50 States with Kids; What Counts as Visiting all 50 States?; Visiting 50 States is Harder than you Think. My favorite is the 50 States Club certificate you can earn on the honor system for a mere $12 plus shipping. Maybe I’ll treat myself to one of those someday.
While I may not be completing my fifty state quest anytime soon, I’m gearing up for the Road Warrior lifestyle again this fall, and look forward to taking y’all (okay, I went full Texan there) along for the ride!