I think perhaps the title should be “The Day That Shall Forever Live in Infamy” but that’s far too long-winded. I’m just going to go stream of consciousness with this one. I may typo, I may skip words and I’ll probably ending up changing tense. Repeatedly. Deal with it. Or move on. Your choice.
So, today was the start of my first ever trip by myself. Yes, I am 35 years old and yes, that makes me sound pitiful, but I have never really had to travel anywhere on my own before. Then a user conference came up in Denver, Colorado for one of the software packages that I just started supporting. Two women I work with were going to be attending and it was going to be a fly in, stay two nights, fly by out kind of shindig. I figured, why not? This would be a great opportunity to prove to myself that I can travel and hold my own if I need to, right?
Or so I thought.
I didn’t sleep well at all. Woke up nearly every hour from the time I went to bed (which was late to begin with) to the time I had to get up to get ready and leave for the airport. I woke up to the alarm at 5 AM and realized in a sudden moment of sheer panic that 5 AM was the time that I had intended to actually leave the house for the airport, not be rolling out of bed!
I got ready in record time and managed to get out of the door half an hour later. We made it to the airport in normal time, so I was in okay shape, but late for meeting up with my colleague. I checked into the flight online and printed my boarding pass the night before. Great. Gate C28. Terry dropped me off at Terminal C. I get inside and go to call my colleague, only to find that I don’t have her cell phone number programmed into my phone.
I email her and she ends up calling me. I tell her where I am, she tells me where she is and then I realize that she’s in Terminal A. The new departure gate is A18. I now have to haul myself quickly across two terminals.
I get into the security line. It’s early in the morning, the line is moving faster than I had anticipated and I nearly fall over trying to pull off one of my boots in preparation for the checkpoint, falling against the person behind my in the process. As I’m standing in line, I break into a cold sweat, realizing that I have all sorts of shampoo, conditioner, hand cream, etc. in my luggage. I normally check a piece of luggage, so I’ve never had to worry about the liquids through security issue with the clear plastic bags and small containers. Awesome. I’m going to get totally hosed by TSA and get everything confiscated or, at the very least, have to check my garment bag. I figure, in for a penny, in for a pound, so I keep going. I get assigned to a line and start pulling out my laptop, etc. No more bins in which to put said items. I have to run across to another line and grab some extra bins. I’m now sweating like a pig because I am very flustered and expect to be mauled by TSA in a few minutes when my garment bag goes through the scanner. I walk through the x-ray machine. It beeps. Belt? Oh yeah. I have a belt on. I take it off, hand it to a TSA person, go back through the x-ray. Good. Start to pick up my things and realize that the garment bag has just made it through security without a second glance. Not sure what that says, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth here, folks.
Now here’s where it gets really fun. I put everything back away, put on my shoes and walk as briskly as possible towards Terminal A. Did you notice that I didn’t mention putting my belt back on? Really? Because I didn’t notice it, either, until I was nearly at my gate.
I finish nearly running to my gate, which is not just in Terminal A, but on the far end of Terminal A. I get there and sit down, with sweat literally dripping from me. My colleague shows up a couple of minutes later. I mention the belt, she looks at her watch and declares that I still have time to run back and get it before the flight begins boarding in 30 minutes. I sit and ponder this fact for a moment, then leave all of my baggage with her except my passport and boarding pass and head back to the security checkpoint at Terminal C. Get my belt, put it on, trot briskly back to my gate. Managed to do this round trip in 15 minutes. At this point, I’m so hot that my hair is soaked in spots. My colleague informs me that the flight is completely full and they expect to run out of room for the carry on luggage by the time they board zone 4. We’re in zone 5. Oh, and there are at least 4 children under the age of 2 on the flight. One of them ends up in the row right in front of us.
The good news is that we managed to be seated underneath the one overhead bin that wasn’t filled to capacity when we boarded. We sit on the tarmac for a while, waiting in line to take off. I’m assuming that the 0.5 mile visibility fog that was slowly burning off had something to do with that.
I’ll cut to the chase. We made it to Denver. A little late, but that wasn’t a problem for us. We didn’t think. We follow the directions that my colleague had received from the hotel on how to procure a shuttle to the hotel. Go to the baggage claim area, find a courtesy phone and call for a shuttle. We find someone who points us in the directory of the courtesy phones. Nice. They have a whole section with hotel names and numbers next to phones. You just pick up the phone and punch the two-digit code for your hotel. They tell us where to go to wait for the shuttle. We walk outside, wait for a little bit, hop in the shuttle and finally make it to the hotel. At least we make it to a hotel. It turns out that there are two Crowne Plaza hotels in Denver. One closer to the airport and one in downtown. Guess which one we’re at? Now guess which one the conference is at? Bingo!
A bit of waiting in the lobby of the wrong hotel and one cab ride later and we’re finally at the right hotel. We’re almost at the tail end of the conference lunch (we skipped the first half of the day intentionally). My colleague checks in. Room is ready. Great. I check in, with a different person at reception. Who is apparently an idiot. She tells me that there are no rooms available, despite me having just overheard the other woman tell my colleague that there were several rooms ready. So, she’s going to have to hold a room and I’ll have to come back later for the key. But first she can’t even do that right and has to go get someone else to help her.
We drag our luggage into the main conference room and try to settle in while scarfing down lunch and processing everything that has happened to us in the past few hours. On the next break a couple of hours later, I go back to the front desk to get my room key. The room they marked off for me still isn’t ready and won’t be for another 30 to 60 minutes. At this point, I’m thinking that we could be getting close to the end of the day for the conference, so I ask that they put me in another room that is available right away. I finally get a room key. Yay!
You know what? I’ve run out of steam. It’s now well after midnight east coast time and I’m exhausted. I can’t think straight and I can’t remember if there’s anything funny left to tell, so I’m just going to end this post abruptly. Oh well. Sucks to be you! 😀
Let it never be said that life is not immensely humorous at times. If that’s what you choose to see in it. And I, for one, would much rather laugh than cry, so I put a smile on my face and just keep on going. 🙂
Oh my what a day! I’m happy you made it safe and sound, even though a little flustered. I hope the return trip will be the complete opposite and absolutely completely uneventful.
If you made it through all of that, I’d certainly say you’ve earned the right to say you can handle travelling on your own. <3
Thoughts/comments after reading this blog entry.
– I rarely sleep well the night before I travel. Makes no difference if I am flying or driving. 🙂
– Most airlines will allow you to submit an email address that would be
used to give you information like flight changes, gate changes, etc. Those can and should be sent to your phone. Then you just need to remember to check your phone for these messages.
– That is the exact reason (boots and belt) that I always wear slip on shoes to the airport AND never put on my belt until AFTER I go thru security.
– I am surprised that you did not put luggage for both of you in your co-workers room after checking in vice hauling it to the conference. In your case, since the room was not ready, most hotels – especially places like the Crowne hotels – have a place they should have offered to put your luggage until the room was ready. They also will do this when you have to check out in the morning but may not be leaving the hotel (due to the conference in this case) until later in the day.
I am going to suggest that most was brought on by traveling alone for the first time. You are doing well.
Oh my heavens, Jenna! What an ordeal – so glad you made it through and even could find a smile at the end of it. Take care!!
Wow! What a day for you! 😀 Glad you’re able to get thru all of it with a sense of humor firmly intact.
I have had business trips like that. I never sleep the night before for fear of doing exactly what you did! And I never sleep well in the hotel for fear of over sleeping and missing whatever meeting/event I’m there for!
Shame on the hotel for not offering bell service for your luggage…you are a guest and should have been treated much much better!!
Hopefully your next trip will be less eventful 🙂
Wow! CRAZINESS!!! I feel out of breath just reading this post!!! I hate traveling, especially alone. I’m freaking out, because next summer my hubby wants to send me and my (will be then)1.5 year old daughter home to my parents (they live in california I live in Okinawa Japan!) I hate traveling, then thinking of traveling allll that way with just me and my daughter?!?!?! my heart is racing at the thought! Oh yeah! and I love the ornaments (Tigger and Eeyore) in your previous post! very cute!!