On Tuesday morning I woke up at 3:15 - no help from the alarm clock either - I knew I had to be up so that was it. I took a shower and finished packing - got in the car by 4:15 and went to the Syracuse Airport. Got there about 5:05 - parked on the roof and headed in, figuring that there wouldn't be anyone in line for security - it was the crack of dawn. Took the elevator to the Bridge level and stepped out to a line! My first thought - and the words out of my mouth were "What THE?!?!?!" - everyone laughed as I made my way down the bridge only to turn back towards the elevator because the line was that fracking long! Really?!?!?!
I made people chuckle as we stood in line - when I'm nervous and over tired apparently I can be quite funny too! Well - to people who are just as sleep deprived, caffeine deprived and excited about a trip! As we were waiting and I was getting knots in my tummy - I kept asking God to please make this flight thing work for me because my layover in Chicago was all of 45 minutes - maybe and I was starting to sweat! The TSA people at Syracuse were very good - we got through quite quickly and I was the second to the last one on the plane and they put my bag in the under plane storage because they had no more room in the overhead storage. I had a decent seat - not too far back and a window to boot so was able to catch a few z's - very few actually, but I tried. My adrenal was still a little high. As we got closer to Chicago I looked at my connecting flight info and the time 7:35am stuck in my head. We landed at 7:10 - I got off the plane by 7:20 - and of course even though my bag was the last put in underneath, it was also the last to come out and by this time I'm thinking that I'm going to have to take off my shoes and do the O.J. sprint through the airport as my next plane was 30 gates away! I did run - and curse a little as the people who got on the people mover things just stood - didn't move to the right and I quickly realized that I had to be my own people mover. So I walked as fast as I could - talking to God and hoping that I hadn't messed up meeting my next plane. I finally made it to the gate and found all of these people standing there - I went up to a nice lady and asked her what was going on and she said they hadn't started boarding yet. Confusion set in my tired brain and I asked when it was supposed to leave - she said 8:10 - I pulled out my boarding pass and found that the 7:35 was the boarding start time. I chuckled and said "Good - well now I can pee!" and of course I said it out loud and the nice lady and her husband laughed.
I waited as long as I could before I boarded - I was in the second to the last row on the plane and didn't want to be there any longer than necessary. It was fortunate though that there was an empty seat between me and my row mate - I had the aisle but I wasn't dealt too many blows. It was an uneventful flight to Portland, Oregon until we hit some turbulence that had the lady in front of me sharing her coffee with everyone in the row next to and in front of her. I held on to my ice water with my hand over the top - without our seatbelts on we would have hit the ceiling - my hand looked like it wasn't connected to anything with the way it kept going up and down. I admit - I was scared! But we made it there at 10:40 with just a few more bumps and jolts as we landed. My meeting took place in the airport (PDX) and was 3 hours away, the conference center was all set for us as well as the presenter and hostess for this meeting. I was able to leave my stuff there and walk around a bit, buy RB a couple of souvenirs and get an awesome vanilla latte and check out the stores. PDX is really nice - prices are reasonable and I'm thinking that there is something in the water in Oregon because everyone was extraordinarily nice! Beyond my comprehension nice! The meeting started at 1:30 - lasted till almost 4:15 and then I made my way to the shuttle bus area for my hotel shuttle. Got there about 2 minutes before it did and had a fellow traveler with me - she was a flight attendant with Alaskan Air - very nice lady as well!
I checked into the hotel - The Shilo Inn! - awesome rooms! wowo! I had a jr. King Suite - for a whopping 95.00 including tax. The front desk people were wonderful - friendly - engaging. That counts for something - so if you are reading this and you work with people - be friendly - engaging - smile with your mouth and your eyes - it make such a huge difference!!!! I had a great dinner at the Shilo Inn Restaurant - accompanied by an Oregon Porter - I can't remember the name of it! The dinner was scallops and risotto with wild mushrooms! It was so well done. The scallops were cooked to perfection and tasted really good!
My night was short - by that time I figured I'd been up since midnight Oregon time and it was almost 9pm and my brain was short circuiting. I crashed - and my bed was so comfortable! I slept well but for the fact I kept waking up! I drink a lot of water when I travel because the planes are so dry! Well - with the beer I guess all that water had to come out...over about 4 trips. I finally fell asleep hard around 3 and my alarm was a rude reminder at 430 that I had to get up and get back on a plane and head back to NY!
It was yet another morning of weirdness... I had to pick up my boarding passes at PDX, but the machine told me I needed "special help" - I received excellent help but it took a little while. Then the security line was also quite long there and I thought about panicking and realized it didn't really matter because I didn't have a meeting to get to - just my car waiting for me at SYR. So - I watched people, went through the screening and had plenty of time to get to my gate (PDX is tiny compared to Chicago). I again had the second to last seat on this plane - so waited patiently till there were few people left. My bag stayed in the passenger area with me this time so that was good - but there were three of us in our row - and I was the aisle person again! but either I gained 100 pounds over night or this plane shrunk - turns out that the Continental (now United) planes are narrower - they carry the same number of people, but the seats and center aisle are narrower - by the time we got off that plane I was ready to elbow anyone who came near me. My arm, shoulder, and head were bumped into almost constantly - being near the only two restrooms for 90% of the passengers does that to you! I tried to sleep and the few times that I did, I awoke to realize that my mouth was wide open and I thought for sure I had probably snored, but everyone was polite enough to leave me be!
We landed in Newark (after what seemed to be a week on that plane) and I made my way to the next gate. It was about 80 degrees in the gate areas - it has been unseasonably warm lately and I'm guessing that they still had the heat on - and God forbid they should ever open some windows or something! I got to my gate - parked myself and realize that this was the first time in 3 flights that I was actually a little early! Woo HOOOOOO! well that whole party was short lived as I then found out that our plane didn't have a crew and it was looking like a late start at 5 instead of 4pm - and then it was 5:20....5:30 and finally 5:45, but I was very fortunate to meet a nice lady who I spent about 2 hours with - Karen. She and I walked and talked and covered for each other so we didn't have to bring all of our crap into the restrooms and deal with all of that. It was a pleasure to meet her and I pray that her daughter gets home from Afghanistan soon - Karen was going to see her grandchildren and son in law and hopefully get to stay to see her daughter come home too!
When we did get on the plane I was bummed that I didn't have a window seat, but I soon found out that my seatmate was a nice and funny man. He and I talked the whole trip. I learned some things from him and didn't get scared out of my mind that we were on one of those propeller planes. Egads! A puddle jumper indeed. Brian was a blessing! I'm trying to find him a good website person in Syracuse. He has a very good business and needs a better internet presence!
The long of the short of it was that I was in Portland, Oregon for about 19 hours...but it was a very good trip and I learned a lot to help me in my job!
My quickest ever trip across the country and back again!