Since my aunt's big red truck has room for more passengers than the kind I'm hoping to buy in a few weeks, there was plenty of room for Granddaddy to join us for the hour and a half drive to the Pensacola airport on Monday. He sat in the back, declaring, "Then I won't have to listen to y'all talk so much!" and napped intermittently, or giggled at our jokes, occasionally making his own. (And he didn't have another single word to say about the heavy cast iron skillet he'd just watched me pack into my suitcase, a gift from my aunt. A 30-year-well-seasoned one such as I've dreamed of owning for as long as I've known just how great a find they can be. And how rare.) Sometimes we held hands and he reminded me that there didn't seem to be any good reason for me to leave. It had only been a week! What was my hurry?
Still, I was on the 6:25 flight to Atlanta. From where my connecting flight to Greensboro, which was to have arrived home at 11:10 pm when I booked it was, I'd just learned, now to be departing at 11:50. Yay. Arriving home at 1:12am was not high on my list of favorite parts of the day, but when I landed and saw the "departing at 1:15am" notice, I reminded myself to hold off on the complaining in future - seems it can get worse.
But "worse" is a relative term. Especially when your very good friend lives in Atlanta and is generally up for some spontaneous fun. Calling her to see if I should change my unpredictable flight to another one in the morning, I said, "Hypothetical question for ya. Let's say you're the nomad and I'm the one who lives in Atlanta. If you suddenly found yourself hanging out in the airport for 4 hours..." She interrupted me with an incredulous, "Are you in Atlanta???!!!" So we talked for 2 minutes, then I headed over to the service phone and called a Delta representative to switch my flight. At which time I heard, "Well your flight has been cancelled!" Good thing I'm already at the front of the line booking a seat for tomorrow, then, eh?
After the perfect amount of catching up and general good Girl Gabbing Time and a better night's sleep than I prolly would have had if I'd used the hotel room voucher Delta's clever little machine had spit out for me when I went to print my updated Tuesday itinerary, I returned to the airport through all that Atlanta morning traffic and, set to be on the 10:38am flight to Greensboro, learned that my flight had been overbooked. Anybody interested in waiting around for the 12:37ish flight would be rewarded with $300 Delta Dollars. Hm. With the ever-increasing likelihood that I'll be purchasing a vehicle soon, along with the serious jonesing to spend September in Seattle, that sounded like a reasonable offer to me. Why yes! I do believe I'd love to hang around and enjoy your hospitality a while longer! Appreciate your asking!
Not only are those nifty Itinerary Spitting Machines new since the last time I flew anywhere (I was surprised to realize it must have been 3 or 4 years before this last round of flights started up,) they've also got these handy "recharging stations" for your laptops and smartphones. Kind of like what you'd get if you combined a library carrel with a tall bar table with walls for segmenting the surface into 4 separate units, and put it down in the middle of a bunch of seats for random strangers to mingle with ease. From which you could easily overhear, if you were so inclined, the animated banter of a pack of middle aged men who clearly travel a lot and are, you subsequently learn, more than a little impressed by your typing speed and the fact that You Don't Even Look At The Keys your hands are flying over!
An hour later, looking around for a seat near my hopefully departing gate, I heard my name being called. Not by a formal voice on a loud speaker, but by a familiar, warm voice I wasn't expecting to hear. Sure enough, a couple of friends now living in Boulder were flying standby, trying to get back to the Greensboro area, and were hopeful of being on that very same flight.
And so they were. But only after we had some welcome friendly banter of our own.
From the time I texted my friend who'd offered to pick me up, telling him we were on the ground, and the minute he dropped me at my door, I don't think a half hour even passed. Things got real efficient there at the end.
Then twenty four hours hadn't passed before I was online checking flight times and dates for my next trip. I don't know. Unlike the stories of some people I know, travel unpredictability seems not to turn me off to more, but, instead, make me crave another trip soon. But since my next trip's plans have me juggling more airports - and individual schedules - to make September go off without a hitch, I'll hold off on sharing those details for a while. Suffice it to say that if even half of the details I'm trying to work into the overall plan work out, I'll have way more interesting stories to share. And this time, great pictures too.
For now, I'll stay put, design some websites, meet some clients, and catch up with my local friends and family. And try to figure out if I can manage to actually travel light this time. The fact that no iron skillets are likely to be involved, either coming OR going, will be a good start!