This Weighs a Ton, Travel’s a Curse[*]

I am in Colorado. Andrew’s brother lives here and I decided that the one thing a girl out of work needs, right before starting a new job, is a vacation. Last year Andrew and I came down here for the Bolder Boulder, which is the largest race in the US where all participants are timed and the 5th largest in the world. [1].

This year, I can’t run it because my knee is still healing. [2].

Sunday night I had a show and thought that a quad grande breve latte at 3:30PM was a good idea because I was flagging a little. It turns out I was right… and wrong. When I finally got to sleep at 4AM Monday morning I knew the impact on my travel day would be torturous. I woke up at 7:30 to the sounds of Andrew in the shower. He had gotten 8 and a half hours of sleep and was – of all things – chipper. While Andrew is a fairly good natured guy as a rule, his morning demeanor would normally be summed up as “groggy.” This day was a definite reversal of roles.

I showered, finished drying laundry, ate breakfast and started prepping for packing.

“Andrew, can I borrow your other travel bag? My luggage is kind of clunky and your bag is all zippers and pouches and fun.”

“Sure, but it doesn’t have wheels on it.”

“What do I need wheels for? I am going to be sitting in an airport.”

I started packing every article of clothing I own. The bag I borrowed from Andrew is one he had taken on one of his South American three-week-jaunts. I had to open up the main compartment with the expansion zipper.

“I didn’t even know that expanded.”

Ah, my dude, the minimalist. I am pretty sure all he packed for his 3-week trip was a change of briefs and snacks for sitting at the airport.

Meanwhile, as I was folding laundry I kept finding clothes that I might want to wear. Then I realized that I needed proper shoes for each of the potential outfit types – running shoes for running [3], pretty sandals for summer dresses, heels for a night out (just in case), Vans for running around with the boys (Andrew’s nephews). Andrew watched me, shaking his head.

“I am not as efficient at packing as you.”

“That’s because I am a man.”

Which pissed me off only a little because he said that right before he started having a very womanly crisis over which shoes he should pack.

“Hon, here’s a bag of cookies and snacks for you to take with you.”

“Um, I am sure I will be able to survive. I am going to eat a big lunch with a friend right before I get to the airport and then the flight is like 2 hours.” I mean really, I don’t need to eat every 20 minutes, and the less I have to fumble around with the easier the trip, and there is food at the airport if things get too out of hand. I swear, it’s like Andrew has never traveled before. “But, thanks.”

When we purchased tickets, Andrew purchased the cheapest and most convenient flight. I just chose the cheapest. So, he was leaving at 12:30, and I at 4:50. I drove him to the airport and went to have lunch with a friend.

When I returned to the airport I parked in long term parking hoisted my two bags (the second bag is my backpack with all of my “things to do” stuff – kindle, laptop, knitting, etc.) onto my back and got to the nearest bus station. The next bus was a ways away, but I could see it. I figured I could walk to the next bus stop and meet up with it. I got three bus stops of walking in before getting on the bus. My bags felt pretty heavy.

Once in the airport I realized that I had not actually traveled by myself for a very long time. Traveling isn’t difficult, but I usually rely on others for what to do or where to go. I  figured out which gate I needed to be at and went to the TSA line. Once at the TSA line I remembered that I had wanted to check my big bag; however, I felt it would seem suspicious if I suddenly left the TSA line right before they checked my ID. And, although I had plenty of time on my hands because I was at the airport 2 hours early, my list of fun things to do while waiting for my plane did not have on it anything that might include the use of latex gloves.

I placed my bags on the conveyer and took my shoes off. I read the sign showing me that my conditioner and hair gel were likely going to be confiscated. Shit, I really like that conditioner, I don’t want it to be confiscated. I noticed a pilot trying to cut the line and I offered him the spot before me. Everyone seemed surprised that someone was pleasant. I became overly pleasant, in that “please don’t notice I have contraband conditioner and confiscate it” kind of way. I am not sure if letting the pilot through helped, or if TSA realized that I was just the kind of girl who really had super expensive hair conditioner in a bag she meant to check, and not some incendiary device – but they let me and my avocado oil through.

I lugged my bags back onto my back and really started regretting not having wheels. By the time I got to my gate my shoulder had pins and needles in it and was just a touch away from seizing. I took off my bags, sat down at the three chaired plug in kiosk and was immediately surrounded by a gaggle of 20somethings on their way to the Bolder Boulder. About ten minutes after they arrived by me I realized that I was taking up two seats with my bags and had not actually plugged anything into the plugs. That explained the sideways glances. I also realized I was starving.

There were several restaurants nearby; but, I was alone in the airport with heavy non-wheeled luggage that I would have to take with me to get food. I contemplated asking the 20somethings to watch my bag. No, I think I burned that bridge with the space-hogging faux pas. Eventually the hunger overcame the pain in my shoulders and I grabbed my stuff and went to Big Town Hero. I am allergic to gluten. However, I go to Subway a lot because they make their subs into salads. Big Town Hero looked at me like I was from another planet when I asked them to do the same. They accommodated but I could tell the counter clerk was internally rolling her eyes and thinking – why go to a sandwich shop if you can’t eat sandwiches, duh!

I grabbed my food, went back to the gate, and waited patiently for the plane.

The flight was uneventful. Though I do love Southwest and the flight attendants’ stand-up comedy routines. My only regret is that I was not sleepy – tired, yes – sleepy, not so much.

In Colorado, I trudged off the plane getting more and more exhausted with every step. I asked someone in uniform where I could find the car rental places and he guided me toward baggage claim. I found the Thrifty shuttle and hopped on.

I don’t have a smart phone (as I think I have mentioned before); however, I can get into my email through my phone. While on the shuttle I did just that in order to find the email confirmation of my car rental that I know I saved and starred in my gmail account. Unfortunately, the phone interface with gmail does not have access to starred items specifically. I could not find the email.

At Thrifty they couldn’t find my car reservation.

They did not have wifi in order for me to log into my computer to find my starred email with the confirmation.

I had visions of having to wait for the next shuttle, going back to the airport, finding my reservation number and shuttling it back. It was already 9:30.

I almost started crying. I was never going to leave the airport.

I called Andrew. I explained to him that he was right about the wheels, and the snacks and that I was exhausted and I hated traveling.

He logged into my email and gave me the reservation number for the car rental I had at Payless Car Rental, not Thrifty. My hero.

The guy at the counter told me their shuttle would take me there.

At this point I was exhausted. Through a series of u-turns, back-tracking, not knowing how to read directions, and sheer perseverance, I got to the house at 11ish. Or possibly 11:30. I had lost all concept of time and reason. I was completely drained. And starving.

Andrew’s family gave me hugs and sent me to bed. For about 30 minutes I was afraid sleep would evade me.

I woke up 7 hours later.

Today, my first day of vacation, there will be napping! [4]

[*] For those of you who don’t already have it in your head from the title:

[1] If you don’t believe me, do your own research. This is a blog not a journal.

[2] By can’t I mean shouldn’t. Somehow, I managed to pack my running shoes and some running clothes – just in case.

[3] Not that I am going to run – because, you know, my knee and all. And it would be a bad idea. But, who knows if I may completely heal by Memorial day.

[4] I have to get my rest in case I happen to be in a situation where I have to either run the 10k on Memorial Day or be put to death. [4a]

[4a] It could happen.