San Francisco or Bust

A few weeks ago I went to San Francisco.  Or I should say that I undertook a journey of Homeric proportions to get to San Francisco.  Okay, okay, that’s overstating it a bit. But not by much.

I had a late flight out on what would be the first big snowstorm of the season, and DIA was, I would later find out, woefully unprepared.  It felt like a blizzard as I drove to the airport, though native Coloradoans would probably have termed it “snow driving.” Growing up in California, I have never quite mastered the art of driving in the snow. As I do it I usually evaluate my life and try to see if there is anything I’d like to do differently should I survive.

I got to the airport, made it through security easily and got to the gate.  I had a little extra time (and here I wish I’d had an inkling of the near future) and went to the bar to have a pre-flight cocktail.  The waitress asked if I’d like another after I’d finished, and I replied, “pshaw, no,” thinking that I’d be getting on the plane soon. Once on board,  the captain makes some announcement about getting going to de-ice, some planes have been waiting for 3 hours to de-ice but he didn’t think that would happen to us.

I’ll spare you all some time here and note that I got through a few episodes of “Damages” (1st season good, 2nd not so much) before we hit the de-icing pad 3 hours later.  The captain announces that we’ve got half an hour before FAA regulations say we’ve got to go back to the gate.  The flight attendants come by with water and pretzels.  This doesn’t really mollify me.  AS THEY ARE DE-ICING THE PLANE, the captain says that it’s taking too long and we’ll have to head back to the gate.  It is now 1 AM.

We deplane and mill about, unsure of what to do.  Some other passenger who sounds Canadian but is far too loud to be Canadian (I don’t know, are Canadians extraordinarily loud at 1 AM?) is irritating everyone.  We all find a plug to recharge our electronic devices and they announce that they’re getting us all back ON the plane to try and leave, and now it should be okay.  Fine. My dad calls to ask me how my flight was and if I made it to my hotel safely.  I cheerfully announce that my flight landed safely in Denver.

We get back on the plane, and this time it’s different.  This time we spend only 2 hours on the plane and don’t make it to the de-icing pad before they turn the plane around and cancel the flight.

It’s now 3:30 and I’m really wishing I took up that waitress on her offer of a 2nd cocktail. Everyone gets off the plane and gets on the phone to the airline trying to rebook.  I can’t get through after 5 minutes so pull out my Ipad, see that there’s a flight leaving a 8:00 AM and get a ticket on that. It’s too little time to go home, and it’s still snowing anyway so I don’t want to drive (see aforementioned note about driving in snow) so I find a gate and try to sleep.

Now, in the 1990s, all airports homeless-proofed themselves.  Before that there were seats without armrests where people could take a nap, but too many vagrants were taking advantage of that.  After 9.11 when only passengers could come through to the gate area, this wasn’t needed but no airport has reverted to the nicer seats.  So I really couldn’t sleep because of the seats, and because it’s damn creepy to be a single woman sleeping in the airport and did I mention I was watching a series about sneaky people murdering each other? So I wander the airport and see this really ugly piece of airport “art.” Did they forget to install something? What is the point of this:

Around 6:30 the airport wakes up, and I wander to find food. At this point, this is the end of a very very long NIGHT for me and I think it’d be nice to have that 2nd drink I never got.  I then realize that for everyone else it’s 6:30 in the morning and chances would be that I’d run into a patient and be reported to some state medical board for looking like an alcoholic. I decide to wait for a more socially acceptable hour to have that bloody mary and instead get breakfast.

At 7:30 they announce overhead that the flight has been delayed due to fog in San Fran. Fog? San Fran? Who knew? Ok, no big deal.

At 8:30 they announce that the flight will now leave at 11 AM.  I have been in the airport for about 13 hours at this point and am not thinking very clearly, but do realize  that if I have to sit through one more flight delay I just may end up hurting someone.  I look at the board and see that there is a flight to fog-less San Jose leaving at 10 AM, and run through the terminal to see if they can book me on that.  Thankfully, they can, and I head to the bar to get what I feel is a well deserved drink before actually boarding a plane to get to California. (Note how I get to show off my super cool Ipad cover, too.)

As I walk down the jetway, these yahoos flank the walls.  I feel they are mocking me and I wish I could hurt them. This is, I think, the WORST thing about flying Southwest.

I land in San Jose, my parents pick me up, hand me a bag with lunch, and I then get on a BART train to ride for ANOTHER 45 minutes to get to San Francisco.

I finally get to the hotel, 19 hours after I left home. I am so, so grateful for the box of delicious Indian food that my mom has lovingly packed in tiffin and eat every single bite.

You may wonder why I didn’t just give up and go home at any given point. Truthfully, I look forward to this trip too much to give it up-it’s my one trip away every year that isn’t work-related.  And in some ways, it was kind of fun.  I mean, I was there by myself so didn’t have anyone (kids) to take care of and had plenty of entertainment.  It felt like I was younger and single and on one of my more adventurous trips where I was sharing a truck with chickens for 12 hours for a ride that should take 2, but without the chickens and all. Had I been going almost anywhere else I probably would have just gone back home, but I can’t pass up a trip to San Francisco, even if it means spending a night in the airport.

The trip itself was great, I spent time with some old friends and randomly ran into an old college friend I hadn’t seen in near 15 years, ate delicious food and got to go to an amazing yarn store to get a new project since 12 hours in the airport had eaten up all the yarn I’d initially brought with me. That’ll have to be another post. Oh, and I did manage to go to that medical conference and learn some, you know, stuff.

When I wasn’t out enjoying this, of course:

San Francisco

We all just got back from a great trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up and where my parents still live.  The kids had a great time with Aaji and Aba, ate tons of delicious home cooked food, and loved both the Exploratorium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, places that I have such strong wonderful memories of I was incredibly excited to take the kids to both of them. In fact, when we went to the Aquarium, we took a picture of the boy standing in the same spot I stood in nearly 30 years ago, wearing the Aquarium shirt I bought on that trip. That one is still on my Dad’s camera, so I need to have him send it to me. I’m loving all the trips we’re doing this year and hope to keep taking the kids to more places–in some way, this is my gift to them. Some parents teach their kids music, or sports, or wilderness and nature skills.  I have none of these talents. What I DO have is a love of traveling and seeing the world and the luck of having a job that lets me take a lot of trips, and a desire for my kids to know the world outside of their own, something that I think comes directly from my Dad.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating-I’m really so impressed with the two of them, especially considering that they’re only 4 and 6, and still soldier through these trips, largely uncomplaining. These are not easy trips-the kids are responsible for their carting own luggage through the airport (Skip Hop rolling luggage, by the way, hold enough for a 1 week of kids’ clothes and are easy for them to manage) and have to walk on their own everywhere since I don’t want to deal with a stroller. (Eric might disagree with me on that last one since the girl got her fair share of being carried, but I’d say it was 75% her own feet.) I don’t expect them to remember everything about these trips, of course, but my hope is that once you learn these skills it becomes easier to do more challenging trips in the future and more importantly, they love going places as much as I do.

A few pictures from the trip (click to enlarge)

Cold beach day

Climbing from Fort Point to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge all by myself!

Chilly girl with a funny funny turban hiking through the Marina

Pole position at the Musee Mecanique-I remember begging my parents for more quarters to play this when we’d go to Round Table Pizza

Hanging on to the Powell-Mason Cable Car

Becoming one with the puffin exhibit at the Aquarium

Spooky jellies

Stared down by the giant octopus