Category Archives: Excursions/Travel

Hubby Humor-isms: Mossy Rock

Sometimes I just can’t help but laugh at the colorful phrases my husband uses. Well, to be honest, I try to stifle my laughter to avoid encouraging him. Otherwise he would never stop…He thinks he’s a comedian and often declares “I’m my own entertainment!”

We stopped at a travel center in Virginia to fuel the truck and eat lunch. Hubby waited for our order while I filled the drinks and located a table.

After what felt like an eternity, he arrived…GRUMBLING…with our food.

He proceeded to share why it took SO long for our order. Apparently the restaurant workers need more training…a LOT more training. While he was waiting, multiple customers returned so their order could be corrected. The attitude of the people he could see behind the counter prompted him to quip…

“Those people are slower than a herd of turtles with the spunk and enthusiasm of a moss-covered rock.”

Where on Earth does he come up with these metaphors?

Featured image “Moss Covered Rock in the Yellowstone River” by Bill Gracey, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Random Ramblings: On the Road Again

Three states…Two days…550 flight miles…478 highway miles.

Sunday
Finished up a visit to Florida for Hubby’s work. Boarded a plane to North Carolina for our first Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.

Monday
Swapped out t-shirts for sweaters, loaded the “Beast”, and set out for our second Thanksgiving in Ohio.

Our Dodge Durango (AKA “The Beast”) carries our stuff, handles good in all weather, and supports passenger naps (that’s me). Doesn’t get any better than that.

Cabin Credit

Surprised? Shocked? Outraged? Well, not quite that strong. Let’s go with “taken aback”. Yes, that’s it…I was taken aback when the flight attendant pitched a credit card promotion over the cabin speaker. Not just once…but on both legs of our flight. Apparently, the recent merger of two airlines (who shall remain nameless) sparked a very generous offer. The kind of offer you just can’t live without. After listening to the perks, the light bulb above my head is glowing like the mushroom cloud of a nuclear reaction. I finally understand why SO MANY passengers lined up for the “priority” boarding calls. Just check out a few of the benefits associated with carrying the airline’s card in your wallet…

  • Double miles for today’s flight.
  • Additional miles (enough for two free flights) with first charge.
  • Tickets for two companion flights at $99 each.
  • Access to the airline’s lounge.
  • One free checked bag per flight.
  • Priority boarding.
  • 500 additional miles (today only).

As soon as the announcement ended, flight attendants walked the aisle with credit applications. A passenger two rows ahead caught the attendant’s attention. I didn’t hear the question but I can guess what was asked because I could hear the attendant disclose the “fine print” details of the promotion…The offer is valid only during today’s flight – NOT at the airport or online. The annual fee is $89. A specific section of the credit application (name, address, social security number) must be completed and the application number validated with the attendant. Blah…Blah…Blah…Blah…

My common sense “radar” went berserk causing my brain to seize up and forced me to stop listening for a few seconds. Let me get this straight. At a time when identity theft such a ginormous issue, is the airline REALLY going to require a passenger to disclose their social security number on a document left with the flight attendant?

Now to be clear…I’m not questioning the integrity of flight attendants. Adequate security measures may be in place but the announcement didn’t reveal any details on how this sensitive information would be secured. There could be a lot of hand-offs between collecting the application and delivering it to the individuals ultimately responsible for processing. Each hand-off offering a potential breach of security.

To satisfy my curiosity (like a good Business Analyst), I asked how the applications would be handled. The attendant’s response…“we have a drop box at the airport”. That’s it? You’re asked a question about the security of sensitive information AND the only answer you have is there’s “a drop box at the airport”? My risk-averse mind immediately launched a series of follow-up questions. But I didn’t press any further. Pursuit of an answer felt like an exercise in futility.

When the passenger expressed hesitation to the “fine print” requirements, a more “hard sell” tactic emerged. The flight attendant lobbied that the application should be completed, “If you are considering the credit card, you should go ahead and take advantage of today’s offer. You will only be charged the fee if you use the card when it arrives. So if you change your mind, just tear it up and cancel the account.” Hmmm…I wondered…Is there a contest to collect the most applications? Could a bonus be at stake?

Needless to say, this card will NOT be found in my wallet. Maybe I’m just overreacting…being paranoid. So, I have to ask…What do you think? Would you share your social security number for this type of promotion?

Featured image “Credit Cards on Money” by 401kcalculator.org, CC BY-SA 2.0

Ambushed

Thankfully, the second leg of our flight was less eventful than the first. All buckled in, I settled back into the seat pulling my black sweater around my shoulders. I wondered whether this plane had a slight chill because it was a lot larger than the first. Looking around the zone 3 section of the plane, my eyes landed on the fully extended “personal” vents…all spewing out a steady flow of air. I reasoned that the chill had to be caused by the air movement. No matter, with all the bodies packed in like sardines, I was confident the temperature would quickly increase. So…I closed my vent and snuggled up on Hubby’s shoulder for a bit of added warmth. After the obligatory safety instruction, I closed my eyes and started to drift off with my thoughts.

OUCH! What the?!!! I almost jumped out of my skin when a deep voice blared from the speaker above my head.

I was ambushed by an all-out assault on my ear drums. The sound coming from the speakers was SO loud my ears hurt! Pressing my palms against my ears was the only way to muffle the brief message from our pilot. The niceties he chirped about our flight time and destination weather couldn’t end soon enough. I’d never experienced a message this loud on a plane…I would be willing to swear it exceeded the decibel level for safe sound. The comments from the flight attendants were nowhere near this loud. I guess I’ll have to chalk this incident up to an exuberant pilot. Note to self…bring ear plugs as a future flight precaution.

Morning Alarm

We interrupt this dream to bring you a fire alarm…that’s right…fire alarm. For all of 15 seconds. Just long enough for me to bolt out of bed, jump into my clothes, and start putting on my shoes. Then silence. The alarm stopped.

Now what?

It’s 5:20 am. My mind raced down the short list of “what if” scenarios. Do I continue with evacuation and go down to the lobby? I don’t hear anyone moving in the hall. Do I assume everything is OK and climb back into bed? But what if there is a fire?

I opted for a call to the front desk for direction. The cause…the alarm panel went off…it does that sometimes. No worries. So I settled back in bed…until I heard the siren of the fire truck. The wail of the alarm was cut short as the truck pulled into the parking lot just under my window.FiretruckI watched through the curtain as firemen, one lugging an axe, jumped out of the truck and walked into the hotel. After a few short minutes (that felt like an eternity), the firemen returned to their truck and left.

Now what?

I attempted to return to my comfortable dreams. But, sleep alluded me…I was wide awake. Looking at the clock, I realized that my husband would finish his work shift in less than an hour. So I opted to get dressed to meet him for breakfast. Problem solved.

Cabin Fever

Step…stop…wait. Step…stop…wait. Step…stop…wait.

The single-file procession to board the plane extended from the gate door all the way to our seats. Upon clearing the door, we were greeted by the flight attendant who welcomed each passenger as if in a trance. Her smile appeared affixed permanently to her face. She paused the “welcome…good morning” chant just long enough to retrieve the seat belt extension that I requested.

That’s right…seat belt extension. Airplane seats and restraints are sized for the thinner side of our society. Before learning about the extension, I struggled to secure the belt around my abdomen and then would be miserable for the duration of the flight. One observant flight attendant noticed this a few years ago and offered relief. Since then, I don’t hesitate to request an extension. But usually my request is discrete. Quietly requested so the people around me couldn’t hear. I was ashamed that I needed the added belt to contain my girth. I felt as if I were being judged and was embarrassed. But not on this flight. This time I spoke in my normal tone. This time I didn’t attempt to hide the extension. I have to admit that I’m still not happy about the added weight from my chemo treatments. But I no longer torture myself (mentally) about it. Thanks to the amazing online body image class I attended earlier this year (titled “More to Love”), I am comfortable in my skin. Check it out if you can relate and want to change your life.

Taxi to the tarmac.
The wails of an unhappy child break through the silence of the cabin. The intensity of the cries peak and wane as the child’s mother attempts to provide comfort.

Cleared for take-off.
The cries were drowned out momentarily by the roar of engines preparing for take-off. Screams erupted as the plane started to accelerate and continued until we leveled out at 30,000 feet. My heart went out to them. It was obvious the child was terrified of the experience. And there’s no way to explain air travel to someone so young.

Close your eyes…relax.
I didn’t get much sleep the previous night and was looking forward to a brief nap. I figured that since there was no beverage or food service during the flight, I would be able to sleep. Boy was I wrong. Within minutes of leaving the ground, a strong odor attacked my nose. A full-on assault from somewhere behind row 19. It wasn’t a particularly unpleasant scent. If it weren’t so strong, it could be considered a pleasant fragrance. But the aroma was SO intense…SO heavy…I could taste it. There was nothing I could do to wash the smell out of my mouth. I tried breathing through the sleeve of my shirt. Slight improvement but the taste was still there. I couldn’t get away from it. I was trapped. My husband reminded me of a notice we saw regularly at the cancer treatment center. The sign requested that people avoid wearing fragrances in the building. Strong scents intensify the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy. If I were still undergoing treatment, one whiff of this scent would have deposited my breakfast on my feet.

DA.DA.DA..DAAAA. Blip…Blip…Blip… DA.DA.DA..DAAAA. It wasn’t long before another obstacle emerged in my quest for sleep. Someone was playing a video game…very successfully. The DA.DA.DA..DAAAA was like a trumpet announcing the passing to the next stage of the game. I found myself wondering whether the game was being played on a cell phone. Could ear plugs be used for the device? How long will this go on before the game is silenced?

With sleep alluding me, I pondered the question of common courtesy. It seems like a sense of entitlement has pervaded our current society. I wondered whether the fragrance and video game scenarios fit into this equation. Instead of thinking only of themselves, a person should consider their impact to others in such a confined, enclosed space. If one considers the larger good, common courtesy would lead them to postpone application of the fragrance. I would assume that common courtesy would also dictate that the video game be played with earphones or the volume turned off or not played at all. To take this concept further, let me quote the death scene exchange between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (and show my inner geek). I ask you, shouldn’t the “…needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one” in an airplane?

Checkpoint Woes

Yesterday, I hope you found some amusement in me whining about air travel and baggage. If not amusement, perhaps you could at least relate to my frustrations. Today you will find a bit more from our journey.

The next adventure along the path to our designated gate is the infamous security checkpoint. Everything off and in the grey bins. Coats…Hat…Scarf (it was below freezing when we arrived at the airport). Purse…Shoes…Toiletries (limited to 3.4 ounce travel sizes sealed in a quart-size clear plastic bag). Laptop (out of carrying case, in bin by itself, with nothing on top or bottom). Hubby’s sleep apnea machine (out of carry-on bag and in bin by itself.) And of course, a single carry-on bag for each of us. Basically, we unpack our meticulously arranged carry-on bag for a brief moment in the x-ray machine.

So let’s count them…that’s 5 bins plus the laptop bag and two carry-on bags.

The items in my carry-on would have fit into checked bag. But we needed the extra space to pack the sleep apnea machine. And, after you’ve lost luggage once, you always pack a carry-on with a change of clothes and toiletries. My luggage was a lost for three days during a trip to Australia. Our luggage took three days to arrive at the hotel. There’s nothing fun with shopping for necessaries when you would rather be sight-seeing.

While our possessions were dragged through the x-ray unit, we took our turn in the security imaging tube. Apparently I set off the silent alarm because the TSA agent escorted me to the side of the conveyor for a “polite” pat down…in front of the other passengers. Fortunately, it was a brief interlude. The search focused only on my breasts… the “girls” were NOT happy with the extra attention. (Guess there’s no reason to skip the underwire bra for the return flight, eh?) Arms down and now the scramble to retrieve everything from the bins and relieve the bottleneck that formed on the conveyor during my private screening. Instead of attempting to re-pack on the conveyor, we lugged our possessions to waiting chairs peppered with others in the same plight. This time the contents thrown haphazardly into the carry-on bag in our quest to reach the gate.

Now for my shoes. Since chemo required my toe nails to be removed, I can’t just slip my shoes on and off any longer. It’s a whole production. My socks must be placed “just so” to prevent pain when walking. FINALLY…on the move again.

Upon arrival at our gate, we settled in to wait for the boarding announcement. I was surprised of how many types of priority boarding were granted access to the plane before the zones were called. There was always first class, people traveling with children, individuals who needed additional time, and active duty military in uniform. But when did the extra promos start? Priority boarding is now a perk for carrying the airline’s credit card or reaching a specific level of the airline’s rewards program. You can even purchase priority boarding for only $15. The cost doesn’t sound like much. But is it really a benefit to board early when SO many people are in the priority line?

My thoughts were interrupted by the boarding announcement for zone 3. It’s our turn! I hadn’t gotten much sleep the past few days and was ready sit back and relax.