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Flying to Chicago



I begged a ride to BART from my aunt. The last-minute nature of things left me sort of flailing, and while I should have done that part the night before, and also, oh, SLEPT, well, this is me we're talking about. But that got done and sorted.

Monday night, [personal profile] norabombay called me to inform me that it was on, and did I still possibly want to come hang out with her in chilly Chicago for just under a week? Not having anything that strictly required me to be in SF that week, I agreed, and commenced throwing things in suitcases.

So there I was on BART wrangling my suitcases. (On the grounds that coming back sometimes requires more in the way of baggage than going, I checked a bag although I probably could have squished everything into a carry-on and a "personal item".) That was pretty much the opposite of fun, especially on account of navigating new parts of the BART system with no hand free to actually use my cane, and then getting my cane tangled in my bags while the driver of the BART-to-OAK shuttle tried to get my big suitcase freed from the "personal item" (I'd carefully strapped them together) so he could chuck it in the luggage rack. That was not in any way fun, and my voice was in the octave that signifies an oncoming panic attack.

Eventually I did get untangled, and then we arrived at the Oakland airport. Between vague signage and total unfamiliarity, I wound up walking in the wrong direction, which meant that I did about three or four times more walking than I should have to get where I was going. Without, of course, use of my cane. So I was in that excellent state of mind where you've had less than four hours of sleep, you're in massive pain, your thigh muscles are informing you that you've been burning your "burst" speed so if there's a fucking cheetah you're even more screwed than usual (it's unpleasantly like being very drunk), you know that your carefully-groomed appearance has developed a halo of flyaway hairs and you're starting to ooze sweat now that you're out of the cool morning breeze ... and it's time to talk to the airline fellow about how you're flying standby to Chicago, on the US's very own version of the cheapest airline in town.

Fortunately my default for such situations is hopeful cheer. I was the only person I could see checking in, and I was early. Hooray! And the helpful guy behind the counter took a look at things and presented me with two boarding passes, two realio trulio boarding passes, one for this flight, and one for the flight out of Vegas. (Apparently the not-so-realio trulio standby passes are on flimsy paper rather than the cardstock.) I'd have to check with the desk person in Vegas, but he'd done what he could to make my flight through as excellent as possible.

I realized that I was coming up on the security gate, and performed what is probably going to turn into a sport if this nonsense about liquids is allowed to continue: the pre-security waterbottle chug. I'd calculated reasonably, and 12oz of water really isn't all that much if you've been moving around a lot.

This was my first encounter with security where they had the pornoscanners, and there were prominently-posted signs about anyone being able to elect for alternative screening. One of the guys asked me if the lanyard I was wearing meant that I was an airport employee -- nope, that's where I keep my driver's license and debit card when I'm going to have to retrieve them quickly. I then told him politely and firmly that I would like alternative screening, please.

Happily, there was no nonsense about asking if I could walk without my cane (as poor [personal profile] tajasel had at SFO); without being asked, someone produced a wooden cane and handed it to me before directing me through the magnetometers. Since there were so few people about, they were able to do the pat-down right there and then. The TSA officer doing it was polite, professional, and told me what she was going to do before doing it, and adjusted her procedure to account for my cane and all the other practical factors. I was pleased with the encounter.

I gathered myself back together, found a bathroom and a water fountain, and settled in near the gate. Airports have started to wise up and have started to install charging stations, benches with outlets to plug stuff in. Good times. I found myself a seat near one of those, found that my trusty iPod Shuffle Fruitz was not in fact charged, and started reading: Maureen Johnson's Devilish; it is very clear that Catholic school was a thing for her. :D

Seat 1F turned out to be right up front at the window, and by right up front I mean this was the nice big front seats that are two per row, not three. Glee! I settled in, glad for the seatroom and footroom, but slightly woeful about the lack of a good place to shove my waterbottle. I had no seatmate, and neither did the person on the other side of the aisle. There was a cute little kid and his dad. The kid had use of an iPad for the flight. I tweeted about that a bit. I did give in to my temptation to throw a paper airplane, but it curved and landed in the aisle.

I finished Devilish. I even slept a bit. I think.

I had a lovely chat with the flight attendant in the front of the cabin. She and her husband would like to go on an Alaska cruise some day.

I landed in Las Vegas. The place is beautiful from the air. I love looking at sand. The lights are glorious too. I stomped all around looking for a bathroom, and then I went back for my gate. I was somewhat rested but still all ow all over.

Fortunately for my budget, I had packed myself a pair of sandwiches, and ate the second one here. Other people were complaining about $10 Whoppers. Wow. Eeep.

When an airline person showed up, I showed my boarding pass and made sure that all was well (which it was). I found a nice seat, although the waiting area was full (for what turned out to be the flight departing before mine). Two guys were talking; they were stranded at the airport. Woe! One of them was complaining of headache and just wanted some Tylenol.

Now, I am a prepared Lunatic, and one of the things I do tend to do is bring emergency supplies with me. I fished around in my first aid kit and came up with the required packet, which I passed to the guy. I also wound up sharing some of my snacks, and someone else produced granola bars for him, as he was out of cash and hungry. (His buddy rolled his eyes at him and pointed out that he could have spotted him some cash, as *he* wasn't broke yet; ah, guys.) Their tale of woe involved showing up at the airport late on account of a very late cab and bad traffic. Alas! They were headed to Canada, and hadn't made it on a standby flight yet.

My flight turned out to be pretty full, with only two seats (1C and 1D) empty. (I was 1F again, thanks to the very very *very* nice guy at OAK.) I chatted with 1A and the leader of the flight attendants. He seemed slightly punchy, and was trolling back and forth with the flight attendant at the back of the cabin. He joked with one of the passengers that there was a $10 fee to throw away trash in their bin; the passenger was Deeply Unamused. I was reminded of one LJ April Fool's Day joke that had not gone well: I can't remember which specific one it was, but it was too close to actual practice and user fears to really be funny to the average user.

My phone was near to out of juice when I put it away. When I retrieved it after we landed, it was in fact entirely out. I had to plug it in to the battery pack so I could text Nora that I'd arrived, and by the time it had deigned to start up, she'd already left and I was in the baggage claim.

She picked me up promptly, and showed me some of the lights and sights on our way back to her place, including a detour for a hot dog place that had two giant hot dogs (one in a leopard-print banana hammock) with SCARY GLOWING EYES on the roof. Awesome.

There was general orientation (this is the light switch, this is the 17-year-old dachshund, this is the wifi and password) and hilarity, and then sleep.

After she came back from work, we did dinner, and then city lights, some groceries, vids-and-drinks. There was Tech Woe. We explored some of the leftover vodka options available, which was hilarious, the cherry fish one especially.

Having stayed up well past when I should have been in bed, I will now head there. When we wake up, we shall be tourists!

Must ping [personal profile] domtheknight and daydreamer back re: tapas. Wheeeeee!

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Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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