Tuesday, February 18, 2014

San Francisco 2014 -- Days Zero and One

Calming nerves isn't a sign of addiction, is it?

Day 0 -- Are we on Vacation Yet?

This is only the second time that Wendy and I will take a real "just for us" vacation since we were married. She normally doesn't like the stress of travelling and prefers the comforts of hearth and home. Failing that, she satisfies herself with managing any and all details that could lead to a vacation becoming too unruly. Camping, for instance, simplifies life to the degree that everything is within your control. Or, at least, anything that you don't control (like the weather) can be planned for and accommodated.

So, she is really happy right now ;)

Bit of a rocky start to our vacation. We arrived at the airport Saturday at 2:30pm. Our flight was a 4, so we left ourselves plenty of time to have coffee and clear security. Jodi was kind enough to drive us to the airport and on the way we got our first bit of unruliness. Our flight was delayed by 50 minutes. That was a bit of a concern. Our layover in Minneapolis was originally about 90min, and clearing customs and getting to our new concourse was now going to be tight. Good thing we aren't checking any luggage. As a precaution I spoke with a Delta service rep. and had her guarantee us on the next soonest flight to SFO (11:30am, the next day). She was confident that wouldn't be a problem.

It was a problem. We boarded the plane late and then after we had filled all the seats, there was still one person without a place to sit. Airline staff buzzed around for a few minutes and we were told they would have to take attendance. They also mentioned a tiny problem with the landing gear--a mechanic would be along shortly to look after it. 5 minute update... mechanic not here yet. 15 min update... mechanic not here yet, but should be along any minute. 20 minute update...

"I'm just going to give it to you straight," said the pilot, "we can't find the mechanic. In fact there doesn't appear to be a mechanic at the airport. We have two... theoretically. One is on vacation in Toronto and we don't know where the other one is. So, one thing is certain, there won't be a mechanic here to look at the plane anytime soon."

Minneapolis Airport where snow still exists... Ug!
And with that, they had the entire plane disembark. The next two hours had us standing in lines and Wendy managing the 'unruly' people on Delta's help line. At first, they thought we might make it out on a 10pm flight, but that was eventually scrapped and we were told they would create a new flight at 5:45--No, 6:45am. So which was it? I'm not feeling reassured at all.

During this time, I was progressing from my usual optimistic and cheerful self into someone on the verge of screaming and tears. My 4 day vacation was in danger of being cut by 25%... and counting! I staved off my own dark thoughts by buying a big box of Timbits. I wandered up and down the line a few times accosting women and children--asking them if they would like to be bad parents and let their children take sugary treats from a desperate looking 40-year-old man in the airport. Perhaps I used different words.

I ate a lot of Timbits.

With the early morning flight promised and Wen having sorted out a new connecting flight to San Francisco and Jorge, the proprietor of our would be bed and breakfast, allowing us to shift our stay to be a day later, we got a ride back home and sulked for a couple of hours before succumbing to fitful sleep.

Wendy just may have been right about this world travel stuff.

Day 1 -- Destination Vacation means you have to GO SOMEWHERE

I didn't get much sleep last night. I woke up at 3am and was concerned because the Saskatoon Airport Authority didn't have a listing for the flight that we were promised. A verbal promise--no bookings or boarding passes, mind you. A promise, that at 3 in the morning with the cats fighting in the dark and your thoughts swirling feels very sketchy.

In case you are wondering, there is no one to answer the phone at the Saskatoon Airport at 3am. By 4am, Delta's website was finally showing that we were booked on a new ghost-like flight. Existing in a half reality, it was essentially the black-ops of air travel. No one knew of it, and if you were to actually confirm it's existence, you own would be snuffed out--smoking like the extinguished candle of your former vacation hopes and dreams.

Quiet-ish... For an international airport at midday
Without getting ridiculous (have we crossed that bridge already?) I will tell you that our plane was late leaving, but when your projected layover is 8hrs or more you stop worrying about making your connection. Maybe I was a little bit worried. Waiting in Minneapolis was long (they didn't get us on that "guaranteed" flight at 11:30), but there are worse places to be stuck. They have a nice airport and we were able to get some food that didn't suck... too bad. I was particularly excited to discover the "quiet seating" area on the 3rd floor looking over the main strip of the mall. There was power for our devices and we were able to watch some Firefly and catch a nap.

We have just taken our seats on the craft that promises to get me to the city where Sulu will be born in another couple hundred years. With any luck, I will manage to get connected to wifi before bed. As you read this, I hope to be having my first adventure in San Francisco!!!

Wendy has been sleeping for 2hrs after our first full day here. I'm staying up late so that you can have a few pictures once I post this prologue :)

Above is San Francisco at night just before we land and just after they ask me to turn off all my electric devices ;) Golden Gate Bridge is centre left, The Bay Bridge (going to Oakland) is just above the wing of the plane. Our bed and breakfast is close to the top right corner of the long dark strip at the bottom of the photo (Golden Gate Park)