Welcome to Part I of my Adventures in Vegas series. In this post? Getting there.
If you're a regular or even semi-regular reader here you know that I went to Vegas on the 13th to attend the Blogworld/New Media Expo 2010 conference. This trip was kind of a big deal for me in several ways, not the least of which is the fact that it would be the first time since before I had my kids that I have gone anywhere other than my mother's for a couple of days, without at least one of them. We're talking 14 years here. This is a long-ass time. Also, the last time I was in Vegas I was 3. Yes, THREE. That was 1968. I think it's changed a little since then...
So, off I went!
Thing is, I hate flying. I didn't used to, we flew all the time when I was a kid. My dad had his pilot's license and used to take my sister and I flying in a Cessna of some sort when I was only a toddler. We went on a lot of trips as a family, Europe, Hawaii, other parts of Canada, and I never had a problem. I went to University 3,000 miles away from home, so I was flying back and forth for holidays and breaks all the time and I was fine. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I started having trouble with it. I can tell you when it started, and I remember quite vividly the panic attack that brought it in to full-blown fruition a couple of years later. Good times. Anyway, it got worse before it started getting better. I've actually been much better the last couple of years but I still have trouble when it's bumpy. Turbulence is not cool.
So I work pretty hard at not stressing-out too much about flying in general these days.
I got to the airport that night made my way to the gate. Sitting there, right at gate and ready for us to board, was a new-ish 737-800/900, painted entirely with Disney characters. It had a blue background, but all over the rest of it were Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, you name it, they were all over the outside of the plane. Very cute. It's like the Shamu plane. Now, I'm a 45 year old woman, I have a Master's degree, and generally I'm fairly intelligent about things. But I swear to God, the first thing that went through my mind when I saw the plane was, "YES! Disney planes don't crash!" Uh-huh. It's true. There's actually a rule. Do you REALLY think that the powers that be are going to allow Mickey's face to end up in a pile of twisted metal wreckage? NO. No, they're not. So I was pretty psyched about this whole Disney plane thing. What I couldn't figure out was why the hell Alaska Airlines was using one of their Disney planes on a Vegas run. But I didn't care. I GOT THE FREAKING DISNEY PLANE, I wasn't complaining.
We board, I'm at a window and the flight is full so I had a teen-aged boy and his uncle sitting next to me. Uncle's wife and young daughter were sitting in front of us. Uncle pulls out a giant McDonald's bag and starts handing food over the seats to the daughter and then starts chowing on a Big Mac right before take-off. Now, don't get me wrong, I go to McDonald's more than I like to admit for Josh because of the fries and every now and then, I'll get something too. But for some reason, if it's not me and/or the kids eating it? I REALLY don't like being near people eating McD's food. I don't like the smell if I'm not involved somehow, yes, I know, I'm completely crazy. So there we are, stuffed in like sardines and dude is jamming a Big Mac down about 24 inches away from me. Ick.
We take off, things are pretty smooth, it's a nice clear night, so I was good. Teen-aged boy next to me is doing the same thing I am and getting his i-Pod out. I feel for the kid. Not only is he traveling with Big Mac-munching uncle, but he's in the middle seat. The middle seat in a 3-across on a plane is the worst, for a multitude of reasons, one of which is the fact that you have to fight for arm-rest superiority on not one, but two sides. The aisle and window people have at least one arm-rest all to themselves but middle guy? He's gotta battle for them. So I gave the kid a break and let him have most of the arm-rest on my side. Of course I let him think he won it fair and square, I mean, if he has to sit in the middle he should at least be allowed some sense of victory, right? Make sure you spell my name correctly when you submit me for consideration to the Nobel committee.
The flight was really quite unremarkable which for me, is a good thing. There was this one, random, very large, sharp, jolt at one point, that woke people up and startled most of us. As we were all looking around somewhat wide-eyed at each other, waiting for more, waiting for the seat-belt sign, there was nothing more. That was it. Just one, huge, jolt. No more. It was like when you hit a massive pothole in your car, big enough that you know you have just lost that tire. It felt like that. But just once. It was very odd but see, it was the Disney Plane, so, everything was fine.
We landed in Vegas at around 10:35pm. Flight attendant lady gets on the PA and tells us that we can get our bags at carousel such and such, but, the baggage room was going to close in 25 minutes so we'd better not dilly-dally. She didn't actually SAY dilly-dally, but it sounds better than what she said. You get the idea. We all just kind of looked at each other like, "wtf?" , and then it was ON. None of us were really sure what she meant by "baggage room", but we knew we didn't want to be late. For it closing. Or whatever.
Now apparently, Alaska Airlines must be the ugly, bastard-child of the all the airlines, because it seems to be relegated to parts yonder at most of the airports I've been to, including Seattle. At first I thought, well, certainly it won't be a problem getting to baggage claim in 25 minutes.... until we'd been trekking for a good 25 and still weren't there yet. Waited an eternity for a train and traveled to another terminal. Eventually made it - 30 minutes after getting off the damned plane. Seriously. Our bags were there, going round and round on the carousel all by themselves, just waiting for us to find them. So I was never really sure what closed, or why I cared, but I had my bags, we didn't crash, and all was good so far.
So, I headed outside to wait for a cab.
Stay tuned for part II, The Cabbie Chronicles, coming soon!