Thursday was travel day. The plan was for my partner BA and I to fly to Wisconsin for her niece’s Friday evening wedding and then very early Saturday morning, fly to Oregon to connect with our group for the solar eclipse. It was going to be tight, and we were getting up WAY TOO EARLY on Saturday, but it seemed the best way to do two things that were important to us.
Thursday morning, we arrive at the airport by bus, 90 minutes before our scheduled departure and head upstairs to check our bags (hard to do carry-on with both wedding duds and eclipse gear). I go first, no problem with the self-tagging deal. BA is next, and the machine isn’t responding. We check out the boarding pass on her phone, and it says “your flight has departed”. WTF? We look again, it still says the same thing, and head to the help counter. There, a kindly service agent is able to book BA onto my flight. Sigh of relief. A little frustration with the travel agent (me) who had unwittingly put us on separate flights, two hours apart.
I then ask the fateful question: “What about the rest of our trip?” Milwaukee to Portland on Saturday, and Portland to Denver on Tuesday. The agent looks up a little blankly, returns to his computer, types, shakes his head and mutters, types again. He asks for BA’s full name and birthdate and types some more, finally announcing “we don’t have you booked anywhere else”. “Are there any seats available to get there?” Knowing the answer is likely no, as a whole lot of the world is going to be in Oregon for the chance to experience the total solar eclipse. Just like us.
After a hasty conversation, we agree that we will skip the wedding, take the bus back home, load up the car and drive to Oregon. Unfortunately, our bags had already disappeared into the maw of baggage handling. After a long wait, our service agent reappears, toting my bag, but not BA’s. He sends a message and calls the baggage handlers, then we are off to baggage claim. After quite some time, it becomes clear that BA’s bag went to Milwaukee without us. BA fills out all the claim info and we get back on the bus for home.
While all this was going on, I was able to take advantage of the airport wifi, grateful that for once I had decided to travel with my laptop, and book some lodging for our impromptu road trip. We get home, BA hurries upstairs to repack, and I find a cooler, fill it with cold packs, water, and snacks for the trip. We load the car, and by 2pm, we are on our way.
BA and I both enjoy road trips, and we are excited to finally be on our way, as we’ve been anticipating this eclipse for a very long time, eager to experience totality. We head north out of Colorado, buy gas in Cheyenne, turn west onto I-80 and settle in. We’ve both done this trip many times, although not recently. As a child, Colorado to California was an annual summer event, sometimes taking the northern route across Wyoming, and sometimes going south, depending upon which set of relatives was being visited first.
Our next gas and bathroom stop came in Sinclair, Wyoming. This is a familiar stop, often where my family had lunch at a roadside rest on our summer trips. My mom was not fond of Sinclair, given its industrial vibe and the smell of its oil refineries. Pulling into the gas station (Sinclair, of course, in honor of my history and the local company), we are greeted by Dino, its emblematic dinosaur. I smile, recalling many times seeing this and how we kids clambered about, so happy to be moving after sitting in the tight confines of the car.
Car and people refreshed, we drive on, through the wide open spaces of Wyoming. The spaciousness allows for breathing room and brings a sense of expansiveness. We view a gorgeous sunset over rock formations, and by 9 pm we arrive at our motel in Evanston, WY, tired and pleased with the day’s progress. A little dinner and soon we are happily abed.
The next morning, we awaken reasonably rested. Checking her phone, BA finds an alert from the airline to check in for her early Saturday morning flight. Remember, that’s the one that a few paragraphs back, she wasn’t on. WTF redux. Coffee first. Then phone calls to the airline, so that she can cancel (and be credited the fare) for the 2 flights she won’t be taking. I finally realize what happened. As this was a 3-legged trip rather than the more common round trip, the segments were booked individually, each with its own confirmation number. Apparently when our service person at the airport was looking up BA’s info, he was only looking under her first confirmation number, not all of our trips. This will merit some conversation with the airline at a later date.
I take a much-needed run around town (there’s the slight matter of a my first triathlon in a week), we eat, do some more emails and phone calls and head out onto leg two of our journey.
To be continued. . .