Friday, August 08, 2014

Winkie Convention Report... Travel Day...

Yesterday morning hubby-Eric and I got up nicely early and packed the car. The cat was the last item to be packed, and he protested mightily when I packed him into his travel carrier. We had a fairly calm drive over the mountains, getting to my folks' place by about 10 a.m. The scariest part of the trip was seeing the smoke near Ellensburg from one of the wildfires nearby. My mother was kind enough to take us out for an early lunch once Inkwell had vanished into his weekend home.

After lunch, we took care of a couple of last-minute things, then my Mom drove us down to the airport. It was a tad hair-raising traffic-wise, but we jumped out of her van into the departure zone with a quick "goodbye!"

Next it was security. It has been more than 14 years since I last flew, and I was terrified of dealing with all the new security crap. I've read a couple too many horror stories about it. So I was having tiny anxiety attacks, even though I knew there was nothing to be afraid of. The line was long and annoying, but moved fairly quickly. That was kind of difficult, as our bags were heavy and we couldn't set them down for long at a time.

Once to the front of the line, people put shoes in bins along with every other item they had on them. I took off my shoes and dumped them into the bin and, at the advice of another traveler, pulled my laptop computer from my carry on and put it in the bin with my shoes and purse. I went through the screening and heard someone say, "Whose computer is this?" I tried very hard not to panic, but sure enough, it was my computer. Apparently computers must be put into a bin separately from everything else. Ug.

Anyway, no nightmare ensued. They explained the rules to me and gave me my stuff back, and Eric and I got out of the line and found a place to sit and get shoes back on. It was... not as bad as I had feared. It wasn't a pleasant experience, but it wasn't the terror I had braced myself for.

Once inside, we wandered up to the gate and sat. They weren't even boarding the flight before ours yet, so we sat. And sat. And sat a bit longer. And watched the boarding process with interest. Then sat. And sat. And eventually we were able to board the plane. We were in the "third" boarding group, toward the end of our group. Sort of halfway through the entire process.

Eric had me pick the seat, and I located a spot about 14 rows back, into a row where a woman had an aisle seat. As it turned out, she and her husband, who was sitting in front of her, were traveling together with three children. The three young 'uns were very calm during the flight, unlike myself. Now, I wasn't exactly screaming... on the outside. In fact, I daresay that only poor Eric, who felt my iron grip on his knee when I got nervous, likely had a good idea of how... nervous... I was.

As usual, once in the air I was able to mostly forget about my panic and just enjoy the ride. I looked out the windows and spotted some of the wildfires burning in Washington and Oregon, but overall it was mostly pretty boring. I dared to pull out my phone and read a book on the Kindle app, risking severe air-sickness. Surprisingly, I felt ok and it passed the time nicely.

The descent into San Diego was earlier than I expected, we had made good time. I started to get... nervous... as the plane dropped. One of the young boys in the seats in front of us (three boys in two seats) started yelling happily, "We're landing! We're landing!" I started mumbling to myself and trying very hard not to panic.

Once the landing gear touched down I started to relax, even as the brakes were applied and the pressure pushed us forward. Apparently it's the drop from a height I'm afraid of, not crashing into something on the ground. I was oddly jubilant to be on the ground and practically squeaked at Eric. We got out of the plane in good order and stumbled through the airport.

Eric said we needed to catch a bus, and I found an information booth where we asked which one to take and Eric was reminded. Then we went out to catch a bus and, me being an idiot, I suggested we go over to where the courtesy shuttles were. Oops. No, that wasn't the place the city buses stopped. They stopped where we'd been before. We realized this when the bus pulled up. We hightailed it back over the skybridge and, amazingly, managed to catch the bus.

We got off at the Santa Fe station stop and hunted for the green line. HA! Plenty of trolleys, none of them green. Eventually I went into a coffee shop and asked, and sure enough we found the thing. It was PACKED. Jam-packed. At capacity. If I had known how packed it would be, I would have waited for the next train. There were tons of Chargers fans headed to the first pre-season game. Tons of them. Packing the train. It was horrible. I don't like crowds and I don't like flying and I had to deal with both in one day.

I kept my cool, such as I could, despite it being somewhere between 90 and 900 degrees on the train with all the bodies packed close. We got to our stop and stumbled off and I managed to sit down for a minute. All the nausea that hadn't happened on the plane suddenly rose and tackled me. I thought I was going to pass out. Eventually Eric figured out where the hotel was in relation to the trolley station, and we headed down off the platform and trudged to the hotel.

Which is the size of a small city. In fact, I firmly believe the footprint of the "hotel" is bigger than downtown Sunnyside. It was big enough that Eric left me sitting in a cool hallway and hunted for the lobby himself. It took him a long time. While he hunted, I rested to the point where I could see straight again. When he finally found me again we limped over to the building that we are staying in for the weekend.

Our original plan called for wandering off on the trolley lines and finding a San Diego restaurant to enjoy a quiet dinner. That was out the door with our/my exhaustion. Instead we studied the choices on-site and managed to find a hotel place that was tolerable, if expensive. I got a bacon cheeseburger, and a couple of Oz friends from previous conventions showed up and ate with us.

Back in the room, I fell asleep fairly quickly. Morning came way too soon. With it, the much anticipated kayaking trip! be continued...