There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place…

Well, we’re back and damn glad of it too.

That was, not the smoothest trip in the world that’s for sure. It started out OK, the weather held on the day our flight left. It was a bit chilly but no storms or anything that would potentially delay the flight. We had only about a 45 minute layover in Bush airport (Houston) before changing planes to Atlanta so we were hoping for an on-time departure. We parked in the long term parking lot as it’s the cheapest option (not to mention cheaper still because of a coupon) and shivered for five minutes or so until the shuttle bus arrive.

We got to the terminal and walked down to the Continental check in area and walked over to one of the automatic check in kiosks. Their kiosks are just about the dumbest ones we’ve ever seen. You enter your confirmation number and it says that if you have bags to check that you can’t check in there, but it would appear that the agents are only there to check bags. Ummm. ok. The guy that was out helping people use the machines came over and we asked if we were supposed to be using the terminals to check in or not. Oh yes, we were even if we had bags, it’s just that the terminals aren’t able to print the baggage receipts so once we were done we had to stand in line to check bags. They really need to re-think the verbiage on those machines. The machines were interspersed with the line up of people checking bags so it was quite the chaos.

So after we are done ‘checking in’ this lady who had been standing at a terminal finally figured out that she was supposed to be using it and tries and it doesn’t work. She turns to me and says “I was ahead of you in the line to the terminals and that guy was too” and points to a guy behind us. He looked a bit chagrined and moved up ahead of us in line. We had already had a large family move ahead of us in line who in my opinion shouldn’t have been there (it should be based on who got checked in first not who got to one of the terminals first but whatever….) so Tom and I rolled our eyes at each other and Tom goes “I don’t think so but whatever” under his breath. The guy who the lady had dragged with him had a change of heart, especially as he was actually travelling with another guy and told us to move up that he didn’t really think he was ahead of us and he would rather wait for his friend. I think he was too afraid of the she-bitch to say no at first. I smiled at him and said loud enough for the she-bitch to hear “Well it’s not going to make the plane take off any faster to get in front of anyone so it doesn’t really matter.” and he smiled. She didn’t turn our way again.

We got there plenty early, early enough to eat a leisurely breakfast before needing to be at the gate. We had gotten up pretty early so both of us pretty much passed out for the bulk of the first leg. This is a miracle for me because I normally don’t sleep on planes while Tom could pretty much sleep through anything (lucky!)

When the plane landed in Houston it seemed to take its sweet time getting to the gate. Of course our seats were literally at the back of the plane so we were pretty much the last to deplane. I ran to the bathroom to pee while Tom went to check the board to see where our next gate was. When I emerged he motioned me over and said we had to hot foot it, the next flight was taking off out of a completely different terminal, and even better the one furthest away from where we were currently which meant some type of shuttle bus was involved. We speed walked through the terminal until we reached the shuttle bus stop.

Of course it had to stop at another terminal (B) before it got to the terminal we wanted (A). When we got to the terminal it dropped us off at what would normally be a plane gate with stairs up into the terminal turns out the gate we were dropped off at was the gate our plane was listed as being at..durrrr. We immediately went up to the next set of monitors to try and find out flight number and of course it wasn’t listed. This was a partner flight of Continental and for some unknown reason they didn’t list the original Continental flight number, only the Delta number it was assigned geesh. We took a chance and went to the gate where one Atlanta flight was due to leave the same scheduled time as ours.

I jumped in line to see the gate agent and Tom went to see if he could find someone to talk to so we could confirm if we were in the right place. While he was gone I spied the fellow in front of me had a Continental ticket folder and asked if he was on the flight that just left Vancouver and he confirmed he indeed was. He wasn’t sure if he was in the right spot either, he had basically just done the same thing we did and guess by the departure time that this was our gate. Tom got back and we all talked about how screwed we would be if we had guessed wrong. When it was the guy’s turn he talked to the agent and we eavesdropped. After explaining the situation he was issued a new boarding pass and when it was our turn the guy gave us new ones too and made an announcement to let everyone else know they needed to check in and get new ones. There were quite a few of us in the same boat. The flight it turns out was delayed, so they had time to get everyone fixed up.

When we finally arrived at Atlanta we got to baggage claim and watched as my suitcase showed up and then stood and watched as everyone else’s bag showed up but Tom’s.
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Well it would turn out, Tom’s and those two guys that were behind us in line, you know the two friends that She-Bitch tried to have move up in line. Coincidence? Tom had tried scoping out other baggage carousels and eventually went to get the keys to our rental car while I stood watching to see if it would eventually show up. The three of us kept watching in vain. Eventually one of the agents walks up to us after noticing we’d been standing there for quite some time. By then other planes were showing up on the flight listing and ours disappeared. Not a good sign.

It would seem that the three bags didn’t make the Houston flight but would be on one that arrived at 9:45. They offered to have it delivered that night or in the morning but we decided to wait the hour or so and pick it up ourselves. We didn’t want to chance them bringing it at some godforsaken hour like 2:00 am or even worse not at all. We had to head down to Pine Mountain in the morning so it seemed like a better plan.

We grabbed dinner at a restaurant in the airport and wandered back to baggage claim at the allotted time. While Tom was waiting at the carousel I took some pictures of the weird ant display they have on some of the ceiling columns and other bits of stuff I would more consider art. I just wish we had more time, there are some really neat displays there.

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We were sooo glad to see the bag finally show up!

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We head on over to the bus to our rental car and they drop off everyone at their car. They finally get to us and the driver goes “Red Ford Focus in spot number ___ oh but its not there!” Tom and I looked at each other and groaned. The driver gets on the radio and tells us to get off the bus, that a replacement car would be coming. Seriously, this trip was NOT going our way so far. They eventually bring the car and we wearily get in and try to find the hotel. We passed the street at first as the street sign wasn’t facing the right way(!) and then finally got there and checked in. By now we were both pretty fed up. The guy who checked us in didn’t ask us if we had any preferences, and when we got to our room discovered that it was a smoking room with two double beds. Yuck, but we lived with it, it was only the one night.

The Lodge and Spa in Calloway Gardens more than made up for the “Eh” experience at the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport. It is a lovely place and the room was amazing.
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HUGE ass bathroom and the beds were sooo comfy. There was a feather bed under the sheets and a nice down duvet to snuggle under. The conference was great, they covered a whole bunch of topics and kept me engaged the whole time (which for meetings for me is huge, I hate them so that says a lot) The only down-side is I got sick, I mean flat on my ass sick the evening of day one of the conference. During the first day I sneezed a few times and thought perhaps it was allergies because, well duh, it’s a garden after all. Nope, turns out it was a killer cold. By that night I was shivering and snotting up a storm. I tell ya it was VERY hard to get up early and go to the day’s meetings but by hell or high water (or in my case a huge pocket full of tissues) I made it and continued to participate.

Another cool part is I got to meet someone I’ve dealt with a lot over the years by phone/email but had never met AND I got to see people I met YEARS ago but haven’t had any contact with lately including our old Client Director and he remembered me and a sales rep that I last saw 7 years ago. Geez, I’ve been in my Dept way long….. The head of client services came up and shook my hand saying how glad he was that I came and I was hugged by countless people despite my protestations that I was sick and I didn’t want to give it to anyone. They all didn’t seem to care much so if there is a plague down in Columbus right now I sincerely apologise! It is an Ass-spanker of a cold. I’m still feeling like crap and my chest is all phlegm all the time. At least the liquid snot has solid-ed up some. Nothing like leaning over and dripping!

After leaving Pine Mountain and heading back up to Atlanta (during a severe storm watch including possible tornadoes (!) we stopped in La Grange and picked me up some cold meds. I picked up the PM version thinking it may help me on the plane and I took a dose for the car ride. I’ve NEVER had a PM medicine knock me sideways before, but combined with feeling so severely sick I was completely out of it. Tom took me to our Atlanta Hotel insisted that my goofy ass stay and take a nap and he returned the rental car and took the shuttle back to the hotel. I passed out solid with my sleep mask on.

The plane ride home was absolute torture. My sinuses were so completely plugged and I didn’t dare take any more of those pills as I had to be able to move quickly to once again move terminals to catch the connecting flight. At least at Salt Lake City they were connected and we ended up having a bit more time to get from point A to B but I wanted my wits. Landing in Vancouver I felt like I had ice picks stabbing me in the ears and I went almost completely deaf. The scary part was I felt a kind of banging pop which hurt so bad I at first though I had burst an eardrum. It took a few hours but they basically unplugged to the point where they normally feel plugged when you have a head cold which was a relief.

I tells ya, I was glad to get home! The Boys and our furry Kids were awful glad to see us too!

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