It was occurring to me as I made the sixteen hour slog home from Atlanta, that there’s some weird part of me that really likes complicated traveling plans. I’ve mentioned it here before a few times. The more different modes of transportation, the more connections, the more stops, the happier I am. I used to think this was normal, or normalish, now I just think it’s slightly more functional than being totally in love with vaccuum cleaners.
Put another way, there’s a sublime beauty to these systems when they work, but when they crash, they crash hard. I’d like to share my trip home with you as part of my recovery process… “Hello I’m Jessamyn and I like to make logistically complicated plans.” “Hi Jessamyn.”
My keynote speech was at 11 on Friday. I figured it would be done by noon but I’d be talking to people afterwards. I arrived at the conference center with my backpack, already checked out of the hotel. By 12:30 I was at the hotel shuttle where the guy there gave me a ride to the Athens GA airport. We stopped at the Piggly Wiggly on the way to the airport. I thought I was being all smart, taking a short hop flight instead of potentially getting stuck in traffic driving to Atlanta. The plane was cheaper than the shuttle van, too. However, for some reason the short hop flight was 20 minutes late. I was in the front row of the nine-seater plane watching us fly past the Atlanta airport on the radar screen so that we could approach it from the other end. I knew, at that point, that I was in trouble. The little plane touched down and then we got in a shuttle van to the big airport. I still feel that if we hadn’t hit every red light, I might have made my flight which was also 20 minutes late. As it was, I got to the gate after they’d closed the doors but before the plane had left. Suck.
I’m always jockeying for different and better flights when I travel, so I figured I’d just get on another one pretty easily. However, there is something wrong with the Atlanta airport. There are too many people for not enough seats and being the smiling relaxed person with no checked bags trying to get on a different flight doesn’t make you stand out enough to get what you want; it’s usually my ace in the hole. At one point, I was on one of those courtesy phones talking to a reservations person saying “Look, can you get me in to Burlington, Boston, Portland, Providence or Manchester tonight? No?” Of course, this was not just about getting home. The larger weekend plan involved getting on a bus at the airport, a bus that Jim would meet me on at South Station and then we’d take a leisurely bus ride together up to Lebanon NH where my car was waiting and drive home to a nice Memorial Day weekend in the country. So, things needed to be reworked.
At one point I was confirmed on a flight for 8:45 am on Saturday and on standby for a flight on Friday night. I was going through my MetaFilter and Facebook contacts to see if there was anyone who had a place I could stay overnight with. I’d called Jim with a “please stand by” message. There were two available seats on the flight to Boston and I was number two on the standby list, a list that was different from the list that I saw on the screen which I was not on at all. I put my trust in the lady at the gate, and not in the computer screen, but it was difficult. The flight loaded. The waiting area emptied out. My name was called. I whooped and got on the plane, making a quick call to Jim to meet me at Logan in a few hours with his backpack. I had nothing to read, so I slowly paged through the Sky Mall catalog and schemed for what we’d do next.
The first genius plan was to see if we could rent a car for a few days and just drive on out of there. The rental places that weren’t sold out were charging holiday weekend prices, total non-option. Then we checked other bus options (the last Dartmouth Coach bus had left the airport 30 minutes earlier) and found there was a Greyhound bus going from South Station to Montreal, stopping in White River Junction, so we decided to get on it. From Logan to South Station is either three subway lines or one bus and I was sufficiently bleary-eyed that we wound up on the subway(s). The line for the bus was already over 20 people long when we got there at 11. We ate some cheeseburgers and waited in line. By the time the bus was set to leave there were easily 80 people in line. They added a second bus. They split us up by how far we were going. I realized the bus also stopped in Hanover which was closer to my car. We got on the road at roughly midnight.
The bus was cold and noisy and full. I called The Google and asked for the name of a taxi service near Hanover. I spoke to a guy who said it would cost $11 to get a ride to Lebanon (I was expecting… something more outrageous) and he drove up about ten minutes after Greyhound dropped us on the side of the road by Dartmouth. Our driver was from Georgia. We got a ride to the car and drove home to Randolph along a totally empty highway, stopping for milk at the local Cumby’s. By the time we got home it was 4:30. The birds were singing. I did manage to arrive home, with my boyfriend, and my stuff, before what I call “Saturday” though it occurred to me that my early-riser friends were already awake and getting things done. We hung a towel over the window to blot out the brightening sky and set to work getting some serious sleep.
Now it’s Sunday and Jim’s taking a nap and I’m typing this up. My favorite thing about Spring-into-Summer is how you can sleep in and still have a good chunk of daylight left to do things in. We climbed up the hill behind my house yesterday and found there’s a little clearing on top with a chair and a stunning view of town. That’s enough for me to declare this weekend a success. And all the traveling, though long, was mostly enjoyable. I’m often a little raised-eyebrow to all those “The journey IS the destination” people, but I may be starting to get an idea of what they’re talking about. I like being in a state of having finished these trips, and I certainly don’t mind making them. Happy Holidays.