Mar 9, 2011

New England and Stuff

Wow. I just returned from an unexpectedly long trip to New England for work. It was crazy. I'm not usually one to use a blog like a diary, but I feel warranted this time around.


I was supposed to fly to Burlington, Vermont via LaGuardia Airport in New York City. This much was clear. If all had gone according to plan, I would've been to Burlington in the early evening, just in time to make it to the local Sheraton Inn.

All did not go according to plan.

Remember Snowpocalypse that hit Chicago about a month ago? Well, Snowpocalypse's little brother, Snowmaggedon decided to hit New England on Sunday-Monday.

I arrived at LaGuardia about an hour later than planned due to a delay in Chicago, blissfully unaware of what awaited me. It was raining in New York, sure, but how bad could that be?

Apparently, bad enough (it was spitting, not even really raining yet) for them to take my gate-checked carry-on and send it to the baggage claim, because that's United's policy for bad weather. That's right, even though I had a plane leaving in less than an hour on a different airline (United/US Airways have some sort of agreement, so I was going between the two), they sent my CARRY-ON to the baggage claim. The United lady at the gate, copping the typical New York City "I don't give a s***" attitude, studied her hot pink nails and told me that there was nothing I could do; I better just run fast.

So I ran fast.

I then had to catch a tram to get to a different terminal (because Lord knows, when you have scheduled connections, they can't be close). I got through security and to the gate about twenty minutes before the flight was scheduled to take off, had it not been delayed by another hour. That was fine, until a few minutes later, it was canceled due to snow. Uh-oh.

I called the attorney I was supposed to meet (whose Burlington flight had also been canceled, though he was connecting through Washington, DC), and we both determined that we'd meet in Manchester, NH and drive to Burlington on Monday morning. I managed to get myself on a Machester flight that was going to leave at 3:00pm. At this point, it was around noon.

Finally, the Manchester flight arrived. It didn't board until after 5:00pm. Fine. I get on, the doors are closed, and we are told that we are overweight. Three people need to get off the plane. I figured that I had nowhere to be until around 2:00pm the next day, so I could take a later flight (scheduled for 8:00pm). I took a $250 voucher for US Airways and stepped off the plane.

Now, understand that by this point, the storm that was walloping Vermont with snow had made it to New York, except it was in the form of blinding sheets of rain. That Manchester flight took off, somehow, and presumably made it, since I didn't hear anything about everyone dying (and I saw the pilots and flight attendant at Manchester the next day).

I went to the bar, had a Guinness, drew some pictures, and read my book. Then, at 8:00pm, my flight got pushed to 9:00pm. Then to 10:00pm. Then to 11:00pm. Finally, it got pushed to 12:50am for a departure. I was convinced it was going to be canceled, but I couldn't give up now.

Sure enough, right after midnight, it was canceled. I put in a frantic call to our travel people, and a lady managed to get me a bed in a Holiday Inn about two miles from LaGuardia. The airline put me on an 8:00am flight to Manchester for the next morning.

I waited 45 minutes for the Holiday Inn shuttle to arrive (when it did, it was loaded with ladies from Dallas complaining about how difficult their days had been...they had no idea), got to my room around 1:30am, discovered that the phone didn't work, so set the room alarm for 6:00am. Why didn't I use my phone? Well, I had forgotten my charger (oops) so needed to keep the battery for meeting the attorney in Manchester.


I woke up at 8:15am the next morning, the alarm never having gone off. I still don't know how that happened.

Frantically, I called the travel people who got me set up on an 11:25am flight to Manchester, which I thankfully made. Let me tell you, after about 15 total hours in the US Airways terminal at LaGuardia (gates 1-10), I am an expert on the place. I never want to see it again in my life.

Got to Manchester two hours late (flight was delayed in LaGuardia by two hours. I don't think they have the ability to send a flight out on time) and met the attorney there. The last time I had been to that airport was when I was a senior in high school and had visited family and schools in New England. My mom's cousin is a teacher outside of Manchester, and I was hoping to meet up with her, but due to my delays and her having just returned from Belize that day, we weren't able to work it out.

Our rental car had a Rhode Island plate (which is sad, because I've never been to Rhode Island and really want to, just to say that I did). We headed out to Burlington, having been told by New Hampshirefolk that the snow was still insane up there. Great.

At a rest stop, we discovered that New Hampshire has state-owned liquor stores. I have stored this information away in my mind, as it may be important to my future dealings with New England.

Then we got lost somehow, and a friendly lady and a guy with a really thick New England accent told us how to get where we wanted to go. The directions were appropriately confusing and seemingly complicated, but--lo and behold--dropped us exactly where we wanted to be. We made it to Burlington without any real problems (snow had died down), noting that people from Vermont like to drive really, really slowly, even when the roads are clear and that plows in Vermont really, really like to plow the shoulders of the interstates, even when the lanes aren't clear.

The Rest of the Trip

I made it to within viewing distance of the Canadian border. There's a fence. I thought about jumping it since I forgot my passport, but decided that might be more trouble than it's worth. We went to a pizza joint in the middle of nowhere New York (actually, Champlain, New York, a cute little town) where a friendly waitress took care of us. There was a cat at the window who she said just kind of hung around. If we could catch it (something no one had been able to do in the past), we could have it.

Turned out, the cat wasn't so hard to catch. It walked right up to us and let me pick it up and pet it. Had I really wanted to be the new owner of a load, fluffy black kitty, I could've been. But we left him where he was and smoked some cigars, since we had nothing better to do.

Then today, we hung out in adorable little Burlington. It's a cute town, which reminded me of Asheville, North Carolina, because it was filled with artsy, uber-liberal, outdoorsy people (apparently called Granolas). I bought a shirt that simply says 'Vermont' (because when am I ever again going to have that opportunity?), and we ate real Vermont maple syrup, drank real Vermont apple cider, and spoke to Vermonters with real French accents.

Oh, and by the way, did you know that "Vermont" is trademarked? My shirt has a little 'TM' after 'Vermont', so it must be true.

Well, that's about it for my crazy last few days. I saw real ice fisherman, too. Did I mention that? No moose, though. Only signs for the following crossings: slow children, bear, deer, horse, cow, moose, children, pedestrians, rock. Actually, it was for rocks falling, not crossing.

I'm not going to work tomorrow, because I lost Sunday. So, as my roommate just pointed out, I'm taking back Sunday.

Over and out.

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