Shoulda made that left turn (no, really)…

It was actually a lot of fun revisiting Albuquerque after almost twenty years. This is a city that appreciates its roadside heritage and recognizes it both as a part of American history and a tourism opportunity, and I was happy to see that a lot of the built environment–though not all of it–had survived since my last visit, and that a beautification and transit project was happening over the full length of Route 66/Central Avenue. This was a work trip so I didn’t get to do as much exploration as I might have liked, but I did also get some Groceteria research done.

And then came the trip home, which allowed me to experience a major U.S. air travel meltdown firsthand. Here is a timeline of my 36-hour trip home:

Wednesday:

8:00 AM MDT: Get an alert that my 1:15 flight to Atlanta has been delayed by two hours, which will cause me to miss my connection. I easily rebook the final leg and am happy that I get a few extra hours o explore.

2:00 PM MDT: Possible additional delays, but my coworker and I arrive at the airport since the rental car is due. We don’t realize at this time that there is a major weather issue in Atlanta that is about to cripple air travel nationwide.

4:00 PM MDT: It begins to look like our flight may be cancelled. The very helpful and friendly gate staff offer to put us up for the night at an airport hotel, which is not the usual M.O. for weather-related delays. We take them up on the offer and rebook for Thursday. I get booked on a very indirect route via Salt Lake City, but I score first class. This pleases me.

7:00 PM MDT: We have dinner in the hotel restaurant, where it takes two hours to be served a cub sandwich and a beer.

 

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Thursday:

4:00 AM MDT: I wake up and head to the airport for my first class fight to Atlanta via Salt Lake City. Alas, it is not to be.

6:00 AM MDT: My flight to Salt Lake City is cancelled. Fortunately, I manage to get on a direct flight that leaves about the same time, actually putting me In Atlanta earlier than the other route would have. Unfortunately, I’m in middle seat in coach rather than first class, and there’s a very annoying manspreader next to me, who will feel me knee very often over the next few hours. I am cranky, after all, from only having had a Kit Kat for breakfast.

11:00 AM EDT: I arrive in Atlanta. I finally eat. I find my gate and prepare for a four-hour wait for my connecting flight. The airport is a nightmare, with hours-long lines at every service desk. I feel pretty confident, though.

3:00 PM EDT: Just before we are to board, my flight is delayed for an hour. There is apparently no flight crew, though the plane itself is at the gate.

4:00 PM EDT: More delays. I’m getting apprehensive, but they’re still staging passengers so I don’t worry too much. Updates from the gate crew, however, are alarmingly infrequent.

5:00 PM EDT: My flight is cancelled. After pondering for about five minutes what I would need to do to get booked on another flight (one that would probably also get cancelled), I say “the hell with it” and reserve a rental car. I take the airport train to pick it up and find myself in line with a family who are about to rent a car to drive to Detroit for the same reason. There are a lot of people renting cars; I’m amazed I got one so cheaply and easily.

Friday:

1:00 AM EDT: Having driven over 300 miles from Atlanta, I finally get home. Just for fun, i check on the later flights I could have booked. All were cancelled. At least I made the right call for once.

Sunday update:

Delta meltdown: Delays drag into Sunday, improvement is slow

Random thoughts (mostly) unrelated to April Fool’s Day

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Yesterday had more texture. Today is a bright, sunny spring day in North Carolina, which means, of course, that I do not particularly wish to leave the house because of the bright (and the pollen). So I’m taking care of things at home. And creating bullet points:

  • A month or so in, I ask again why I never used Plex before. It’s pretty wonderful, especially with my new router. Having everything I own from porn to film noir to home video on every device in the house rocks.
  • Credit Karma Tax. Love it. It was quick and painless, helped along by the fact that I no longer have itemized deductions since I no longer have a mortgage. If I hadn’t had a few thousand dollars in one-time freelance income for a consulting project I did, my taxes would have taken all of five minutes. And no fucking TurboTax fees and add-ons.
  • Anyone have a good commercial VPN provider recommendation? I’d been thinking of going with one for quite a while and in light of recent events I’m pretty sure I will.
  • For the record, it’s kind of discouraging realizing that your home state is more concerned with college basketball than with your basic civil rights.
  • Lovely. North by Northwest is having one of those TCM limited screening things, and i’ll be crammed into an airplane for both dates.
  • Best April Fool gag this year from NPR.
  • I’ll be in Albuquerque next week. That’s just not something one gets to say all that often.

New York 2017

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It was 64F when I arrived. The next morning it snowed and the temperature never again climbed above freezing.

Thanks tto the cold, this was very much a trip of specific destinations rather than my usual random wandering. I’d already planned to hit several museums, and I ended up doing most of my traveling on the subway rather than on foot. But it was lots of fun, and I did get some significant strolling in.

Highlights:

  • Seeing my friend Margo and exploring Brooklyn a bit.
  • The Transit Museum. Loved it. Seriously.
  • Riding the ten-week-old Second Avenue Subway.
  • A snow-covered Union Square.
  • Having, maybe for the first time, a hotel room with a view of something other than the airshaft or the back of the next building.
  • Food. Books. Etc.
  • My new favorite parking spot on Staten Island.

Random thoughts about New York, danger, middle age, and other things coming in another post. For now, here are pretty pictures:

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Benefits

Prerogative of being middle-aged and single with no dependents (human or otherwise): after discussing the idea for 30 seconds with a friend at dinner, I just decided to have a long weekend in New York in about three weeks. I will visit friends, buy books, and see this. I got a great deal on a room in a very nice hotel centrally located between two subway lines. From decision to execution took all of 30 minutes.

Another prerogative: I can change my mind just as easily as I made the decision in the first place, with no repercussions or arguments whatsoever.

La vie c’est bon!

Lynchburg


I really find Lynchburg kind of intriguing. It’s a shame it carries all that Jerry Falwell/Liberty University baggage that makes me (and I imagine much of America) reluctant to visit. It has very much a small-scale Pittsburgh vibe, from the topography to the impossibly large Victorian mansions in Rivermont. It’s a parent there was a lot of money there a hundred years or so back. There’s some great architecture, and the view from the park on the other side of the river is really nice.

I think a lot of people expect Virginia to be very southern and pastoral and bucolic, and there is certainly that aspect of it, but most of urban Virginia — not just the western cities of Roanoke and Lynchburg but also places like Richmond, Hampton, and Newport News — feels considerably more Rust Belt than Sun Belt.

Maybe a full weekend soon. Given two days in Lynchburg, I should finally be able to find at least one decent place to eat there, right?

Five things about Albuquerque

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In no particular order:

  1. It was the subject of a song my dad used to sing to me as a joke when I was little. I have never been able to identify the actual song. I imagine it was from a TV show sketch or something.
  2. It’s the place where Bugs Bunny should’ve made that left turn.
  3. It is the home town of Ethel Mertz (a/k/a “Ethel Mae Potter. We never forgot her.”)
  4. It’s the only place I’ve ever been pulled over by a police officer who subsequently apologized to me for doing so.
  5. I have to go there the first week in April for a conference. For the record, I will not be taking the itinerary below.

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Today’s lesson

Today’s lessons from a very productive day that also involves a new dishwasher and getting these damned stitches out of my gums:

  1. Do not speed in or around Emporia, Virginia. It’s a pretty notorious speed trap, and a minor violation in Virginia can become a major one hack home in North Carolina.
  2. If you ignore rule #1, it apparently helps a lot not to have had any convictions for moving violations in the past 25 years. But you still probably need a lawyer.

Not that I’ve gained any of this knowledge firsthand or anything…