Friday, March 20, 2015

Travel Day from H-E-Double Toothpicks

Getting to Palm Springs was an adventure. Note to self: NEVER fly US Airways again. My flight out of Fort Lauderdale was scheduled to leave at 6:55 a.m. What are the chances of a delay on an early morning flight, right? The boarding process goes smoothly. The aircraft door is closed ahead of schedule. Looks like it's going to be a smooth flight. Not so fast...

The pilot comes on the intercom to inform us that they are having some trouble with the engine bleed (?), so they are going to try a technique to try and get it working. Five minutes later, he comes on to tell us that it didn't work. A mechanic has been called to take a look at the engine. Ten minutes after that, the pilot informs us that "in looking at the recent history, this plane had this same issue a couple of weeks back. They were able to fix it (temporarily) and it has been flying for nine days without incident." Excuse me? He proceeds to tell us that the mechanics are taking a look at it, but they may be able to [I can't remember exactly what he said, but he meant they were essentially going to jump start the plane] Twenty minutes later, we had been jump started (Oh, joy! Flying a couple thousand miles on a plane with a faulty engine isn't terrifying at all!). We still had to sit on the tarmac waiting for paperwork (I immediately pictured Roz from Monsters, Inc.), leaving an hour behind schedule.

Add caption

The flight was pretty uneventful, though I did meet a very nice older gentleman named Jack who chatted me up nearly the entire flight. He kept saying, "I'm just gonna bother you one more time" (about 20 times). ;) He was very sweet. He told me that when he used to fly with his family, the "stewardesses" were never men. He also told me that he doesn't own a computer or a smart phone because he doesn't want to become "sedimentary."
Before I left, he wished me a great trip and told me that I had "my head screwed on the right way," which I thought was adorable. He even apologized for not being able to help me get my bag out of the overhead bin. He was over 80 and had had a stroke a year ago. What a gentleman! If nothing else, at least I made a friend.  

NOT a great choice
We were due to land in Phoenix at 9:44 and my connecting flight was at 10:05 and was supposedly "on time." We landed a little early and I had a glimmer of hope. I knew my connection was in another terminal, but I figured I could easily get there in 20 minutes. How big could Phoenix Airport be? I stood and grabbed my carry-on, thinking I was going to be fine. I wondered why they weren't opening the aircraft door. Then our trusty pilot informed us that there was a little problem...there was no power on the jetway so they couldn't open the door. It would be "just a few more minutes". He also mentioned to the passengers who were supposed to be traveling on to Seattle that they would be getting them a "new plane." Apparently someone in the know realized that subjecting passengers to a flying time bomb was not a good idea.

At 9:55, 10 minutes before my flight was due to leave, I was off the plane. Maybe they would hold the plane. They knew I checked in in Fort Lauderdale. They must know that my flight had been delayed, right? Naturally our flight arrived at a gate midway down the terminal. The map I looked at online made it look like the next terminal was right around the corner. MAYBE IF THE CORNER WAS AT THE EDGE OF A CITY BLOCK. As I reached the end of my terminal and realized how far I had to go, I knew my four-inch wedge sandals weren't going to cut it. 

NOT for bare feet
If you've read my post, Meltdown at 37,000 feet, you know I'm no stranger to this debacle. You also know that I am not a runner. But I ran. I ran like the wind. Completely grossed out at the thought of my bare feet touching the ground where millions of feet from all over the world have walked. My soles crying as I pounded the grated moving walkway. My lungs burning (though I have to say, I think I have a little more stamina than I thought...thank you, Jillan!). I finally make it to the other terminal, only to find the gate area EMPTY. They plane was still there, but had moved away from the jetway. Huffing and puffing, I asked (between gasps of air) the not-so-friendly USAirways employee at the desk if I could please get on the plane. He said, "No." I felt like a deflated balloon.

Fortunately, USAirways had guaranteed me a seat on the next flight out that afternoon. (I had that going for me.) My flight was due to leave out of Gate B15. The Customer Service counter was near Gate B1, so I figured my new gate was down towards the end of the terminal, so I walked some more. At the end of the terminal, I saw B13 and B14. ? I then looked at the signs and realized that B15 was in ANOTHER terminal. Son of a...!!

So I walked BACK to the beginning of the terminal, hoping that B15 was on the other side of the hallway. But NOOOOOOOO, it was yet another city block away. I kept my shoes on and let the moving walkway take me. Of course my new gate was right next to the children's play area where toddlers who had been cooped up on airplanes for hours could let it all out. I tried to zone it all out. Once I caught my breath and realized how very lucky I was to have survived a cross-country trip on a brokedown airplane, I was able to relax a little.

When it came time to board my next flight, the agent said that the flight was oversold and they were looking for someone to take a later flight in exchange for a $200 voucher for future travel on USAirways. My first feeling was guilt...was I the person who caused the flight to be oversold? I thought (for about 10 seconds) about volunteering, but realized that A. they left me behind and I was already going to be two hours late and B. I have NO desire to travel on USAirways again! I prayed that Karma wouldn't bite me in the hiney as I boarded the teeny tiny commuter plane (on the tarmac) for Palm Springs.

My second flight was much better. No mechanical problems. No pilot sharing too much information. A little turbulence (you feel it all in a little plane), but good company again. When we touched down in Palm Springs, I was relieved beyond belief. I thanked God for getting me there safely. I might have even kissed the tarmac if it wouldn't have burned my lips off. I was ready for my next adventure. Hello, Desert! I wonder if I can rent a car and drive home tomorrow. ;)

With Love and Most Thankful Aloha,
Welcome to Palm Springs! Happy to be on the ground!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Falling in Love with the Most Hated Team in College Football

I've spent most of my life not caring much (at all) about sports. Sure, I went to every home football game when I was a freshman at PBHS, but only because I had a major crush on the kicker. I never paid much attention to what was happening on the field if he wasn't out there (which was very little). I have attended a single college football game - UM vs. I-don't-have-a-clue - back in 1988 when my best friend, Isabel was a Hurricane. I remember the ride on the MetroRail and how the SunTrust building was lit up in Miami Heat colors for their inaugural season. But, I don't remember much about the game itself. I got into hockey when the Panthers were on fire and it was exciting to watch. But after they traded away the "Dream Team," I lost interest.

When my daughter was accepted to Florida State last December, it occurred to me that I might have to get into the whole college football/team spirit thing. My sister and her family have been die-hard FSU fans for decades. Maybe she could help me understand it. I tried watching last year's Rose Bowl game with my daughter, but ended up going to bed at halftime. My daughter watched her soon-to-be home team win the National Championship and she was excited and proud to become a Seminole.

The "Garnet and Goldens" in
their Game Day collars from
Kolossal K9

It wasn't until my husband and I took our daughter to Freshman Orientation at FSU in May that I realized what team spirit was all about. (By the way, I just realized that I started a blog post called "Things I Learned at FSU Orientation" that I never finished...maybe someday.) The one thing that really stood out to both of us about Florida State was the sense of community, family and pride that every Seminole has. It truly was contagious. I caught the bug in Tallahassee, but it the bug had a few months' incubation period before I experienced full-blown Seminole Fever.

After discovering that hotel rates that were normally around $100/night were $400+/night on game weekends, I was absolutely certain that I wouldn't be attending an FSU game during my daughter's Freshman semester. But, I did start watching the games. In fact, I watched (at least part of) every single game. Anyone who knows me knows that 9:00 is my regular bedtime. Since many games didn't start until after 8, I had to record quite a few. But I watched. And I cheered. And I screamed at the TV. And I even listened to the game on AM radio if I had to be somewhere else. (Whaaaaaat?!) And still, I cheered. :) 

One of the benefits of recording a game (or even watching it live) on DIRECTV is the ability to rewind and pause the game. This allowed me to do a double-take and catch quite a few memorable moments with my cell phone camera. Did I just see what I think I just saw? YES! Yes, I did (and of course I took a picture of it)! I'll share a few of those moments with you:

The moon was out the evening we played NC State.
I'm sure this Louisville Cardinals fan's mama was proud to see her son do this on national television.
Also at Louisville, apparently nobody noticed that James Burgess' name was misspelled on his jersey. 
A successful Romance spotting after the UM game.
THE highlight of the season for me was seeing my baby on national TV. My daughter texted me early the morning of the FSU vs. Clemson game, telling me that she had gotten into ESPN College GameDay and asked me to record the program. I set the DVR and went about cleaning my house. At around 9:45 a.m., I decided to sit down and check out College GameDay to see what it was all about. I hadn't been watching for more than a couple of minutes, when I saw this small, familiar brunette head pop up behind some crazy guys in the crowd, right beyond the commentator's shoulders. I recognized that smile! I recognized that girl doing the Tomahawk Chop as she jumped up and down in an effort to be seen over tall guys' shoulders! It was my girl! :D Now, THAT was exciting.

Throughout the season, I was amazed at the tenacity and the never-give-up attitude shown by the Seminoles. There were nights I fell asleep at halftime, certain that they were going to lose the game. I'd wake up the next morning to see the posts of victory - 21 straight wins...25 straight wins...29 straight wins!  They beat minor teams (The Citadel has a football team?). They beat major teams, like Notre Dame. They came from behind to defeat both in-state rivals. It was amazing. 

I fell in love with Coach Jimbo Fisher. He was inspiring and supportive. He ALWAYS encouraged his team to never give up. He ALWAYS had something positive to say about the guys. You never saw him lose it on the sidelines at his players. He treated the team like they were his own sons and it was obvious that they respected him too.

What I never could understand was why everybody seemed to hate FSU. It just didn't make any sense to me. I would listen to the commentators during the game completely ripping any mistake the Seminoles made. They would get giddy when the Noles were behind. I asked my sister if it was because of Jameis Winston. She replied, "No. It's always been this way." WHY? 

Now, I'll admit, Jameis has brought a lot of negative press to FSU and the team. My personal feeling on Jameis Winston is that he's a college kid who has made some REALLY poor decisions. Stealing shellfish from Publix is wrong and, yes, illegal. Standing up on a table in the student union and shouting obscenities is also wrong. It's immature, offensive and downright stupid. But nobody ever said that college jocks were the wisest human beings to ever walk the earth now, have they? One thing that I don't believe about Jameis is that he is a rapist. I read the entire deposition (You can too by clicking the link, if you so desire. Warning: It's pretty graphic.) before making my decision. Yet it seems that the entire country turned on not only Jameis Winston, but the entire team because of one girl's "allegations". I think it's pretty ridiculous. I saw an amazing athlete who was always there encouraging his teammates, during good times and bad times. I saw a guy who genuinely seemed to care about the fans. I saw a guy who acted like a true leader on the field. As much as I am sad to see him leave FSU to move on to the NFL, I don't blame him one bit. I wish him the best. (Am I actually going to start watching pro football too?!)

In any event, the FSU haters certainly had their day in the sunshine following the Rose Bowl debacle. It was certainly not one of the team's best moments, but I say one loss (albeit a humiliating one) in 30 is nothing to be ashamed of. What is far more shameful to me is the fans who left the stadium before the end of the game; the ESPN announcers berating the FSU players for walking off the field at the end of the game (which I also thought was very wrong until I learned that they had been asked to do so by Rose Bowl officials); the Oregon players who mocked Jameis chanting "No means no!" during their victory celebration; whoever slashed players tires and keyed their cars back in Tallahassee; "fans" trash-talking Dalvin Cook and other players after the game; the FSU haters who just can't seem to let our ONE loss go (as if they have room to talk). I'm not lovin' the dark side of college football much at all. The Seminoles (or more specifically the following hype video) actually made me a Taylor Swift fan, though. As much as I loathed this song when it first came out, listening to it in the context of Seminoles football gave me a whole new perspective! No, we are no longer "unconquered" (heartbreakers gonna break), but the players are gonna play and the haters are gonna hate.

In spite of everything, I thought this was an absolutely thrilling season. A year ago, I never would have dreamed that I would be excited about watching a football game, let alone look forward to attending one! Thanks to the Seminoles, I now love to watch football (well, Seminole football anyway). I love the excitement of having a team to cheer for. I admit that I still don't fully understand the game, but I enjoy watching it.  I cannot wait for next season so that I can actually go to a game. One day this fall, I will be up in the stands at Doak in my garnet and gold, cheering, chanting (?) the War Chant and doing the chop with my girl. Thanks guys - you made this Seminole mom a fan! <3 #GONOLES