"I’m not quite down with the way they roll/ they throw knives from their eyes at my parasol."

Si vales, valeo!

I bought an airline ticket! Moreover, it is not Air Canada, which causes me much joy. My, it is nice knowing that if my flight gets canceled due to flooding or bomb threats or freak snow storms of mechanical failure, I am covered. Not that getting stuck in airports isn’t interesting, but it does also tend to mess up the schedule. 

And why, you ask, did I buy an airline ticket? Was it just for the wonderful experience of modern economy air travel? No, I answer, it was not. You see, on Monday I was startled to find out that I get paid vacation time at work, and I needed to figure out when I was taking it. Like, NOW I needed to figure out when I was taking time off. Cue me sitting on my bed staring at a schedule and panicking. One of the options I was leaning towards was popping over to Europe for a week and climbing around castles. However, traveling Europe alone, for my first Vacation, (read: I’m not an experienced traveler), didn’t really seem safe. I need someone to watch my luggage while I’m on the train, and stuff. And I was unable to find someone to commit to European travel for a week in the summer on twenty minutes notice. *sigh* People are so unimaginative, all hung up about work terms, and internships, and money, and study terms…. Just jesting, you know I jest. Well, not about the not being able to find someone, but about the fact that I am vexed at people for not being available for two weeks in England. *cough* 
Moving on! The next option that came to mind was; Visit People! It was right about then that I remembered that my College, (Augustine College– you should go), has a graduation this year. Just like last year, in fact. However, this year I am an Alumnus- Alumna- Alumnas- I am a person who has successfully graduated, and the fact that I remember none of my Latin has absolutely no bearing on that fact. Moreover, it is an Augustinian tradition, of sorts, to attend later graduations in full stately robes and sarcasm, and pat the students fondly on their sleep-deprived heads. ALSO, (yes, there were more reasons,) Em is still at the college, Moon Unit is in town and will be attending, Moon Unit’s friend Zaktrik is graduating, Lord willing, and some of the other alumni might be there as well! 
Then, I looked at air costs for the two days I was going to be traveling. Lo and behold, not only were the two flights the lowest fares within 28 days, what with airline costs and such the cost of the ticket was still just covered by my shiny new Visa card. At this point, I was clearly receiving divine signs. And who am I to tamper in the divine plan? I bought the tickets. 😀
All joking aside, though, I am continually amazed at how obvious and easy things are when that’s what God wants me to do/where God wants me to be. Problems just take one look at me and melt away. 
Anyway, that’s my news. And I’m excited to travel and take my first ever professional vacation, and I’m trying not to count down the days from TOO far in advance. 

Hurry up and Wait…

Day: 3
Date: 20/07/08
Event: To Orlando

Despite having all the ingredients of a very dreary day, it has been fun!

It started at 6:13 am, when the little girls I was sharing a room with woke up and wanted to know when they had to wake up. (6:30) We were flying out at 10, but since it was an international flight, which requires checking in 2 hours early, and we were an admittedly large group, we were leaving the Hotel/Terminal at 7:30. Enough time to check in, get through customs, and catch some breakfast. Right?

Well, that might have worked had we been travelling any airline other than Air Canada.

We arrive at the international check-in and are told that we have to use the self-serve. Told rudely, I might say. It gets halfway through the our 12 personal ticket-group and dies. Twice. Daddy heads over the line F, which declares in pretty lights over the desk that it is “self service assistance.” However, as he approaches the desk the lady behind it declares that she can’t help and walks away.

After a short verbal skirmish with another lady, behind the Oversized-Baggage counter, we enter the check-in line. Approximately 35 minute after entering the line, we arrive at a desk. !0 minutes there and we have out boarding passes. Yes, the whole rigmarole was solely to get out boarding passes and have out luggage approved. At was about at this point that I remember what I learned last Christmas, which is that time ceases to have meaning while traveling, You enter a supra-state wherein colours and textures are abnormally fascinating, shameless gawking at other passengers is par for the course and the world outside the airport swindles into comparative insignificance. And all it takes to achieve this state is belligerent airport employees and a wait of an hour or more. No drugs required at all! 😛

Anyhow, we got out of check-in and slid neatly into the line for customs. That went smoothly, and it was on to drop off the luggage and enter the line for security. Apparently with American Security you have to take off your shoes as a matter of course. There were no hassles, but security remains a surreal experience. Not the least if you happen to glance at the next line over (always a bad idea) and Mr. Anarchy has tried to go through security wearing studded leather, and consequently, after putting all offending clothing items through the scanner, is wearing very little while being patted down. And it’s all normal. Weird. *shudders*

Anyhow, we made it through , and made our gate with a whole 5 minutes to spare! Yay us!

Three hours later, we land in Orlando. There is another monorail to the other terminal, where lives the baggage claim. I am pleased 🙂 So we take it over to the other terminal, and wait for our baggage. Thankfully I do not have a watch to stress over, but it was a long time before our five lovely bags came down the conveyor.

Next objective; get to our hotel. There is a shuttle, but it seems to cost $90 per person. (90*12=1080?) Let’s consider alternative transport! Daddy goes off to arrange this, while we wait. An undefined amount of time later, we hire two cab vans and speed off to the resort. Finally, the end of the line! Only not quite.

It seems that our rooms were not ready. (at this point it was 3 in the afternoon, local time) Okay, that’s fine, we’ll just take a tired party of 12,, which has eaten only on the plane, if they were not sleeping, on a walk. This has all the potential to be very unpleasant. But there might be gators in that pond! There are palm trees on the side of the road! And look, a lizard! And another one! The crisis does not materialize

Just as were were all lined up to try and dash across the road, the cellphone rang; our rooms were ready. So we trundle back and collapse inside the AC. Fraulein and I have our own room, nicknamed the Peach Hut. The hotel is actually a resort, with tennis courts, pool, spa, and “sundry amenities.” We’re living the high life! (Although, I think that the Toronto Hotel was nicer, but that’s just me)

Tomorrow is Disney!

Can we go ride the train? Can we?

Day: 2
Date: 19/07/08
Event: To Toronto

We made it to the mainland! The little girls went from exclaiming over the size of the St. John’s airport and begging to ride the elevator- to riding a monorail between terminals in Toronto and swimming in the pool, (which is part of the hotel (which is part of the airport)). I think they’re having a good time.

We had breakfast in the St. John’s hotel this morning, which for our family costs a whopping $100.00, and headed off to the airport. The lady at the check-in was rather surprised to see that among 12 people only 5 piece of luggage were checked, but what can I say? We’re a special family. We also almost all managed to be carrying gels or liquids in our carry-ons, so we had to pull the convoy over and repack the lip balm, toothpaste, etc. But everyone made it through check-in and security without incident-

and then Gid dropped his boarding his pass down the heating vent. Hmmmmmm…. Thankfully Daddy worked his usual wonders in convincing people behind counters, and a new boarding pass was printed for him. *sigh of relief*

The actual flight was pleasantly uneventful. And far from being Delayed, we arrived 10 minutes early! We were flying Air Canada, so I was, understandably I think, skeptical of that happening. On the flight I watched Vantage Point, which was a very enjoyable movie. However, there was a large enough body count that I don’t think I’d watch it at home. But it was good. I just especially liked the little news blurb at the end, which was entirely not what had happened. *glee* My devious soul was pleased within me.

Once we had landed the pilots of the plane allowed all the little ones, and even the big ones of our family to sit in the cockpit and pose for pictures. But that thrill was almost overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of Toronto Airport. Moving sidewalks! Massive Hallways! Escalators! Baggage carousals! And- the biggest thrill- a monorail train to our hotel. I think we were all thrilled with that train. And I want one for my own. It was all futuristic glass and private compartments, zipping over highways and parking garages. There wasn’t even a driver, it was completely automated. *wistful sigh*

Right. Yes. *cough* So, we checked into the hotel, which is quite sumptuous, and scouted out the terminal next door. Was this just an excuse to ride the train? Um, yes. 😛 However, we did find a little food court which we then returned to, with Daddy and the money, for supper.

I am writing this by the side of the pool, as the official Adult which allows my non-adult siblings to swim. I was a spoilsport and didn’t swim. 😀 Now the young ones are going up to bed, and PT, Fraulein and myself are going to ride the train again and check out the bustling Toronto night life. (We’re going to the food court for Frozen Yogurt.)

Ciao!

Quid vides. Nihil videmus.

Oh! I can translate that sentence! I think…

Two exams down, five to go.

Latin was this morning, and I actually feel fairly secure about it. I didn’t ace it, for sure, but I was able to answer all the questions. I’m pretty sure I didn’t fail 😛

Philosophy was then in the afternoon, and was good. I don’t think I aced that one either, but I was able to answer most of the questions, in a reasonably coherent manner, and I wrote a 9 page essay in an hour and a half. *big grin* That was actually rather amusing. Last time most everyone left the exam after an hour and 45 minutes, and I was in there writing alone for the last hour. This time, we were all in there up to the last five minutes, and people were coming out of the exam saying things like “I had more to say, but my hand gave out.” The essay was on A big idea you might talk to people about. A nice lot of room for writing there, eh? 😀 I think I wrote about a page and a half in the last 5 minutes, wherein I touched on utilitarianism, Hume, Post-modernism, and a two sentence conclusion. I also wrote the last four pages under the motivation of the tea that professor Tingley made for us. It was really nice; he noticed that a lot of the students had not eaten lunch, and made us a pot of tea. By the time I took a cup it had been steeping for almost two hours, so that it was very dark brown and had a smoky flavour. I added a spoonful of sugar, and was rejuvenated!

And then I came out of class, shaking slightly from focusing for that long, and found that Air Canada finally had sent me some money for losing my baggage. So I can ship my books and blankets back home, and still have some money left over to do fun stuff during marking week.

We’re going to the symphony tonight, should be fun.

Must let Rach’s Other Half have the computer to research his art pieces. *bows*

I think I prefer Lewis

I’ve finished Lilith. That is a very strange book. It was mentioned before that George Macdonald is rather similar to C.S. Lewis, but I think I really prefer Lewis. Macdonald is a leetle obsessed with death, and he tends to not be orthodox. Which is a slightly disconcerting for an extended allegory. Ah well!

I also finished Aquinas, which was good, thought I prefer Aristotle. And I called Air Canada. They STILL don’t know where my bags are, but they’ll recompense me for up to $100 USD in clothing and toiletries. So I intend to spend $100.00 USD. Shopping!

The trip back (against Air Canada)

I was flying out of St. John’s at 5:35 am, so I got to the Airport at about 4:20 am. Good. I walk into the terminal, and see the check-in line at the Air Canada desk is stretching about 60 minutes long. Not so good. But I get in line, and start inching forward. There is a tense moment 45 minutes later when I think I have lost my driver’s license, but that is found and I make it through check-in just as they start to call pre-boarding on my flight. I say good-bye to Daddy, and book it upstairs to security. The poor man in front of me sets off the scanners with his belt, his watch, and his wallet, but he is eventually waved through and it’s my turn. No issues *sigh of relief* I make it aboard just as they are calling the front of the plane and cram my bags and coat into three overhead compartments, as all the surrounding passengers are already seated. I sit down, ( I have the middle seat between two rather large men,) and then we sit by the gate for 20 minutes. The Captain doesn’t even know why we haven’t been given leave to leave, and says as much. hmmm

Finally, we are allowed to go! But while we’ve been sitting there we’ve accumulated enough frost that we now need to be de-iced. The Captain sound quite exasperated when he says that, so I’m not really annoyed. We’re all stuck here together, eh? We head out on the runway, the de-icing trucks pull up, the left truck starts to de-ice. The right truck drives in a circle under the wing for 15 minutes! Why?! Eventually the dizzy truck drives away, and the left wing truck de-ices the right wing. We’re off! However, we have lost so much time that several people will miss their connections and I will have 18 minutes to make mine. I am at the very back of the plane, and I’m not even sure if I can make it off the plane in 18 minutes.

I keep telling myself the motto for this trip. Last trip’s motto was Kyrie Eleieson, Lord have mercy, this trip is My God is able. Will I make the flight? My God is able. Will I get stuck in Montreal? My God is able. Will I have to take the train to Ottawa? My God is able.

My God is able.

This motto helps to keep the panic down when, on arrival at Montreal, all the gates are full and we can’t park the plane. The thing is, almost the entire plane is connecting to somewhere else through Montreal. There are people going to Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Miami, Port Blanford, and all with less than an hour to connect now.

I finally make it off the plane, walk with a sense of urgency over to gate 27, and find that my flight was delayed by 30 minutes. I have 10 minutes to spare. *collapses from relief* Incidentally, Moon unit tells me later that her entire church is praying for my flight back. Thank you!!! That flight is in a little propeller plane. 27 minutes in the air, juice and cookies provided.

We land without incident, an hour and a half late, and I go down to collect my baggage. It isn’t there. Sue meets me by the baggage carousel, and then we go over to report my “delayed” baggage. (I know just where to go to report the missing bags, because my baggage was “delayed” in September as well.) Sue was also not pleased with the airlines, as she had been bumped off her flight the day before, and they had also delayed her baggage. We drive home. It’s nice to be back.

Note: it is now 48 hours since I arrived, and they still don’t know where my bags are. I packed my carry on so I could live out of it, but my textbooks are in my check bags, as are my boots, and most of my wardrobe. ( I carried my ipod in my purse.) It shouldn’t be nessesary to carry everything you need to live on your person. I’ve given them three chances, and they’ve botched it every time. I just don’t want to fly Air Canada again. Ever.

wow

So, after much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I received a confirmed flight from Toronto to St. john’s via Halifax on 19:55 on the 18th of December, 2007. Flight 2628. I know this, because I was on the flight. However, Air Canada appearently does not know this, because they have just sent me this.

What? My rebooked flight still stands? I was on standby for 4 flights before I left Toronto. They were changing my ticket information every time. Except, apparently not.
Amazing.

Home!

I’m HOME!

So, after my flight was canceled on Saturday afternoon, I finally made it back at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon. Not an experience I would have chosen, but still overall rather fun, (in the same way that the philosophy exam was fun. : )

I spent 24 hours on standby in Toronto, which was interesting in many senses. RM lives on the outskirts of town, and she marvelously drove out to pick me up, and gave me a bed for the night. Her family has an excellent house, all wood-paneling and rooms in exactly the right place. Moreover, the time I spent in the airport was not particularly stressful. I was number 126 on the standby list to st. john’s, and there were people who had been on the list for three days. That sounds like it should inspire stress, but instead I was able to tell myself that I actually had nothing whatsoever to complain about. When I’ve been stuck in an airport for three nights, and now told I’ll be kicked out by security this evening, with no one to call and every hotel full; Then I’ll get peeved. In addition, I saw some really interesting types of people, including a man who let me go ahead of him in the line to get a confirmed seat (more valuable than diamonds at this point, and considerably rarer.) He didn’t get a confirmation, while I did, and he had been stuck there for four days. Thankfully, this gentleman got a standby seat on the same flight I was confirmed on. He was only about 25, and the last one on the list of 126 to make it out of the airport.

Then when I got to St. john’s I was met by two gems of people who met me at 2:30am, waited for me while I stood by the baggage carousal for an hour, and drove me to their home. Then they got me up in the morning, made me breakfast, and went to work. To recap, that is 2 hours of sleep, undertaken for a girl whom they barely know. The salt of the earth, these people.

I have learned from this venture:
-To not fly Air Canada, if I can possibly help it. (They didn’t even provide bottles of water for the stranded passengers, while Westjet was putting their customers up in hotels with money for food. )
-I am blessed in my friends
-I am blessed in my family’s friends
-I am oddly able to stay happy during a crisis, provided that I can do SOMETHING.
-Travel is very interesting, not predictable, but fascinating!
-There are still gentlemen within my demographic.
-God will provide. (This whole year is an extended example of this lesson.)
-It’s good to be home.

Winter weather and airlines

Yes, directly after I wrote that post last night, I found that my flight had been canceled. Interestingly, I did not find this out from the airline. Instead, Star heard on CBC that there was a weather warning out for effectively everything east of Manitoba, and checked her flight. Then she msned me. Then I looked online, and picked up the phone. Five hours later, and many alternate itineraries, I have a confirmed alternate route.

You see, when I first called, they were just going to put me on an alternate flight to Toronto, and then I would catch my original flight from there. Then it transpired that nothing out of Ottawa was moving before 3 PM. As my flight was at noon, there seemed to be an issue with the former plan.

Next plan involved calling Via Rail. I told them what flight I had been on, and they said,” yes, there isn’t a problem with that, we can replace that flight.” Great! That wasn’t so hard, says I to myself. Then the man continues, “… you’ll have a connection through Montreal, and then change to Acadian Bus Lines in Truro. That’ll take you as far as North Sydney.” Hmmmm. North Sydney. On Monday night. With no money for the Ferry. With a weather warning in effect. With no one in town I know. Let’s try this again, shall we?

“Should I book it?” Asks the man. At this point, I have spent close to 2 hours on the phone, but my sanity is still partially intact. I ask if the ferry cost is covered. The man answers that he doesn’t know. [mental image of spending Christmas in the Marine Atlantic Ferry Terminal] I should say, that throughout this whole evening there was a strong sense of “you’d better fend for your self, cause we sure ain’t finding an alternate route for you.” Anyways, *coughs* I next performed brilliant mental acrobatics, and thought of Toronto. They’re always flying out of there, right? If I get there, I can catch the NEXT flight home. At this point, my memory is a little foggy. I don’t remember if I called Air Canada to found out if they were still flying out of Toronto, or if I booked the train then, but I booked a train ride, from Ottawa to Toronto, on Sunday. Now for the flight from Toronto.

I call Air Canada. Just as an aside, doesn’t it strike joy in your heart to be greeted with “due to exceptionally high call volume, all our agents are busy right now.” Particularly when you know that the three main airports for eastern Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Halifax) are effectively shut down right now, during the Christmas rush. After 45 minutes on hold, I finally talk to a person. I have been put in a borderline hypnotic state by the phone at this time, but I mange to give my spiel. “hi, my name is ___, I was on flight 8833 from Ottawa to St. John’s, I called before and they told me to call Via Rail. I reserved a seat from Ottawa to Toronto, but my flight would leave at noon and the train gets into Toronto at 12:45. Can I take the next flight?”*inhale* The man, probably very used to dealing with hysterical travelers at this point, says he’ll see what he can do.

Every flight out of Toronto going east is booked for Sunday. Let’s look at Monday: full. I say something inane about being willing to connect through the states. This guys says calmly that they wouldn’t do that. Side note: when I called before, the news that I was traveling from Ottawa to St. John’s was greeted with an “Oh Gawd!” *bottom drops out of the stomach*. However, this man seems to find it not inconceivable that I could actually get home within the next three days. He says that there is one seat. I go, “oh?!” The last seat, on the last flight before Tuesday evening. It’s a direct flight for me, starting in Calgary, stopping to refuel in Ottawa. The seat is in Executive class. The guys tells me that I’ll be probably bumped down to Economy, but I hold a shining hope in my mind.

I’ll be getting into St. John’s 12 hours later than expected, I guess I should call home and tell my family. I call, and it transpires that they have to be in another town for a Chemo treatment at that time. Hmmm, perhaps booking myself into a town 1000 km round trip away from home wasn’t the best idea. Better call Air Canada again.

50 minutes later…. I have a booked connection from St. John’s to an airport only an hour away from home. I call home with the news. However, they seem to think I won’t like the 36 hour layover in St. John’s. Right, oh. Maybe I could sightsee? No.

Time to call Air Canada Again. I’m only on hold for about half an hour this time, I guess things are being ironed out. I cancel that connection. I try to add it on to the other end of my round trip flight, but they’re having none of that. Finally, I have a route fixed. I’ll fly to St. john’s and be met by a friend, who will put me on the bus in the early morning.

Over all, this hasn’t been too stressful, though I certainly wasn’t operating at 100% by the end of the evening. Hands shaking, sore ears, crick in the neck, inability to find the correct words at any given time; normal, really. : ) This has given me a healthy mistrust of airlines, I think. Last time I flew solo, a delayed flight caused me to miss my connection, and they lost my luggage. So now I entirely expect things to not go according to plan. Bad thought: I’ve had a missed flight, and a weather cancellation, what’s left for my return flight? A terrorist scare?

Oh well, I’ll face then when or if it happens. Now I’m going home! Ya!