Monday, March 29, 2010

Up In The Air

My connecting flight was cancelled due to bad weather, about 20 minutes before board time.  This was after the 3 hours lead time to allow for the extra security and all that.  Another 2 hour wait in line at Air Canada Customer Service with many others with the same concerns. What were they going to do with me?

The long and short of it is that I could spend overnight in Toronto and try again the next day, or be placed on a direct flight to Houston, and spend overnight there, courtesy of Air Canada.  I could then hop on the next flight out to Lubbock bright and early the next morning.  The only drawback was having to go out and come back in through the 'wash cycle' of Canadian Customs and the US security system again.  I chose Texas - for the Adventure.

Sounds good.

Except when I got to Houston, the local Air Canada agent had no idea that such arrangements had been made.  It took some convincing on my part that it wasn't logical that I would choose to come all the way to Houston, just to be stranded in an airport terminal at night in an unfamiliar country, when I could have stayed at a hotel in Toronto for free.  The agent eventually agreed and set up hotel and shuttle arrangements.  Shuttle in 15 minutes in the pick up area.  Check!

After waiting outside for an hour, without seeing the afore mentioned shuttle, I went inside the terminal to confirm that they were coming.  Air Canada office is closed now, but a phone call from the general customer service desk confirms that the shuttle will be on their way in 15 minutes.

After waiting another hour, I went inside the terminal and found everyone gone from customer service area.  A shuttle driver phoned hotel from his cell phone.  In fact, they said they were going to be about 15 minutes.

Another hour passed.  I was tipping over the point of sanity.  I have been either in an airport terminal or in a plane for the past 13 hours.  I went inside the terminal again and met up with a lovely female police officer who kindly phoned the hotel again.  Apparently, the shuttle in question was a large orange bus that was zipping around quite frequently in the three hours I had been waiting.

So out we go and the officer puts me on the shuttle.  Off to the hotel  When the shuttle driver escorted me inside the hotel lobby, we were informed that there were two hotels with the same name and this wasn't my hotel.  The shuttle driver also informed us that he didn't go to that hotel.

God Bless 'em, the owner of that hotel was willing to drive me to the hotel that I was booked in, about 8 miles away.

A fully conscious individual may give pause to wonder 'what was that all about'?

I did catch the right shuttle to the airport the next morning, and was prepared for a short hour and twenty eight minute flight to Texas West.  You know...... flat, dry, tumbleweed....

 I couldn't believe what I saw from the air.  It was a bright cloudless morning so the ground was totally visible from my window. It was as if I was in a art gallery, looking at an exhibition of surreal paintings. The bright colours of indigo, terra-cotta, buff, maroon and plum.  The little patches of water here and there were like bright turquoise glass.  I was stunned.

Although I never expected such a difficult day of travel, I never expected to see one of the most amazing breath-taking sights of my life. Was it worth it?  You bet!

I did find a website whose photos may give you an idea of what I saw that morning.

Maybe the next time I will try the balloon-method of flying. Being up in the air is certainly a different viewpoint.

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