Saturday, September 25, 2010

A long way from West Virginia

I’ve travelled a lot in the last 4 days.  Wednesday morning I woke up in Moorefield, West Virginia.  I had one last breakfast in the delightful little coffee shop that I had found on the south side of Moorefield and then headed north toward Pittsburg. 

I let the female navigator inside Microsoft Streets and Trips talk me through the route she had selected.  I had previously let her navigate me to Annapolis but was forced to give her an unflattering name on the way through Washington DC.  She did better on the mostly open terrain between Moorefield and Pittsburgh but fell down severely on some of the interchanges right in Pittsburgh.  Before I left for Annapolis I found a cheap inverter at Wallyworld which was just barely sufficient to keep my computer working on the road.

The famous New England fall colours were just starting to appear – in another week that trip will be really spectacular.  It was still a pretty pleasant drive and certainly a lot more relaxing than it was on the way south in the dark with no GPS. 

I got to the airport well ahead of my flight time and got checked in.  I had been sitting at the gate for a while before I realized that nothing was happening at any of the gates.  As I started paying attention to the conversations around me I began to realize that the airport was in fact completely shut down.  I have no idea where the staff goes during a shutdown but they were gone.  There wasn’t an official soul to be seen anywhere and it continued that was for over an hour and a half past my flight time.  That left me in no doubt about making my connection in Chicago.  I had barely an hour on the schedule to make my Chicago connection so losing an hour and a half before I ever boarded the plan didn’t seem like a good thing.

The storm that had shut the airport down finally blew over as quickly as it had arrived.  It was a clear sunny day when I drove into Pittsburgh and it was just as nice when we flew out.  Of course when I checked the departures board in Chicago my flight wasn’t even listed anymore.  I looked around for a United counter and couldn’t find any with real live human beings but did find a bank of computers that purported to be service points.  The computer was relatively easy to figure out and it quickly informed me that I had been rebooked to the following morning at 6:00 AM. 

In addition, rather than flying direct from Chicago to Regina I was now booked through Denver.  I didn’t really relish the idea of catching a 6:00 AM flight – it was already around 7:00 PM so a 6:00 AM flight pretty well meant a night in the airport.  So I kept looking and finally found a United counter with real live humans behind it.  After a long wait in line I was able to get rebooked for an almost immediate departure to Denver. 

I won’t bore you with the added details of how I finally arrived in Regina a full day late.  Nor will I dwell on the fact that my bag had a nearly zero chance of actually travelling on the same flights as I did and sure enough it didn’t.  I finally made it back to Buchanan in the late afternoon on Thursday.  Then we dashed around doing the things that Marilyn hadn’t been able to do alone so that we could get back on the road to Lethbridge.  I got the alternator that Marilyn had purchased installed and got the wiring right eventually.  When we did get on the road the improved power output was a welcome improvement over what we had been putting up with.

We’re now in one of our Holiday Trails membership parks in Lethbridge where I am doing a Growsafe installation at the Ag Canada Research Station.  We’ll likely be here most of this week and perhaps into the next week but as long as the damnwind doesn’t blow its pretty pleasant here.

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