Tuesday, January 4, 2011

travelling for the holidays

My daughter and I flew to western KY to spend the holiday's with my mom on Xmas eve, and my brother and family drove in from mid-state (5 1/2 hr drive) on Saturday and left again on Sunday.  Another whirlwind family get-together.  My mom loved it. And was left completely exhausted.  She seemed to be doing pretty good this visit. But that can be hard to tell. She is still complaining that it hurts to swallow, talk, basically use her throat.  But she'll be ok. We flew back on Thursday the 30th, and then got stuck in Chicago (apparently high winds - hmm windy city?) due to delays. Airlines no longer give you free rooms if you are stranded. They offer "discounts", I'd hate to see what the normal prices of some of these places are.  On the other hand, if I think about it, why should the airline have to pay for a hotel for me, when the flight was delayed by weather? Basically they chose to limit the number of flights that could take off or land at any given time due to the high winds. Which in turn caused some major delays and caused us (along with lots of other people) to miss their connections.  So is that the airline's fault?  I think it makes a little more sense to blame the airline when they just randomly cancel a flight, or they bump you without reason, etc.  Last year we had an issue in Cincinnati trying to catch a connection, and went to the gate to be told the plane just left.  I said, but I have 10 after, the flight isn't scheduled to leave until 20 after, and had the attendant tell me quite proudly that her monitor said 15 after. When I tried to explain how that still mean the plane left early, she shrugged and said it was already gone, and did I want help getting a replacement flight?
One of my main complaints with flying these days is that checked bags cost at least $25 a bag, unless of course you pay extra to fly first class - then you can get free checked bags (in some cases 3). Ok, if there is a problem with passengers taking too much and they need to limit bags, charging would be a way to do that. But oh, then you hear that they are having to add sand bags as ballast to even out the load since people aren't taking as many bags. Go figure.  Then there are all the people that go through security lugging way more bags than the 1 bag plus one personal item (purse, pillow, etc).  I guess there are a lot of people that don't know how to count.  Also, these same people that can't count are the ones that have the "over-sized" carry-ons and have to gate-check them.  Which is free.  Which is why these people are doing this.  Basically it is like checking a bag, only it is free, and you get your bag back at plane side when you reach your destination.  Other advantage I guess is that if you get stranded like we did in Chicago, you got your bag with you.  Ours somehow didn't miss our connection (even tho we landed when the other plane was supposedly taking off) even though we did.  So we got to spend the night without our luggage.  I carry a laptop bag with me that has my essential stuff in it.  So I was ok.
We stayed in the Hilton at the Chicago airport - in the airport actually. Cost a little more, but to me it was worth not have to try to go out find and catch a shuttle for a 20 min drive to some hotel and be at their mercy to be able to get a shuttle the next morning and not miss our return flight.  It already took us almost 15-20 minutes to walk from the airport itself to the hotel lobby, much less go on outside where the shuttle buses were.  The hotel was nice. Not that I ever plan to go back to it.  The main down point of the stay in Chicago was walking into an elevator just as a homeless man was exiting to discover he had just peed in the corner. Ewww. and why there? never mind I don't want to know.  J wondered how he knew he could be finished in time before the doors opened... I don't know? practice?
M also had her own fun travelling over the holiday. She flew to SC to see W. Was supposed to fly out on Friday and return Monday, making it a 4 day weekend trip.  She got stuck because of a connecting flight through Newark, and had her Monday flight rescheduled for Thursday, and then when it looked like it might be cancelled again, ended up having to get another flight home. She is holding her breath waiting for a refund on the original return flight.  Which they did promise, so maybe.  I think the worst part of her getting stuck was that she was staying with W and his girlfriend D and she got sick of hearing sales pitches for XANGO. The miracle fruit, cure for MS and anything that ails you, that I wrote about before.  You don't sell the product, you just find 5 friends that will join and market it, and they find 5 friends, etc.  The other issue was that D's cooking apparently left something to be desired, she said the meals were things that really sounded good, but every time she put any of it in her mouth she was disappointed.  The other problem was that it was unseasonably cold in SC.  And apparently W & D didn't feel the need to turn up the heat.  M was talking about having to put socks on her hands to read so her hands didn't freeze.  M doesn't normally complain of the cold.
Western KY is really not that far south of where I live in Central PA. But a lot of people from this area seem to believe I am travelling south when I mention going to see my mom.  Now, granted if you listen to the accents of the locals, you will definitely hear a drawl. And like a lot of the south, they don't get in any hurry. But geographically, it is really more west than south.  Temperature-wise it normally is within a few degrees of here.  In fact, we had a white xmas (about 3-4 inches) which was more than here. In any case, I wish it was further south and that the temperatures reflected it.  I am pretty much over winter time.  Today was a "warm spell" - regular heat wave with temps climbing into the 40's.  Feels a lot better than 20's and below.  And this single digit stuff with the wind chill - it really has to go.  I truly think my MS doesn't like cold.  Maybe it is just me that doesn't like cold, but I like to think it is one thing that we agree on.  Something we can both be on the same side regarding.  I just really don't like the bitter cold. Especially damp & cold.  I don't care for extreme heat either, but the cold just seems to do something to me.  And plus arthur doesn't care for it either.  So the 3 of us - arthur, MS & me all would greatly prefer if we were done with winter now please.  My arthritis in my left knee has really been acting up.  I saw the dr yesterday and talked about seeing another specialist to discuss a knee replacement.  Hiking across the airport, riding my bike, stepping out in the cold.  None of those things are much fun these days.  So I think it is time.  It isn't going to get any better.  And the things that were helping (like the walking, exercising and riding bike) don't seem to be doing it now.  So I need to take the next step and see what I need to know to plan.

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