Friday, March 24, 2006

Greetings From Utah

I know I'm in Utah because the news talks about "LDS" and everyone knows what they mean.  Not like you can't find Mormons anywhere else or anything, but they don't often show up on the news in Los Angeles.

I'm amazed that I made it here.  And my luggage did, too.

Last night, I'd done the online check-in, so I had a boarding pass, but I still needed to check my bag at the airport.  And you have to check your bag 1/2 hour before the flight leaves.  Now, normally, I'm flying out of LAX and it's real early in the morning and I get there an hour in advance as a matter of course.  But today, I flew out of Burbank, and my flight didn't leave till 1:30, so I thought I could run some errands....

The plan:  Go to bookstore (buy book); go to ATM (get cash); go to nail shop (get nails done) and then head on out to the airport.  I even planned ahead by wearing flip-flops -- that way, my little pedicure could dry AND I wouldn't have to take off my shoes to go through security.

The plan failed.  There was no parking at the bookstore (and I realized I'd left some stuff at home), so I went home, got the stuff I forgot, tried again.  Got parking right in front -- thought this was a good omen or some other sign my luck was changing, but noooo.  Took me WAY too long to find my book.  (Could not figure out which genre they hide the Tuesday Next books under.)  Left and figured I'd skip the ATM and go straight to the nail place.

.... where a "fast" manicure somehow turned into 45 minutes.  At one point, I'm looking at the clock and it's about an hour fifteen before my flight leaves, and I'm just, "I gotta go -- NOW."  The woman was holding a little brush in her hand to touch up my nail polish and I was all, "Forget it" and ran out of there.  With the little tissue paper still flapping between my toes.

Got in the car and SPED to the airport.  (Had been trying to not screw up my nail polish, but I whacked my fingernail on the turn signal and cut a cute little "racing stripe" right down the center of one of my nails.  Also ended up with a pink-tinged turn signal.)  I was doing, like, 80 (oops) and I started to slow down figuring I'dmake it.  After all, I had only five more miles to go and it was only 12:45.  (Remember, now -- I have to have my bag checked in by 1:00 or it ain't getting on the plane.)  And traffic ... stops.  Well, slows to a crawl.  I'm frantic.  I have that GPS navigational thingie in my car, and I try to get it to give me an alternate route to the airport.  It finally tells me to get off at the next exit but, I look ahead, and it looks like traffic on the freeway is clearing after that exit, so I figure I'll risk staying on the road.

12:50 -- I am TEARING into the airport.  You know those little radar gun/speed signs where they say "YOUR SPEED IS xx" right next to what the speed limit for the road ACTUALLY is.  Well, it won't even tell me my speed.  It's just flashing SLOW DOWN at me.  I halve my speed and the sign tells me I'm doing about 28.  Next to a sign saying the speed limit inside the airport is 15.  Oops again.

Finally pull up to the valet guy (no time for self-parking).  He's pulling my bag out of the back and trying to fill out my little valet ticket at the same time.  He asks me my name.

My last name is 10 letters long and nobody can spell it.  I make a quick decision to truncate my name to four letters (note to self: don't lose valet ticket and have to rely on ID to claim car), tell him the key is in the ignition and run over to curbside check-in.

There are no employees at curbside check-in.  It's gotta be 12:55 now.  All they have are the damn kiosks.  I run up to a kiosk and feed it my credit card.  I have to go through about 4 screens until it figures out who I am and what flight I'm on, and we're wasting precious time here.  Finally, it finishes.  I wait for it to print a receipt and I also wait for the one (ONE!) employee manning the counter to give me my baggage tag that printed out.  He comes over to the kiosk and sees a receipt someone left on it.  "Is this yours ma'am?"  "No, it's not."  I prove it by showing him mine, in my hand.  I'm still waiting on the baggage tag.  He then sees someone had left a hotel room card-key by the kiosk.  "Is this yours?"  I'm about ready to tear his head off.  My flight leaves in a half hour; I haven't been through security yet; he has custody of my baggage tag -- and yet he has decided NOW would be a good time to clean up the kiosk area.  I stifle the impulse to strangle him and come up with a "No, that's not mine either, sir."  The "sir" worked.  He puts the tag on my bag.

I run my bag over to the baggage screening machine.  I've bought a TSA lock for it.  Those are locks that the TSA has special keys for.  So you don't have to stand there while they screen your bag -- they'll just toss it into the screener and if they have a problem, they can open it themselves.  So I hand off my bag to the guy and prepare to run to the security line.  And he stops me, saying that "We broke our key to this particular TSA lock, so we need you to wait while we screen your bag."  AARGH.

FINALLY, the bag gets screened.  (I'm all set to say, "The long metal things are the blades on my figure skates, sir" but he doesn't question it.)  I dash through security just in time to run on my plane.

(I lie.  There was actually time to grab a fruit bowl at the coffee shop on the way, to eat on the plane, but the story sounds better if I just ran right on.)

So I made it!  I'm here in Park City -- with my stuff and everything!  I'm here with four other people (two couples) and we've rented this really nifty 3-bedroom condo for the weekend. 

We didn't do much except get unpacked, pick up our rental skis (and boots and poles), get dinner, and go to the grocery store (with this nice whole kitchen here, we'll be cooking dinners).  I still haven't got my bearings yet on our location.  Actually, none of us have.  When we headed off for the ski rental shop, we walked two blocks in the wrong direction until I asked, "Are you sure this is the right way?" and they looked at the map and realized, no, it wasn't.  Once we got to the intersection where the ski shop was, we STILL couldn't find it, and ended up going another block or so out of our way.  And we very nearly got on the wrong bus for the grocery store.

But we're here.  And we're warm.  And we're fed.  And we got skis.  And we're getting set for tomorrow. :)

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