Upgrade Me!

My flight landed in Albuquerque at midnight. About a week before, I had realized that this was much too late to rent a car and make the two-hour drive to Taos as planned. So I found a Best Western near the airport with a free shuttle (pool and hot tub too, bonus) and booked online for ninety bucks—the night before I was supposed to arrive. I’m sure if I had planned ahead, it would have cost at least 50% more!

But when I landed and called to find out where I met the shuttle, the front desk told me that the shuttle stopped running at 11. Oops. So I had to take a cab—$7 worked out pretty well! I probably could have walked if I’d known where the heck I was going!

I’m not sure if the front desk girl felt bad for me missing the shuttle, or someone else had requested a different room, but somehow I ended up with a Presidential Suite. First thought when I opened the door: This is not my room. Out quick! Before they see you! French doors separating the bedroom from the “suite” part. Am I paying more than they said I was?  Two bathrooms. Big screen tv. Somebody must have screwed something up. I felt almost like royalty (yes, in a Best Western). I never did find out what the mix up was. My room key envelope had a number crossed out and the suite number written in, so it must have been done on purpose.  I didn’t want to know. But for whatever reason, they didn’t charge me any more than they said they would. Free Upgrade!

Then I went to pick up my rental car. The girl driving the shuttle was pretty inspiring—had just finished her bachelor’s degree after six years of part time school and being a single mom. She said she was the first person in her family to graduate high school, and was only one more year and an externship away from a pharmacy degree. Her family couldn’t She was stressing over the heavy course load she was facing as well as the unpaid 60 day externship, but she said if she finished in one year, it would all be paid for her through a grant. Stories like that have a strange effect on me. I think it’s great that someone is able to overcome so much. But then at the same time, it makes me think I’m stressing out over absolutely nothing so difficult in comparison. We are who we are, I guess.

So back to the rental car. I had made a reservation for this, with my new Enterprise member number (whatever that is). I got talked into an upgrade by the guy at the desk, under the assumption that the “great $7 a day promotion” he was talking about was the whole cost—not in addition to my existing cost (yes, I know, I’m new at this). I picked the Kia Soul, because I like the commercials with the hamsters and it’s similar in size to what I’m looking to upgrade my own car to. After almost everything was said and done, I noticed the final cost was $80 more than what I was expecting! When I told him we should cancel it and go back to the compact car I had originally requested. He stalled and said no, he’d made it work. I said good and rode off down the highway in the Soul. Groovy. We’ll see what happens when I return it…

Renting a car is such a racket. I already pay for insurance, and I think you HAVE to have insurance in order to rent at all. So then why do you need their additional damage waivers that would cost you up to $40 a day more? I could take the insurance off of my car and switch it to the rental car for 10 days and not pay $40 a day. I think I’m going to be checking out the Advantage Rental Car next. They seem to have the most competitive rates, according to Priceline. But I’m sure there’s some kind of racket with that too.

In the meantime, I’m going to be putting this Soul through it’s paces…it doesn’t seem to like going more than 60 miles an hour. This is a problem when the speed limit is 75. I did double check that there was unlimited mileage with the rental, which is a good thing—I’m probably going to be putting more than 300 miles on this bad boy! Let’s see what it can take.

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If you’re happy and you know it, be a pilot

On the airplane, finally. Not really nervous at all right now. Flying to Phoenix in the late afternoon, directly into the sun. I don’t know how pilots do that. Are the windshields like “Transitions” lenses? I mean, when I drive and the sun is in my eyes, sometimes I’ll end up with tears streaming down my face as I try to read the road signs and stay straight in my lane. And this is with sunglasses on. Pilots don’t really have the option of flying into shade, at least not when the plane is above the clouds. But the airplanes must have something to stop that. Four hours flying into the sunset every day would make someone go blind pretty quick.

Something else interesting about pilots and flight attendants. I’m not sure what made me notice this, but I think it’s that new Pan Am teevee show that’s coming out. But whenever you pass a flight attendant or a pilot in the airport, they are smiling like they just won Publisher’s Clearing House and then had dinner with the President, who gave them each a million dollar beach house after dinner. I was standing in this ridiculously long line for security, and a gang of airline employees walked by. They walked by this mile-long line of us miserable people, and just smiled and laughed the whole time. It must be part of their contract. (And, if you’re a pilot, also having a mustache must be part of the contract too.)

And it’s true I guess, nobody wants to get on a plane knowing their pilot is grumpy. I think being a flight attendant might be fun, but it would get pretty tiring. Not just the smiling I mean, the job. I remember one flight attendant awhile back saying, “Enjoy your stay in Chicago,” when we had just landed in Philadelphia. A passenger called her on it and she had laughed, embarrassed. “Oops, you’re right, I was in Chicago this morning.” Our flight had departed from St. Louis. I know I wouldn’t be able to keep all the airports straight.

On the flight from Phoenix to Albuquerque (an hour long), the flight attendant was HILARIOUS. “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to US Airways flight to Albuquerque. If that’s not where you were headed, too bad. The doors are closed and we’re pulling away from the gate.” “The overhead lights will now be dimmed until we have reached our cruising altitude; this is to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants. The lovely Denise needs no such assistance, but I sure do.” The entire safety presentation was so hilarious, I wish I had a recording of it. It was refreshing and props to the flight attendant for making what must be a rather tedious job a little more interesting for her!

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Above the clouds

Come fly with me, let's fly let's fly

I love flying. Being in the airplane I mean. (Airport security etc. makes it almost impossible to like the entire traveling process between getting out of the car at the terminal and takeoff. Three to four hours of the first level of hell, right there.)

But when you’re over the clouds it’s awesome. When there’s a heavy overcast sky, far below you, it’s like flying over a carpet. Sometimes it’s like flying over a field of cotton balls, or shaved ice or homemade vanilla ice cream or something. I always feel a little smug knowing that it’s probably pouring down rain under there, but I’m above all that and I can stay nice and dry. Then we land in a rainstorm and it’s back to reality. I also love flying above the little fluffy clouds. C.S. Lewis in the book “The Silver Chair” said they looked like little sheep. And they totally do! Little balls of cotton fluff. It’s such a different perspective from above though. On the ground it’s just little bits of white on blue. But from above you have the backdrop of the Earth below you. And then sometimes when you’re right on the level of the clouds, and you can see the big cumulonimbus forming off in the distance, like castles in the air, or mesas floating on water.

I love to try and guess where we are in the country, flying west to Phoenix as we are now, or north to south, or whatever. The long ribbons of Appalachian Mountains,  the wide snakes of rivers, the patchwork of farmland over the Midwest, the Rocky Mountain pyramids with their crazy steep shadows on the eastern side and snow on the peaks. I would love to know if I’m right in my guessing. I wonder if there’s an app for that? There really should be. On one flight a few years back, the plane had a little GPS locator on the movie screen that told you where you were. Ah-Maze-Ing. I watched it the entire time and then would stare out the window to see what that part of the country looked like from space. I always get a window seat, and I love that both American Airlines and US Air know this. Of course window seats limit your bathroom opportunities, but that’s okay.

Speaking of, this US Airways flight is a pretty cushy deal. Only two aisles, pleather seats, and  completely unexpected, an almost ridiculous amount of legroom. Not that I’m complaining. But I’m actually almost comfortable here. Which is good because it’s sort of the way I’m thinking about life these days.

I think this trip is going to be good for changing my perspective. Work has been a little tough lately, not difficult but the hours are a little long and I have to work with a lot of different people on a lot of different things, which is not bad just complicated. And then personally too, I’m getting a little tired of always being an organizer and I’m starting to feel a little taken for granted. Add that to the left out feeling that started a couple years ago, and it’s kind of depressing. But I think traveling by myself will be good for me—a chance to just do what I want. I’m a little worried that I’m going to be lazy and not do everything I want to do. A big part of the reason I’ve done so much in my life so far is because I set up an activity and other people were counting on me to lead it. At least a third, maybe even half, of the activities and trips I led, I never would have done on my own—either because I was exhausted and couldn’t drag myself out of bed, or I just really wasn’t in the mood, or I would have gotten cold feet about doing something by myself and not gone alone.

But at this point in my life I realize I’m going to have to get used to doing things alone if I don’t want to “organize” them. And I really need to get used to that. I have a lot of things left on my life list, and if I’m afraid of being by myself or procrastinating too much, I’m not going to do them, and then I will have regrets. I already have a few, but I want to minimize those if possible. Having goals are good but if you aren’t trying to accomplish those goals then what’s the point.

Taking a cue from this video, which is lovely and really puts things into perspective. To quote the adorable but sage Ricky Nelson, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

90 minutes to Phoenix. Let the adventure begin!

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The Get Out Girl is FINALLY getting out again

I’m kind of surprised at myself this summer. I really haven’t done….much of anything. Meaning, I’ve been staying home most weekends, not camping. I guess I’ve been saving money. But I had the idea to go visit Andrea Weatherby in Albuquerque. She moved out there about five years ago and I haven’t seen her since. Had plans to go last year, but ended up starting a new job right around the time I was planning to go. So, there went that. Good thing I stuck with it too, because that temp position led to another which led to a promotion and now I’m full time with that company!

At any rate, I finally got things together for this trip. I found a race in Taos, which is another place I’ve wanted to go, so it became one of my “Race the World” tour stops this year. (Have three more planned, hoping I make it to all of them!) Unfortunately, this race looks pretty tough. It’s called the “Up and Over” 10K, because you pretty much run straight up a ski slope for three miles, then down the other side for three miles. I didn’t really read the description too well, just saw “New Mexico race” and jumped on it. (More about the description of the race, my thoughts about what I’ve gotten myself into, and training for the race on my new blog, Elephants in the Closet.)

My trip is going to be a loop of the northeastern corner of New Mexico. I’m going pretty far off the beaten path, as it turns out. Also crossing at least four, maybe five National Parks off my list too, which is even more exciting. I’m renting a car, which I have some financial reservations about, but it’s really the only option. Staying in a hotel for my race so I’m not too stiff & sore before and after I run, but then I’ll be camping and hiking as I go sightseeing.

I can’t WAIT. I had some initial reservations about traveling by myself, but I’ve been a bit stressed the past few weeks so it will be nice to be on my own for awhile. Then I’ll be spending a few days with Andrea and her family in Albuquerque. I am hoping to blog the whole time, but we’ll see how that goes. I’m pretty sure I won’t have much Wi-Fi access out here, but my goal is to keep writing and post at least once per day! I do a lot of writing for work and my novel is coming along pretty well (link to original story about how it came together), and I feel like I have other life journeys I want to think about, so I’ve created a few new blogs. Hoping to get them all started, more details soon.

Finalizing the itinerary for my trip, so I’ll put that up tomorrow. I change my mind daily. This is good too. I need to be a little more spontaneous! More on that in a future post.

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Addiction, obsession, same thing.

I asked Facebook for some stress relief. Nicole Maloy recommended this.

Bahahah. Oh. Silly.

Pause. Stare.

I don’t have time for this. Well whatever. Maybe jus*pop*

Pause. *pop*

Hah. So dumb, where do *pop* people come up *pop pa pop* with this crazy *pop*

POP POpop POP pop POPOP pop pOPOP pOp PoP PoPOPPOPPOPPOP

Hah. DONE. Take that. *fresh sheet* I really have–

Wait, “manic mode?”

POPOPOPOPPPOPPPOPOPOPOPOPOPPOPPPOPPOPOPPOPOPOPPPPRRRRAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHFFF

*pop*

So I accomplished nothing. But I feel better.

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Getting lazy on the National Parks goal.

Re-discovered my 43 Things today. Fortunately I was able to cross a few things off my list! And there are a few that I really need to revise a bit. Backpacking around Australia is kind of out of the question now, although I’d love to go & visit for a few weeks. And while watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Dark Side of the Moon is a great goal, I really need to just get that one over with and out of the way. (And another 43 Things user made this infinitely easier by revealing that already-synched videos are on YouTube. Fab0.)

The thing that inspired me to come back here was Visit All the National Parks. I’m doing this but very slow about writing. And since I just started reading a book about writing,* I’m inspired to get the parks I’ve already visited blogged and scrapped and out of the way. Have been working on a post about the trip to Assateague Island for a few weeks,  just not had the time to finalize!

So the new goal to do at least part of one trip report each week. Each trip report has 5 parts:

  1. First draft—handwrite on bus (until I get computer!!)
  2. First draft—type
  3. Revise first draft, tag
  4. Pick a few photos, post blog, update National Parks Quest page’
  5. Format & print out a copy for the National Park Passport.

Ok this is on!!! Going to finish all the parks I’ve visited by the end of the year!!! Will still have a bunch more to go but it’s a start.

* YES, I know that reading a book about writing is really just procrastinating from writing, but I’m not equipped to write on the bus exactly. See “Into the Woods with Computer and Coffee.” Working on it.

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Litter Critters

As if solar compacting trash cans weren’t cool enough….I love these! Going to have to hunt them down on South Street!

feed me

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