Last night we departed Midcoast Internet Solutions at around 5:30, where Mylisa picked me up with the “white whale,” (Ford Explorer, V8, 4-door). We opted to eat on the road…so a phone call was placed around Brunswick to Ricetta’s in Falmouth, a fine brick-oven pizza place that my mother introduced me to years ago at their South Portland location. I ordered up a small Supremo, replacing green peppers with mushrooms (I would’ve gotten the large for the left-overs, but they couldn’t travel onto the plane!)
We hit Falmouth around 7, and picked up our pizza (I was distressed to ascertain that they couldn’t retrieve my rewards information, even though I had purchased at that location previously and had used it…I didn’t have my card, however). We jogged across the main drag to the Shaw’s supermarket to pick up some drinks (I found a sixer of Smithwicks!) and chips (yummy Cape Cod Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper), then headed to the Gulf station so the whale could get it’s fill of unleaded.
Back on the highway we rocked the ipod to the Blow Monkeys and Bela Fleck while inhaling taco-like rolled slices of pie!
Just over an hour later we were crossing the bridge into New Hampshire, and before long the exit (don’t forget another toll) towards Manchester and the Airport. We missed the exit given by the Yahoo Map directions, but saw the hotel from the highway, so took the next available exit and doubled back. Of course the hotel was not readily apparent from the road we were on, nor was the actual street name which appeared to change while we were on it. We finally saw the “Quality Inn” through a parking lot entrance, and had to double back once again.
We picked up our door key, and made reservations for the airport shuttle the next morning. Our room was quite a ways down the hall, so after checking out the room, which was plain and quite small, but adequate I suppose, we moved the car to a closer entrance to the room to unload our luggage. We thought about taking advantage of the pool and/or the sauna, but instead spent most of the night consolidating our packing and cleaning up. I caught a couple episodes of Family Guy and Futurama, then on to a Law & Order whodunit.
Went to bed on the late side…slept through most of the night, but did get roused a few times in the morning by impolite departers. Mylisa set out for the lobby to peruse the morning brunchables, only to find a few scones and muffins, that were actually palatable. I pressed forth after a while in search of a hot cup of joe, only to find a push-button coffee vender that spat out a slightly bitter ‘dunkin’ donuts-esque’ blend. An hour and a rotted gut later, we rolled our pregnant suitcases down the hall to the lobby to check out and wait on our shuttle to the Airport. Fifteen minutes later we were greeted by our valet, an aged, weepy eyed, hairy eared goblin with a Long Island accent. He could half-lift my forty pound valise into the rear cargo space, as I one handed the other half. We packed up the remainder of our gear and hopped into the back seat…the only travelers on this jaunt, to a fifteen minute dissertation on the worst vacation of our driver’s life, his recent trip to Vegas with his wife, where it was 40 degrees with painfully cold winds, and them staying in the old part of town at the Casino Royale (where there are no indoor moving walkways!)
After unloading in front of the Southwest Airways terminal, we tipped our man and headed in to the ticket counter, where we plodded through the touch-screen ez-pass login screens to check in our luggage and get our boarding passes. We then escalated up the stairs in search of a real breakfast, finally settling on a breakfast sandwich and apple juice from Dunkin Donuts.
As we headed for our boarding gate, we realized that we were ‘open boarding’ passengers, which basically means “first come, first served” and ultimately we had to sit across the aisle from one another. My neighbor, who was a tad seat-size-challenged introduced himself as ‘Tom’ and told me he was a bit nervous, as this was only his second time flying. I chimed in that he should pre-occupy himself with some reading material, and he was already prepared with his NASCAR magazine, and crossword puzzles. I also reminded him that statistically flying was safer than driving, and he harrumphed his agreement. After we started our acceleration down the tarmac, Mylisa reached for my hand across the aisle, and I glanced to my right to see Tom’s wife grab his. I offered up my free hand if it would make him feel more relaxed, but alas, he declined.
The first leg of our journey was a brisk 55 minute up-and-down, with barely a chance for beverage service, when once again we were forced to queue for another cattle call out to the Philadelphia terminal. Once inside we had the opportunity to mail some letters, hit the lavatory, and get our exercise on the moving walkway towards the food court…which was basically just an “Au Bon Pain,” but a good choice for a semi-healthy lunch.
The second leg: Phoenix Bound:
I tried to find an outlet at gate E9 to charge up the laptop that was seriously depleted by typing on the plane. Of course the only one available was under handicapped seats, two terminals away, and after a brief charge, we got our call to queue. Cold air was was flooding down the terminal walkway next to us as it was a commuter plane so there was nothing to block the end. Still frigid in Philly!
Our second flight was a bit longer, of course, five hours and a few minutes. We received beverage service on the unusually vacant plane (only 22 passengers on the 707) and I was by this time all too happy to chip in for a Dewars on the rocks, and a Heineken for a bit later on. The snack box was fairly scary with some weird honey crackers (like honey grahams) and nasty bread sticks with cheese food, yay! It finished with a bag of dried fruit. Oh well, that’s why we ate lunch in the airport!We could see a bit of the terrain for a while past takeoff, but it was soon covered by the cloud layer. Occassional glimpses could be seen in the ensuing hours, but it wasn’t until about Texas area that I again noticed the landscape, this time littered with circular patches that I later found out to be a way of farming that was raised in the middle to allow irrigation from the center. After that the snow started to creep back in through what might have been Colorado, Southern Utah, and New Mexico, by which time it was getting dark, and the landscape more mountainous. It was entertaining to watch lights come on in nearby houses and towns one by one, until we could make out communities bunched in little yellow lights in the snow-covered spaces between the trees.
Phoenix airport, call Aaron, meet Charla and Dean:
We landed right on time, hit the terminal, a quick call to Aaron to let him know of our safe arrival, and a bathroom break. Then down stairs to find Charla waiting for us on one of the nearby seating areas. Dean was right along, and we said our hellos and headed off to the baggage claim, which was, of course, at the other end of the long hallway. Interestingly, Mylisa spotted her bag “immediately” and mine was just two behind. Charla said “let’s go,” and I said we just needed to wait for my golf bag, when bam, there it was too! I’ve never gotten through so quickly! So we headed off for the Elevator to rise to level 5 and load into the waiting X-Terra containing a wiggly Labrador/Border mix named Tilly. We packed her in tightly in the back with our goods, and headed off for a meal!
Drive to dinner at Claim Jumpers (barbecue short ribs, Claim Jumper Red Ale):
We got a brief chance to peruse the local terrain and housing styles on our way to a popular vacationer destination called “Claim Jumpers.” It had a bit of a “Bugaboo Creek” theme, with animal heads on the walls, and chandelier made from antlers. I started with a Claim Jumper Red Ale, and ordered the Barbecued Short Ribs over garlic mashed potatoes, and a biscuit and sautéed veggies (zucchini, squash, and carrots). The food was very good, and it was a very lot. Mylisa got a complimentary piece of ice cream cake with a hard chocolate crust.
We were beat and headed off to the hotel, for a brief talk, clean-up with a shower for me, and hit the hay.
:: David 2/27/2007 05:32:00 PM [+] ::