The Long Travel Day.
It started Thursday evening as the 10 o’clock news was about half over. It was then that the 11 pm producer walked into the studio and told me that they needed to send me out to a plane crash immediately… forget about presenting the Weather.
So I grabbed a camera, a car, and an intern, and we set off driving down Route 68 in search of an oddly named cross road “Skull Hollow Road.” We eventually found it, but there wasn’t much new information to be gained. After a live phone report from the scene of the staging area, we returned as the various EMS services were released. It started to sprinkle, and then the rain grew steadily harder.
By the time we were back at the station, it was 12:25 a.m,.or so, and it became apparent that I was expected to write up some version of the story. It also became apparent that someone else had been sent to the scene, and that they were doing MORE with the story that I had gained. So I banged out what I knew and left at 1:30 a.m . By 2:30 a.m., I was finally home, and started packing.
Despite the motor coach arriving about ten minutes late, the boarding of the bus went well.. a cushion of time was built into the schedule at every step. We picked up the second half of our group in Marietta, and we were off. We even had a reporter come see us off with a WTAP camera! The drive to the Pittsburgh airport was going well.
We made good time, and stopped at a McDonalds in the Wheeling area, which was wise, as I was ready for lunch. As things turned out, we would could our blessings that we had eaten. As I’m not a fan of Coke, I had a Sprite, which is caffeine free… but still felt punchy from only 5 hours sleep.
Then the delays started. United Airlines was having a problem with the Denver to Calgary connection for our flight. We stood in line at the Pittsburgh airport awaiting check in for almost a half hour. Something had gone astray, but the tour guide was working on it.
After a delay of almost two hours, our Holiday Vacations tour guide was successful in convincing United that we shouldn’t break the group into two 20 person groups…half making it to Calgary, and half stranded in Denver. Instead, he persuaded United to bring in a larger aircraft to carry us all. Personally, I would have been happy to just get to Denver, as Calgary wasn't high on my list.
Finally, we boarded, and flew to Denver. Along the way, I struggled to nap, but couldn't get comfortable in my seat. My headache was beginning, and I thought it might have been lack of caffeine fueling it.
We got into Denver, and after eating a bit more, again without caffeine, we awaited the flight out. to board. This was the flight that they held and held until we had arrived. But there was another delay....
United had started routine maintenance to replace an air filter, but found they had the wrong size.
The plane was not only held for our late arrival, but delayed another hour due to their maintenance. We finally boarded, and again, I was able to nap a little in my seat… I find it hard to sit still in any airline seat, being more than 6’ 2” and unable to lay out or rest my head.
We left after 9:30 pm Denver time, which would have been 11:30 PM EASTERN. We finally touched down at 1:30 a.m. in Calgary, and struggled through customs… so tired, that I could barely understand what the lady was asking us… “Are you meeting anyone here? What are you bringing in? What cities are you visiting? Where are you staying? What are the names of your hotels?” It was becoming the third degree! No, lady, we're 45 people on a commercial tour group. What do you want from us? I'm dead tired!
She eventually cleared us, and we boarded the motor coach, bound for downtown Calgary. We got into our room and I crashed in bed by 2:30 a.m….. 4:30 AM EASTERN TIME! The alarm clock set for 7:30 a.m. Calgary time, some five hours later.
This trip was not starting off well, but the second day was going to improve. Calgary is wonderful, with a wonderful guide and good food, and most importantly, some caffeine with my meals…. All is better. More on our first full touring day later. Stay tuned.
PS: Everyone is fine, we're enjoy Canada. It just started out rough, though no fault of Holiday Vacations. Our tour guide solved everything!