Monday, October 05, 2009

AAA (An Arizona Adventure)

I had been anticipating last weekend for quite some time. I was so excited for a short, sunny get away to Arizona. Greg had a business trip scheduled to Tuscon, so it made sense to take advantage of his required trip and meet up with him at the end of the work week for a day and a half of adventure...yes, I was expecting adventure, but I had no idea what kind of adventure I was in for...

The story begins with a phone call from an unknown number while I was at work, during the day. I figured it was a telemarketer so I just ignored the call and the voicemail. Bad idea. It wasn't until I was home at 3:30 (getting ready to leave for the airport) that I remembered to listen to the message. It was US Airlilnes calling to tell me that my flight was going to be delayed by "100 hundred minutes" (according to the recording) and that because of the delay I would miss my connection in Phoenix to Tuscon. GREAT. My trip was already going to be short and I didn't want it to be even shorter due to delays.

Needless to say, that was not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I called the airline and talked to someone who said they could switch me from US Airline to American Airlines. I could get on a new flight that connected in Houston and then over to Tuscon without any issues. WONDERFUL. I was so pleased to know that this would be able to alleviate the connection issue and I'd still be getting to Tuscon within 10 minutes of the projected time.

I arrive at the Minneapolis airport to find the line for American Airlines what seemed to be miles long. I hopped into line quickly and waited (unfortunately not very patiently) for about 45 minutes. I finally got to the desk and the woman took my confirmation number and alerted me that the flight into Houston and connecting to Tuscon was 3 hours. I was going to miss my connection, no doubt. Panic struck me because I thought I was in the clear...I thought I was going to get to Tuscon that night, no problem. I was wrong. After talking to the woman for a few minutes, she advised me that I should go back to my original flight on US Airline and just get off in Phoenix, rent a car, and drive to Tuscon...that would get me there faster than missing my connection, sleeping in the airport, and taking the first flight out in the morning. All the while I am texting and calling Greg, hoping to get his thoughts on the best options. After much contemplating and asking questions, I went back with US Airline and took my original flight with the thought that I will just drive from Phoenix to Tuscon once I got in.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Greg and I had already gotten hooked up with a sweet car rental deal in Tuscon (the original plan was for me to grab the car when I landed in Tuscon) and since I was now not landing there, we had to cancel that car rental, and scramble to get another car rented for pickup in Phoenix.

I got to the gate to check in and tell them the situation because Greg was on the phone with someone (not sure anymore) who told him that in order to not use one of the legs of the trip, it had to be canceled...if you just don't show up for one of the parts of the trip, the rest of the trip is canceled. Good to know, because I was seconds away from just planning to not show up on the plane in Phoenix, which would have meant my return flight would have been gone. Poof. I talked to a man at the gate who was speaking to me like I speak to my 1st grade students, which annoyed me greatly. But when all was said and done, he helped me cancel my Phoenix to Tuscon connection (both ways) so my round trip ticket was now Minneapolis-Phoenix and back. I did this with the reassurance that Greg would also be able to cancel his flight from Tuscon to Phoenix if we simply stopped at the Tuscon airport--we had to do this because I was flying out of Phoenix now, and the car was rented in Phoenix, so it had to be returned there to avoid hundreds of extra dollars spent on car rental.

I sat in the airport for another 4 hours until my flight was finally ready to take off. At this point it was 9:30 pm. And at this point, I was simply tired from the long day, and the chaos of the back and forth and trying to figure everything out. I hopped on the plane and were en route by around 10:00 pm...with a 3 hour ride...and a 2 hour time difference, that puts me into Phoenix around 11 pm. And around 11 pm I did arrive. I groggily stumbled off the plane, pleasantly surprised by the heat in the walkway. Miraculously, I found my way to the car rental shuttle bus, and went over to pick up the car that Greg had reserved for me. It was close to 11:30 but I was finally on the make my trek east on I-10...Tuscon here I come! Without any complications, or getting lost, I arrived in Tuscon around 1:30 am...which was 3:30 am Minneapolis time. I had been awake and on the go for nearly a whole day...2 hours short of 24 hours straight. Sick. I was so happy to finally be there, but couldn't do much other than fall into bed. I didn't sleep well because the walls were paper thin...but I managed to stay in bed until about 7:30 am (even though I was awake at least an hour or more before that). At that point, I ate a deliciously soft sugar-cinnamon bagel with a hint of onion and cream cheese. Just what I needed, as I hadn't really eaten food the day before (with all the commotion the only thing I had time for was a slice of pizza for the entire day).

It was a new day and I was ready to be on with the warm, sunny, adventurous day ahead! I went to the pool for a while, and soaked up a few rays while Greg inquired about some cool things to check out in the area. After he had gathered all our options, we decided on a few things that we both agreed looked cool and planned to see how the day went, and what we had time for. We knew for sure that we DID have to stop at the Tuscon airport for Greg to cancel his Tuscon/Phoenix in person. Other than that, we planned for the day to just go along and see what we had time for. After the pool, and a much needed shower, I was ready to check out the Arizona desert. We made our way to the beautiful Sabino Canyon where we walked/hiked around...climbed a mini mountain (ok, I think it was more of a glorified hill)...and took some awesome pictures....

We decided to grab some lunch after being out in the sun and warmth and then hit the airport last before heading to Phoenix for the rest of the day. A tasty lunch we had. I ordered an amazing Tacostada Salad...and let me tell you, I've never seen a salad of that magnitude. Delicious, but far too big for me small tum. We gobbled up our lunch then made our stop at the airport. Greg went in, and I sat in the car trying to not make eye contact with the security man as I knew he'd make me drive around...and I really just wanted to wait. I happened to glance in the window and saw Greg's hands go from his sides to over his head with a tilting back of the head. Uhhhh-oh. I didn't think that was a good sign. I thought this was supposed to be the easy part.

Greg came back out to report that the US Airline desk was closed because the last flight out was an hour before we one in the entire stinkin airport, could help us with a US Airline issue. WHATTTTT! We were directed to call US Airlines on the phone, but of course they were able to do NOTHING for us over the phone. NOTHING but tell us that we could pay $150 to change Greg's ticket and another $300 some to get the new one from Phoenix to Minneapolis. That was not going to happen.

OH, and even better...we had just found a hotel for Phoenix that morning cause we thought we had to stay there for the the room had been booked and all. Then we find out that the option is to pay 400 buckaroos for a new plane ticket, or to eat the money spent on the room in Phoenix and stay in Tuscon after all, dropping Greg off in the morning, and then driving back to Phoenix by myself in the morning. None of the options were great, but we knew that paying for a new ticket was out of the question. So we opted for the cheaper option....stay in Tuscon, Greg flying out of there in the morning, and me flying out from Phoenix. Lame.

Ok, so there was nothing much we could do. We found a new hotel, that was cheap...and the rooms even had a small kitchen in it. We figured we'd make dinner to save on some off to Walmart we went, where we found ourselves a tasty frozen pizza, cookie dough, and some cheap wine. Classy, I know.....and actually I would have not wanted it any other way :) We went to heat the oven upon our return to realize that there was NO OVEN. This has got to be a joke. WHHHHAT? How could we not have realized this small detail. Actually at this point, it was so ridiculous that it was funny...and I just giggled about it. Since we had no where to put it, we decided we had to return it and get the money back. So back to the car we went....when we realized the receipt had been thrown away. OH. MY. WORD. Luckily the receipt was recovered in the Walmart trash can, and they took back the unused food products! Applebees take out was our dinner of choice...and some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Just as lovely as the pizza/cookie idea.

I made it through about 10 minutes of Harry Potter 3 and then was zonked out. Dang. I think that's what happens when you turn 26 and are an old lady.

The next morning I woke up dreading the 2 hour drive back to Phoenix alone, but I had to get Greg to the airport in Tuscon by 8 so that I could get back to the Phoenix area by 10, return the car, and get through security and all that jazz to make my 12:00 flight. When we pulled up to the airport I suggested checking to see if, by some miracle, they would be able to switch his flight so he went in to ask before he took any of his luggage....10 minutes later, he came out with 2 boarding passes in hand...One in the name of Christina M Ventura and one in the name of Gregory E Mohr...both from Phoenix to Minneapolis. SUCCESS!!!

Happily, we drove back to Phoenix together playing the ABC game (finding words on Billboards, road signs, etc. that start with each letter of the alphabet) and the "Name that Tune" and "Who's the Artist" game (courtesy of Mohr Games, INC.)--by the way, I am really bad at those music games...I apparently know no one that is played on AZ radio. :) We soaked in the sights of the AZ scenery and then we finally arrived in Phoenix...return the car...and get through security in the flash of an eye.

We boarded the plane and enjoyed a nice flight back to the Twin Cities. We entertained ourselves with a never ending game of Checkers...some Word Search puzzles and a few snoozes. As we got off the plane I realized that this adventure was coming to an end.

To the normal human being, excitement and relief would be overwhelming feeling...and while I was happy that we successfully made it home...I was not ready for the adventure to be over. While there were some incredibly frustrating travel moments, it really was an adventure...and it was fun to be on an adventure together!

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