Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saddle Up, Ride'em Out

It's that time again, for buying gifts and packing bags; for gearing up for that long flight across the ocean. This trip includes stops in Portland, Oregon; Carlisle, Pennsylvania and Jacksonville, North Carolina. Of course, I have to stop in Dallas and Fort Worth to see friends and family there.

I'm most excited to see Portland and Jacksonville. I've never been to either of those places. I've been to Carlisle several times but I've never written about it, so it will be my pleasure to see it through fresh eyes to report accurately for you. I'm also eager to be with family at Christmas. I've missed that particular brand of fun for the past 4 years; this time I intend to soak it all up!

Trip notes:

On the flight over I had 2 seats to myself so I was quite comfortable, even though long flights are generally discomfitting. I never seem to be able to sleep! Trouble manifested itself at Los Angeles airport. After clearing customs we found that the carousel where we were to collect our bags broke down halfway through disgorging the bags. Some bags lay uncollected on the belt while others were penned up in the chute that delivers luggage. We all piled over to the next carousel and watched while the remaining bags rained down.

Soon all the bags were shed and some of us stood around, wondering where our luggage might be. As my fellow passengers spoke little or no English, I took it upon myself to help them by asking the airport maintenance crew if there would be more bags coming. One of them told me there was a pile of them stacked up at the far end of the baggage claim area. I beat the crowd and there I found my bag. I could finally make my way to my connecting flight to Portland!

In all, I spent 3 hours negotiating Los Angeles airport, making it to my next departure gate just in time to board. When I got to Portland I watched my son drive around the airport terminal. Why he was looking in the opposite direction, leaving me waving my arms on the side of the road is is mystery. Twenty minutes later he reappeared on foot, having parked the car in order to do a terminal by terminal search for me. He found me still standing by the side of the road, looking for him.

As per custom, I buy my tickets for my entire round trip within the first days of being in America. With the impending Christmas panic and more visitors due at my son's house, I hurried to puchase bus passes for the eastern seaboard leg of my trip while things were still quiet. Too bad I thought my daughter lived in Fayetteville... about 2 hours from Jacksonville, where she really lives. She'll have to get up early to meet me as my bus is due in at 8AM, only to reverse the process when I head for Texas because I'm taking a bus there, too... out of Fayetteville.

No refunds or exchanges allowed. Read on for a well-planned exchange!

Having cleverly exchanged money for my sojourn before leaving China, I had plenty of green for any transit fares, or anything else I might need. However, I am not comfortable having no 'in case' cash cushion. I reasoned: I have my bank card with me. If need be, I'll have access to funds. Or so I thought. As soon as I looked in my wallet to count my remaining cash after buying all those tickets I realized I had left my bank card in my coat pocket... on my couch, in my apartment, in China.   

It's going to be a great trip!

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