The final leg of my mini tour was Chicago to catch up with some relatives I hadn't seen for a couple of years. What an adventure it was to get there from San Jose. My flight was scheduled to leave San Jose at 6:55am and arrive in Chicago at 1:10pm Chicago time, a flight time of just over 4 hours. So I got up at 5:30am, quick shower and my mate dropped me to the airport, curbside, for about 6am. I go to check my bags because I had already checked in online the night before. I find out my flight is cancelled and I need to go upstairs to the counter to be re-routed. The fun begins.
I head inside and find the American Airlines counter. After about 10 minutes in line I'm called.
Piles of Snows
I'm informed the reason for my flight being cancel is weather related in Chicago and that I've been re-assigned a seat on a flight to Dallas/Fort Worth and an onward journey from there. Okay, a little out of the way I'm thinking but so be it. The girl behind the counter is tapping away on her keyboard and then tells me there is a flight out of San Jose to LA at 6:55am and a flight to Chicago at about 9am that I can make. It will get me in a couple of hours later than originally scheduled but no biggie and the flight out of LA is definitely going. So naturally I choose that option along with dozens of others. I'm checked in a wave goodbye to my bags (figuratively not literally). I text my mate to tell him my flight is cancelled and that I'm on my way to LA.
He reply, "Good luck you are in for one of those days" I didn't really know what he meant. We board and take of on time arriving in LA shortly after 8am. We have to change terminals when we land so we hop on the bus. As we're onthe bus words starts filtering throught that Flight 88 has been cancelled. My flight. It becomes more apparent that it;s the case because American Airlines is contact people with new details.
After getting of the bus I make my way to the assigned gate and it's true the flight is cancelled. Arrghh. There is a line of maybe 20 people in front of me and it starting to build behind me. After 15-20 odd minutes the line hasn't moved. There is some problems re-routing people becasue the flight was an international one going onto Belgium after stopping of in Chicago.
So we start chit chating in the line about where we all started out that morning. Some people came from San Diego, some San Jose etc. Some were due in Chicago that morning for buisness meetings and appointment that afternoon etc. I wasn't too pushed I was going to see family. I called my uncle to give him an update. I'd given him my flight details and times the night before. So I called him to tell him I was in LA and that I didn't know what was going on because my flight was cancelled. He'd been trackign my original flight and new it was cancelled. He told me that the reason for the cancellation was because of a heavy snow storm in Chicago area and that I'd be lucky to get in that day. I told him I'd update him later that day when I knew wat was going on.
Merc SLR McLaren. Yours for the small sum of $475,000
I passed on the weather info to the few people in the line htere were some groans.
After about another 30 minutes of not moving and queries where ours bags were seen as they were checked to chicago we were told we need to wait in line to get our bags realeased. I hate waiting in lines when they don't move and that tends to happen whatever line I happen to stand in. Eventually, what appeared to be a fairly hight ranking AA official came to us and took some of us of the line and divided us up between a lot of the other AA gate counters to be sorted. When I got to the counter I was told that I was re-assigned on the flight to San Francisco and then onto Chicago. I kinda laughed and said "I've just come from San Jose so I doubt very much that the San Fran flight will go".
Toyota A-BAT Concept
So the woman tapped away and reassigned me on the flight to Denver and then onto Chicago. Only problem was this was about 10:15am and the Denver flight didn't leave until 1:25pm. I then inquired as to the status of my bag becasue it was checked through to Chicago for San Jose. I was asked to describe it and told not to worry it will be re-routed. Great three hours to kill in an airport, travelling alone and knowing no-one.
I think I was in terminal 3 at LAX. either that or 4. Either way it's brutual if you have to kill 3 hours there because there is not a lot to do there. I got some breakfast and a coffee and sat and read my book and listened to my iPod (so glad I bought that at the start of the trip in NY). I brought one book with me for the trip.
Dodge Zeo Concept
It was to do me for my flights. At this stage I was going to have it read before I was half way through my trip. Eventually it was time to board and head for Denver. We left on time. The ride was a little bumpy going over the Rockies. I didn't have a window seat and was in a aisle seat in a row of three. The flight was full and had lots of people I'd see in line on it so I couldn't mive seat. because I didn't have a window seat I couldn't see the Grand Canyon when we flew over it. I was a little disappointed in that, but it gives me another excuse to go back. When we landed in Denver the first thing I did was check to the boards to see if my flight was cancelled. It wasn't cancelled but it was delayed 90 minutes. Great. What was to be a 90 minute layover was now a 2.
New Dodge Challenger
5 hour one. At least Denver airport was better than the terminal at LAX. There was lots more chpice for food, a bar and some shops. I grabbed myslef some dinner in a the steakhouse. I've had better steaks but at the stage I'd have eaten the sole of a dirty wellington boot. I then went for a stroll and bumped into a girl that was in line with me in LA. She was also travelling along so we hung out a for a bit as she was also travelling alone and wa supposed to be in Chicago that morning for work. HSe had a flight cancelled on the Tuesday night from San Dieog and was re-rounted through LA the following morning. Hence our paths crossing I decided to call my uncle to give him an update as he was my ride once I got to Chicago. I told him I was now in Denver, after he asked me if I was still in the country and if so what airport.
New Dodge Challenger
I gave him my new flight number and times and that I'll call him when we landed. He then told me the storm had passed Chicago and that I may just get in that night. More reading and music and then the flight is called we board and get on the way.
So we finally land at about 11pm about 10 hours later than I was originally scheduled to land. So instead of 4 hours it took 14 hours to get there. I called my uncle told him i was on the ground and he said he would come get me but not to worry if he wasn't there when I got my bags becasue of the roads. I thold him therw as no rush as I had seen my bags since San Jose so there was no guarantee they made it. On my way to the baggage claim, about a 2 mile hike in O'Hare (ok that a little excessive but it's a distance) I again bumped into the girl I was in line in LA with.
We made our way to baggage chatting and joking about how lucky we'll be if our baggage makes it considering all the hops etc. I said to her, "I'm here on vacations so it's not a huge problem for me but you need clothes for wrok etc. I can buy some if need be". So the carosuel fires up and out comes my bag first, with her third we had a good laugh, side our goodbyes and went our separate ways. It was only when I was waiting for my uncle that I realised had had no idea who she was. We must have chatted for two hours or more that day and never exchanged names etc. Oh well just one of those travel moments I thought. My uncle finally arrive and of I went to his place. The relatives live about 45 minutes from the city or 30 minutes for the airport but the roads were so bad it took us near an hour to get home.
2008 Jaguar XF
So I got the about 1am. So it was a quick hello to may aunt and we sat for about an hour chatting before we all turned in. I have to say that I was impressed with American Airlines professionalism throughout the experience. They did there uptmost to accommodate everyone with the minimum of fuss and hassle.
I got up the next morning and I swear to god I never seen as much snow, apart from when I was skiing but that expected. I had noticed when we landed in the night before that the wasn't all teh much snow at the airport. Maybe 3-4 inches max but as we went further out toward my uncle's place the snow got heavier. On thurdasy morning there was easily 15 inches od snow on the ground. Every was white. It looked great the trees looked like a christmas crad but it meant the day was a write off because a lot of things were closed, like the malls closeby etc.
Prototype Volvo Electric Concept
It was a chill out day. I spent the day actchign up with aunt and uncle as I hadn't seen them for a few years and later that evening we went out to dinner. Friday morning snow was the same but no new snow falls so the roads were clear. There was a huge auto show on in Chicago. My uncle likes cars so seen as there was not a lot else to do becasue of the weather we decided to go. I hadn't been to an auto show before so it would be cool. We were due to have dinner at home that night because all my cousins we coming over. We have breakfast and head. The traffic was brutal because to lanes of the freeway are closed which we didn't hear on the traffic report until to late. Whit the winter beign so bad in Chicago there is a huge pot hole problem so contructions crews are continually doing repairs.
Lexus Batmobile (I don't know the modele number)
It took us nearly two hours to get to the show.
I loved the show. Cars everywhere, as you'd expect with an auto show. I was like a kid in a candy story. Aston Martins, Roll Royces, concept cars, hybirds, trucks you name it. We walked around for ages looking at the ars and the prices. So crazy prices and some really cool cars for reasonable enough prices I thought. But I was thinking like a European and working conversation rates in my head. It's hard to write about the show here in a blog but check out the pics of some of the cars. The place was so big we couldn't get through it all becasue it was about 1pm when we got there and we had to be out by 5pm to get home for dinner. My uncle had surgery last year so he get tired when walking around for a long time.
He went for a rest and I wandered around on my own. I hit the Toyota stand checking out their concepts, trucks and hybrids. They ahve some different models in the US than they don't have here and vice versa. So should I bump into working the Toyota stand only the girl I'd bumped into so many times during the flights. We had a good chat and she was laughing and joking with some of her colleagues about how we had meet and I was on all her flights. Turns out her name was Abby. I had to get backto my uncle and get home, so once again we said our goodbyes I told her if she was ever in Ireland to look me up and she says she might take me up on it. I gave her my contact details and all that. I'm doubt if I'll ever hear from her again but you never know.
That night, I had dinner with my cousin and we caught up into the small hours.
The next morning it was to the airport for a flight to NY to catch get my return flight to Ireland and the end of my two week mini tour that, had a few unscheduled stops in destinations that weren't scheduled, but a great trip where I met some great and interesting people.