Our Gate at DIA
This is probably the first blog I have actually written onboard an airplane. I have owned a laptop for about seven years, but either I wasn’t writing then, or I didn’t have enough batter power. Usually I just read. I try to sleep, but that’s not something I can normally do. I’m not afraid to fly or anything, it’s just that unless it’s on my nice comfortable couch at home, in front of the TV, I can’t sleep sitting up. At least I can make some productive use of this time.
This trip has a different “feel” to it. Even though I have had plenty of time to prepare, I feel a little rushed. I have a couple of projects going on at home, and those seem to take priority over the grunt work of planning for this trip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly winging this. All reservations are made.
My book is done with all of the normal information about flights, rental car, hotel, itinerary, destinations, and attractions. I have my GPS programmed with all of the places we will be visiting or staying. I have Rand McNally Maps, and Mapquest or Google Maps directions as well. I just don’t have that feeling of confidence that I have checked and double checked to make sure I didn’t miss a detail.
Snapped a picture out the window.
Speaking of details, I haven’t even mentioned where we are going or what we will be doing. The highlight of the trip comes on Saturday, when we (Margo and I) will watch “Thunder over Louisville”. For the uninformed, and judging by the reaction of everyone I have mentioned this to that seems to include the entire civilized world outside of Louisville, KY. “Thunder over Louisville” is an all day festival, featuring a huge air show, and possibly the largest annual fireworks display in America.
The festival is technically the opening ceremonies for the Kentucky Derby, which runs the first Saturday in May. So Louisville will be partying for the next two weeks. Margo and I heard about this when we saw a documentary on the people who put on the fireworks show, on the Discovery Channel. I suppose if we had never seen that, we wouldn’t know about it either, so I’m not being judgmental. I suppose I was expecting that I couldn’t be the first in my circle of friends, relatives, and acquaintances to have heard of it.
Seeing Thunder has been on my Bucket List for something like nine years. But, this year the day of the event fell on our anniversary date. It seemed like the perfect way to celebrate our 23rd mark of our nuptials. Plus I get to do a few other things that are important to me as well.
Of those things, today is Wednesday, and Thunder isn’t until Saturday.
After traveling all day from Brighton, CO, to Dallas, TX, changing planes after a two hour layover, flying to Cincinnati, (whose airport is really in Kentucky), we will be driving 3 hours to Ashland, KY to visit my Aunt Ellen. She is 83 and is the last of my Aunts or Uncles on my Dad’s side. This will almost certainly be the last chance I get to see her. She is doing OK, but they, my Aunt Ellen and Uncle Tom, are tab bit evasive on their overall health. But, we will likely spend a few hours tonight visiting with them, and most of the day on Thursday. Friday morning will probably be more vesting, and then we will make our way to Louisville.
White Castle, south of the Cincy Airport
Louisville is about a three hour drive (I think), but we have a detour to make. I want to drive down to Carter County, KY and pay my respects to those buried in the family cemeteries down there. That should be an adventure, as I have never driven there without local direction.
But in the 21st century we have Global Positioning Systems, Google Maps, and even Bing Bird’s Eye View. So with all of the technological help, plus some advice from Uncle Tom, I think we can pull it off, and not get lost in the Kentucky backwoods.
White Castle sign
That should take care of most of Friday. Saturday is spoken for. Sunday we will tour around southern Indiana, making my 35th US state, and getting me 2% closer to my goal of visiting all fifty states. We will be visiting Marengo Cave and Spring Mill State Park.
One of those projects I mentioned in my opening paragraph is that I am writing a family history book on my wife’s side of the family.
Coincidentally, one branch of her family spent a great deal of time in Washington County, IN. That is right where we will be. Margo’s 6th great-grandparents are buried in a local cemetery there. We will be trying to find their graves.
Our room, plus our CARRY ON luggage
That should fill up our five days. If I’m tired now, I might be dead come Monday when we fly home.
Our flight out of Denver into Dallas was uneventful, but quick. Flight time was supposed to be about 2 hours. We got in about 15-20 minutes early. Must have been tail winds. We got in early enough where I checked to see if we could get on a flight earlier than our 12:10 PM departure, about 2 hours from now. There was good news and bad news on that front. The good news is that we could get on the flight that was boarding as we approached the gate. The bad news is that our checked bag would be on our original flight. So we would either wait two hours in Dallas or two hours in Cincinnati. Might as well stick with the original plan.
Our first day is over and our aforementioned checked bag is becoming a real pain in the ass. I should start at the beginning. Early this morning, as I was taking my shower, it occurred to me that we had stuffed our two carry on bags to the point that we could not bring back any souvenirs. We always bring back something for the kids. So, as Margo had mentioned that she would prefer to take a particular bag that was likely just a smidgeon too big to carry on, I told her that we might as well pay the baggage fee, allay her fears and gain some wiggle room. So we she quickly repacked my carry-on into the larger bag, and threw a few things from hers into it as well. Our plan was to try to talk the terminal agent into letting us carry it on. As it turned out it was the length of the wheels, about two inches, from being small enough. We checked it, and paid the $20 fee. I already covered our decision not to take an earlier flight option, as this bag would not travel with us. Well, as it turned out, it didn’t travel with us anyway. We got to Cincinnati and waited at the baggage carousel. Then we waited some more. Then the carousel stopped turning. The word “Shit” popped into my head. Margo and I walked to the American Airlines Lost Baggage office and started the process. The lady there said she had located it, and it would be routed to Huntington, WV, the closest airport to where we were staying, Ashland, KY. She thought it would be in WV at 8 PM, and delivered to our hotel by 11 PM. We got a receipt and proceeded on our way.
We made a stop about 20 miles outside of the airport at a White Castle hamburger place. For those in the east, this would not even rate a mention in a travel blog. It is like staying we stopped at McDonalds. But, there are no White Castles out in Colorado. I don’t think there are any west of the Mississippi River. But as an honest to goodness slice of Americana (they claim to be the first fast food chain) we decided we had to stop and eat at a White Castle on this trip. Our reaction was a shrug of the shoulders. The food was OK. The bottom hamburger buns was a bit soggy, and that detracted from the experience. I say “buns”, because as every patron of White Castle knows their hamburgers are tiny. It takes three or four to make a meal. But, we have now been there, and done that. So it was back on the road.
It is now 11:21 PM, and not only is our wayward bag not here, but according to American’s online baggage status website, they have not even located it. All of my cloths, plus most of our electronic power cords, our bathroom supplies, and Margo’s PJs are MIA. I’m starting to take a real dislike to American Airlines. If not for two stupid inches, not only would we have our bag, but we would have gotten to our destination two hours earlier. From American’s point of view, this revenue stream of charging for checked baggage would seem to have an expensive downside. I get the definite impression from their people, and our hotel desk agent, that losing luggage is not out of the ordinary. I’m guessing it is costing more than $20 to get our bag to us, assuming it ever shows up.
On the plus side, we did have a nice visit with Aunt Ellen and Uncle Tom. Unfortunately, Aunt Ellen has definitely deteriorated since my last visit, four years ago. She fell and hurt her back and she had a stroke. She is still all there, mentally, but she has to use a walker, looks much more frail, and has trouble speaking. I hope we didn’t tire her out too much. We are planning to be back in the morning. Hopefully, I won’t be wearing the same cloths.