Thursday, December 4, 2008

Road Worrier - pt 1 / Traveler seeks Turkey

I am no warrior, but am definitely known to worry! I do tend to love a spontaneous road trip and this past week had all the elements of drama I look for in a cross country dash - I will recount the story and you can cruise control vicariously!!

As you recall (or may read AFTER this post) my folks stopped through on Saturday prior to Turkey Day. The next two days I was involved in a conversation with a friend in Arizona whose parents were interested in hiring me to cross the country via auto with my pal (we'll call him "Paul") and escort him safely to a program he would be entering out here in Maryland.

I thought about it - did not see any reason not to do it (seeing as right after Thanksgiving comes December - which means rent is due - and what with me still being mostly unemployed except for the kindness of a temp assignment hither and thither- getting paid to drive for several days started sounding SUPER swell!)

So alls I have to do is book a flight for Thursday (traveling on a holiday is usually fairly enjoyable - smaller crowds - festive spirit of bonding with other passengers, etc...) The airfare will be reimbursed - my meals and lodging will be covered - and I will get a nice little per diem for helping my friend. BINGO! AirTran hooked me up with a $150 one way from Baltimore to Phoenix via Atlanta, my rent woes were over - and I was ready to ROAD TRIP!!

After a sleepless night from anxiety about this now seemingly long journey ahead -- I had John drop me off at BWI with $8 in my pocket... and no plan for getting from Phoenix to Sedona once I landed. In my usual fashion I skipped right over the practical and pragmatic detail of HOW to get to my destination -- and jumped right into making plans with friends for 11:00pm the night I arrive (I land at 9:00pm) and lining up 8:30AM gab fest with my pal Jack for the next morning to try to squeeze in all the social rounds. To hell with the fact that I'll be expected to be driving 2200 miles with a depressed guy who is stressing out, why should I be bogged down with DETAILS??. Suddenly it seemed I had a generally piss poor attitude shaping my increasingly worried brow. What ridiculous and un-THOUGHT-through scenario had I agreed to THIS time?

John left me at the curb of the AirTran terminal, and slinked away in his Subaru, probably glad to be rid of my grumpy butt. He was facing anxiety of his own with the approach of Black Friday (perhaps you all have heard lackluster forecasts of retail this year - what with the Great Recession / General Depression / Bailout Obsession / CEOs Confession / all happening in our hemorrhaging economy...) He probably also felt a sense of abandonment on a holiday mixed with his support team taking off the day before his busiest work day of the year at a new job. We weren't exactly the icons of Giving Thanks at this point. But I digress...

Checking in at the counter I was also keenly aware that I would be landing in Atlanta in 2 hours or so- and there was something slightly cruel and ironic about the thought of suddenly being on the ground in Georgia knowing my family was gathering just hours East of me in Athens, supping on Deep Fried Turkey, Southern fixings and enjoying one another as company. You know that feeling-- so close and yet -- so far!?!

I was beginning to feel compassion for those General Motors reps that high-tailed it to DC on private Jets in order to beg for their bailout duckets. Basically, what seemed prudent at the time feels like a BAD IDEA in hind sight. Here I am, in possession of less than $10 (which is the minimum price of anything sold at airports now - tic tacs inside a terminal could have financed a downpayment on one of GMs least efficient gas guzzling tanks out in the real world) -- UGH!. And as if this cake NEEDED icing - my prozac count was 4 pills for this 7 day trip. NOT ~~ looking ~~ Good.

I pulled myself together with a decision to enjoy this day of travel, regardless of my somber mood and slight exhaustion from a tough week - and thus slid into the security check point line -- embracing a change of heart and SURE that good things were gonna happen on this trip which heretofore was filed under the category of DREAD my mind.

I emerged from the other side of the metal detector --although more true to say full body cavity scanner- (is there anyone else who feels violated electronically after going through airport security check points?)-- and I heard my phone indicate a new message was received on its little journey beneath the x-ray machine.

[Quick back ground on this portion of the story:]

Another friend from Sedona, we will call her JC, had made a trial run from Sedona to Maryland before I was recruited. Not a practice run, mind you-- an actual TRIAL run. She had departed several days ago and found herself plotting along, on her way out of AZ when she was thwarted by her trials at a reservation.

One of her three cats went rogue!! This character plot was developing in the days prior to departure as she introduced her cats to the car -- in preparation of their trek. The soon-to-be-bolting-from-the-car cat - had been EXTREMELY resistant to the idea of car and travel. Kitties 2 and 3 were kind of fond of the big rolling cat cruiser, but not our black furry friend!

So at the above referenced reservation truck stop - JC's black cat squeezes through a BARELY open window with the ease of some kind of shape shifter - and decides to hold protest in the engine block of a nearby rig. Apparently a big truck whose driver would not return for... count 'em ya'll... SEvEN hOuRs!! JC waited patiently and also enlisted the ~kind~ and *professional* support of the local police and humane society -- each trying to coax the little stowaway from the engine block of the Diesel Do Drop Inn. Kitty's response? -- That ain't happening.

Fast forward to the reappearance of the rig driver (7 hours later) - who had been cat napping himself, and a ~simple~ hood release, gained by access to the cab with cab-owner's key, found the now frazzled black escape puss - the even more frazzled JC, and her two highly cooperative orange tabbey cats (held hostage for 7 hours by their stubborn-ass sibling) - reversing course to return to Sedona. JC bid farewell to her moving aspirations at that time, and deemed this an omen that either she - or her black cat - were ill-fated to reside in Maryland.

[Back to airport security] So I am lacing up my shoes (after they were determined to be "terror-free" kicks) and gathering my metallic and electronic gadgetry from rollaway bucket end of the Federal Aviation court of jesters. Unaware that as I was lamenting this journey... JC has tried calling me back (we had spoken just moments ago it seemed - before John dropped me off). I eased on down the terminal and flipped opne my ultra un-hip phone with no blue tooth technology.

So I dialed into my voice mail - having noticed the message indicator icon. Noting that the last call was again from JC I was mustering some empathy so that I would sound agreeable when I call her back - especially in light of her whole cat fiasco the prior time she tried coming out - last plan was to meet Friday at 9:00 AM near Flagstaff on our way out of Sedona -- although she wished to depart Saturday. {She - unlike myself - actually THOUGHT about this trip a little, planned a trip tik through AAA and got a weather report.} I, however, was SURE that Paul would be roaring to depart Friday and insisted we would be fine despite the weather and that she should be prepared to leave a day early. I also was now sure I was going to have to figure out a way to rent a car in PHX to get up to Sedona and that would necessitate a trip to somewhere to drop a rental car or a huge fee to leave it in Red Rock town. This sucky plan was getting worse by the minute.

The message she left me, however, was quite interesting. JC had an invitation to spend Thanksgiving day in Phoenix - as an afterthought she wondered if I might then keep her company riding back to Sedona since she would be arriving so late. Hmmmm, WHO indeed was I going to find to drive me to Sedona so late on a Thanksgiving day?? I paused to see if the egg on my face was scrambled or over easy?

My 3 hours in Atlanta ~~ that I was planning to spend calling and BEGGING some unexpecting friends in Sedona to pick me up at the airport ~~ just freed up! I spent the first leg of the trip revisiting journal entries that were from college - reading "The Gift of Fear" and lapping up the unmatched entertainment that IS people watching at the airport. My Popeye's Chicken Strips at Hartsfield International Concourse "D" nearly resolved my insatiable craving for turkey, and my blog ideas started welling up like a fountain. Damn... if only I had a laptop!!

This trip was coming along quite nicely... [still recovering from the travel so more anecdotes will follow!]


Dennis said...

I can barely wait for the parts I'm in. hehe.

It's a good thing not everyone doesn't make plans. The world would be chaos! But without people like yourself (and me at times), it would be no fun.


SedonaMike said...

Entertaining entry. Can't wait to read more.

maura said...

OK, Chris -- mission accomplished -- we're all hanging in suspense...

Ya'll better come back soon, ya hear?