Call it "creating a diverse adventure."
But, more accurately, you would call it "lack of planning."
The first trip was to the Knobstone Trail in Southern Indiana. You can read that tragic story in my last entry below. The second was to see my sister Susie in Denver, Colorado.
Susie had graciously given me airline tickets to fly to Denver to see her for six days. She understands that when I accept a trip to Colorado it includes some serious day hiking also.
A new adventure!
So, full of hope and anticipation of a better experience, I begged a ride from a good friend down to Indianapolis International Airport early Thursday morning. I was to hop on a plane at 6 am. I needed a ride because one of our cars was down and both my kids work.
Full of joy, I rode with my friend to Indy and waved him off--sure this was going to be the good part of vacation. As my friend drove away, I walked with fresh, innocent eyes to the Frontier Airlines desk and presented my e-ticket.
The woman looked at my ticket and said, "This ticket is for Friday."
I looked at my ticket.
I looked at the woman.
I looked at my ticket.
This could not be denied. Somehow, in my anticipation, in my eagerness, I had convinced myself that I was leaving Thursday.
But I wasn't leaving until Friday.
How was it possible for me to have done this?
And my friend had driven off.
And I had no car.
And I was 24 hours early for my flight! That's 24 hours!
The woman, now looking at me with pitying eyes, said, "We'll get you on a flight for today. But it might cost you an extra $50."
I breathed with relief. After all, this is a vacation, I thought. I have some extra cash. I'll just think of this as a vacation expense.
So the kindly Frontier woman made a phone call. She talked to the unseen person on the other end. She waited, then talked some more. She talked and talked on my behalf.
Then she looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, but to get you on a flight today will cost $295."
I sank into despair. I was too proud to call my friend back to Indianapolis--he had just pulled a trailer halfway across the nation, for crying out loud! I couldn't call my family because one of our cars was down.
What was I gonna do?
Suddenly the kindly Frontier woman handed me coupons.
"These are for 'distressed passengers,'" she said. "The hotel shuttle can pick you up at the airport."
Well, I certainly am a "distressed passenger," I thought. These prices aren't too bad. I can catch up on my sleep, read a little, then it will be time to go.
I slept as long as I could. I had not brought a good book, I found. I sat around. Walked around. Watched senseless cable television.
Staying at a hotel is fun when you have a purpose there. But when you're there because you're stupid and are waiting 24 hours for a flight--not so much.
I called my wife a lot!
"Hey, how ya DOIN'!" I asked my wife. "What's going ON?"
"You should call your friend at Indianapolis," my long-suffering wife said. "He'd love to see you."
So I did. Several times. No return call.
"He's busy," I moaned to my wife. "He's away somewhere. So....whatcha doin now?"
It's not like I could walk and visit some shops or a bookstore. This hotel was almost in the airport. All I could see from my window was car rental garages and airplane hangars.
Then, the final blow.
That afternoon, they kicked me out of the hotel.
Not because of my behavior. Because the room rate is from 3 pm to 3 pm, check out time.
I engaged in a few moments of hatred toward the hotel.
Then, at about 4:30, I went back to the airport. To wait 12 more hours.
In the airport. All night.
I gave myself up to despair. One of the airport guys showed me a good bench to sleep on. I bought a really good book (because I would be reading for a really long time).
I can do this, I thought with sinking heart. I can make this work.
Unhappily, I sat down.
Then my Indianapolis friend called.
"NORM!!" I said! "It's so good to HEAR from you! HEY, how ya been DOIN'?"
You can guess the rest. My good pal Norm would not allow me to stay at the airport--he picked me up and gave me a good, soft bed for the night, then took me back in the morning.
I can't really think of a moral to this story except:
1.. Don't be stupid with your airline ticket dates.
2. Treat all your friends REALLY well, because you might need them later!
3. God loves me because he made this work out.
4. He loves you too.
This is a photo of me at the top of Herman Gulch Trail in Colorado at 12,000 feet: