Palm Trees Deferred

So I left you in cold-ass Bismark, ND.  Since then I flew home for less than 48 hours, took off for Miami and watched my best friend’s wedding (not the Julia Roberts movie, my best friend actually got married), got the girl to her plane, and now here I sit at the Chili’s Too at the Miami International Airport killing about four hours before my flight takes off.  This was a rare leisure trip, and it was delightful.  Unfortunately I can’t say the same about getting here….

I’ve been, for all intents and purposes, a professional travel for a touch better than four years now.  In that four years, I’ve never missed a flight that I didn’t mean to miss.  All that changed last Wednesday morning.  Denver was forecast to get 1-3″ of snow, which is sort of like Phoenix being forecast to be 100 degrees; I thought nothing of it.  I prepared for my trip unlike any other, short of leaving my hard hat and steel-toed boots in the closet, and awoke leaving myself 45 minutes to get the airport my usual two hours before take-off.

No such luck.  That 1-3″ turned into 6″, and it did so in a hurry.  There’s a reason I always try to get to the airport two hours before take-off, as any seasoned traveller will tell you, there are any number of unforeseen speed bumps associated with the little dance we do, and with time to deal with them, they’re a non-issue.  Without time to deal with them they’re an ulcer and a missed flight.  This was the later.

Well, that's a solid sight when one is on one's way to the airport.

Due to the weather, which short of its unexpectedness was completely par for the course for this time of year, a semi had jackknifed across Interstate 270, completely shutting it down.  I live about 15 miles east of the I-270 interchange where the accident took place, and I take I-270 to the airport.  A 45-minute drive turned into a shade under a 3-hour drive, and had me arriving to the airport just about the time my plane took off.

Seriously? Traffic was backed up for over 10 miles.

Always a good sign when dudes are cutting through the median to get off the highway.

Normally, missing a flight due to an act of God such as this wouldn’t phase me in the least.  As I’ve outlined before, I’m normally on the clock when I travel.  I’m also on an expense report.  So I drink a free bloody mary or three, get in a few hours later than expected, show up to work a little late the next morning, and chalk it up as some bad luck a little OT.

Cops blocking off the I-270 interchange and routing everyone on to surface streets.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t have picked a worse time to miss a flight.  This time I wasn’t on the clock, and I wasn’t on an expense report.  And to further complicate matters, I was meeting the girl at the Miami airport when her plane landed at 5:00 East.  But…  Instead of a 4-hour direct flight to Miami, I was given a 4-hour flight to IAD (DC), and then a 2.5 hour flight from IAD to Miami.  Instead of arriving at 3:45, perfectly timed to meet the girl, I ended up getting in at around 10:00 PM.  This left the girl stranded at a shitty-at-best airport for better than 4 hours while I navigated air-world to get there.

Luckily, she took it like a champ.  I called the hotel and let them know she would be checking in rather than me, texted her the info, she wound her way through the Miami Int’l Airport (which in my less-than-humble opinion is one of the worst major airports I’ve had the pleasure of gracing with a layover), caught a cab to the hotel, and was busting her ass on the treadmill when I arrived.

One helluva stressful day, but all in all, I started it in a snowstorm and ended it surrounded by palm trees, so all’s well that ends well I suppose.

Pictures and tales of Miami and a beautiful wedding to follow.

-B. Littleton

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