Category Archives: flying

Don’t Let the Cobwebs Gather in Your Elbows

Juneau, Alaska. Check.

Miami, Florida. Check.

Boston, Massachusetts. Check.

Restart…

“We want you both to come work for us.” That’s how the story began.

Girls, pack your cat nip. We’re going back to Alaska. Someone hit the reset button.

Sometimes, it takes you six years to figure out what you prefer in life. Sometimes you take wrong exits off the highway before you figure out your GPS has given you faulty directions and you have to get back on the highway. And sometimes, you have to go out there and see other places so you can extend your family and have more experiences in life.

We’re Off…Like Cats Looking for the Open Can of Tuna!

Once we fired off the confetti cannon and made our decision to go, we quickly packed up our three furry kids, dropped off the two lizards to the nieces and selected some creature comforts to get us through a couple of months of Alaska living. We will be back to Boston in November to remote work and pack up our house, then go back to Alaska in March for the next summer season.

Packing for a second household is interesting. Which garlic crusher do you take? What about cutting boards, one or three? Are we going to need the blender? Better take the mini food processor. Do you think we should take the Learn Spanish DVDs so we have something to do? How many pairs of jeans are you taking? Don’t forget the favorite cat toys. And whatever happens, don’t forget the cat treats. Better pack a Keurig and a bubbler (Sodastream, as I love my bubbly water.)

One would think, if you forgot something, just go to the store when you get there. Right? That’s the thought of 99% of everyone who is traveling to new locations. Except where we’re going, that’s not as easy as it sounds.

We’ll be spending most of our year in Hoonah, Alaska. Population 750 give or take. About 3 miles of paved road and 150 miles of dirt logging roads. Ever see that show, “Alaska Bush People” back when they were in Alaska? Yeah, well, they lived in Hoonah. And no, they were not really living in the wilderness. Talk about fake news.

Hoonah is the largest Tlingit community in Alaska and is located on Chichagof Island in southeast Alaska. It’s about 40 miles west of Juneau or a 20 minute flight. It also has the largest concentration of coastal brown bears in the world, although I have yet to see one. Lots of bear poop on the road, lots of poop.

(What is a coastal brown bear? Apparently, those in the know, decided to make a different class from the typical grizzly bear and classify the coastal brown bear. As I understand it, the coastal brown bear found mainly on Chichagof and Admiralty Islands eat mainly salmon and are therefore bigger in nature, therefore you get a different type of bear. )

Back to the story…

Anyhow, there’s no mall, no Walmart, no Target, no Walgreens, no Kohl’s. There’s a hardware store and small grocery store, whose motto is, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” The other day I was desperate for a pair of plain old regular scissors for home. You know the kind with the orange handle? Went to the hardware store. Found them. $16.

I’ve ordered some things from Amazon, you know I’m a Prime member and all. An electric throw blanket. I thought I’d pick one up at Costco in Juneau, WHEN I FLEW OVER TO GO GROCERY SHOPPING, but they didn’t have them. Normally, Prime is next day delivery or two days, right? Here….it’s two weeks. My blanket should be here by September 27th.

Please Keep Your Claws Inside the Carrier at All Times.

Traveling with the cats is always an experience.

Liggy, our 20-22 year old is a pro. She’s been from Alaska to Miami to Boston. And now she’s gone back to Alaska.

Monkey and Taku, well…they’re a little unimpressed at the whole process. They joined us in Miami, so they’ve only done one journey with us. A flight to Boston. Needless to say, as soon as the carriers come out, all hell breaks loose.

Monkey sings the song of her people, which sounds more like someone who has just eaten a meal that hasn’t agreed with their system and their bowels are about to explode.

Taku silently glares at us. Placing what are undoubtedly triple strength, unorthodox feline hexes on our souls, cursing us into damnation. No snuggles for you.

We break up the flight, overnighting in Seattle as a cross country, to Alaska flight is too long to be stuck in a kennel. Going from Boston to Hoonah is a three flight journey, even with non-stop flights. The upside was once we got to the Seattle hotel and blocked access to behind the beds, the girls decided there was safety in numbers! STICK TOGETHER! Normally, they don’t hang out together….

Cats snuggled in at Seattle hotel, safety in numbers.

When we travel, the two youngest go underneath in the traveling pet cargo area. Which I told them was a disco for pets. I’m not sure they believed me entirely. I did tell them to go easy on ordering the Alaskan beer and mimosas on the flight as altitude can sometimes do crazy things with your alcohol consumption. Liggy travels as my carry on and goes under the seat, she’s a first class pet. Of course at her age, she should be.

However, when we got to Juneau and loaded up into our final plane, Liggy’s eyes were as big as golfballs as she was loaded into the back of our little plane. At least we were all together on this one, everyone was seated in the same compartment. I could turn around, look past the cargo net and see the three girls. Hang on everyone, here we go. One more flight. At least Monkey wasn’t serenading us. If only because Taku had her muttering out the unorthodox feline hex as well. Bonding at it’s finest.

Welcome to Hoonah-lulu

Ah, what a relief.

Not that we finally arrived after traveling for two days, with three cats and five pieces of luggage. One of which was the cat’s suitcase, I kid you not.

But we arrived back where we’re supposed to be.

A good friend greeted us with open arms at the airport, we dropped our stuff at the house, got the girls situated so they could find hiding spots inside the house, then we drove 2 miles of paved road to the grocery store.

It felt like a giant scratchy coat had been shed and cast aside.

I could finally breathe.

I was lighter.

I wasn’t stressed about having to drive down the Boston highway with 14,839 crazy drivers, making left hand turns from right hand lanes. Or taking 90 minutes to go 16 miles. Or swerving lanes as they text on their cell phones.

All of the frustrations of my previous job slid off like waves on a fine sand beach. No longer my issue. Not my problem.

The next day we went into work, doing what we know best…cruise tourism. People are excited about the future. Excited about the possibilities. Excited about the potential. There’s talking, laughing and sharing ideas. There’s big ideas, big plans and things are happening.

There’s no time to sit back. It’s time to jump in and see how we can help. What can we do? Where do we start? It may be the countdown to the end of the 2019 season, but the 2020 season is already in planning and new projects are unwrapping faster than birthday gifts.

It’s thrilling to be back.

Wait, did I mention the view from work?

Airline Rodeo

I don’t get it.

We’ve all been there.

Yet it’s mind boggling.  It makes no sense.

None.

Airplane boarding.

Airplane de-boarding.

Let’s reflect, here at gate D-47.

There’s 15 minutes until boarding time, plenty of time to grab a coffee, visit the restroom, buy a newspaper, down a few shots of Jagermeister, make a phone call, snag a sandwich and some snacks for the flight but no.

Already passengers are lining up at the start of the catwalk entrance for the airplane.

Seriously.

The airline representative at the gate announces over the loudspeaker:

In a few minutes, we will begin the boarding process.  Please take note of your seat assignment and board when your row is called.

****

Right.  Like this actually matters.

Watch out, you’re about to get trampled!  Everyone and their brother pushes forward towards the gate.

Bags are hefted on to shoulders.

Pulley suitcases are squared up behind,  wheels double checked for quick launch and shoes scuffed against flooring, like bulls in tauromachia,  to ensure successful dodging of all slow pokes ahead.

Also remember at this time, your carryon bag must fit in the overhead compartment.  If it doesn’t fit in the overhead compartment, we are happy to gate check it for you.  (Side note: or just try and ram it into the overhead compartment while everyone watches while silently cursing you….as you are delaying the flight.. and see who wins, you or the Boeing 747)

****

Ladies and gentleman thank you for flying with Vexatious Airlines.  We are now going to begin boarding.

So begins the litany of prequalified fliers who are oh so savvy and much more dignified than you to actually BEGIN the boarding process:

First Class passengers.

Global Platinum Card Members  / Vexatious Advantage Shakers and Movers Members

Global Silver Card Members / Vexatious Advantage Unique Personality Members

Global Business Card Members / Vexatious Advantage Mediocre Members

*****

At this point you look around and a third of the gate has boarded the airplane.

Thank you for your patience.  We would like to continue boarding with our Vexatious Advantage Members who have reached Movie Star Status.

Those fliers who have reached Vexatious Advantage Soap Star Status, please board the plane now.

Thank you for your patience, our guests who have reached Vexatious Advantage Aim for the Stars Coupon Book Status please come down the catwalk.

*****

Another third have disappeared towards the plane.  Huh.

Welcome aboard to our Cat Lover Club

Welcome aboard to our Dog Lover Club

At this time, thank you for waiting, we would like to welcome aboard those guests who had tickets to the original Woodstock.  Those of you who had tickets to a Farm Aid concert, your time to board will be coming up, please wait for your announcement. 

Members of the press, we would like to offer you this time to board.

Families traveling with small children, or those who need extra assistance when boarding, you may board at this time.  If you need extra assistance, we hope you brought someone with you for that assistance.  If you are traveling with an emotional support pet please wait until you are called for boarding. 

Uniformed military personal, you can board at this time.  We thank you for your service.

Thank you for your patience, those who are too attached to their electronic devices to pay any attention to these announcements, we invite you to board at this time.   You aren’t listening anyway.

Prima donnas please board at this time and anyone who thinks they are all that, but aren’t even the pickle on the plate, please board at this time because you aren’t listening to any directions anyway because you think it’s all about you anyway.  

Our guests who are traveling with emotional support pets, including but not limited to: Golden Retrievers, teacup chihuahuas  himalayan cats, ferrets, ducks, teacup pigs, pygmy donkeys, ferrets, camels, spider monkeys, albino lizards, wallabies, hamsters, turkeys, porcupines, rabbits.

Farm Aid ticket holders, you are welcome to board at this time.

****

You look around and only a handful of people remain.

At this time we would like to begin general boarding beginning with the back of the plane. For those guests in row 35 – 20 please board now.  Oh, forget it.  There’s only 6 of you left, please figure it out and board now.  

 

****

Everyone is so anxious to get on the plane, they can’t hardly stand it.  It’s all about pushing and shoving. And for what exactly?

To be cramped in a tiny seat, with no leg room, shared armrests, crawling with bacteria and if you are damn lucky….your seat mates won’t be chatty. The toilets smell, unless bless the hearts of your flight crew (Who, by the way, have one of the hardest and least appreciated jobs in the entire world.  I thank them for all they do to make our journeys the easiest and most enjoyable they can.) have put a bag of coffee in the tiny little lavatory to absorb the piss-o-roma fragrance.

P.S.  Note, I don’t care about your kids, grandkids, your job, where you live or what book you’re reading or where you’re going. I don’t like to fly.  I only do it because it’s the quickest way to get there and I’m a little claustrophobic so please, leave me alone. I simply get into my seat, wipe everything down with my Clorox wipes, put in my earplugs and do my best to tune everything out.

As the fliers race down the gate catwalk,  waving their boarding pass in hand to be scanned, their magical entrance to the airplane granted and approved…quickly scurry beyond the doorway down the jetway.

Only. To. Be. Halted. 40 people back on the jetway.

Que the evil laugh.

They can’t wait to get out of the boarding area.  One of the privileged few.  Look at me.  See you suckers.  I’m outta here.  Yeah, well….guess what.

Here we all are.

Waiting.

In the jetway.

Aren’t you precious?

Let me grab my eyeballs before they roll out onto the tarmac.

Jackass.

You go from one waiting area to the next.  Why the rush?

Everyone gets on the plane.  No need to shove and sigh and huff and puff.

Bags stowed and we get into the air.

Eureka!

*****

For as absurdly impatient everyone was to get on the damn plane, it’s as if they had no idea everyone was expected to actually get off the plane upon arrival at the destination.

The plane lands, sometimes to the sound of applause…and arrives at the gate.

Passengers excitedly leap out of seats and annoyingly tap fingers and roll their eyes….annoyed we aren’t moving faster to get off the silver bullet.

Somewhere from the time we left the last departure lounge, to the time we arrived at the new gate…..the hundreds of passengers on this plane have had a mind fart.  Where has all the urgency gone?

Suddenly nobody can find their bags.  Where’s my glasses?  Where’s my book?  Where’s my chapstick?  Did I have a jacket?  Did I bring a water bottle?  What about the cell phone?  What gate are we going to?  I can’t find my shoes!  Is this my suitcase?  This isn’t my bag!  Where’s my husband?  What city is this?  Oh I’m not getting off here.  Can you help me close this zipper?

The circulating air has made everyone slow and stupid.  People who couldn’t get on the plane fast enough suddenly have spent the last 10 minutes, or longer taxinging from the runway to the gate picking their nose and pondering how daises grow rather than gathering their shit up from their seat and organizing their departure!

Fuck people – if you would pull yourselves together we could all get off the damn plane faster.  You idiots were so concerned about getting on first.  It’s all about me. ME. ME. ME FIRST. FIRST. FIRST.  However when we land, it’s like you’ve lost your mind.

Snap out of it and focus.  You are holding the rest of us up.  From the time the pilot said we have begun the 20 minute decent for landing, the smart ones started packing up.  Plan ahead folks….for arrival….not just the departure.  It works both ways.

Be smart.  Travel smart. Get out of my way.

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey! Are You Sleeping?” Said The Mother.

I have two business trips coming up, the first of which takes me to Vancouver, British Columbia.  Conviently, my Mother’s house is somewhat along the way. She lives in the hell fire deserts of Palm Desert, California.

See, it’s along the way, so I make a pit stop.

Fear not, trust me, there is a blog coming about my flights from Boston to the blazing hot, scorching deserts of California.  This however, is a quicker story for my internal body temperature will not allow much more than 5,000 words….as the external temperature of the sands rise, so does the temperature on my scalp.

In fact, as I write this, it is reaching 105 degrees today in Palm Desert.  That is hotter than two mice having sex in a wool sock, next to a wood stove, in January hot.  Just saying.

The day of my flight, I got up at 4:00AM.

Arrived to the airport at 7:30 AM.

Went through TSA Pre-check screening, had my shoulder bag x-rayed twice and then searched by 8:25 AM.

Took off on my first flight by 9:45 AM.

Took off on my second flight by 1:30 PM.

Arrived to the desert at 2:30 PM.

Mind you being on the west coast, makes my life three hours behind my regular program.  Everything is confusing to me.  I convince myself to stay awake until 8:00 PM.  Then I can go and take  shower and get ready for bed.  It will be 8:30 by the time my head hits the pillow and by God, that’s close enough.

Eureka!  8:00 arrives and I couldn’t be happier.  I am off and running.  Good night Mother.  Good night two chihuahua dogs..Buddy and Tina.  See you in the morning.

By 8:35 I am in bed, lights out.

ZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZz

Next thing I know, for some reason I am being woken up.  Don’t know by what.  Don’t know by whom.

I hear someone calling my name.  What the hell?  What?

I turn over and see my Mother standing by my bed.

??? Ok this is odd.

??? Why is my Mother standing next to my bed?

??? What???

??? Why is her head glowing?

??? Where the hell am I?

??? What the hell is she saying?

??? Who is dead?

??? What???

??? What the hell is she talking about?

??? Whose dead?

??? Where the hell am I and how did my Mother get here?

??? Who the hell is Tina?

??? What the hell?

At this point I figure, well if my Mother is here, I might as well follow her to see what the hell is going on.  All I can think is….who the hell is Tina?

I follow her out to the living room and my sleepy fog starts to lift…….

Ooooooohhhhh, I am at my Morher’s house.  Ok.

She’s upset. Ok.

She thinks the dog is dead.  TINA.

Ooooooooooohhhhh.

My Mother goes over to Tina’s bed and says, “TINA!  Come on! Time to get up!” And she claps her hands.

I am like, well…..the dog is deaf…..no wonder she isn’t responding….she can’t hear you.

Then my Mother grabs Tina’s head and it flops back on to the bed.

Lifeless.  No response.

Well. Shit.

Maybe, the dog is dead……not like I am an expert at these things.  So then I think, well now what?  We have a 12 pound porky Chihuahua dead in a bed.  Now what?  I ask the obvious….

“Do you have an emergency vet?”

As we stand there looking at the dog.

The Mother yells, “Wait!  Did she just breathe?”

I’m like…..lady, I barely know what state I’m in at the moment.  Could be Massachusetts or it could be California….

Mother yells, “No!  She definitely moved!  Look!”  And sure enough….Tina, the death defying, coma inducing, deep sleeping dog came rousing back to life.

With this, I bent over, put my forearms on my thighs and took some deep breaths.

SWEET JESUS!  I am going back to bed.

The Mother came and tucked me back into bed with a kiss on the forehead.  I took a look at my cell phone before going back to sleep…..it was a whopping 9:35PM.

Exhausted, I laughed….”who the hell is Tina?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Flying Where?

What if, when birds are squawking in high places they aren’t talking to each other about the fabulous grub hole they found or singing love songs.  What if they’re really bitching cause they’re afraid of heights or are about to pee-their-feathers because they’re afraid to fly?  What if when they’re floating along on the water, they’re not feeling all peaceful and blissful but are really paralyzed with fear because they hate water and can’t swim?

I’m just saying.

What if?

Same could be said when you go to the animal park and those monkeys you see sitting together on a limb, combing one another’s hair.  They’re so cute.  Picking gnats and bugs out of each other’s fur.  What you don’t know is in their reality, the little fucker wouldn’t stop rubbing his head in the ant hill so his head is covered in fire ant bites and the parent is picking scabs off his scalp.

I’m just saying.

What if.?

You really think dogs are smelling each other’s asses to identify one another?  Hey Stan, how’s it hanging?  Oh, sorry.  They’re checking to see what they all  had for dinner.  Are you kidding me?  Max had Mighty Dog?  OMG! Fluffy had that fresh ground beef kibble from the new trendy doggie cafe on Madison Avenue!  The nerve!! That’s it!  When I go home I am going to eat my dinner and then promptly throw it up on the couch.  The new carpet.  The bedspread.  The new jacket mom just bought.  In dad’s car!  Then I’ll get the good stuff.

I’m just saying.

What if?

Life is full of What If moments.  Take for example yesterday at work.

I’m delighted.  This time next month, I will be in Auckland, New Zealand.  Don’t worry, I have already alerted the local authorities, they are preparing for my arrival.  (It is the ONLY place in the world I have received a speeding ticket….thank you.)

Since I haven’t had the opportunity to make travel arrangements through our work system, I asked the co-worker I am traveling….we’ll call him Calvin….to showed me how it’s done.   Yesterday afternoon Calvin and I booked his ticket to go from Miami to Auckland.

Things were going all fine and dandy.  We punched in the details.  Miami to Auckland and the date.  The various combinations came up on the screen.  We could pick everything from 14 days worth of traveling in a tin can to just about 35 hours in a tin can.

International travel these days offers so many amenities it is astonishing.  There were options to fly with circus animals, farm animals or domestic animals.  Another section included circus performers, ring leaders or classroom pranksters.  Meal service included selections for prison rations,  weight watchers cardboard, things confiscated by customs and forbidden fruits.

Better yet was the option to pre-select your TSA screening.  This I had no idea was possible.  Now you can sign up for a Pass Go card that allows you to skip the back handed,  gloved pat down and go straight to the private room strip search.  I mean who knew?   Did you want a glass of wine and a smoke with that?  If so, please acknowledge and your credit card will be charged an additional $25.00.  If you want to include the drug sniffing K9 that is an additional $500.

I confess to Calvin, I’m not the biggest fan of flying, but it’s the only way to get anywhere fast so I do it.  We choose a flight that has a short flight time.  The first flight is operated by Alaska Air to LAX.

Of course I’m delighted it’s Alaska Air.  And then the delight is immediately squashed by the thought of going through LAX international hell again.  That place, I swear, is operated by the Orcs, from Lord of the Rings.  The last time I went through….I experienced every level of Dante’s inferno as well.  Insanity.  They made me a stand by passenger, even though I was a full fare passenger with ticket in hand.  Took my carry on – made me check it.  Lost all of my luggage.

I.

Was.

NOT.

Happy.

The first helpful person I encountered was in Australia.  Where they said, “this happens all the time with LAX.”  Great.  Anything happens this time, I will politely excuse myself and reintroduce myself as the Honey Badger.

Back to the story.

Okay so we get to LAX and change planes.  Looking at the screen.  I swear it says we get on Asia Air.  Calvin says, “this looks like a good one.”  I’m thinking to myself……really?  Isn’t that a third world airline?  Do they even speak English?  I’m terrible with accents.  How am I going to understand the safety briefing?  Do they translate the announcements?  Do they have a drink cart?  Can I just have the drink cart?  Are the drinks free?  How much are the drinks?  Do they take American?

Then he says to me……

“It goes from LAX to NAN.”

..

.

.

.

.

Excuse me?

“NAN.”

NAN?

“NAN.   N. A. N.    NAN”

..

..

..

Where the hell is NAN?

“Well, I don’t know.”

>>Enter the Bambi stare.  blink. blink. blink. blink.<<

NAN?  I’ve never heard of NAN.

“Me either.”

?

I get out my phone and Google NAN.

Well, according to Google it says NAN stands for:  Nadi, the western portion of Fiji.

“Nadi?”

Nadi.  N. A. D. I.    Nadi.

>>blink. blink.<<

NADI!  Good god man!  We look at Calvin’s giant world map on his office wall.  Way down in the far right hand corner.  Way down further than all the other countries.   Way down past New Zealand.  Way down past the compass.  Past the mile marker.  Almost like a speck of tomato soup on the map…..is a tiny little blip of a smudge on the map.

Fiji.

But no Nadi.

I look at Calvin.

Calvin looks at me.

My upper lip breaks out into a sweat.

My throat goes dry.

My hands start to sweat as do my feet and my pits.

Cripes, I say, WHAT IF they don’t have a big enough runway for a jet?  That place is represented by a poppy seed!