Thursday, August 15, 2013

Travel Snafu

So I spent a few days in SoCal. I went "down south" as we NorCal folks say. My job required us to convene in Huntington Beach to kick-off the start of the new school year. Fall is a big deal for us and no amount of preparation can be enough.

I enjoy Southern California. Our hotel sat across the street from the beach and you can't get any nicer than that. I loved running along the beachfront each morning and watching the surfers get their game on before the work day started. The whole atmosphere of Huntington Beach is a way of life. Work hard; play hard. 

As beautiful as the SoCal beaches are I am still partial to the beaches of the Central California coastline. I grew up going to Pismo Beach and it feels like home now. Even my kids vibrate with excitement when we cross the pass and see the first glimpse of the ocean on our central coastline. Nothing quite compares.

Beautiful locale aside, I am not sure what it is about our bi-annual sales conferences but I can never travel without a snafu of some sort. This time I was determined to avoid flight delays and lost luggage. I drove. Easy enough right? One would think.

The drive to SoCal had me delayed because I had a nail in my tire. Not good. I was going over the Grapevine and you can't have an impaired tire crossing that beast. The Grapevine is the set of mountains you cross to get out of the valley and into the greater Los Angeles area. The Grapevine is daunting but it is the quickest way to drop into Southern California. Checking road conditions on this pass is a necessity. It can have weather delays; road construction delays; runaway truck delays. They actually have sand ramps for vehicles that lose their brakes on this route. I have only seen one freight truck sunk into one of these but once is plenty! I also once saw a freight truck jack-knifed with its cab see-sawing on the ledge. Again, one time too many!

I was hopeful that my travel delays were done when I left the tire repair shop with new tracks on my back wheel. And, all was well for the few days my car spent in underground parking. Then came the drive home.

I agreed to drop two colleagues at LAX because it was sort of on my way. It was not a total inconvenience to shuttle them and who am I to say no - it is a company car so I do what the company needs. As we closed in on LAX one of my colleagues gets a text message that his flight is cancelled. He can't get another flight out of LAX but he can get one out of Bob Hope airport in Burbank. OK. Not terrible. A little less on my way but I can still make this happen. So we drop off Colleague A and creep with traffic over to Burbank. Colleague B is super grateful so I am not too bitter. I have been delayed an hour at the most.

Then I hop on "the 5" - that is what we call Interstate 5 which is the main vein that slices through California. I zip along the 5 with precision. I am in a lane; over a lane; bypassing those not even hitting the speed limit. I am in the zone! I am cruising and then I come to a grinding halt. Traffic is wretched. As far as I can see cars are inching along. An accident I think...a grisly one. As I get sucked further and further into the snarl I realize it is construction. Major construction. Construction to the point of covering a single mile in about 20 minutes. Construction I didn't know about because I forgot to check road conditions. Shame on me! I know better.

I think about crying; what's the point? I try to call my hubs; I have no signal. So I sit. I find a lollipop in my glove box - score! I turn on my tunes and proceed to get sun-burned sitting in my car as it crawls over the Grapevine. 

So my 4 hour trip was closer to 7 hours. That isn't has bad as it could have been. I have slept on airport floors below so 3 hours behind schedule is easy-peasy. I did learned that we will all converge on Chicago in January. My first thought was - I don't even own clothes for weather that severe! My second thought was "Oy! Maybe I should rent a mule and start on the journey now?!"

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