Thursday - Chicago IL Gathering

As usual, with a big trip coming up it meant primarily that I was up 24 hours a day trying to get everything as caught up as possible before I left. Trips are rarely "vacation" for me - they usually involve cramming hard for a few weeks solid leading up to the trip. Then I am on the trip, working. Then I get back and am deluged with all of the work and email. So on the night of Wednesday leading into the morning of Thursday I was working non-stop processing email and catching up on tasks. Then, eventually, I was packing, racing around trying to find things. On this particular trip I wanted to bring crystals for us all to choose from and pray / focus over. I had bought some explicitly for this trip a few months ago. I could not find them ANYWHERE. I wasted countless time digging through all sorts of locations. Finally I began digging through the piles in my office, and sure enough I found them! Yet another reason that I really need to get organized, so I do not waste time like this!

The 20th was Bob's birthday so I kept wishing Bob a happy birthday while I ran around the house like a madwoman. The poor guy! His birthday present was to drive me all the way into the airport and be abandoned. I did promise to treat him to a nice dinner when I got back.

Like a good doobie, he drove me into the airport in the afternoon and dropped me off. I gave him hugs then headed in to the Delta auto-check-in kiosk. Expedia is AWFUL with their reports. The Delta confirmation ID was nowhere on their report - and it was the only thing the Delta kiosk would accept! Normally I use USAir and they just need your name or your destination. So I was stuck going in line to the main desk to check in. My bag was barely under the limit, hovering at 49.99999 pounds! Hurrah! That did cost me $25, to check in the bag. Luckily I had already sent the two packages of pens / pencils / notebooks / etc ahead via priority mail to our wonderful SciFi TV editor who lived nearby. That saved me a LOT of weight. And actually it was Bob who mailed that all out for me, good doobie :)

The Delta lady also told me I had an AWFUL situation waiting for me at my transfer airport at LaGuardia - that I would have to land, get my luggage, pull it out to the curb, get on a shuttle of some sort, go to another location, check in again, and then go through security again. I didn't have much time in my transfer! So I was a bit panicked but said I'd give it my best shot.

Through security, which was a fair wait but not too extreme. The usual of putting the laptop out separate, taking off your shoes, etc. I did get to go through a full body scan! It is taller than my head and set up like a pair of clamshells. You walk into the middle of it and stand on the footprints, with your hands above your head. You stand there for maybe 45 seconds until they tell you to leave, then you stand on a pair of footprints outside the machine. The guard stands near you until they get a radio message that you are clear. Then you gather up your items.

I went to the waiting area, which had a nice set of electrical plugs for people to use, and plugged in the laptop. I didn't have wireless but I had some college course papers to work on so I tweaked those while I waited. Perfect! I tried to get on the earlier flight, but because I had a checked bag that was not an option. After the current flight went through, time passed before my actual flight came into the gate. Then they called for us and I got on. I removed my anti-noise headphones before I got on with my bag, so that way I could just put the bag overhead and not worry about it. My little iTouch, much smaller than my iPod, holds my "sleepy time" playlists and did very nicely for the ride. I did in fact fall asleep.

We landed in LaGuardia and I was still exhausted. I went to baggage claim. The bags went around. No bag for me. The baggage claim circle stopped. They started again and a few more bags came out - and then they were done! No bag for me. A guy proactively called me over to talk to me which I thought was nice. He looked me up and said my bag was checked through. I told him about the story I'd been told about shuttles and bag lugging and he said nope, all I had to do is get to Chicago and I'd be all set. Hurrah! Victory!

So I went to the Delta counter, very relieved, and they gave me my next set of tickets to Chicago. I went over to the gate and waited - it was a really small hallway of a gate area - and soon we were boarding. Again, I just kept my headphones and slept for most of it. I woke up as we were closing in over Chicago.

We flew over a baseball field, and we were descending! I thought it was really fast - wasn't O'Hare further out? Then they announced that we were about to land in Midway. Realization dawned on me. I had somehow booked a flight to Midway. I always worry about doing this and triple check my reservations - how did I miss this!! My hotel was near O'Hare!

We disembarked. I gathered up my bag and went to look at options. I called my SciFi editor too. Apparently there was a taxi service to try, and a shuttle service. It turns out the taxi service didn't go all the way out to O'Hare. The shuttle did, though, I went to the shuttle spot, and called Bob to let him know what had happened. There was a shuttle there already, so I thought I was set! But they were just a ticket-taker, I had to wait another half hour for an actual shuttle. I was the only person on it, and soon we were heading out to O'Hare for $25. All told, not too bad.

I arrived at the hotel after Jeanne and Jilly were there, having met with Helen, our local contact. They were having dinner at the hotel, and I gave them hugs and joined them. The waitress took a while to show up, but finally I got an appetizer and a glass of wine, and Jeanne gave me a piece of her pizza, and we settled in. We didn't get to bed until around 3am!!

The gathering had begun!!

Friday Gathering Notes

2010 Chicago Gathering Notes