Thursday, May 29, 2008

Onto the Midwest!

Okay, so having recounted the lovely time I had in Savannah, it's time to move on and talk about Des Moines, where I spent last week. I left my camera home because Alex had a show at school while I was away and wanted Mike to record it for me, so no pics. But I will say Des Moines is beautiful. So green and they're not afraid of letting space just be, unlike Queens, which seems to be more and more of the mindset that something must occupy every available inch of space these days.

Okay - so getting to Des Moines? A bit problematic. Apparently, I can catch a nonstop flight to Sweden more easily than I can Iowa. There's one Northwest flight a day that goes there direct, and without knowing Northwest's lousy reputation in advance (hindsight is 20/20), I booked the one flight.

Travel Day - I get to LaGuardia at about 10 a.m. for my 11:30 flight, only to be told by the skycap at curbside check-in that I need to "go inside and talk to someone, because this flight's been canceled." WTF? I'm starting out like this? Are you kidding? Luckily, Mike, my personal ZenMaster, was still there and proceeded to take the e-ticket from my rapidly clenching fists and called Northwest, getting me booked on a flight leaving about the same time but stopping over in Minneapolis. Whatever. I deal. I get checked in fairly quickly (that was the only thing that was fair or quick that day), reluctantly kiss Mike goodbye, and head to the gate.

No exaggeration - depending on the destination of the flight, anywhere from 50-100 people are at each Northwest gate, yelling. It's a clusterfrack kind of day, folks. My flight ends up leaving almost an hour later than expected, so I'm calling the folks in Iowa that I'm supposed to be meeting with and giving them updates.

Get to Minneapolis, and I'm pretty much the quintessential angry New Yorker at this point. When I get to the gate where my connection is leaving from, I see a flight to Bismarck, North Dakota listed. I ask the guy at the gate about my Des Moines connection and he CHUCKLES and says, "Oh that flight's delayed at least an hour."

This, my friends, leads to a profanity-laden meltdown that probably melted the ears of all near me. Thankfully, I had the werewithal to walk away from the gate and have this meltdown on poor Mike and my mother. Mike begged me to consider some food, since the first flight not only did not offer food - after an hour delay and a 2 hour flight - and indeed had the cojones to charge for snacks. I didn't want to put any money into this airline or airport terminal, but I saw an Einstein's Bagel place so I put a total of $1.59 into Minneapolis.

The connecting flight ended up being delayed by TWO HOURS. No vouchers to get food for everyone inconvenienced. No snacks on the plane, unless you wanted to pay for it. Great customer service, Northwest!

I finally land in Des Moines, and miraculously, so did my luggage. I called the complimentary shuttle at the hotel, which took 40 minutes to show up. Got up to my hotel room, let everyone know who needed to that I had landed without police needing to take me off the plane, and stared out the window. Seeing neon, I knew there had to be food out there, so I took off.

It's raining. Spectacular.

Then I saw them. The Golden Arches, out of the corner of my eye. There was a McDonald's, right next to the hotel. I dashed in, got a burger, fries, and a caramel iced coffee to ease my pains, and ran back up to my hotel room where I scowled at the four walls and watched a Family Guy marathon. Then I finished off some knitting I'd been working on, and decided to hit the gym and burn off some anger.

It took me 10 hours to get to Des Moines from New York. It should not take that long to get there, folks.

Other than that horrific first day, I really enjoyed my time in Des Moines. They're an hour behind New York, so I felt like I had a luxurious extra hour at bedtime. It's beautiful out there (and real estate makes me cry - you can't get a tiny, cramped NYC apartment for what you'd pay for a house out there), and everyone was just wonderful. Who knows? I may even consider not throwing a fit at going out there again in the future - but not for another full week. I just can't be away from my boys that long.


Stacey said...

oh man, Northwest airlines... bad, bad, bad...

Your travel sounds like one of my episodes...

I've not been there, I've only been to Debuque which I don't remember much of other than the hotel and the cute little town we went to where they filmed a lot of Field of Dreams... ha ha ha...

(Not-So) Cynical Gal said...

Oh, I hate traveling - for the reasons you experienced.

Are you safe and sound now?