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Planes, cars and pools

by laura on April 11, 2009

Springfield, OH is about a three hour drive from Cleveland. I can quote you from all other surrounding major airports too. I know this because my flight from SFO to Cleveland was delayed, which meant I missed my connection to Dayton (the closest airport to Springfield). I spent half hour with an agent at the Continental counter looking at other options but the entire area had been mysteriously shut down so I had to take the Cleveland flight & rent a car in the middle of the night.
Our original plan had been for Becca to drive down from Ann Arbor and pick both me & Julie up in Dayton. Plan foiled by the airlines, yet again. Julie was an entire day late, but that’s a story in itself.

The next several destinations were reached by car. For some ridiculous reason, we decided to sign all three of us onto the rental car so we could split up the driving. Very diplomatic of us but a waste of money since Becca volunteered to do most of the driving.

Our driving adventures this year DID NOT include missing an exit off the turnpike and driving an additional 60 miles out of our way like they did late one night when I was driving last year. Why not? Because this year we had three mobile GPS devices among us and they worked splendidly. These are our “car rules”: Driver chooses music. Shotgun navigates & operates iPod. Backseat passenger sleeps and distributes food. Snacks and music selection are of utmost importance. My favorite memories from the backseat are Julie and Becca singing to each other with the Ramones cranked up and waking up to a downpour after a really great nap.

Our one detour this year was spur of the moment but intentional. We realized that Niagara Falls was nearby so we stopped. Violin, viola and umbrella in hand, we braved the wind and drizzle for the view. The falls in the winter are not swarming with tourists and the spray forms a most spectacular glacier. Our visit was short-lived but well worth it.

For the most part, the driving was way easier than the flying this season. The trickiest part, which Becca mastered, was fitting three big suitcases, a cello and everything else into our economy car. When it came time to fly to Colorado, United Airlines anticipated bad weather and cancelled my flight a day in advance. They did me the courtesy of calling, which was appreciated since I had already checked in and there was no mention. When I called to re-book the girl gave me the last seat on a much earlier flight, which messed up arrival arrangements since the three of us had carefully coordinated times, once again. Hours later, after not receiving confirmation on my change, I called back and United found no record of me on the new flight. I’m guessing I was a little too unpleasant and Agent #1 decided to forget about me. Note to self: BE NICE on the phone- it’s not the agent’s fault my flight is cancelled. After two conferences with her supervisor and a reminder that my previous conversation had been recorded, Agent #2 found me a seat and e-mailed my confirmation while I waited. Whew! I have to note that Becca, who now mostly flies Northwest, was upgraded to first class on both legs of her flight. Julie, on the other hand, arrived on another much-delayed flight and was left behind by her pre-paid last Supershuttle if the night. She arrived after 1am and took an $85 cab ride from Denver to Boulder. She watched three accidents occur on the icy highway and was informed by her unhappy cab driver that she was risking their lives.

Swimming pools were not our third mode of transportation, contrary to what the title may have you believe. I added them because they played an important role in keeping me moving throughout the tour. My YMCA membership allows me to visit all other Ys for free. Fortunately, ever town had a Y and every Y had a pool. One reminded me of the local pool where I grew up. Another was located in a less desirable area and I wished I’d driven instead of run there. In a locker room I met a woman who told me about her 25th anniversary cruise and the great local swim team. I also spoke with a lifeguard who drives three hours each way to hear the Metropolitan Opera every week. Once, I shared a lane with a man wearing a full bodysuit & flippers and a woman backstroking with her face underwater. Huh?? I am so lucky to be part of such a diverse and interesting community!

Our travel adventures have almost concluded this year and I, for one, am ready to stay put!

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