World Tea Expo

Knights in White Sparks

Back in April, my mother and I went to see The Moody Blues.

For men well in their 70s, they put on a great show. And as expected, they ended their surprisingly long set with their most memorable song, “Knights in White Satin”. I still don’t understand it. Sure, I’ve read the lyrics, I assume it’s a love song, but I have no clue what knights or cloth have to do with it. Maybe it has something to do with the death of chivalry?

What’s this have to do with what you (fair reader) are about to digest? Probably nothing; probably everything. But it does – albeit awkwardly – transition to what happened a week later.

Mum and I decided to travel together to Southern California. We determined that the best way for us to get around was to split a rental car while we were down there. She would get it for the first few days to do whatever, and I would have it for my “the business trip” up to Long Beach.

The car we prepaid for was this:

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 Musings, Steep Stories 8 Comments

Airport Adventure Time

The best vacation of my summer – nay, life! – had just ended one day prior. It was now time for me to return to the not-so-gentle burlap blanket of reality. My World Tea Expo/Las Vegas Tea “Party” was drawing to a close. What I didn’t expect was that I would have to contend with some rigors trying to leave the maverick gambling city.

After parting ways with the friends I was staying with, my first order of business was returning the car I rented. I figured the quickest way was to simply use Google Maps to guide my compass-less arse to the airport rental car island. Yes, the McCarran Airport required its own friggin’ rental car island to process all the cars. Problem was…according to my GPS, said island didn’t exist.

I went about it another way, looking up the specific rental car company and triangulating my position from there. After locating what I thought was the right one, I headed out. On the highway, I witnessed a couple of signs for a rental car port, but they were pointing in the exact opposite direction I was going. When I finally arrived at where my “jeepus” told me to go, I was next to an abandoned building on the outskirts of downtown Vegas.

Frantic, I piped a call through to the tea friend I’d stayed with all week – Lady Joy’s Teaspoon. She did her best to keep me from hyperventilating, got on her own computer, and located the cross-streets I needed. Confidence slightly renewed, I burned rubber toward the airport. This time, I finally found the island. (Might as well have been the f**king LOST island for how well I found it.)

What was unclear, though, was how one was supposed to turn into said island. Let me backtrack for a second. Calling it an “island” is a bit of misnomer. It was more of a…um…penal colony for cars. Several rental car outlets were attached to this – what I can best describe as a – mega-garage. My first thought was that it looked like a zombie apocalypse compound. Finding the goddamn entrance was just as difficult, too.

The first two times, I nearly went into a wall. The third time, I almost went through an exit. On my penultimate try, I found my way to the bloody service entrance. A mostly-patient security guard pointed me in the right direction. And by that, I mean going around the block another time. By chance number five, I went through the right one. Only to be greeted by the jaws of life.

When I tried to turn down the right route for my rental company, I came in contact with warning signs galore and…teeth! Rows upon rows of sharp protrusions in the road warning ingress traffic away. I did what I always do when confronted by sharp things, I turned tail. In this case, I put the car in reverse, ducked out of the turning lane in the garage, and parked off to the side with the warning lights on.

I had no clue what to do, and my flight was in an hour and a half.

Running out of options, I resorted to calling the rental car company’s roadside assistance. I think my message came across like this:

“ICAN’TGETTHROUGHTHEREARETEETHINTHEWAYMYFLIGHTISINANHOURI’MSTUCK!!!OMGWTFBBQone!!!111”

Calm like a Zen monk, that’s me.

They put me on hold for about twenty minutes, got a hold of the parent location – i.e. the port I was parked at – then got back to me. The answer to my predicament, they said was simple. Just drive over the teeth. Apparently, they were in place to prevent unwanted traffic to get through. However, cars could easily go over them. Well, I felt like an idiot.

Once that hurdle was driven over, I sped my way to the…end of a really long line of people returning their cars. My flight was in an hour, at this point. Cursing under my breath, I made sure that my return tickets and paperwork were all in order. Then waited patiently. Or as patiently as a man could wait while muttering, “F**kf**kf**kf**kf**k” could.

Obstacle cleared, I mad-dashed it to the shuttle terminal. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yeah, I did. McCarran airport is so stinkin’ large that there’s a shuttle running from the rental car island to the port proper. Thankfully, they arrived and departed in a timely manner. Panting heavily, I made it in time for a shuttle that was within inches of departing.

Five minutes later, I hauled my suitcase over my shoulders and ran. I’m not a very fit man. Running is not my strong suit. You will never find a doughy man like me in a marathon. That said, today…I…was…running! Forrest Gump-style and just as “speshul”.

I went to a check-in terminal, mashed the touchscreen with my stubby fingers ‘til it did what I wanted it to. Then continued my epic barely-above-a-fast-walk to my allotted gate. Only to find out…

My flight was delayed. By two hours.

What could I do but laugh hysterically. I called Lady Joy’s Teaspoon and told her the situation. She informed me that her cousin, Lady Earl Steeper would be at the airport shortly as well in an hour. I texted Lady Earl with a thought toward drinks to kill time. She obliged.

Until that time, I settled in for a wait by the intended gate for my flight. Over the P.A., I heard, “Hugh Johnson. Paging Hugh Johnson. Please meet your party at Baggage Carousel 6.” Or something like that. Heh. “Hugh Johnson.” I chuckled.

In the interim, I also texted my sister, telling her of the delay. She was meeting me at the airport back in PDX. I didn’t want her to wait in vain for two hours. Speaking of “in vain”, what was I gonna do for two hours?

Answer: Drink.

If the day had shown me anything, I was in dire need of a beer. I went to the only outlet that was open, some FOX Sports themed dive on the outskirts of the gates. Complete with overly-rude mulleted/mustachioed bartenders. Classy. That and the beers were $10 a pint. Didn’t care; needed beer. To avoid the wait in line, I ordered two. Double-fisting, baby.

Lady Earl Steeper arrived twenty minutes later, and we shot the shite for a spell. Drinks downed, we called it quits and returned to our respective gates an hour or so after. Finally, I was somewhat satisfied. Must’ve been the buzz.

Shortly thereafter, I boarded the plane, finally saying my final final farewells to the City o’ Sin. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the flight home. The seats looked entirely too cramped for me and my duffel bag of a suitcase. Pleasant surprise, though. I was the only one assigned to my row of seats. No seriously, here’s proof.

I had the window seat, and no one occupied the others. Pure WIN!

The flight to Portland was uneventful. I slept through most of it. Touchdown occurred without any hiccups. I texted my sister once I had cell reception again. I got this reply…and had to promptly tweet it.

She’d mistyped “here”.

I was home.

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Monday, August 12th, 2013 Musings 7 Comments

I work for tea money.

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