Monday, April 6, 2009
What a Great Weekend!!!
It has been a very long time since I took some time for myself and hung out with friends. Thanks to the lovely ladies who I met in Chicago for coming and making it such a great time :) I wanted to write about my trip as soon as I got home, but I laid down for a bit after putting my clothes in the washer and the next thing I knew, it was 6 AM this morning...
Be prepared, this will be a long post...
I'll start with my experience on Thursday... As you all have read by now, I hurt my knee Wednesday night... Pretty bad, too... I went to my doctor who did some adjustments to my knee and did some e-stim on it to help with the swelling. She gave me orders to get a knee brace and to wear it on the plane to help counteract the pressure fluctuations while in flight. Prior to these instructions, I was oblivious to the fact that any inflammation on your body is fluctuated by the constant pressure changes in flight. I was also told to ask for ice on the plane and ice my knee as much as possible.
So, Thursday night, I started my journey to Chicago. Many thanks to the Juneau Airport - Alaska Airlines crew who accommodated me wonderfully. They changed my seat to give me my own row as close to the front of the 737 as they could. They also let me on first and brought me a bag of ice before we took off. They were awesome :)
Unfortunately, the remaining flights of the night were all packed. Not a spare seat in the house... Bummer... My leg definitely did not like being bent for numerous hours. Nor did it like the hike through the Minneapolis/St.Paul Airport... I know, there are carts with drivers who will take you to your terminal if you need assistance. However, I had a short connection and the carts that were empty were not going to the terminal I needed to be in. After waiting for 15 minutes, I decided to hoof it down there. I only had 10 minutes before boarding and I didn't want to miss my flight to Chicago. I felt so stupid because I didn't realize there was a tram to my terminal until I got to the stop just before the one I needed to get off at. Another bummer... I couldn't have been faulted at this point. For me, it was somewhere in the vicinity of 2 AM...
Getting into Chicago wasn't bad. I had a couple of hours to kill while I waited for Summer, so I set myself up to elevate my knee and I read a book. That made the time go by pretty fast. Summer arrived around 11:30 and we headed to the hotel. Again, no one told us it would be quite the hike to get from the terminal to the bus loading area, or that we could have gone directly from the terminal to the bus loading area rather than going through the maze to get there, but that's neither here nor there...
We were pretty oblivious to which courtesy van to look for. And this was pointed out to us by a Westin Hotel van driver who told us that we missed the van and that he had been sitting there for some time... He said that when it came back, to look for "Dowell Three" because "Embassy Suites" is written in small letters underneath it... We were stumped... We didn't see a van marked "Dowell Three" and we had no idea what he was talking about. Finally, we saw a van that said "Double Tree" and upon further inspection, we found where it said Embassy Suites beneath it... Whew! Finally!
So, Friday, we were waiting at the hotel for the rest of the ladies to arrive. They were all flying in non-rev, so we didn't know when they would make it. As it turned out, only 2 of the 4 we were waiting on made it, and they only did so by going through Milwaukee and having a friend (who was going to Chicago the next day anyway) drive them down. We had extra room from the 2 that didn't make it in, so she was able to stay in the hotel with us.
Dinner was good. We had reservations in the hotel and a local pilot wife, Kristen, joined us for dinner. We all enjoyed the good food and conversations while we were getting to know each other.
Saturday, I woke up at 6 AM, without the alarm... Which would have been 3 AM for me... WTF... I was planning on getting up at 7 anyway to go to breakfast with everyone, but that's just wrong... I couldn't go back to sleep either, so I watched Saturday Morning cartoons... We then ate breakfast at the hotel buffet. It was pretty good.
After breakfast, we went to the "spa"... This "spa" was recommended to us by the hotel... They must not hold spas to very high standards... As it was, this was just a hair salon in a hole in the wall that happened to do nails and massage... Most of us opted for nails. I paid extra for a french manicure. Had I known it was not going to last 24 hours, I would have gotten a standard manicure...
We had lunch across the street. The food was really good. I stole a few pieces of Sweet Potato Fries from Nicole (ok, she let me have some, but that doesn't sound nearly as sneaky, mwah ha ha). That's the first time I have ever had SP Fries and I have to say that I like them better than regular fries.
We stopped at the 7-11 to stock up on supplies (read: Chocolate) and headed back to the hotel. After a quick cat-nap, we got ready to take the EL into the city. I found out that the GPS on my new phone is cool and all, but after walking around, it had us moving in the opposite direction 3 blocks away from where we ACTUALLY were. So we dumped the moving map and just used the map to acertain our location. Once we found the theater, we headed for dinner. It was really quite nice, at "the oldest Italian restaurant in Chicago." (You can see it in the background of this picture...) The food was good, but it was REALLY CROWDED there and we were on a schedule so we had to eat fast. If we had had time, and we could find the location, we would have had Chicago-style Pizza before the show. But we didn't, so we couldn't.
Jersey Boys is an amazing show. The guy who played Frankie Valli was awesome. I'm glad this was my first Broadway play. The music was great. I was dancing in my seat almost the entire time. If I could, I would go again.
Heading back to the hotel was another "adventure". We decided to take the EL all the way back to O'Hare to be picked up by the shuttle-bus there. Friday night, we had spoken to the guy who said he was the driver the next night and we told him our plans. He said that wasn't a problem and that he usually just sits out there with his DVD player and watches movies, so he would be there when we got in. Well, he wasn't. We called the hotel to let them know we had arrived, giving him the benefit of the doubt, thinking that he had to take some other people to the hotel before we got there. We were told that he was on his way and we went to wait for him... 30 minutes passed, and we called the hotel again... We were told again that he was on his way... Another 30 minutes passed (it is now 12:30 AM) and we called the hotel AGAIN. We were then told that they didn't know where their driver was and that they had no way of calling him... At this point, we had had enough. Thanks to our warrior, Becky, we were given a ride back to our hotel by a neighboring hotel's courtesy van, and our hotel had to pay him for it. Not 5 minutes after we arrived back at the hotel, the courtesy van shows up behind us... We were loaded down with goodies from Kristen (she left them at the front desk for us while we were in the city), and we really didn't want to confront the driver who neglected to pick us up (he probably wouldn't have survived the onslaught of 4 very tired, very angry, very hormonal women beating his sorry butt), so we booked it up to our rooms. We let the night manager handle him. And let the hotel manager hear about it as well the next day.
While we were in the city, I think the maids changed the time on our clocks. Nicole and Becky ended up getting up an hour earlier than they planned, so they went to the airport early. Summer and I slept through the alarm on my cell phone and I freaked when I woke up on Sunday and the clock said it was 8:30... We were supposed to leave to go to the airport by 9 at the latest. Luckily, my cell phone was correct in that it was actually 7:30, so we still had time to shower and pack and eat some breakfast. If Nicole hadn't texted me when she did, we might have slept longer. It was the text beep that woke me up. Thanks, Nicole :)
The flights home were better, but it made for a VERY long day. My layovers in MSP and SEA were long enough that I had time to eat something without being rushed, but not so long that I got bored. The gates were also MUCH closer than they were going out. I didn't use my knee brace on the ORD-MSP flight, but I should have. I put the brace back on in MSP and noticed the swelling had gone down considerably. I could barely get the thing on my knee on Thursday, but I had to tighten the straps to get it to stay in position on Sunday.
I finally got home at 9:30 PM Sunday night. Long, busy weekend, but well worth it. I met some fantastic women and had a great time. I can't wait for the next meet-up. :)
Becky and Nicole, I hope you don't mind that some of the pictures I used here are ones you took. Some of them didn't come out that great on my camera. Thanks for taking such great pictures! It was very nice to meet you :)