Saturday, March 13, 2010


As my trip ended…it almost did. More later, but first….

People sometimes ask me why I try to book a separate travel day when I go to the Children’s Pastors Conference. After all, it’s one more night and more down time. I don’t mind the “down time” so much, because it allows me some solitude to pray, think, read, and relax without distractions. Still, there’s the cost…so why not save myself a night’s lodging and plan to show up on check-in day?

Answer: because of days like this.

My adventure began when my wife dropped me off at the airport at 9:30 a.m. Shortly after I checked in at the automated kiosk, an attendant asked me to go to the ticket counter. They explained to me that bad weather in San Francisco was causing delays and cancellations. It was then that the Biblical injunction to take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall came to mind. In all the weeks prior, I kept saying, “no bad weather when I travel. It can snow all it wants…up until the day I leave. Then let’s clear it up and I’ll be fine.” I’m sure my co-workers got tired of it. And when travel day arrived, it was raining…but at least it wasn’t snowing!

But I hadn’t calculated what bad weather would do at my connection in San Francisco. The attendant presented me with a backup plan. I struggled to follow: “you have a boarding pass for flight A, but if they call you as a stand by for flight B, then take flight B, and then your connection will be for your original flight C, unless they put you on standby for an earlier flight D that leaves later than C, and I before E, except after C.” (All kidding aside, the United counter staff at the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport were phenomenal in dealing with the vast amount of passengers who were inconvenienced by this situation. With patience and good humor, they helped weather the storm (no pun intended).).

My flight was scheduled for 11:00, but was bumped to 1:00 (it turns out that the 8:00 flight had to leave at 11:00). The flight to SF only took about an hour, but since SF had only one runway open (due to heavy rains and poor visibility), we “approached” for another 45 minutes. By this time, I had no idea if my original connection (which the counter agent said had been delayed as well) was still viable. At least I had plan B! I checked the board when I got off the plane and…big surprise! My original connection was so far gone, it wasn’t even listed anymore. I checked my plan B itinerary and was instantly confused. It looked like I wouldn’t be able to make plan B either. So I went to an automated kiosk and punched in my confirmation number. The nice machine informed me that due to weather delays, I had been rebooked on a 6:20 p.m. flight! I printed my boarding pass and rejoiced that that detail was settled. All I had to do now is wait. I watched the rain pelt the windows of the gate area. I watched as big jetliners pulled in and out, doing a delicately timed ballet with the baggage and maintenance vehicles. I could hear a waltz playing in the background as men and women in yellow and orange dayglow suits nimbly guided the planes to their havens (okay, by this time I was tired, hungry, and working on a king-sized headache, so forgive me a little loopiness).

My flight was on time. It left the gate on time. It stopped on the tarmac on time. This was good. And then the captain said, “Ladies and gentleman, we’ve just learned that the computers at the airport have gone down, so we need to wait here a little longer.” Uh huh.

Yes, I made it to San Diego. And incredibly, my luggage followed me! So with briefcase and laptop and big bulky duffle bag, I was ready to tackle the final obstacle: the Skybridge at San Diego International Airport. In order to get to the shuttles, one has to take an escalator up to a glass enclosed bridge, walk across the Skybridge, and then down the escalator. I have never enjoyed this part, because, while one or two of my items aren’t too heavy, three of them together are rough. And then, to navigate an escalator on top of that…..and that is where my journey almost ended!

I stepped onto the down escalator. My hands were full, so I couldn’t grab the rail. I was slightly off in my step, so I adjusted my feet. But the weight of my luggage threw off my balance and I started to fall. And I might have just ended up with a broken or sprained limb (or worse) if it hadn’t been for the guy behind me catching me (don’t know who he is, but the Lord knows!). I breathed a sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks, that after this very long travel day, I was spared another delay.

I arrived at the Town and Country Resort and got into my room at about 9:30 p.m., about twelve hours after my journey began (for the record, my original itinerary would have put me in San Diego about 2 p.m.). Tired and grateful, I prepared for a good night’s sleep. I’m looking forward to everything that I will experience at CPC, even starting with check-in time. And thanks to traveling the day before, I will not miss check-in time.

As our local meteorologist is fond of saying, “Stay tuned for updates….”

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