It is obvious to me that car rental agencies did not run focus groups before deciding that instead of taking shuttle buses to and from the airports to remote locations to pick up and return cars, customers would now walk interminable distances, with their luggage, to pick up and return cars from the airport parking lots. The procedure may be more efficient for the companies, but are a pain in the butt for those of us who rent cars. At least shuttle buses would drop us off in front of the terminal, where we could check our bags at the curb and go right to security. Now, in addition to the aforementioned walk, we have to wait in line (even if we have printed out our boarding passes) in order to check our luggage.
I know I could use carry-on bags only, and often see fellow passengers get on board the planes with bags larger than the one I checked. But I am, I admit it, short, and shrinking as we speak (in height, not width). There is no way I can lift a suitcase over my head into one of those compartments, and I’m too proud to ask for help. (The exception being when my tires need to be inflated; then I’m willing to play the helpless middle aged lady card.) My one carry-on bag – a soft-side duffle on wheels, containing my meds, jewelry, laptop, and magazines for when the plane is taking off and landing and I can’t use my Kindle, fits under the seat of almost every airline I’ve flown.
In addition to the indignity of having to walk with my bags 20 miles in the snow, barefooted (subjective opinion), to wait in line, I was 10 minutes from the airport, looking for a non-gouging gas station (the pumps at first one I found were off-line; fortunately, the next one was only three miles away), when I got a notification that my flight had been delayed for 2+ hours.
So here I sit in the airport, still a half hour before the original departing time, wondering why I travel.
I love going to new places. I hate the process of getting there and returning.
There were good things about the travel process, though. The free apps I downloaded to my iPhone 4S were one. MapQuest works as well as the GPS Gary uses; even the voice is the same, although “she” doesn’t sound too petulant when I refuse to follow the route plotted for me. GasBuddy, which I’ve had for a while, was fairly accurate, although it once insisted a gas station that was .4 miles away was 60 miles; I think I had forgotten to change my location. Unfortunately, BirdsEye Lite, which lists bird sightings and sites, kept crashing. I’ve sent an email to their tech support before deciding if I should buy the full version. But it worked well enough to point me toward a wildlife refuge only a few miles from my hotel (and on the same street as a Kosher restaurant; that location didn’t come from any app, though – a van with the name of the restaurant passed me when I was heading toward the refuge, and I googled it). Flight View was great and sent me a text when my flight was delayed. I’m not sure how well Trip Advisor would have worked because I forgot I had it.
The best things about the trip, of course, were seeing my parents and aunt, and talking on the phone for an hour-and-a-half with an old friend (which, in these days of cell phones, we could do any time); getting in some terrific birding and visiting two places, Corkscrew Swamp and Ding Darling NWR, I’ve long wanted to see; and being at Sleuthfest, where I renewed old acquaintances and made new ones.
So despite the wait here at the airport, the trip was worth it. But I do wish someone would invent a Star Trek, or even a Blake’s 7, transporter already. Beam me home, Scotty.