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Friday, September 23, 2005

You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee

Which in my case means sitting in a cool, comfy hotel room with a cold beverage by my side, blogging away and listening to Niles growl "Die, Geraldo! Die!" at the TV.

Greetings from beautiful, sunny Seattle. I don't know what the weather is usually like here, but today it was glorious, and the landscape is gorgeous -- lush with a thousand shades of green and the occasional gold and scarlet. And it's cold. God, it feels good.

We had planned to drive the 450 miles to Tulsa (which was the nearest place with hotel rooms, according to the web). But then we saw that people were taking 11 hours to get to Austin (150 miles away), and some were running out of gas on the highway, and some were giving up and coming home. So Niles got the bright idea to see if we could get a flight out on his frequent flyer miles. To my great surprise, this was possible (at about ten hours notice), and we chose Seattle, based on the facts that a) we had not been here before, and b) there were seats available.

We stayed up all night preparing the apartment and left at 4:30 am for our 7:50 am flight. I thought we'd left it too long. But there was hardly a soul on the highways. I-45, jammed earlier in the day, was empty. We did see a lot of cars abandoned on the shoulder of the road -- maybe a couple dozen. These presumably ran out of gas.

The airport was packed. I heard a man behind me tell someone that he was on his third flight -- he'd been given two others which had then been cancelled. He said another woman in line had been trying since 2am (this was at about six). They were cancelling connecting flights (I assume that meant connecting through Houston). We were fortunate that we were actually able to leave.

We got up to our gate, and there was only one business open in the food court -- the Starbucks -- and there was an enormous line. It was like the last cappucino out of Saigon. We weren't particularly hungry, so we passed. After all, our flight had a snack -- probably a pastry or something. (Cue the ominous music.)

Well, when we were nearly ready to leave, we heard the flight attendants saying that the plane hadn't been catered, and probably was not going to be: no snack, no soft drinks, no water -- not even cups for the water in the bathroom sinks. The flight attendants said they thought there was one catering truck and three employees working that day. We saw the truck servicing an aircraft by the side of ours, and Niles and I talked about organizing a posse to rustle us up some water. Apparently the flight attendants took care of that, because one of them came aft with a case of water and some ice, and we at least had a little water for the flight. Very little. I'm still parched, twelve hours later.

It was just like the hardships of the pioneers! Except I'm pretty sure the pioneers didn't get free headsets in compensation.

Once I woke from my doze to find a man, not dressed as a flight attendant, coming through the aisle handing out something. He turned out to be a passenger who had a bag of Dove chocolate candies -- kinda like Kisses -- that he was sharing with the plane. He came by again toward the end.

Speaking of dozing: I had about three hours of sleep Wednesday night, and no hours of sleep Thursday night, and couldn't sleep on the plane. I'm in hell.

We're keeping our eye on the weather radar, and so far it looks OK in our part of Houston, though Hurricane Rita has yet to make landfall.

Hurricane Greta, however, has landed and is mercilessly punishing Houston, but I am too tired to make further use of this joke.

Oh! Oh! Speaking of jokes, I'll just point out that we are fleeing the cyclone tyranny. Har! Thought that one up myself, could you tell?