A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tales from my first business trip

When I got word I would finally get to travel for work, I was ecstatic!  I have pined over going for more than a year now and I have finally reached the point in my training and the necessity in my department for it to begin.  The dates were set and the decision was made... I was off to Kansas.  Nervous but excited, I toted my bag into work on Tuesday morning and went through my day until it was time to head to the airport.  I rode with my boss, I will call her BL for the sake of anonymity (I affectionately call her Boss Lady - but only very occasionally), who left her car in the parking structure of the terminal in Detroit devoted entirely to Delta (this will be important later...).  We made our way through security, meeting up with one of the managing partners at the same time.  The three of us headed for the Delta Sky Club for a cocktail before our flight.  I had never had the opportunity so it was nice to do so.  We had snacks, drinks and good conversation until it was time to board.  The plan was to fly in, work with the client and her team for two days and fly out on Thursday night.  We would return late, so I would stay with my boss in her home and return to the office on Friday morning to complete our training with the new client and her team.  Yeah.  That was the plan.

We connected in Atlanta for a short layover on the way there.  We didn't have much time, so we grabbed snacks at the Delta Sky Club there and boarded our next plane to Wichita.  Upon arrival, my (vegetarian) boss and I decided we were hungry and needed to grab a bite on the way to the hotel.  We hoped for a sandwich from Subway, but were unable to find one that was still open.  The partner we were traveling with had a hankering for roast beef and so we pulled into Arby's.  Since the rental was in my boss' name, she was driving and thus had no clue how to order a sandwich from a restaurant that primarily sells meat sandwiches.  BL pulled up to the speaker and carefully asked for an "Arby's Roast Beef Sandwich."  Bless her heart, she was so tired, I guess it hadn't yet occurred to her that this was the only type they had (as opposed to a Wendy's sandwich from Arby's...).  We giggled and laughed in our tired and slap-happy state, teasing her once again as she ordered (tried to) her sweet potato from Wendy's during a second stop.  I jokingly ordered a Big Mac and a Whopper from the back seat while we were in the drive-thru at Wendy's.  Thankfully she is a super fun gal and took it all in fun. We giggled and laughed all the way to the hotel about our adventure so far.

Arriving late, we were looking forward to getting settled into our room and relaxing in our pajamas.  We checked in, rode the elevator to our floor and approached the door.  When we got to the room, she looked at the key and the number on the door and commented that she thought it odd that there was a "Do Not Disturb" card in the door.  She knocked, understandably assuming kids had moved the card from another door, and opened it with her key.  As she began to step into the room, we realized why there was a sign.  There were people, with lots of things strewn about, already sleeping in the room.  It is needless to say, we went back to the front desk and requested another room.  They were strangely quiet about it, apologizing only briefly and assigned us another room (not without first expressing concern as if there may not be any other rooms available).  With increased caution we entered the second room, thankfully empty of occupants and ready for relaxation! We settled in and called it a night.

Day two began at 5:30.  We were both up, showering and primping for the day.  We got ready, ate breakfast and headed to our destination right on schedule.  With the exception of one long traffic light, the journey went well.  The team was assembled and waiting for us when we arrived so we set up and began our day.  It went smoothly.  The advisor (client) we were hired by was quite the card.  She made use of a variety of colorful words and kept everyone laughing and light-hearted all day. Our day ended somewhere around 4:30 and we set off for a nice evening.  The partner we were travelling with had to excuse himself sometime around 3:30 to catch his flight home, so the two of us were on our own.  We found a natural grocer and picked up some snacks, grabbed a coffee, and scouted for dinner locations.  A quick trip back to the hotel so she could change her clothes meant parking in the nearby parking structure.  We found a spot and headed to our room.   The nice surprise waiting for us there... there were no strangers in our room!  :-)

L-R: Straw Hat Ale, Thunder Blonde, Valleyview
Vanilla Porter  and 5:02 Amber
A brewery sounded like a nice option for dinner, so I searched online and we made our selection, Wichita Brewing Company.  We ordered a sampler of 4 beers to share, so we could try a few.  We each picked a favorite and ordered a glass to accompany our brick oven pizzas.  A long chat, some beer and pizza later, we headed back to the room to finish up a little work and get a few winks before what we knew would be a long day.

Day three, the plan was to get up at 5:30am, get ourselves ready, check out, and head to the second office location for the team we were here to see.  It was about an hour's drive away, so we carefully planned.  We knew we would be there until about 4:00pm and then we would need to head back for our 6:00pm flight back through Atlanta to arrive home just before midnight.  Everything went extremely well and according to plan until the drive back to the airport.

We were getting near Wichita and looking for a Sonic restaurant.  I had heard someone mention it and had always wanted to see what their Limeades were about, so we decided to indulge the curiosity.  BL's phone rang with an alert from Delta about our flight; it had been delayed and we would not be able to make our connecting flight home in Atlanta.

We pulled into the back of the Sonic parking lot and she called Delta to see about alternative flights.  Since our original flight out of Atlanta was the last of the day to Detroit, we would need to be rerouted in order to get home that night.  The only option was a flight to Dallas, then to Detroit from there, now on American Airlines.  We ordered our limeades, stopped for gas and headed to the airport with our new plan. Our flight to Dallas left nearly on time and we were off!

Arrival in Dallas meant it was time to eat! We found a spot that had vegetarian options and relaxed a while.  When we got to our gate, we noticed the plane had been delayed a bit, so we settled in and waited to board.  They finally got us all on the plane and there we sat a while longer.  As we backed away from the gate, the plane came to a stop and we sat a few minutes.  The captain then informed us that the right engine would not start and we would be returning to the gate for maintenance to come look at it.  It wasn't long before he announced the need for us to gather our belongings to board a different aircraft.  The good news was, they had another lined up and waiting for us.  It was only 33 gates away or so.  Everyone gathered outside the gate and began the waiting game once again.  The airport restaurants were closed and those of us who were waiting on complimentary in-flight beverages started a line in front of nearby vending machines.  Just as my turn came near, the machine started eating people's money and not returning it.  I decided I could wait a while longer and hang on to my money.

A desk attendant began making announcements to keep us informed of our boarding status.  She let us know that the plane they had secured was not scheduled to fly that night and subsequently not been cleaned, did not have catering on board and that they needed to get the power going on it.  Our crew also had to clear the first plane before arriving at the second.  They completed their prep and began boarding our completely full flight that was now a more than a couple hours overdue to depart.  As we waited, we heard her grumpily remind passengers that you are only allowed two bags and any purses must be secured inside another bag.  I was carrying the tiniest little purse, and it was hanging over  my luggage to the rear.  I never gave it a thought, thinking she was after the women carrying carry-on size purses.  My boarding pass was larger than my purse after all!!!

I could not have been more wrong. As I scanned my boarding pass and the man waved me to the concourse, she came around him, glaring and sneering at me about combining my bags.  I begrudgingly stuffed into the top of my laptop bag and headed for the concourse only to be scolded and told to halt.  I was not going to be allowed to board until the bag fully zipped over my purse.  You have got to be kidding me... After all, we had all ALREADY been on a plane.  Many ladies had dug their purses out to get something from the vending machine.  I could not get my laptop bag to zip over my little purse because of the way the bag overlapped the handle of my carry on.  I struggled and began to think of nasty things I could say to her while she watched me like a hungry hawk waiting for a baby bunny to make a run for it from its hole.  As soon as she turned to yell at someone else, I made my break for it down the concourse.  She didn't give chase and I was thankful. :-)  Several people in line had seen the exchange, her snarling and me biting my tongue to avoid being removed from the only working plane we had been presented with.  They giggled and laughed quietly while I joined BL in the line waiting to be seated.  It truly was a little insult added to injury with our travel challenges as they had been.

Our flight home was quiet and smooth and we were very tired.  Our arrival was not around midnight, as planned, but after 3 am instead. When we arrived, it was to the Smith Terminal, where American Airlines operates, not McNamara, where Delta is housed.  The terminals are some distance apart and this could have been a serious problem, considering we were parked at the McNamara terminal.  Thankfully, I had been texting Shane to keep him informed of our situation and he had offered to just come get me at the airport, instead of me going home with BL for the night.  When our departure happened so late, she agreed it was a good idea and told me I could work from home the next day.  This worked out for the very best, since we were then able to take her to her car at the other terminal.  There are no shuttles that run between terminals, to our knowledge, so the only solution would likely have been to pay a taxi to take us to the car, if Shane hadn't come to collect me.

My first business trip presented some travel challenges, but overall, was a resounding success.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait to head out again soon.  There are more clients coming on, and more trips already in the planning phase.  Flexibility and the ability to roll with the punches is critical in the line of work we do, and, quite emphatically I learned, is a big part of the traveling we do as well!

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