One of the benefits of being a road warrior (actually more of an air warrior but that sounds silly for some reason), is collecting all the miles and points. Of course, the last thing you really want to do is travel when you are off but then again, how else are you going to see the world?
A few years back, I took my nephew to Washington, DC. Now it was his sister’s turn and her chosen destination was New York City. She was all about the Statue of Liberty and going somewhere her brother hadn’t been (you know how siblings are… “he’s touching me,” “she’s breathing my air” but I digress.). We had initially planned a trip back in May but she missed too much school so we settled on October and the fall break to minimize her time out of school. There was no way I was going during the sweltering summer months or spring break when everybody and their mother travels to the Big Apple.
When I picked the dates in the spring, I had no idea what my work travel schedule would be. As it turned out, it was quite hectic and I managed to tuck this little holiday in-between the most important meetings and it got me out of one that was in Kuala Lumpur (been there, done that – zero desire to go back). Returning from Croatia, I enjoyed a brief four days at home before heading to Reno to pick up my niece. It was rough packing for this upcoming trip, which included personal time and business. I must admit I didn’t give too much thought to the business attire as I grabbed a pair of pants that are 2 sizes too big and forgot dress shoes. I’m going to go with jet lag on this one. Otherwise, there is no way I would have packed the way I did.
And here I go again. PDX -> SFO -> RNO. Spent the one day in Reno with a sick kid (the non-traveling one) and getting my niece packed and ready to rock and roll Tuesday morning.
We left bright and early, long before the sun started to rise. We arrived in Denver with a little less than an hour to grab coffee and head to our gate. Murphy didn’t disappoint me. We arrived at B40 (about mid terminal), Starbucks is located in the regional terminal (about B80) and our flight to LaGuardia was departing from B20. She knew she had to hustle to keep up with me but wasn’t about to complain because she knows how cranky her aunt can be without her Starbucks. Thank goodness for moving sidewalks that allows for fast passage along the long terminal. Soon enough we were onboard and jetting towards New York. Because we were arriving during rush hour, I decided to stay close to LaGuardia and head into Manhattan in the morning.
It’s not really easy to get into Manhattan from LaGuardia. Okay – it’s easy enough, but expensive and even during the day – time consuming but I wasn’t in the mood to tackle the subway with luggage. At least we were staying at a nice hotel, the Sheraton New York in Times Square (not really but that’s what they advertise). It’s really on the fringe but a good location all the same. We dropped our bags off because New York isn’t typically a place you can check in early and we were on our way.
We started in Times Square. It is amazing to view this city from the lens of a tourist, rather than a business traveler. One of my client relationships is with a large professional services firm in the heart of the city and I’ve passed through Times Square many times without really looking. There are some strange (maybe unique is a better word) people that hang around. Who am I kidding? Just plain weird! We even ran into the Naked Cowboy. All I can say is what a way to make a living!
Of course, we did all the usual – Central Park (absolutely stunning in the fall), Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island,9/11 Memorial, Empire State Building, Good Morning America, etc. I forgot how long it can take to do the touristy stuff, even in the off season. It was an exercise in patience for me. Waiting in line, going through security, waiting in line. The niece wasn’t used to walking and standing so every time we stopped for more than a minute, she was sitting down or leaning against a wall. I’m used to moving at my speed and she was used to my sister’s speed; which would resemble the tortoise and the hare. And there was the texting. Oy! Patience, patience, patience was the mantra playing over and over (and over) in my head all week. Part of the problem is she is a lot like me so it’s a bit like hanging out with yourself; the best of you and the not as great part of you.
Meanwhile, there was this storm approaching the Eastern seaboard. Usually I’m quite sensible but I was on vacation and to be fair, I wasn’t really watching the news and paying attention. Besides, who has to worry about a hurricane hitting Manhattan? Apparently, I needed to be worried about it. On Friday afternoon, as we were enjoying our frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity III, I received a text from my boss. She thought I should pay attention to the storm. In fact, she urged me to make alternate travel plans ASAP as all predictions were that it was going to hit NYC like Chris Brown a fat kid hitting a piñata with a baseball bat (did I ever mention when I was around 8 years old that I went to catechism with a friend and decided I wanted to become Catholic because they had a piñata? Oops, there I go again, getting off track…). Where was I? Yes, the storm. I wasn’t completely sold on the severity of this so-called hurricane because United had yet to issue a travel waiver. As I was hemming and hawing over what to do, the notification of a travel waiver came across. This, along with the dire warning from my boss (who happens to live in New Orleans and knows a thing or two about these kind of storms), I rang the 1K desk and rebooked us on a flight headed out Sunday instead of Monday evening. What made this so hard was missing Wicked Sunday afternoon. Looking back, I remember having the option of purchasing insurance “just in case” something happened but I opted not to. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Lost a pretty penny since I splurged on center stage, first row in the balcony (still hurts to think about it). But the thought of being stuck in New York with an 11 year old on the 29th floor with no power wasn’t appealing either.
As you can imagine, it was the one of the best decisions I ever made. We boarded our flight early Sunday morning (after a $100+ cab ride to Newark – again at o’dark thirty). There were so many people desperate to flee Sandy’s wrath. As we flew westward to LAX, I watched the clouds diminish and the bumpy ride smoothed out. Sure, I lost several hundred dollars, but we were safe and our family didn’t have to worry. Who knows how long it would have taken us to get home should we have decided to stay. Me and mini me made it home safe and sound and I actually got an additional day to relax before heading to Las Vegas for work. Things may not always go as planned, but this time we were lucky that Murphy allowed us to get home quickly and safely when so many didn’t.