Friday, May 23, 2008

For Katie

The rest of the story.......

I was a bit road weary after our California adventures over the last 2 weeks so I have not been as quick to jump back on here. Lyn has started the story about our return flight home and since I know she is completely aggravated with the whole sordid tale......she is leaving it up to me to fill in the blanks.

Ok.....we arrived at SFO in plenty of time to catch our flight. However, once standing in line my eyes meandered to the Northwest Departures board where I found that our flight (scheduled to leave in 2 hours) was already marked "Delayed". Not so good news for us because we had a connecting flight to catch in Minneapolis. Yes.....Minneapolis, Minnesota. I will pause to say that the only thing good to come from the state of Minnesota is blizzard snow storms and Mary Richards (for you youngsters that would be location characterized in the Mary Tyler Moore Show). So yeah......Minnesota. I have no reason on this earth to ever go there but for some reason I was meant to spend the night there Wednesday evening.

So I digress. Our flight was delayed by 67 minutes once we boarded the plane. At that point we had a chance to still make our connecting flight at 7 pm CST. Then......we sat on the plane for another 40 minutes and that pretty well secured the fact that we were not making our connection. By the time we pulled into the Minneapolis airport (just to find that there were no Northwest runway guys available to assist us to the gate) it was 7:15 CST.

Since there were so many people who were waylayed by the delays, Northwest had new itineraries, food vouchers, shuttle vouchers and hotel vouchers waiting for us as we got off the plane. Sounds good right? Remember.....we were in freakin Minnesota at 8pm in the evening. We might as well had been dropped off on an island.

We decided to get our flight arrangements in order before we left the airport so we could waste as little as time as possible the next day. This is when we spent an hour with Northwest ticketing agent - Jose. I am not sure it was his very first day with NWA but he was definitely a rookie in dealing with our issue. It was at this point where I knew that with "NWA Jose" assisting us we would likely not see our luggage when we arrived back home in Dayton. After an hour, we finally got our itinerary for our boarding passes on American Airlines the next day. This is when we found out we would be flying from Minneapolis to Chicago and then to Dayton. But you know........whatever.....I was good because we were on a competent airline out of the "Land of 10,000 Lakes". It didn't matter to me that I would have to be awakened at 4 am to make a 4:45 shuttle from the Days Inn. Yeah.....Days Inn. With no additional clothes with us except what we had on our backs, it was a no brainer that I was going to sleep in my clothes anyway. My only fear is we would encounter snow the next morning that could delay our 6am flight out of there. You may laugh at that but we are talking about freakin Minnesota here people! It snows 300 days a year up there.

Next morning, our friends took an earlier shuttle to the airport since they weren't sleeping much in our luxury accommodations. Lyn and I caught the 4:45 "Special" and was promptly delivered to the airport at 5am on the nose. After a brief moment of panic by me while waiting in the security checkpoint - I thought I didn't have my wallet with me - we breezed through the checkpoint and managed to get a VERY ON-TIME flight with American Airlines and out of the barren snowland of Minnesota.

Our next flight was just as prompt and once we landed in Dayton, we only had one last obstacle to overcome - the arrival of our luggage. God knows it could be anywhere but after this extended journey home we REALLY wanted it with us. No luck. The only four bags sitting on the luggage carousel were someone elses and not ours. We checked with American and they didn't have them. We told them that "NWA Jose" said he was routing them to AA (the other AA is what all four of us need now after this trip) so we were sure they would have them. Wow....we were naive and tired at this point. We checked with Northwest who checked one of our bag tags and said that our bags were going through Detroit and should be there today. They will be sent to us. Aha.....ok. Little did we know that the only bag still in route from Detroit was Lyn's. Our other three bags were in Dayton since 6am that day and neither airline had them in their immediate possession.

Three of our bags arrived last night. Lyn's is being hand delivered by some poor soul who doesn't know what the hell he is in for when he knocks on Lyn's door this evening. Needlesstosay that no matter how badly I need to reach "here to there" in the future, it will not be on NWA. We never received an explanation on why the flight was delayed and after working with "NWA Jose" I have no faith in the competence of their employees.

Either way........all of us are home safely and we all enjoyed our trip immensely. I received all the wine I shipped from Napa today so I will be as happy as a drunken clam shortly.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday vacation ramblings

Yesterday we had adventures in "mud bathing" at the local Sonoma spa and today it was all about wine. It is quite the business that these wineries have in regards to tastings. The seven wineries we visited managed to sucker us in to buying close to twenty bottles today. And this was just Sonoma and not Napa!

We found that we like can recommend several Sonoma wineries to you today - Kendall Jackson (always a winner methinks), Simi, Stryker, Ferrari-Carano, Silver Oak (very good), Ledson and St. Francis. There was one winery - Seghesio - that promised to be a good one but fell short of our expectations so we can't recommend that one. However, I am going to use my "shoe analogy" again and say that just because you and I like the same pair of shoes it doesn't mean they are going to fit us both comfortably. Therefore......Seghesio may turn out to be your all-time favorite but for was blah.

I can recommend a nifty little drive-in restaurant on Rt 128 in St. Helena called "Taylor's Automatic Refresher". We will likely go there again tomorrow as we plan to spend another day wine tasting in Napa. This restaurant has been shown on the Food Network so it is a winner. I enjoyed the Western Bacon Blue Ring burger. A delightful combination of an onion ring, crumpled blue cheese, pickles, red onions and barbecue sauce. Mighty tasty indeed!

My friends and I are weary travelers this evening. We are resting up in preparation of another day of wine tasting and a lovely dinner in downtown Napa tomorrow evening. We have also found out that the temperature tomorrow will be 98 and 102 on Thursday. Yes......102 degrees in Napa on Thursday!

I was very happy to see that Hillary won the primary in West Virgina today. I am still of the mindset that Obama will help the Democratic party MORE if he asks Hillary to be his running mate. Can you imagine how many more seats in the House and the Senate we can fill with Democrats if we have both Hillary and Obama supporters going to the polls? If we have folks deciding to not vote because Hillary is not part of this plan.....the lack of votes will not help the cause. I can't even imagine who Obama will choose if it is not Hillary. I am hearing more stories about McCain choosing Huckabee as his VP and that just scares the bejeezus out of me.

So this ends my ramblings for the day. Time to rest for more restful vacation meanderings tomorrow!


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's about time!

After months of waiting and watching seemingly endless news talk shows broadcasting about the Democratic campaign, I got to vote today! That's right......the Democratic freedom train finally made it to Indiana!

I have cast my vote for the person who has the most amount of experience and not so much charisma. I voted for Hillary. I voted for her because - love her or hate her - she has more experience than her counterpart. She isn't preaching "pie-in-the-sky" ideals and she isn't turning every speech into a "hope-filled vision" for America. She has a practical plan folks and she has it well documented. We know where she stands. Some might say.....yeah...but she is already part of that awful Washington system. There isn't one Senator running who hasn't had to endure (or take part in)that awful Washington system of politics. I mean.......haven't we all had to endure eight years of it with our hands cuffed behind our backs? Our Democratic representatives in Congress have had to sit by mercilessly and watch this Republican dictatorship go on without being able to stop it!

We have a chance to stop it now! I want someone in office who has the "balls" to fight when we need to fight and be the gracious diplomat when working with our allies and partners around the world. We don't need any more enemies nor do we need any more dead soldiers. It is time to come home and protect the homeland, fix our crippled economy, shore up social security and save American jobs from going overseas.

My candidate has a plan. I will be watching and hoping that Hillary can pull off a win not only in Indiana, but in North Carolina as well. I believe in our country (humming America the Beautiful) and all that it stands for today.

I gotta believe in's just who I am.

Monday, May 05, 2008

4 Days...

... and counting to the long-awaited vacation. It's always an interesting test to travel with friends and loved ones.

At least for me.

I'm a meandering soul. Rita, as we know, is *strategic* in her shopping, driving, sightseeing, etc.

Our California sojourn should prove interesting. Coastline and wineries to meander along and through. SF and Monterey to strategically see as much as possible.

There are maps. There are iteneraries. There are even folders.

And of course, there will be wine.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pigs do fly.......

in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati has a pork-filled history as part of its heritage. In the early 1900's it was known as "Porkopolis" because of its pork processing plants. No one produced more pork products than Cincinnati. As part of that tradition, the flying pig has become synonymous with our fair little city.

The pig has been honored in statues - all over the city in 2000/2001 - as seen below.

It also has been eaten in some very fine barbeque restaurants all over town. While "mom-n-pop" and franchise barbeque restaurants are all over the city, the most notable is the Montgomery Inn. Mmmmmm........the ribs are good there! I suggest a slab of ribs followed up by some Graeters Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream for dessert.

And lastly.....the pig is honored in the "Flying Pig Marathon". The marathon is happening this weekend. It is your typical 26 mile run for the riblets. Ok....that is stretching it a bit. They aren't reeeally running for ribs here. If they were, I would be running! The race is a Boston Qualifier so I guess if you can run this they figure you can run with the big boys and girls in Baaaa-ston.
So the next time you ever have the opportunity to stop in Cincinnati or if you are just passing through, you will see a flying pig here and there. It's just a part of the local history and the best entree in the local restaurants.