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Starting Location:  The Home Nest Ending Location:  Charleston, West Virginia
Weather There:  Clear and cool, 71°F

Weather Here:  

Overcast, 61°F
Starting Time:  10:18am Pacific Time Ending Time:  12:51am Eastern Time
Starting Mileage:  None -- all about the flying Ending Mileage:  Dude, I just said "none"
Number of Flights:  3 In-flight Meals:  0 - but they did serve Pepsi
Air Miles Traveled:  2,655 (4,273 km) Mini-castrophes:  2.5 (air, rental car, hotel - 1/2)

The trip began with something of a series of unfortunate hiccups. Fortunately, they all occurred after 11pm (Eastern Time), when we were tired, cranky, and had been sitting in airplanes for the last eight hours. And as you'll find soon enough, there's a reason you see no photos at this point.

10:18am We arrived at the airport, and managed to get checked through all three flights straight on to Charleston (West Virginia, not South Carolina).
11:09am Board kicks off with the quickness to our seats in 18E and 18F. Just after we settle in, a particularly rude guy of some girth boards, complaining about the aisles not being wide enough (because it's not him not being narrow enough). His female companion, however, seems very nice. Dude is complaining about the bastards at AT&T Wireless cutting off his mobile phone service, and somehow has the plane's captain's cell phone to try and work it all out before departure.
11:18am We managed to take off right on time, and we even get drink service on this flight... Diet Pepsi for me, please. Rude guy doesn't manage to get through to dialing 411, because the captain's phone is either too complicated (or my suspicion, his ample fingers being too big).
1:09pm The inane chatter of the guys two seats back (20D) was finally starting to really wear on my nerves. I think the final straw for me was his clever commentary on preferring small flights to large ones, then complaining about landing at a single-runway airport surrounded by a farmer's corn crop.
1:38pm (PDT) / 2:38pm (MDT) We arrived for the first of two plane changes... this first one in Denver. (Hey, we're flying United -- have you known them to NOT land here?) Gazing out the window, we got a first-hand peek at just how hard they have to work here at Denver International. (And yes, I'm pretty sure she caught me taking the picture... but what's she gonna do?)
2:59pm We clear the plane and get up to Gate B32 for the flight to Washington DC, where we switch planes again. Tubby plays with his laptop and finds his snazzy wireless service doesn't work here as the vendor claimed (this would now be strike three of three attempts where it failed).
3:06pm Boarding begins and we manage to get ourselves back to seats 37F and 37G. Tubby gets to sit next to a lovely, and not-at-all chatty woman (thankfully). I land myself an aisle seat.
3:29pm We depart a minute ahead of schedule, and are informed with the tail winds, we'll arrive a good 15-20 minutes early. Nifty.
3:42pm We have a couple of options for in-flight movies, and settle on one of the lesser offensive ones (in levels of poor quality), and sit through Dodgeball (wanna know how it ends?).
6:22pm (MDT) / 8:22pm (EDT) 19 minutes early, the tires touch down at Washington DC. Yea! We're directed to the slightly crowded and overly busy concourse G, and shuttle over (by shuttle). Once there, we discover that the food options are limited to heat-lamp variety of California Pizza, or bagged nuts. We refrain from exploring any of those available options.
9:37pm We begin boarding for our flight at door L, which is apparently the phantom G18 of the concourse.
9:51pm The flight attendant announces that we're all aboard, just waiting for the luggage to be loaded. It appeared that our flight was all full-up, but with just 30 seats, it wasn't nearly the challenge of filling a Boeing 777, neither.
9:58pm The pilot makes a very similar announcement. Seemly cryptic as to why the two announcements, but we went with it.
10:17pm The engines revved up... but it was mostly just a tease (sigh). Reviewing the odd "OXYGEN" plug in the ceiling, we flip to the aircraft safety card, and sure enough, Tubby's joking of oxygen mask distribution (take one, pass them on) was pretty close to reality.
10:23pm The actual departure of the aircraft from Mother Earth.
11:25pm We landed only 2 minutes later than the scheduled called for, despite leaving 28 minutes later than we'd been told to expect. Curious, eh?
11:32pm The walk from the airplane to the terminal is a short one.
11:33pm The lights are all off at Avis. Apparently, making a so-called "reservation" is only useful if you arrive when they plan for us to arrive -- not when your flight actually comes in. (Never mind that Tubby called on 24 September to give them our flight number and arrival time, which is a regularly scheduled arrival of 11:23pm almost every night). The customer service went above and beyond the call of duty, and updated our reservation to grant us the honor of picking up our car after 7am tomorrow, when they would open for the day. (Okay, honestly, I didn't expect someone to return to the terminal to rent us a car, but it would have been nice.)
11:39pm The luggage carousel has been spinning for a while no, and while everyone from the other plane has picked up their stuff, no love for the passengers of United Express flight 7879.
11:46pm The soothsayer, not warning of the Ides of March, but that there was no more luggage to bring up. A parade of the 30 passengers (maybe less by one or two) all queue up at the luggage counter, where a somewhat overwhelmed young man begins logging the loss into the computer.
12:35am We get to the front, provide our contact phone number (Tubby's mobile phone), and a delivery address -- right here at the airport. Something about a road trip doesn't allow for us to lounge by the pool at the hotel waiting for a delivery of some luggage. The overwhelmed lad hands Tubby a receipt with a pre-written apology on it from United.
12:38am "Cletus" of C&H Taxi transports us the 11 or so miles ($15.87) from the airport to Motel 6. The cab smelled a little off, but at least he gave up on the idle chit-chat after a few minutes.
12:51am We're dropped off at Motel 6 (at exit 95), where Tubby finds confidence in the fact that there is a guy checking in, and a second one waiting (for something). The second guy, however, isn't wearing shoes.
12:53am We check into room 318, the last non-smoking room, but the TV has fuzzy reception, so the clerk offered us a 10% discount for the room. We took it. (Of course, since Motel 6 doesn't offer any discounts except AARP, we're staying here as though we're retirees -- high life and wild parties with the Geritol tonight!)
12:55am Arriving at the room, two thoughts cross our collective minds:
  1. We've been derelict in eating today. The early flight and the fact we're not breakfast people wasn't a good start. The fast hop between planes in Denver didn't help, and the crap pizza options in Washington were not appealing. Plus, it's now closing time at Wendy's, so while you can eat great even late, you can't do it THIS late.
  2. The soda intake is seriously impaired. I expect Tubby to get very cranky at any moment now.
1:08am Tubby's dial-up service using the same thing as didn't work in the Denver airport wirelessly doesn't work here, either. No warning, just a random disconnection error. Lovely. Fortunately, backup connection from Sprint is doing just fine.
1:41am I suggest an adventure from our third-story suite to the mini-market a hundred yards away, for some snacks and soda. The idea is rejected, despite Tubby coming down with a sore throat and probably needing a beverage.
1:49am After a compelling argument about the power of almonds as a snack food versus candy, we headed off to the mini-mart for snacks. And a Diet Pepsi for me, but naturally my concern was more with the boy's snack intake for the day.
2:04am We made it back in one piece, and $5.66 lighter for our efforts. In our bounty stands a 20-ounce bottle of Diet Pepsi for me, a liter of water and a bag of almonds for Tubby... ooh, and some Oompas candy for me (since I don't have "tubby" in my name). Mmm, Oompas.
2:26am Nuts to this (no pun intended). We're off to sleep, complete with the nutty and sugary snacks still on our teeth, since unlike Qantas losing your luggage, United Express doesn't give you a kit or voucher or anything -- just that crappy apology note.
   

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