Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A Weekend in San Francisco

This past weekend, Journey and I went to San Francisco to meet up with my dad's side of the family. The plan was for us to fly into San Fran early evening and then meet up with my family for dinner in Chinatown. Well, that sure didn't work out the way we had it planned. When Journey and I got to the airport, we tried to check in at one of the little "we're-too-cheap-to-pay-for-real-people" computer kiosks. And got a little yellow note on the screen that our flight had been cancelled and we needed to talk to a ticket agent. What the fuck?!? And right at that moment about eight other people when "What the fuck?!?" We tried to talk to one of the people behind the counter, only to find out that this is the first they've heard of this. So we had to go stand in line to talk to a real ticket agent. And, of course, the woman in front of us got the next to last seat on another airline's next flight to San Fran. And since there were two of us, that one remaining seat wasn't going to do us any good. Our original flight was supposed to be at 3:30. The next flight we could get on wasn't until 7:10. So, we decided the only we could do was to go with the 7:10 flight, and in the meantime go get something to eat at a real restaurant. If you have even been through Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor, you'll know exactly what I mean when I say that there's nothing worth eating in there.

After getting some real food in us, Journey and I came back to the airport and hung around for a few hours, waiting for our flight. Which, quite naturally, was delayed until 7:45 because of weather problems in Denver (where that particular plane was coming from). So in the end, we didn't actually get to San Fran until 10:00 PM or so, which was far too late for the planned dinner. Instead, we ended up splitting a cheese, crackers, and bread plate from room service. Oh, and so you know, we were staying here. The only way we could afford it was because we managed to get a discounted, pay-up-front rate, and got the plane tickets from my parents.

Once we actually made it to San Francisco, we had a good time. We spent most of Saturday during the day tooling around with Journey's aunt, who lives about 40 minutes outside the city, but used to live in San Fran proper. So she gave us the nickel tour around town, which was fun and it was a good chance to get to know Journey's aunt. After the tour, Journey and I met up with the rest of my family for dinner. In addition to introducing my future wife to my uncles and my grandfather, we also got the chance to meet my uncles's girlfriends, who I had never met before. Dinner went well, even if my grandfather was a little to free with the wine (knowing that this would likely be the case, I declined a wine glass and just had a Jack and water before dinner, and a single malt scotch afterward). But everyone seemed to be having a good time and getting along well. There wasn't any of the usual family drama which seems to have been par for the course the last few years, and that was a relief! After dinner, Journey and I sat in the hotel lobby bar with my grandfather, his companion, one of my uncles, and his girlfriend for a while, just chatting. After my grandfather and his companion retired, the rest of us went to a little lounge down the street, where everyone else was hanging out listening to some live music. The band was really good and the crowd was into it. We ended up sitting next to some local guy whose music knowledge was beyond anything or anyone I've even known (and considering I wrote a Master's thesis on American folk music, that's saying something). But what impressed me the most was that this guy knew more about music than my father. My father takes a great deal of pride (even if he would never admit it) in the fact that he knows more about music than most people. He almost never misses a question on music trivia, but this was able to answer every single question he was asked!

Sunday morning we had reservations at a very nice restaurant for brunch, where we all ate too much but had a good time together. We also took the time to celebrate one of my uncle's birthday while we were there. And given that he has gone through some real hell in the last few years (and no, I'm not going to be going into that here, that's a family matter), it was really good to see him happy and having fun and back to his old self. He's always been one of my favorite uncles.

After brunch, we went back to the hotel and changed into street clothes. Since Journey and I still had a few hours until we were scheduled to fly back to Phoenix, so we went down to Fisherman's Wharf and wandered around the shops down there. We were going to grab the cable car down, but as we got to the stop, the one coming up the hill was the wrong line, so we decided to catch a taxi instead as we didn't really have enough time to wait for another cable car. Right as we were getting ready to move over to taxi que, however, black stretched limo pulled up and driver offered to take us to Fisherman's Wharf for $5 each. What are we going to do, turn down a $5 ride in a limo? Yeah, right! So we hopped in and headed out. We decided later that he probably was already on his way down there to pick some one up, so why not make a couple of bucks on the side. Worked for us. And let me tell you, it was an interesting ride. Think rally-car race, but in a stretched limo. Actually, it was pretty damn amusing and Journey and I got a good laugh out of it after we got out! We wandered the wharf for a while and picked up some gifts for people, before having to head back to the hotel to pick up our bags and going to the airport.

And the flight back to Phoenix was almost as fun as the flight out. We boarded on time and there were even a few empty seats. But then the pilot comes on and says that it's going to be 20-25 minutes before we can get going because they have to reboot the plane's computer. Now, I've done my share of traveling, but I've never heard of them having to "reboot the plane's computer" before. And during this whole thing, there's a loud sound coming from the plane directly below where we're sitting. It sounded kind of like the pneumatic lug gun they use to change your tires (know what I mean?). And we've heard that sound before, but this was louder and went on longer than either Journey or I had ever heard before. Finally, they got the plane's computer rebooted and we got under way. We got out on the runway, and then pulled over and stopped. The pilot informed us that a switch wasn't working properly, but that they were going to try and fix it out there. Of course, this didn't work and we had to return to the terminal. We all got ready to deplane . . . and he came back on saying that they had a replacement part and it would only take about 15 minutes to replace, so we weren't going to get off the plane after all. Amazingly, replacing the part only took about 5 minutes, but getting the new paperwork, which was supposed take another 5 minutes, really took about 15. I guess that's a wash. By this time, it's 8:00 or 8:15. Our flight was scheduled to take off at 6:30.

Eventually, we took off and the flight to Phoenix was uneventful. No real turbulence or anything, which was nice. But our travel fun wasn't over yet. Oh no, they had one more little surprise for us. We came in for landing at Sky Harbor, only to touch down and then promptly take off again! The only time I've ever had a touch-and-go like that was to avoid hitting some animals on the runway. What was the reason this time? The runway was too short! Again, what the fuck?!? "Too short?!?" Somebody done fucked up! It's not like we had an odd sized plane or anything! So we had the great fun of smacking the runway once, coming back up to speed, taking off again, circling, and being redirected to another runway. By this time, I was listening in on the tower communications and I actually heard them divert another plane to a different runway so we could land. At last we made it down safe. By the time we got our bags, made it to my truck, and got out of the airport, it was after 11:00PM.

We both decided we were going to take yesterday off to recover from our vacation. So we slept late, and had a leisurely lunch before Journey had to head back to Tucson. All in all, I'd say it was a fun trip and we had a good time. The getting there and back sucked, but the trip itself was fun!


JanieBelle said...

Geez, that much family time and no bloodshed?

What kind of family is that???


RogueHistorian said...

Well, there was a fair amount of alcohol involved, but not so much as to push anyone over the edge.