By Hammy | July 27, 2009 - 7:56 pm - Posted in Family, Travel

Not that anyone noticed, but the Haven went under radio silence for the week while we packed up the family (more akin to mobilizing an army) and went to the most unlikely place any West Virginia family could go….Myrtle Beach.  It was a joint effort between our house and that of my parents.  From Saturday morning to Friday night we were out and about the upper Southeast with two young kids.  They had a great vacation.  Now we need one.

The boys went boat riding for the first time on Lake Norman.  I’ve been on that lake since I was Garrett’s age and have watched it grow supersize through the years.  I’ve always hated pontoon boats like I do minivans, but I have to admit they’re nice on choppy water.

It was also the first time in Garrett’s conscious memory for seeing the city he was born in.  We drove past our old house, and if the owner would happen to see this by mistake I hope they second guess how they fucked up our old home.  Who the hell paints red brick?  Who the hell paints red brick with some creamish looking paint?

I don’t care what new roads, expressways, etc. get built…the route to Myrtle from Charlotte will always be Monroe-Pageland-Darlington-Marion to me.  I do admit that the Conway bypass is nice for reaching destinations in north Myrtle and North Myrtle.

Ripley’s Aquarium and their shark tube has to top the list of must-see attractions.  Alligator Adventure is an underdog in the category.  700+ gators of all shapes and sizes cover the lagoon, and the hourly feeds feature some of the biggest gators I’ve ever seen.

A simple rule-of-thumb for dining on the Grand Strand: if the parking lot is empty the place isn’t worth shit.

The kids are now ocean lovers and water park lovers.  Garrett prefers to walk the lazy river instead of riding it, but he’ll learn in time.

I don’t care who, what, or how it’s justified, but the downtown cruising area is not the same without the Pavilion.  Never will be.  Rest in peace, history.

Now for some much needed shuteye….

By Hammy | June 23, 2008 - 6:27 pm - Posted in Travel

Rereading the ramblings of this morning makes my head hurt.  The last 28 hours (and not the miscalculated 31 at 7am – that should only have been 17) have been some of the craziest of my life.  Prior to this I’ve only had one other incident of travel blues, but that only impacted one leg.  This time I don’t think any stone was left unturned.

Morgantown to Dulles was not that bad, other than the turbulence on a prop.  We loaded early, left early, and arrived early.  Too bad that was the end of the good news, as the summer storms that pop up frequently enveloped the EastCoast.  From LaGuardia to Miami, planes were being held left and right.  The plane carrying us from DC to Charlotte was 2 hours late leaving Jacksonville, and by the time it got to us the pop-ups threatened our capital.  And once we were clear to go Charlotte went on lockdown themselves.  Two hours later, at 9:30pm and Charlotte nowhere near reopening we were sent scurrying away to rebook elsewhere.

Experienced travelers know that Dante missed this particular level of Hell – the customer service rebooking desk.  After almost two hours I went off for some version of rest after learning the following:

  • It took roughly 1/2 hour for every United flight to book through this evening, and we hadn’t completed 1/4th the line.
  • It kicks ass to have a corporate travel service, as it got me onto one of the few direct flights this morning after we learned about the lack of flights.
  • Airlines have gotten out of the restitution business by turning over cheap accommodations to a third party company, and I have to admit satisfaction at receiving a Hyatt suite for less than half the price I would have paid through my service.
  • Never get caught in line behind a pair of 50-something women with technology. These two tied up one agent for the better part of one hour, expecting service that no one else was getting while furiously swirling their Iphones & Crackberries.
  • I will maintain my policy of never, ever checking if I can help it.  Thousands of travelers were sent to hotels and airport benches without a change of clothes.  United decided it was too much like customer service to unload checked bags to stranded passengers, so the bags were being sent sometime today to whatever destination United thought appropriate.  Sucked for the people on their way to Charlotte last night, only to cut their losses and go back home to San Francisco.  They might get their bags back before the week is up.

I kept the string of travel miseries alive today, first by a mess of my own doing.  In my weariness last night and zombie-ism this morning (plus the “intelligence” of a TSA agent), I ended up at the gates without either checking in or having a boarding pass.  Oops.  Once my reassignment was confirmed I, and a fellow Muslim passenger who made a similar mistake, got sent back to TSA for a re-screening.  And let me tell ya – getting a “Gate Selected” check is some serious VIP treatment.  All that was missing was the Blue Glove Treatment.  Didn’t get the courtesy of a rechaound, although I now know that there’s no weird sediments of any toxic materials in my bags, cell phone, laptop, wallet, PC cables, shoes, notebooks……To top everything off, our 9:20 flight was delayed until 10am in order to allow the flight crew ample time to rest.  FAA regs.  The friendly skies.

I’ve heard all the horror stories of air travel before, and while I have mostly escaped the fun I can now count myself amongst the many.  I think it’s all the result of going away froma plan that works.  I normally fly US Air from Pittsburgh to Charlotte, with the occasional stop at Reagan.  The only other time I missed a flight was when I tried to get cute and booked my return trip through Richmond to save money.  Got sick on the first leg and slept over in Virginia.  This time I eschewed Pittsburgh for United at Morgantown/Dulles, and while the first leg was fine all hell broke loose.  Things started returning to normal when I (gasp) booked a US Air flight.  The moral of the story – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?  There’s also the idea that since I’ve moved to our new team at work two of my three trips went belly-up.  Apparently I have air-karma seriously pissed at me.

What kinds of hell can Wednesday bring???

By Hammy | - 6:02 am - Posted in Travel

Entering hour 31 of my quest to travel from home to Charlotte….damn.  Especially considering that it only takes six hours to drive the same distance.  The irony isn’t lost.

Things weren’t going fairly well on the first leg.  Flew a prop plane into Dulles, and that wasn’t too bad other than the severe turbulance that should have been a warning.  Little planes don’t handle the bumps well.  For a guy who basically flies 737 and 757 types, bouncing almost completely out of my seat is a new experience.  Still, we landed a full 1/2 hour early.

Then I walk into the terminal and see my 5:30 flight is pushed back to 7:00.

Not a big deal, since it only puts me 1.5 hours off schedule and into Charlotte with some light still.  At that point, the departure backs up 30 minutes, and shortly thereafter moves back up the 1/2 hour.  Hmm.  Seems our plane has been stuck in Jacksonville because of storms.

We get to board about 7:20 and pull away around 7:30.  We then hit the takeoff queue when the pilot lets us know that we’re under a ground halt due to the storms over DC.  After sitting on the tarmac about 1/2 hour we then hear that Charlotte is delayed for their storms.  By9:15 we’re returned to the gate, and by 9:30 the flight is cancelled – Charlotte closed.

From this point we’re stuck in the cattle herd of United customer service to rebook.  After an hour in and hearing word filtering back that United is sold out through the day, I luck out and can get my corporate travel service to hold me a spot on USAir this morning.  By the time 11pm rolls around I have a new boarding pass and a discount for a local hotel.  Minight rolls around and I’m almost asleep.

Just about time for this odyssey to kick back into gear.

By Hammy | October 5, 2007 - 5:14 pm - Posted in Travel

Or in reality, an Airbus 319.  Still, sitting here in CLT waiting for the boarding in 90 minutes.

It’s hard not to (a) laugh in the face of or (b) call a dumbass the people who bitch and moan about everything that delayed them (90% their own fault) and are still pissed the plane left without them. There are three such people yelling in their cellphones in the two rows around me.  I feel for the people on the other end.  Although they could just stop being enablers and tell the jerks complaining to stop being whiners.

Yes, I know we are trying to keep bad people from doing bad things to planes, but this scanning stuff is getting old.  All we’re doing is being reactive, not proactive.  Hint – the bad guys aren’t going to bring liquid explosives on board because we’re, um, checking for that.  Maybe think outside the box for different ideas….but please use common sense doing it.

I guess I should be happy that I finally got a signal here though.   Too bad I forgot my VPN login token at home.  Darn.  :-)   No work e-mails for me tonight.

It’s gonna feel real good to sleep in my own bed tonight.  And it’s gonna feel good to be home with my wife and kids.

By Hammy | October 2, 2007 - 5:48 pm - Posted in Travel, WVU Sports

There’s not much more that needs to be said after the South Florida game.  Burn the game film..history.  With all the other upsets landing at 12th isn’t too bad.  I don’t think the national title game is even a remote possibility, but the Big East title is still a possibility as well as an outside at-large shot.  Lots of season left to play for.  We’re not nearly as bad as the USF game, and with the defense coming around it can still be a great year.

I don’t fly a ton, but this last trip is the first time I’ve seen a person wearing a breathing mask to keep out SARS, bird flu, mono, AIDS, or whatever else cooties the lady thought we were carrying.  Probably would have been in bad form to fake coughing up a lung as I walked past her row.

Al has $40 pillows.  I can’t wait to sleep on those.  I can’t help but imagine the Motel 6 commercial that shows a black screen and the voiceover says “This is what one of those high-dollar rooms looks like when you sleep in them.  Kind of looks like our rooms.”

In my short time with it, I’m much more impressed with the Kia Sportage than I ever thought I would be.  No one will mistake it for a Fourrunner or an Expedition, but it’s a nice little riding compact SUV.

Good to drive amongst the assholes again.  Who could ever miss that?

Cars these days are expensive, and everyone buying new cars seem to gravitate towards the Acuras, Lexi, Beemers, et. al.  So why in the hell do some idiots spend twice a years salary on the “status” car only to cover it in bumper stickers?  Stupid ones at that??