Rumblings, Ruminations, and Retrospectives

Musings from the mind of the Beast.

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Vegas: The Voyage Home

Or, Leaving Las Vegas. Or… nah, there’s no other Vegas-appropriate movie titles I can come up with.

Our last morning in Vegas, we arranged for a late check out, since we needed time to pack up and make sure that we weren’t going to be leaving anything thousands of miles away from home.

Translation: We had to find a way to fit everything Stephanie bought into the same suitcases we came with. :)

After heading downstairs, we check out, and find out the next available shuttle to the airport will be there in little over half an hour, so we head back in and dump a final few dollars into the slot machines, kiss them goodbye, and then head out to the front of the hotel to catch the shuttle to the airport.

The driver was awesome and told us all kinds of stuff about Vegas that we stow away in the back of our minds for when we come back (cause I’m sure we will!), and a few minutes later, we’re at MCCarran International Airport.

Now, you’d think that when you’re at the airport a couple hours ahead of your flight time, you’d have all kinds of time to chill out and relax, but really, those two hours are all just a blur. By the time we check in, get our luggage tagged and checked, take the monorail over to our terminal, stop for a bite to eat (it’s after 1PM by this time and we haven’t eaten yet), hit the head, and actually get to our gate, our flight is boarding in only 15 minutes!

We flew to Vegas on Air Canada, but coming home we were on United. And from Vegas to Denver, we were automatically booked in Economy Plus – you would not believe how much difference an extra six inches of leg room means! Bonus! As an extra bonus, Steph and I are the only two in our row, so no getting wedged between someone else, and we’ve got freedom to move around, look out the window, etc. It was a most excellent flight.

Then we got to Denver.

Didn’t see much of Denver – it was pretty dark at this time, so we didn’t get to see the mountains and all, but we saw the airport.

Boy, did we see the airport.

See, someone in their genius minds decided to make Denver the largest airport in the USA – you can put LaGuardia and O’Hare and LAX all in the space that Denver airport takes, and still have about half the room left over. That’s much ground this place covers.

Not too shabby, I guess. *Someone’s* gotta be the biggest there is.
And then there’s the terminal.

Most terminals I’ve been in have LEVELS. You know… floors? One on top of the other?

The Denver airport is one… long… strip.

ONE floor.

Even though we’ve checked our luggage, we’re still carrying our back packs as carry on. Mine, with my laptop, two digital cameras, video camera, books, and other goodies has got to weigh close to 40 pounds.

We check the terminal directory, and we’re headed for gate 82.

Guess where gate 82 is?

You got it.

Gates 81, 82, and 83 are all tucked away in the deepest, darkest recesses of the entire airport, in a little tiny corner WAAAAAAAAAY at the ENTIRE OPPOSITE end of the airport. You can’t even SEE from one end to the other, this place is so big.

This isn’t good. We’re tired. We’ve had a long 5 days.

So, we do all that we can do – we hike up our back packs, and start hoofing it, watching with faces green with envy as a senior couple gets a ride all the way down from the airport folks in a frigging golf cart.

Then, as if someone out there was listening to all of our bitching and moaning, we’re saved! MOVING WALKWAYS! That’s GOTTA be faster than us walking all the way there, so we gladly jump aboard and we’re whisked away (at a snail’s pace) down the walkway. We get to an intersection, walk a bit farther, and then there’s another gigantic moving walkway.

Wash, rinse, and repeat, and 5 moving walkways later, we’re within sight of our gate. And as we start to get to the final corner, we’re asked by a security guy – sitting in a golf cart – if we needed a ride anywhere.

“Where the fuck were you when we were all the way at the other end of the airport… 30 MINUTES ago?”

No, I didn’t say that. Really, I didn’t. Ok, I did. In my head.

“Actually, sir, our gate is right over there, but thanks for the offer. We could have used you half an hour ago, though!” Steph says with a chuckle.

“Oh man,” he says. “You guys walked all the way down here?”

“Yup.”

“That’s too bad. Make sure you ask for a ride next time you come through here.”

“Right. Next time. Thank you, sir.”

Next time.

Hmmph.

So anyway, we get to our gate, and we’re boarding in like 15 minutes. There’s hardly anyone at our gate. I take the opportunity to call my sister, as it’s her birthday today, but the phone is busy. Figures, as everyone else is probably trying to call her, too. So I keep trying for about 10 minutes, and finally I get through. No busy signal.

Voice mail, lol.

I leave her a message, and then it’s time to board the plane. We get out there, and I swear it felt like we were walking into a plastic toy. This is the smallest plane I’ve ever seen. We’re still flying United from Denver to Winnipeg, but this ain’t no 737 or Airbus. It’s a CRJ. I’ll give you a couple guesses as to what the “R” stands for.

CanadAir REGIONAL Jet.

Translation: Not designed to go very far.

Austin Powers’ Fat Bastard Hungry Scottish Translation: “Ohhh… it’s like a wee baby. *lip smack*lip smack*”

Awesome.

I immediately notice there’s only two seats per side instead of three, and the overhead bins look like they’re at least half the size of the ones on the Airbuses we flew in on. There’s 14 rows.

And 11 passengers.

The flight attendant tells us to “pick a row” and we make ourselves comfortable. We have to strap our backpacks into the seat next to us – cause they don’t fit in the miniature overhead toasters – but we settle in for the ride back to Winnipeg.

Like the Goodyear Tire commercial.

“Goin’ to Winnipeg!”

Flight Attendant Sidebar: Our flight attendant (from now known as FA) is a young guy, and he obviously enjoys his job. And he’s good at it, but more on that later. Think Tony DiNozo on NCIS.

We prepare to take off, and the FA goes through the safety spiel. Once we’re in the air, the Captain comes on the intercom and gives us the details of the flight. It was snowing a bit when we left, and we had to get a quick de-icing before taking off. The Captain explains that the weather isn’t great in Winnipeg, it’s snowing well, and we’ve been given an alternate landing point in Fargo, North Dakota.

Great. That’s all I need right now, is to get stuck in frigging FARGO.
The flight, though, was fairly good, despite all the obvious room for error and design for discomfort. I rather enjoyed it, especially when the FA would get into his antics.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, all *eleven* of you, I just thought I’d let you know that we’re up at about 32,000 feet, and we’re travelling at about 589 THOUSAND miles per hour.”

WTF?, methinks?

“Let me explain that to you,” he says.

Ok, awesome.

“Our aircraft is travelling at about 589 miles per hour. When you take into the consideration that the Earth rotates at a speed of about 1000 miles per hour, and the Earth hurtles through space at a speed of 67,000 miles per hour. If you put all that together into a nice little scientific formula I have here, and that gets us to 589 thousand miles per hour.”

So we got stuff like that pretty much interspersed throughout the whole flight from Denver to Winnipeg over the course of the next two and a half hours. Entertaining as hell.

But, we were happy to see the lights of Winnipeg when we arrived, and Steph’s mom and dad were there to pick us up once we’d gone through customs and declared everything (good thing we left most of the receipts in our luggage! I’m just kidding. Really.) and we went home.

It was awesome to see how mind exploding it was to our dogs when we got home, and their excitement was a great welcome back.

And that’s our trip. It was a blast, and I can’t wait to do it again.