Tag Archives: Traveling

Colofornia

Yesterday I woke up to -2 degree weather only to have a warm front move in ending the night at 57 degrees fahrenheit. Interpretation: I woke up in Colorado and went to bed in California.

Damn it felt good to fly again! I can only say this because it’s been a year since i’ve been 30,000 up but I was really looking forward to flying again. There is something that is still insanely mystifying about hopping into a phallus with wings and ending up thousands of miles from your origin in a few short hours*. (*see: the power of flight)

I woke up cracking early at 6:15 a.m. to finish packing up my room and my bags. I had a few dark stouts the night before and severely underestimated the remaining time it would take to tidy everything up. Instead of coming home from the local watering hole and taking care of business I instead came home and grilled some pork chops and potatoes and fell asleep to the Season 2 finale of Dexter. I awoke groggily the next morning with a dry mouth and no desire whatsoever to organize my life for the next 3 weeks. But with some supernatural power force stoking my engines I was able to clean up the room, pack my bags, move unnecessary belongings into storage, clean the bathroom, and toast some bagels for the trip to the Denver airport. Good to go.

Becca graciously volunteered to ferry my behind down to the airport – super nice of her and we traded some funny traveling stories in the process. A note on early morning travel: When you have to wake up early and pack up your life and eat and clean, you don’t exactly have much time to “take care of business”. Thus, a storm was brewing inside of me that needed a release of some sort.  The intensity of this storm reached an unexpected fury when I realized upon arriving at the airport that I had left my boarding passes and business cards in Estes. Now, I normally deal with stress pretty well by just not talking and heightening my senses. But for some reason, the stress of leaving my passes and my business cards (a.k.a tickets to future finances) hit me directly in the bowels. A wave of prairie doggin’, turtle-head madness swept over me and I had to squash it back like the gopher hole game oh so popular in arcades of yesteryear. The clenching strength that I possessed was on par with industrial machinery and energy reserved for steel bending. There was almost no hope in sight. I stood at the curbside check-in, sweating brown bullets, as the gentle septuagenarian patiently and methodically (MOVE YOUR ASS OLD MAN) ran my information and presented me with new boarding passes. I stumbled into the airport, knees locked and palms sweaty as I searched for the nearest lavatory; almost as if I was trying to find the kill-switch for a nuclear bomb counting down at 00:02. Thankfully, I found the red button and pushed hard – right as the timer settled at 00:00; neutralizing the bomb into a bright white bowl of defusing water.

Whew…

My first flight landed me in Las Vegas – which was actually very cool to check out on the descent. The first thing I realized was that Las Vegas is in fact a very large city with much more than one expensive strip of fantastical hotels; housing and commercial buildings spread out from the strip as far as the eye could see. I have to say, the hotels really are awesome looking and very imaginative. Also, the needle thing is a massive and recognizable landmark that appeared very cinematic looking from my airplane window. I was curiously wondering to myself what kind of epic airport would such a visually stimulating city have in store. The answer is: an architectural style based off of midwestern Dillards & Famous Barr department stores circa the early 1990’s. Yah there was the slot machines in every nook and cranny, open bar areas, best buy vending machines (nuts) and an irrepressible energy inherent within. But Lord. In a city with that much money floating around you would think that they could update their main hub of traveling humanity as not to look as bleak as Vegas (in reality) likely is. Oh yea, I also lost $5 to a promising looking machine that was really just a money pit. (I sat close by and watched unknowing gamblers plunk a total of $100 in to the same machine just to make sure).

A 40 minute plane ride and a strong Jack & Ginger later, and I was in the great state of California. I really mean this too when I call it great. When I’m in Cali, it’s like a mental heaviness of the rest of the country has been lifted off of me and I’m walking around the land of sunshine and happiness (ya also incessant materialism, the headquarters of the porn industry, and more than suspiciously ran government) but man, this is wear you effing surf and relax and see incredibly gorgeous girls in the most normal of places* (*YMCA front desk). I’m staying with my friend and traveling confidante Chad Daniel and his wife Shay and their insane little babies Rhett & Max. I’ve only been here for one quick evening and in that time I’ve already rode a scooter and heavily accelerated it up and down his neighborhood street, eaten hummus and pita as hairless rats (pets) crawled across the counter top sharing the food and beer with me (they also cleaned Chad’s teeth as he kept his mouth open), jammed out with the boys in the living room, petted an unmoving iguana, watched Chad clean a digested mouse corpse out the biggest damn spider I have ever seen in persons cage  and slept for a good 9 hours in Baby Rhett’s bed. I don’t think I slept that soundly the whole time I was in Colorado. I was in a real home with a real family and it relaxed me… and my bowels.

Italy, Germany, Germany, London, DC, DC… Home. (Part One)

A few more days in Germany…

Goodbye Italy. Hello 11 Hour drive back thru beautiful Brenner Pass. Gas stations are closed on saturdays. Car driving on fumes. Sister freaks, nephew screams. McDonalds in Garmisch. Taste of fatty foods and america. They must have some weird standardization in the cooking of their fries at Mcdonalds because they taste the exact same worldwide. These were pretty good I remember. Finally we arrive back at my sister’s home in sleepy Seubersdorf. Face plant into pillow. Commence stillness for nine hours. 

It was definitely a shell shock being back in a real bed, in germany and without a camera always in my hand. This was the first of many shell shocks on my way back to St. Louis. The next day I ventured out to Regensburg with 3 of the camp counselors who had come from Germany. It was the championship game between Germany and Spain and I did just happen to be in Germany for that one day — awesome. Regensburg was electric and dead all at the same time. The streets were completely empty untill you passed a bar where 150 people would be sitting outside watching the game with a projector shooting on a sheet. It was a great experience, everytime there was a goal or a good play, the crowd would erupt in cheers and start to chant like they were at the game. We hit up a few of these bars before ending at a bar with a small tv on the roof and about a hundred people staring skywards. And then… Germany lost. But you really couldn’t tell. We walked to the city square where people were celebrating regardless of the loss and happy to be drunk and German. There was the occasional spanish crowd that was taunting and cheering but instead of acts of hooliganism and violence breaking out, the Germans just kind of smiled and congratulated the Spaniards. Very civil. You’d get beat up in St. Louis for sure if the Cardinals had just lost to the Cubs and a bunch of Chicagoans went parading around downtown.

After this fun spectacle, we ended up in and Irish pub where we met three irish friends who bought us endless beers all night. Pretty soon, one of them whipped out a harmonica and we were all singing irish folk songs with big, splashing beers in hand. I felt like I was having multiple cultural disorder.

Two more quiet restful days in Germany before the madness of traveling would become altogether real for me, for maybe the first time ever.

How it took me 3 days to get home ~or~ Why United Airlines Sucks More Ass Than Enemas…

The day started off peacefully. Peacefully packing. Afternoon flight. No rush. La-de-da-dee, who want’s to pahdee? Quick wonderful flight to Frankfurt from Nuremburg via Lufthansa (the best airline ever). Casual stroll to the next gate about half a mile way. No worries, no stress. I had finally made it through the 2 or 3 security checkpoints and was walking the final leg to my gate when I heard over the loudspeakers “Flight 933 to Washington D.C. has been canceled, There are no more flights to the United States today”. I don’t know if it was my sublime, blissful feeling or the mimosa from the previous flight but something didn’t click inside my head when I heard this and I thought nothing of it besides “Man, that’s gotta suck for those people”. The reality became clear when I walked to my gate and from the faces of the first few people I saw it seemed as if their children had been kidnapped by United Airlines. People were freaking the hell out. 

I walked in and looked around before finding a little nook up by one of the information desks and just started to listen. People would all come up with the same story, “No, you don’t understand I like realllly have to get back to the states”, and “I DEMAND to talk to your MANAGER and GET ME A FLIGHT OUT OF HERE NOW”! If not for the amazing patience of the people working the tables it would’ve been insanity bordering on hilarious. I learned from perching in my nook that there was in fact no way to leave Frankfurt and I would be here for the night. This was rather annoying as I had my own reasons for returning, mainly Black River Lodge.

We were shuttled like sheep to the hotels. I overheard someone telling their friend to wait and not get on the first bus for it was headed to the airport hotel whereas the second bus was headed for the nicer Downtown Hotel. This is really not a fair comparison but I always think of Schindler’s list and those types of movies where families are being split up by trains and which one will be better than the other. Luckily, I chose right. We ended up at the 5 Star Reichenberg Hotel (I Think?) in a fairly nice room with huge ceilings. There was no plan to any of this, we learned everything from speculation and overhearing things from other travelers. I mean, there was a rather large squad of us, two Tour Busses full in the downtown hotel alone. Dinner was served shortly later and here’s where I met my friends for the night.

Walking into the dinner room, you kind of eye everyone at each table and quickly, mentally decide – “Who will be the most fun/interesting/worth sitting next to while I eat” in a devious Seinfeldian manner. I chose the table with 3 young multicultural travelers that looked like they had done this before. They were Van from Laos, a grad student that has probably been to over 1/2 of the countries in the world, Jonathan, an american of Indian heritage who had been living in Turkey for the past 5 months, and some girl who I can’t remember her name who was turning 21 at midnight and was annoying as hell. She was a mix of a bunch of cultures that she kept reminding us about all night along and now I can’t remember what it was. We ate dinner with a funny family from Boston and then headed out to find some adventure in the evening. 

Just, except, it didn’t really happen. I mean, we found a great rowing club and had a few beers while watching the sun set on the river and it was beautiful and magical and everything that meeting new people should be and then… we got lost in the residential areas for probably 90 minutes. The annoying girls hopes for getting fabulously drunk in germany on her 21st birthday began to fade as her back, and then her feet, and then everything started hurting. We rounded back up to the hotel and happily unloaded her before heading back into the Frankfurt night. Still no news had arrived from United. We came upon this awesome looking corner bar that seemed as if the door would shut at any moments, blinds noisily clattering over the windows and the 4 locals inside would stab, kick, and beat the shit out of us if we said anything negative about Germany at all. We didn’t care. We were having good conversation and people-watching out of the corner of our eyes and it was fun all around. Finally we head back to the hotel around 2 a.m. Stilll, no news from United.

By now, my clothes were starting to gain a little funk. I mean, theorhetically, I should have almost been back in St. Louis by now. And here I was, in a hotel room in Germany, by myself. I stripped down to my birthday and through on the terry cloth robe and laid down – feeling fairly alone for the first time in a month. Normally I like being alone quite a bit but this was unsettling for some reason. I slept for 3 hours. Woke up, showered, through on my slightly less stank clothes and headed to breakfast. Still, no news from United.

After a 40 Euro (free) breakfast and tons of coffee, I was ready to get the hell out of dodge. Finally there was a sign in the lobby ‘PASSENGERS OF FLIGHT 933 – MEET HERE AT 10 AM’. Finally. Some proof of life. An hour later, we were back on the busses headed not to the airport. Wait. WTF!? We were being shuttled to the airport hotel! No! This can’t be true! The Horror! I talked to my friend Van and the lucky dog said that he had called United and booked a flight out to Chicago. That was all I needed. I checked in to the hotel, just to be safe, and booked it right back out the door to the shuttle that was headed for the airport. Van and I scurried up to the Lufthansa desk and were treated like we were the victims of genocide, in a good way. They asked us “OH, your the passengers from flight 933?? Where have you been, we’ve been waiting for you??” Van and I looked at each other and laughed. The desk clerk, who looked like Ali G, was awesome and booked me on a flight to London, DC, then STL racing around behind his desk like he was in an action movie. Van and I hugged and were on our own separate ways. I still to this day think that some of the 933 passengers are still stuck in Frankfurt.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t end there (just like this entry which is rivaling the Talmud in length).
To be continued…