The Ordeal

So much happy right now…  I am sitting at home on my comfy sofa typing on my laptop.  I cannot express in words just how good it feels to be here.  I am not a huge fan of travel, I don’t mind being other places…  but I greatly prefer being home.  Quite honestly… New York is probably the furthest I have been from home, and while it was entertaining I am elated to be back here.

The Ordeal

Travelling to Albany was rather un-eventful and everything essentially went nice and smooth.  My biggest complaint was the lack of free WiFi at Chicago O’Hare/  The trip home however… had lots of moments of annoyance.  First off I managed to take a wrong turn on the way to the airport.  As a result I ended up turning on my android navigation… which took us on quite possibly the most scenic route ever to get back to the Troy-Schenectady Road.  I drove through tons of residential neighborhoods having to take turns at almost every intersection… but eventually we met back up with the right road and we were on our way.

My wife had offered a lift to two other classmates that did not have transportation… so after dropping them off at the terminal we went to the car garage to drop off our rental.  This is singlehandedly the most poorly designed feature of the Albany Airport… and as a result cars just end up backing up as people bail out to meet their flight… often times leaving the keys in the ignition and the car running.  We were in no major rush… so we politely waited through the mess and were directed into a parking lot.

At this point we had to wait again… for the single person who was handling all drop offs and requisitions for both Alamo and Enterprise.  I felt sorry for this guy… because he looked seriously stressed.  We waited around… got our receipt and apparently they had charged us for a couple of extra hours… stating that we had returned it late.  It was around this point that my wife went into attack mode…  because she had stated multiple times when renting the car that we would not be returning it until 5 pm on Thursday… as she didn’t even get out of her conference until 3.

When I say attack mode…  she was doing all of this as politely as possible… but still being extremely insistent.  Apparently the poor employee had just had enough of the place…  and ended up giving us a massive discount as well as removing the extra charges.  So that settled we made our way across the street… through the plumes of smoke left by people trying to get a last minute cigarette… and into the ticketing area.  I really wish that smokers should experience just once… what their addiction does to an asthmatic.  But since they are seemingly fine with poisoning others… I am guessing they just wouldn’t give a crap.

Nine Pounds

We waited in a line, and made our way up to the ticketing kiosk.  My wife went first since she is again the road warrior and can do those kiosks without thinking.  There was no real place to set our bag at first, but soon an employee came over and cleared the scale and I hoisted the big orange beast onto it.  The rather snooty employee informed us that we were nine pounds over weight.  We either had to remove nine pounds from the bag or pay an extra hundred dollars to check the bag.  I am not shitting you… one hundred dollars… for nine frickin pounds.

So my wife rifled through the bag because she thought she knew what the culprit was.  As a result of the conference she had gained this massive 3 inch binder full of course materials.  Sure enough after removing that it took the bag weight down to a level that the snooty ass would be willing to accept.  Since I only had one carry on… we just decided to bring the binder along and store it in the overhead bin.  So I spent most of yesterday carrying my laptop/camera bag and a huge three ring binder…  I did not look geeky at all… I swear.

My Awesome Bag

LaptopBag I want to take a few minutes to talk about my bag… now that I have mentioned it.  This thing is seriously amazing… and served perfectly for what I was needing.  Essentially I was looking for a way to carry both my laptop, camera and lenses in one compact form factor.  I ended up searching around and finally settled on this one from amazon…  the above image was taken of the bag fully loaded in the hotel room.  I was able to stuff a ton of tech in one bag…  and then carry it around with me.  Fully stuffed it was a bit difficult to cram in some of the overhead bins… but I managed to do so with a little bit of effort.

Just for reference… this is all the stuff in the above bag.

  • 15.6” Lenovo y500 Laptop
  • y500 Power Brick
  • Large Monoprice gaming mousepad
  • Logitech g600 MMO Mouse
  • Earbud Headphones
  • USB Cable and Brick for Cellphone
  • Sony PSP in Case
  • Sony PSP Charger
  • Two Cliff Bars – in case we got hungry while travelling
  • Canon t3i DSLR
  • 4 Lenses for DSLR
  • 6 Filters for DSLR
  • Wide Angle Adapter for DSLR
  • Fisheye Adapter for DSLR

So yeah… this bag holds a ton of stuff, and does so in a fashion that still makes it easy to carry.  While I mostly bought this for the trip… it actually makes a far better camera bag than my pervious one… because it gives rapid access to all the stuff in it.  With the laptop and chargers out… it is actually rather light.  This will definitely become handy whenever we start going up to the lake.  Additionally it would let me bring both my laptop and camera to work… if I wanted to end up going out over lunch and taking photos.

Airplane Juggling

So back to our tale…  after all the manipulation of our luggage and drama with mister snooty pants… we were finally able to just chill out at the gate waiting on the airplane.  We got to our gate…  and immediately realized that this was going to be one of those rare occasions where we had to walk out on the tarmac to load into the plane.  While we were sitting there… we noticed that pretty much every plane listed as coming from Newark was delayed.  Ours was currently on time…  but that didn’t stay that way for long.

We heard over the intercom that that our flight had not left the gate at Newark yet, and that they had a bunch of empty spaces on one currently loading at a different gate.  So we hustled upstairs and when we got there…  they called our names specifically.  Apparently they were giving higher priority to those with connecting flights once we arrived at Newark.  I have to say… airport workers catch a lot of shit…  and I dished out my own little bit about mister snooty pants….  but these guys upstairs were amazing.  I watched this lady fight with the registration system trying to juggle us off one flight and onto another… while her manager was constantly calling down to the baggage room to make sure they got each passengers luggage off of the other flight and onto this one.

After about thirty minutes of serious reservation system hackery… she managed to get us new passes for the plane that was already loaded and waiting at this point… and in doing so managed to get us seats side by side.  I cannot impress upon you enough just how awesome it was to see them working.  We thanked them profusely and boarded the plane.  It seems like most of the passengers that had connecting flights, even this very sweet girl who was flying by herself for the first time… and was more than a bit freaked out…  got loaded onto the earlier flight. 

Newark: Eater of Souls

Newark is hands down the most poorly designed airport I have seen…  which isn’t saying much…  but my wife the frequent flier agrees.  Essentially the layout of the place involves three completely stand alone concourses.  There is an automated tram that runs between the three… but for whatever reason it loads on the OTHER side of the freakin security barrier.  So if you decide to use it… you have to exit security… and then pass back through the security checks to get in.  It seems like as a result the individual airlines have various workarounds in place.

United Airlines runs a shuttle bus that goes between the terminals.  How this works however… is that they have essentially given up a gate and built  a waiting room… and ramp that goes down to the tarmac.  About every 10 minutes a bus arrives and passengers can load onto it to go to either concourse A or B.  We missed the first bus since the waiting room was already packed when we got there.  So by the time we waited on a second bus… loaded it… took the not insignificant trip across to concourse A..  we only had a few minutes left before our plane was set to depart.

Three Hour Tour

After having just enough time to hit the restroom and sit back down… it was time to board our flight from Newark to Tulsa.  This was yet again a step down in size, so instead of two seats on either side of the isle… this plane had 1 seat on one side… and 2 on the other.  By the time wet got in… and found out seat it was occupied by a Chinese woman that spoke almost zero English.  We pantomimed that she was in the wrong seat and were able to go through the process of getting strapped in place for the duration.  On a positive note…  I apparently no longer need the extender thingy.

This flight was without a doubt the most chatty group I have ever encountered.  There were multiple conversations going on that often times spanned multiple rows.  I would have greatly preferred if everyone would have just sat in silence… but the amount of alcohol being imbibed pretty much made this an impossibility.  Also since all flights going into Newark were being delayed… I am guessing there was a lot of time spent in various airport bars along the way.  The worst example of this was the duo directly in front of me.

In the single seat we had a Country Boy CFO from a random company in Joplin, MO…  and to his side was a nice Indian gentleman that said he worked in IT… though from the cut of his suit… he had to be somewhere in management.  The two of them struck up a conversation… that managed to last all three hours of the flight… and got progressively more and more animated the more alcohol the CFO partook of.  By the time we neared Tulsa… country boy was full on dropping f-bombs every few minutes.  The last rant I recall was something about “effing welfare”.

At multiple points throughout the conversation he talked about how everything thinks he is dumb by the way he talks… but he is much smarter than they give him credit for.  To which I think to myself…  if you have to keep reminding people that you are smart… it becomes progressively less likely than it is actually true.  There were so many points during the flight that I wanted to hit him over the head with something large and heavy.  Especially when he went off on a tear about how not dressing up shows a lack of work ethic.  This is a feat of logic I just cannot manage to follow… I suppose it only makes sense if you are drunk.

About the last hour forward, the nice IT guy, kept trying to extract himself from the conversation.. eventually saying that he needed to catch some shuteye.  At which point he started fumbling under his seat to find a bottle that had fallen down… which instead turned out to be my foot.  When he realized this he profusely apologized and we all had a laugh.  Finally we landed in Tulsa… after what seemed like an eternity in good ole boy hell.  By the time I hobbled off the plane.. it was like after three hours in a cramped space I had forgotten how to walk right.

Wrapping Up

Ultimately we made it out to the baggage carousel, and of all amazing wonders our big orange bag had managed to arrive in Tulsa just fine.  I feel absolutely drained by the whole ordeal.  New York was an interesting place to visit, but I am extremely happy to be back in my wonderful home.  Apparently the cats missed us… because right now I have one on me… wife has one on her… and the other is laying between us.  Hopefully it will be a long while before I fly again… the next trip needs to be a road trip.  I hope you all have a great day and a great weekend.

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