Friday, February 27, 2015

World Traveller!

I'm a terrible blogger.  Blah blah excuses, busy, etc.  But I have A) a little free time and B) interesting things to blog about, so here I am!  I've actually got several posts in the works!  First of all, my trip to Canada!  Okay, so maybe I haven't traveled the world, but I did go out of the country for the first time last week!  Technically, I have been to the Bahamas, but since I didn't need a passport at the time, I don't really count that as outside the USA.  Anyway, I think I've mentioned that I have been covering the billing duties for our Canadian division for about the last 6 months or so.  Well, they had hired a permanent replacement, so they asked me to travel to Toronto, Ontario to train her for a few days.

First step, obtain passport!  I went to the local post office with my form filled out and got a passport photo and all that and sent it all in. Less than two weeks later, my passport arrived!

Unfortunately, they misspelled my name.  Too bad Melissa is spelled with 2 "s" instead of 3.  Back it went, and luckily it only took about a week to receive the corrected passport.  My bosses-boss, Anne, had decided to coordinate her own planned trip with mine so I wouldn't have to travel alone.  She would fly from St. Louis to Chicago and I would meet her there and we'd fly to Toronto together.  I booked my flights and hotel and prayed for good weather!

Well, as I'm sure anyone in the US can attest, we haven't really had that great of weather.  The east coast was getting pretty battered by snow on the Monday I was leaving.  It was snowing in Indy (not a ton, but still, snow) but the main problem was the my plane was coming from the east coast and it was delayed.  My planned layover in Chicago was only 43 minutes, which is tight not even considering weather.  I let Anne know I might not make the connection and I sat at the gate (freezing, by the way, breezeway doors opening all the time) watching the flight get later and later.  Finally, the flight that was supposed to arrive AFTER my flight left got bumped up on the screen. I went to the desk to make sure they hadn't moved us to another gate and the attendant told me there was another flight two gates over leaving for Chicago sooner than my flight, and she noticed that one seat had just opened up.

By this point, the flight from Chicago to Toronto had been delayed a little bit, giving me hope that I might make it.  We boarded the plane and were quickly de-iced and took off.  The plane landed in Chicago and I rushed off and to the nearest screen to see what gate I needed to get to. In a absolutely MIRACLE, my departure gate was just a few gates down from the arrival gate! They were already boarding, so I got right in line and within 5 minutes of exiting my flight from Indy, I got on the plane to Canada.  I passed Anne when I got on, who was surprised but relieved that I'd made it.  As I settled into my seat, I watched crews unloading baggage on a plane nearby and I thought to myself, "There is no way my suitcase is going to make this flight."

Spoiler alert: It didn't.

We got to Canada without incident and confirmed that my suitcase had in fact, NOT made the flight.  The airline assured me it would arrive around 6:30 pm and would be delivered to the hotel.  Anne and I went through interrogation customs and checked into our hotel, then had dinner. We even tried a Canadian staple called poutine--french fries with cheese curds and brown gravy.

Poutine--Not a big fan of gravy, but interesting!
When we got back to the hotel, I skyped with the family (on my phone, since my webcam was in my luggage), and then contacted the airline to check on my bag.  The plane it was on was delayed.  I checked again in an hour and the suitcase had arrived and was waiting for customs.  By the time I finally went to bed around 11:30, they still hadn't run it through customs.

I got up several times in the night to check the status.  I was half convinced I was going to have to wear my grimy airplane jeans and sweater and sneakers to work the next day.  Finally, at 5:00 am I called the front desk and HUZZAH my suitcase had arrived! I collected it and returned to my room, unpacked, ironed everything, showered (with MY shampoo!), and got dressed for the day (clean clothes!), and got ready (realizing I had left my full size hair brush at home, but hey, I had a flat iron at least! And makeup!), Skyped Adam and the kids and off I went to breakfast and work.

The new hire is VERY Nice and the training went really well. After work, she and the rest of the department joined Anne and I for dinner.  I ordered a drink called a Miles Davis (all the drinks were named after jazz singers), which the waiter apologized for having spilled the mix all over himself while he made it.  Then minutes later, I put the cup down on the table--sidenote, the place was VERY dimly lit--right on the seam of two tables.  Well you guessed it, the seam of the two tables were VERY different and my drink tipped onto the table, sloshing a good portion of the contents in one of my Canadian coworker's Vodka Cranberry.  We all had a good laugh--and a replacement drink!  

The restaurant was a little fancy for my usual taste, but the appetizers were great (although i did abstain from the escargot) and I chose a pesto Alfredo dish, which usually came with shrimp and chicken. I asked the waiter if I could get it without the proteins.  When he brought it out, the bowl had ONLY the chicken and shrimp in it.  Apparently he thought I'd said no CARBS.  Another great laugh from all before he brought me the pasta instead, which was EXCELLENT! Then he brought out one too many creme brulees, so I decided to try it.  Where had creme brulee been all my life? Seriously, YUM!!!

Found a warm spot at the hotel!  If you didn't know, it's a little cold in Canada!

We went back to the hotel for what I hoped was a good nights sleep.  That did not happen.  I went to sleep about 10:30, only to be ripped from my sleep at just before midnight.


Yeah, not kidding.  And I totally had about a full minute where I'd bolted out of bed but really had NO idea what was happening.  I'd grabbed my glasses and even my phone, but I was looking around trying to make sense of what was happening.  I kept smacking the alarm clock (I've had alarm clocks randomly go off in hotel rooms in the middle of the night before).  Finally, I went toward the door where I could tell the fire alarm was going off everywhere.  I threw on some clothes and shoes, grabbed my coat, phone, and room key (but not my PURSE!  With ID and passport!) and headed downstairs. I was on the top floor (5th) so I went down the back step. I thought I smelled smoke, but I didn't see anything obvious.  Once outside (in the COLD), we headed around to the front of the hotel and I looked back at the front entrance.  And saw a huge wall of water.  In a few minutes, the fire department arrived and I found Anne, so we took shelter in our rental car (thank goodness she'd thought to bring the keys).  After about an hour, people seemed to be going back inside, so we followed them.  Anne went back to her room, but I admit, I was SCARED!  Not knowing for sure what had happened, I knew I was NOT going to be able to go right back to bed.  I went back to my room and decided I didn't care that I'd be charged $.89 per minute, I called Adam.  He reminded me that we wouldn't have been allowed back inside if they weren't sure everything was fine.  When we hung up, I called the front desk, just for piece of mind, and was told that there was no fire, just a burst pipe in the lobby (which explains the wall of water).  Apparently the sprinkler system (and therefore the fire alarm system) sensed the drop in water pressure and triggered the alarms.  Fire might scare me, but a broken pipe doesn't, so I finally headed to bed around 1:30-2:00 am.

Wednesday was much more uneventful, just work and then a quieter dinner with Anne at an Italian place with amazing lasagna and sangria that had little gel bubble things in it (sort of like what's in bubble tea, I think?  Weird!).  Thursday we put in another full day and then checked into a hotel near the airport for the night.  Luckily Wednesday I slept pretty good, but I woke up early on Friday morning, excited to head home!  At the airport, I got some cool souveniers for the family (a solar moose bobble head for my mom, a big wheel bus for AJ, pens for Adam and Chell, rocks and a stuffed beaver for Tyler, a magnet for my travel collection, and a beaver keychain with a moving head for Angie) and then we were off.

Anne and I made it to Chicago and said our goodbyes. It was really nice to spend time with her one on one. We had some great conversations.  I told Adam it could have easily been awkward, traveling with a boss, but it really wasn't at all.  I grabbed a sandwich and hung out at my gate until my flight.  


We boarded pretty much on time, but it was snowing so we had to wait to be de-iced.  At first, they said it would be at least 30 minutes, but right after that, they said we'd been bumped up and would be departing soon!  About 30 minutes passed when I looked out my window and saw this:

To clarify, that is NOT our plane.
Yeah. That happened.  They de-iced the wrong plane.  I don't think that one was scheduled to go anywhere.  The pilot came on the speaker and admitted that there had been a mistake.  Awhile later, the trucks pulled up beside us....and then left again.  The pilot really seemed at a loss at that point.  I think his exact words were "I don't know what to tell you folks..."  About an hour and a half after we boarded the plane, we were finally de-iced and took off safely.

Home at last!!!  Home to these faces!


Brianna said...

Wow! That sounds like quite an exciting trip, though I could do without the fire alarm bit.

Anonymous said...

You came to my neck of the woods! Well kind of....I'm a ways from Toronto but hey it was at least my province!

I did not know, and can't believe, you don't have poutine in the States. It's delicious....although I can't eat it anymore because I'm now lactose intolerant but it is absolutely a special treat here and I had no idea it wasn't something that everyone serves. We have chain restaurants that are called Poutineres (sp?) and they serve only poutine in like 50 different styles.

You probably picked the worst week to be here too because it's been SO COLD. Normally it's not that freezing, but it's cool. I'm more north than TO and we've had temps in the -40C for the last two weeks.

Nice to be home though, isn't it?

Melissa Long said...

Rach I didn't realize that was where you're from! Very cool (no pun intended)! From what I've been told, a few places in the States have poutine, thought I'd never heard of it before this trip. Certainly it's not exactly authentic in my area! It was fun to try it!

It was definitely colder than I'm used to. It was actually REALLY cold here while I was gone too, but somehow the cold in Canada seemed much more severe to me-especially the coldness of the ground, my feet were always freezing!

Megs said...

Oh my goodness, those munchkins are getting so big! Sounds like a very successful work trip (minus the delayed luggage, crazy flights, and fire alarm!). I laughed out loud imagining you hitting the alarm clock when the fire alarm went off.

Jessah @ Dreaming of Dimples said...

Love your pictures! So cute. Glad you made it to Canada.