Cheap Geek Tour
(Sat, Sept 25, 2004)
We'll be gone long enough that it's cheaper to hire a car than to park our car at the airport (even in the cheap lots).
Our driver shows up at 7:00 AM and drives right past Robert, who is kind of insulted and ready to argue with the guy until he gets out of the car. This guy is Russian, looks like he was cut from a block of marble, and probably used to work for the KGB.
Robert thanks him for being careful about who he picks up.
Once we're in the car, we remember why it's not a good idea for us to travel before we have our lattes.
"You prefer temperature in cart?"
Um, credit card.
"No, no, in cart? Temperature?"
Robert's mother taught him two phrases in Russian. (One is "Don't Shoot!" the other is "I am your friend, Comrade!") Neither is very useful in this situation.
Eventually, we figure out that he wants to know how hot or cold we want it. We assure him that whatever he chooses is fine by us.
We have assured TSA officials that we are not Pop Stars, so they let us through the screening (which now involves taking off your jacket, in case you have a machine gun in there).
Because we bought our tickets by a United phone reservations line more than 30 days ago, we couldn't pick what seats we wanted. Since the tickets were purchased together, we are naturally seated at opposite ends of the airplane. Since flying already sucks, we don't want to increase the suckage by having to sit separately.
But finally, after checking-in at four different check-in places, they have managed to seat us together. (And every one of those check-in places was necessary to complete the process.) We marvel at their efficiency--how could these guys be losing money?
It's perfect flying weather. For bats.
There's too much fog in the air, so they plane has to stand around on the ground (or the tarmac or wherever it is that planes stand around when they're not loading or flying).
Finally, it's our turn to use the guide bats and we get to take off.
In case you haven't been flying recently (like since May), we'd like to clue you in on a new feature in flying. You can now buy your own food! From the airline! For prices starting at $8!
Really--instead of giving everybody lousy airplane food, they now sell it to those who can afford it. You still get free pretzels, though, so not everything has gone to Hell in a Handbasket.
3:27 pm (CST)
On the ground in Chicago, with our butts approximately four feet across. Laura has had a good flight, because Robert got a portable DVD player and has been amusing himself by watching DVDs (an episode of Farscape and Toy Story).
We hang a right past the skeleton of the brachiasaur (this alone is a reason to stop at the Chicago airport) and go hang around our gate for a while.
6:45 pm (EST)
On the ground in Boston.
Robert has a plan to avoid all this: The night before your flight, while you're sleeping, a team of technicians comes into your house and gives you a knock-out shot. They then load you into the plane--and just think how many people they could fit into one plane if they could stack you like cordwood!--and fly you to where you're going. They then take you to your hotel and put you into bed and set the alarm for 8:00 am.
You wake up in your new destination! Would that be cool or what?
Until that glorious day arrives, we're stuck with standing around baggage claim to get our bags, lugging them over to the car rental place where they give us the wrong car (we find out when we try to leave the lot and the guy at the gate starts freaking out), and driving to our hotel.
One cheerful note: HQ for the Cheap Geek Tour Part Deux is <ta da> Braintree! (Really, it's a real town.)
We head to a locally recommended restaurant called Jimbo's. Robert has his first lobster, and is surprised when a giant red insect arrives on his plate. After instruction from the locals, he digs in and is glad he wore the silly-ass bib when he cracks open the claws and a gallon of lobster claw juice squirts everywhere.
Laura wishes she'd worn her raincoat.
We're definitely in the suburbs--we had to drive ten miles to the "nearby" grocery store. All the houses look like the ones in the Wallingford District in Seattle. Robert calls them "Old Style" until Laura points out that the proper designation is just "Old." These aren't cheap copies, folks, these are the originals.
Having gone from the left coast to the right coast entirely on our butts, we're exhausted and decide to pass out in our hotel room bed.
Robert & Laura