Kauai Vacation – Day 1by Angie

12 Jun 2009
8:06 am

IMG_0222This was a long day, but well worth it!  Jim went to work today, as usual, then came home and helped me load our luggage into the car.  Our friend, Justin Bradley, drove us to the airport, and we made our flight just fine.

Jim’s seat was by the window, I was in the middle, and in the aisle seat next to me was a wonderful, friendly woman named Leslie, from Palo Alto.  She noticed that I was reading The Count of Monte Cristo and we started chatting about it.  She told me all about how her son was assigned to read it over the summer for his 8th grade English class.  The little trooper read the whole, 1200 page unabridged version, then showed up on the first day of school to find that his classmates had all read a variety of abridged editions, most between 300-500 pages long.  His teacher was immensely impressed with his “depth of understanding” and “grasp of characters” on the reports and tests – you’d hope so, considering he read twice as much of the book as all the other kids!  Anyway, Leslie and her husband and two boys (now young adults, but not yet married) were flying to Kauai for a 2-week family vacation.  When she found out that we’d be there before, she asked about what sights were worth seeing, which beaches were good for snorkeling, and all sorts of other stuff.  We had a great time.

Once on the island, my parents picked us up from the airport.  It was about 7pm there, but we felt like it was nearly midnight, and hadn’t eaten anything on the flight.  Mom & Dad wanted to do some grocery shopping, so Jim and I ate dinner at the Costco food court while we waited for them.  I was exhausted by the time we reached the hotel, but I wanted to see my sisters and Jim wanted to take a late-night swim, so it was quite a while before we finally turned in.

Fortuitousby Jim

31 May 2008
12:05 pm

I apologize for the long post, but I really have a lot to say. (It seems whenever airports are involved, my posts quadruple in length…) Bear with me, I think it’ll be worth it.

A few days ago my dad asked me to do a little project for him which involved burning some video to a DVD. My computer had been having issues, and I had decided to reinstall windows to hopefully fix those issues. (It had been a really long time since I did a full reinstall.) I decided to give Windows Vista a try since I hadn’t yet and I wanted to give it a fair chance. There is so much opinion about Vista out there and I really shouldn’t say anything until I can form my own. So, last night I installed Vista. Everything went smoothly.

The video project my dad wanted me to do is 56 gigabytes, so I figured I should free up some space on my hard drives by removing my (no longer used) Linux partitions and resizing the NTFS partitions with the new unused space. Well, most other times, this operation took at most 20 minutes. This time, I had a 500 GB hard drive with a 366 GB partition to resize. The problem was the block size had to change because the drive was so big. Basically, there are only so many address spaces the drive can use and when I grew the whole drive, the individual address spaces had to each grow too (because I already was using the most number of address spaces I could). So, it took my computer about 7 hours to do the complete resize. When you edit the partitions, you DO NOT stop in the middle, unless you want to have corrupted data. There was really nothing I could do; my computer was tied up for several hours. Fortuitous event #1: A couple days ago I copied the entire 56 GB project to a network drive to free up some space for my new Operating System. Even though my computer was occupied for many hours, I could still get to the project my dad needed me to finish.

I forgot to mention that my mom needed to be brought to the airport for a 6 am flight this morning, which means we had to leave at about 4:30 am (so she could be an hour early at 5 am). I was in a little bit of a time crunch. After I realized that I wouldn’t be able to use my own computer to work on this project, Angie suggested that I use her computer. Fortuitous event #2: About 3 weeks ago, I bought Angie a new computer. I had noticed that her computer was nearly 8 years old and showing its age. Angie was so good to not complain about it and just be patient with it. So, as a surprise, I bought her a new computer which is faster than my own. There is no way I could have used her old computer to work on this project.

So, I installed Adobe Premier and Encore on Angie’s computer and got to work. It took about 90 minutes to copy the 56 GB project. Angie’s computer is the only one in the house not connected to the gigabit network, so the copy was slow. (I guess I should have bought a new network switch while I was upgrading her computer.) Once I got started, I ran into the same problem that prevented me from completing the project months ago. I found a solution from a google search and was able to finish the DVD just minutes before having to leave with Mom making fortuitous event #3. I would have liked to have more time, but Dad needed something and this was all I had.

We hopped in the car and started the drive out to the Oakland airport. Things were going just fine, but as we pulled off the freeway on 98th Ave., warning lights started flashing on my dashboard. I realized my power steering was gone, so I quickly got in the turn lane of the offramp and turned right on 98th Ave. and pulled over to the side. My car had overheated. Fortuitous event #4: My car had died 2.7 miles from the airport. I can’t say how glad I was my car died in a place where I could safely get off the road. We called AAA and had a tow truck there in 15 minutes. I only got 5 miles for free from the towing service, so I asked if he would take us to the airport. He seemed a little surprised, but took us there nonetheless. When we pulled up at the curb to drop Mom off, a security guard gave us a funny look as I jumped down from the truck to go get Mom’s suitcase out of the trunk of the car being towed. We must have looked very strange. Anyway, we only lost 30 minutes and so (fortuitous event #5:) Mom was able to make the flight!

I asked the serviceman to drop me off at the nearest gas station. He unhooked my car and I went inside to buy some coolant. He was kind enough not to charge me, even though I think I went over my 5 mile limit (probably only by a mile). I got the coolant and he even helped me put it in the car and get it running again. With the engine running, he noticed that I had thin streams of coolant squirting out of my overflow tank. I thanked him for his help and bid him farewell. I had brought the GPS, so I was looking for repair centers nearby and considering waking up Jon (my brother living in Emeryville a few miles away) to help me out when fortuitous event #6 happened: Dad called to check up on me. We talked about the car and he figured that by refilling the coolant, I would probably have enough to get home. We had poured nearly the entire container of coolant into the car, so it had been quite empty. With his assurance, I started the trek home.

Fortuitous event #7: The last couple days I have felt a cold coming on, so I have been getting to bed on time (a rarity for me). The last three nights I’ve gone to bed at times ranging from 8:30 to 10:30 pm and slept for at least 8 hours. I couldn’t afford being sick with so little sick leave after Angie’s surgery, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t get sick by doing whatever I could to keep my body strong. With such a good sleep pattern the last few days, I hardly felt tired driving home at 6 am even though I had been awake for over 24 hours (and I don’t feel sick anymore). I arrived home to find my wife and my cat peacefully sleeping in bed. I put on my pajamas and got under the covers and went to sleep.

The more I think about the events of the last 24 hours, the more I realize just how fortunate I was. Seemingly terrible things happened to me, but in the end, everything worked out just fine. My computer is in perfectly good shape, Mom made it on her flight, Dad got his DVD, and I got home safely. I really felt like these events were more than just luck. The Lord really does look out for us and answer our prayers. Days like this help you realize that.

Airport Fiasco Part 2: The Return Tripby Jim

7 Jan 2008
8:01 am


You’d think after our last experience, we would do everything in our power to avoid another fiasco like our last one trying to get to Utah. Well, the fates were against us this time. Get ready for another long post.

Angie bought our tickets a few months ago. Angie bought them because she has a SkyMiles account and we wanted credit for the trip. We figured a nice mid-morning flight would be best, so we booked an 11:20 flight home for me. Angie wasn’t returning until Sunday, so our return flights were different. In the weeks since we bought the tickets, Angie got a few emails regarding itinerary changes. A week before we left I asked her to forward me a copy of my itinerary so I would know when my flight was. The return trip now left at 2 in the afternoon on New Year’s Day. I was determined to get there in time to make sure I didn’t miss my flight again.

The day came and I was packed and ready plenty early. We ended up giving a ride to Ashley Ogzewalla since she had a 1:00 flight. I figured it was perfect; we would be forced to get to the airport plenty early. However, our plan was flawed. We got to the airport at 12:30, more than 90 minutes before my flight was supposed to leave. I went to the kiosk to check in and was surprised when it told me I could no longer check into my flight. Upon closer inspection, I saw that my flight had left on time at 11:20. It turns out Angie had send me her itinerary and her flight was at 2 on Sunday. I had missed my flight by over an hour; I wasn’t even close this time!

I got in line to see a ticket agent hoping there was something that could be done. It took me about 20-25 minutes to get to the front of the line. I told the agent there had been a mix-up and I had missed my flight and that I would like to get onto the first flight to any airport in the bay area (San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose). He was really nice about it and said there was a seat on the 9:30 pm flight to Oakland. I had someone picking me up, so it really didn’t matter which airport I flew in to. I said 9:30 would be fine and then he punched a few more keys and said, “You must be living right — two seats just opened up on the 2:50 to Oakland.” “I’ll take one,” I said. I was ecstatic; I even got to choose between window and aisle. (I chose the window-seat.) Since I was so early for my new flight, I got extra screening at security… yippee.

I phoned my wife and told her the news, then I called Justin, my ride, and told him when to pick me up. Everything went very smoothly from that point on — for me at least. Angie was scheduled to come home on the 2:00 flight on Sunday. We were pretty sure about the departure time thanks to my mishap. The night before her flight, I urged her to make sure she was on-time. Our airport track-record wasn’t turning out very well and I wanted to make sure we got this one right.

She arrived at the airport and checked in with no problems (so far so good), but when she had to show photo ID, the agent said, “Um, your license is expired.” Angie panicked and started to explain and the agent was really nice and wrote her a little note to say her ID would be valid (since this was a return trip and there wasn’t much that could be done). It would have been nice if that was the end of the story. The security officer wasn’t as understanding. “This note is for Delta, not airport security,” they told her. She tried to explain, but they insisted, “You’ll have to do a pat-down and we’ll have to do extra screening on your baggage.” This was perfectly fine with Angie because she has to do a pat-down anyway because of her pacemaker. She had made sure to arrive early enough that the extra searching wasn’t a problem. She said they even asked her questions about the contents of her luggage. Ironically, her license expired before we left on the 20th. I guess we lucked out that it wasn’t an issue on our way to Utah.

I picked her up yesterday at San Francisco Int’l and (fortunately) everything went very smoothly on this end. Her flight was a few minutes late, but besides that everything went like clockwork. In the end, I’m glad we took this trip, but I clearly see why people opt to take the 12-hour drive to Utah instead of braving the airports.

Tagged as:

Airport Fiascoby Jim

23 Dec 2007
3:12 pm

Sorry for the long post, but this was an eventful and frustrating day… so, hear me out.

The bay area has a few airports, which can be kind of confusing. Until the night before we left for Utah, I thought we were flying out of Oakland — the same airport we’ve used for the last few trips we’ve taken. I had forgotten that the best fares were out of San Francisco Int’l Airport. Justin Bradley was kind enough to drive us to the airport early Thursday morning. I had originally told him what time I wanted to leave based on the distance to Oakland, not San Francisco, but I called him the night before we left to reschedule. I thought that an hour would have been enough time and that we wouldn’t hit traffic that early in the morning.

Well, I was wrong on both accounts. We were a little bit late getting out the door (10 minutes or so) and then we hit traffic. I had planned on being an hour early, but we ended up walking into the airport exactly 30 minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave. They put us in line to wait to check our bags, so by the time we got to the kiosk, we were only 25 minutes early. Unfortunately, the kiosks don’t let you check in if you are less than 30 minutes early, so the agent told us we missed our flight and that we should go call an agent to reschedule our flight.

I sat on hold for a few minutes waiting for someone to answer. The lady said that everything was pretty much full and that things didn’t look good. The best she could do was put me and Angie on a flight that went to Los Angeles, then to Phoenix, and then to Salt Lake City. By the time she took my credit card and booked the ticket, there were no seats left for Angie. I asked if they could switch and put her instead of me (since Angie had a surprise birthday party to attend), but she said we’d probably lose our chance if she tried. She told me to hurry and go to the ticket counter to get our ticket and rush to the gate.

We walked over to the counter and got the attention of an agent and explained what happened. It took a minute to explain what was going on, but they quickly got us ready to go. They checked two of our bags, but the third they forgot. When I mentioned it, they tried to check it too, but it was too late and they had to do a handwritten tag, which worried me a little. They rushed us through security and we hurried to our gate. There wasn’t too much need because the flight was delayed. The agent told me to cut in line and I ended up right in the middle of a family going through security. The mother of the family looked irked and said to me, “I don’t understand how you got in the middle of my family.” I felt really bad as I said, “I’m sorry, they just put me on a flight that is leaving right away.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I just tried to pretend I wasn’t there, which doesn’t work like it used to.

It must have been that the flight was delayed that we were able to get on. They couldn’t put us on a flight that left at 7:30 when we were only 25 minutes early. But at 7:25 they put us on a flight that left at 7:53. I guess that 5 minutes makes quite a difference.

The flight to L.A. left late by about 30 minutes. We landed at about 9:45 and taxied toward the airport. We were parked on the tarmac when the captain told us that our gate was occupied by another plane and that as soon as they push back, we could pull in. He estimated it would be about 10-15 minutes. 20 minutes later, he came back on the P.A. and explained that the plane at our gate was waiting to leave, but that their crew was on a flight that was just arriving so it would only be another 15 minutes or so. Everyone was getting pretty restless. Lots of people were asking the flight attendant what would happen if they don’t get to the gate in time for their connecting flight. Finally, the plane started moving, but we just drove in a circle and stopped again on the tarmac in a strangely familiar place. The captain came on the P.A. a time or two more and told us they were still trying to find us a gate. Supposedly, the gate that was intended for us was vacated, but that they gave it to someone else, so we had to go to another gate. We taxied over to another part of the airport and waited even longer. We spent about an hour and a half on the tarmac and finally got off the plane at 11:20.

I had called my dad a number of times to try and find another way to Salt Lake. He found that there were 3 flights from L.A. to S.L.C. that left before our flight to Phoenix. I wasn’t really excited to go to Phoenix, so I planned on trying to get onto a non-stop as soon as we got into the airport. Well, because we sat on the tarmac so long, we missed the first one, but the next had been delayed, so we had about 40 minutes before it left. I went up to the counter and asked the agent if I could get on the flight. She brushed me off by saying, “No, there are already 11 people on the list and only one person hasn’t checked in.” I asked about the flight that left after 1:00 and she said it was overbooked by 15. I was discouraged after being couped up in the plane for so long, so I didn’t push it. It turns out that there would have been room for Angie and me if I had insisted on getting on the flight. (Dad looked to see who did get on and we should have had more priority if we had been on the standby list.)

We were hungry by now, so we went to get some lunch. Our flight to Phoenix left at 1:35, so we had plenty of time. The next flight to Salt Lake left at 1:04, and I didn’t want to risk missing both, so I decided it would be best to just go to Phoenix because we already had seat assignments and there was no risk of not getting on the flight.

When we got back to the gate, we saw that the flight had been delayed by about 45 minutes, so I called Dad and asked if he thought we should try the S.L.C. 1:04 flight after all. He said it had empty seats and I just barely had enough time to get to the gate. I ran ahead of Angie to get to the gate first (it was in a different terminal) and got in line. When it was my turn, the agent said to me, “Are you on this flight?” “No, but I want to be,” I said. I explained my situation and she quickly took my other tickets and did a bunch of typing on her computer and handed me some new tickets. Angie arrived in plenty of time and when the agent handed us the tickets, we thanked her and hurried to the jetway. The agent took our tickets and closed the doors behind us.

My dad was there to pick us up in Salt Lake, but (understandably) our bags didn’t arrive with us. We went to the lost luggage office and asked about our bags. It was a little strange to explain our situation; we had managed to arrive hours before our bags were even scheduled to arrive. The man at the counter couldn’t give us a reference number because our bags weren’t technically late yet. He tried to look up the bag tag numbers we got when we checked them, but they weren’t showing up in the system. He told us to call later to see if the bags arrived. I had planned on just showing up at the airport when the Phoenix flight was scheduled to come in and take the bags off the carousel, but the weather got pretty bad, so I decided to pick them up in the morning.

I called later in the evening to get an update on my bags, and to my dismay, they could only find one of them in their system. Strangely, it was the handwritten tag that came up. Unfortunately, it was scheduled to go back to San Francisco. The agent sent an urgent note to the Phoenix baggage people to forward the bag to S.L.C. instead. The other two bags that were scanned the regular way didn’t have any information about their whereabouts. We went to bed in borrowed pajamas and hoped for the best.

The next morning, I drove down to the airport with Dad and went to the luggage office. Fortunately, the two bags they couldn’t find in the system were sitting in the storage room. The third one (with the handwritten tag) was nowhere to be found and there was no update on the computer as to its location. The lady helping us created a reference number (now that our bags were officially delayed) and said she’d do what she could to get our bag back. She was actually quite upset that the bag was due to go back to San Francisco because it didn’t make any sense why they would have done that. My brother was flying in at 4 pm, and there was a flight from S.F. that should have arrived just about the same time. It would have been perfect.

Now that I had a ref. number, I could check the status of our “delayed” back online. I checked throughout the day and was a little discouraged to find out that it didn’t get on the flight we wanted it to and that it was scheduled to arrive in Salt Lake at 8 pm. I arranged for delivery and we finally got it Saturday morning at 6:30. The driver knocked on our door and said, “I can’t find your bag, but I’m sure it is in the van.” Mom woke me up and I went out into the freezing cold in just my pajamas and moccasins to dig through all the lost luggage in this guy’s van. Our bag was hiding under two ski bags. We pulled it out and we thanked the driver and I went back to my room and back to sleep.

So, the moral of the story? Use carry-ons when you can. Don’t travel on one of the busiest traveling days of the year. Always put your prescription medication in your carry-on. Also, bring your pajamas and one change of clothes in a carry-on. Remember which airport you’re going to. Leave earlier. Be assertive.

Tagged as:

Airport Securityby Angie

26 Nov 2007
3:11 pm

So, last night, we were standing in the security line at the airport, getting ready to head home from Portland. I left my shoes and purse with Jim and stepped out of line to inform one of the security personnel that I have a pacemaker (which means they don’t let me through the metal detectors – they have to pat me down instead). The man I spoke with said to stand to the side for a minute and a woman would be with me shortly to screen me.

I happened to be standing near a thin, elderly woman, when the female attendant came over. The security woman walked straight up to this older lady and said kindly, “I’m here to pat you down because of your pacemaker.” The poor lady looked positively alarmed and stammered, “I-I don’t have any pacemaker!” I felt so bad for her! I jumped in and showed the woman my pacemaker card: she looked very surprised, but the harassed-looking older lady was immensely relieved. Jim and I had a good laugh about it as we headed to our gate.

That was the most eventful moment of our trip home, except perhaps our first few minutes back with Jaquie, which were filled with much joy and purring. It was a wonderful vacation, but it’s also good to be home.