Tag Archives: news

Good News, Bad News

This title should read: Bad News, Good News, Bad News and More Bad News. We are alive and well so it wasn’t that that bad, however . . . .

After two weeks of trying and mostly failing to sever our relationships with credit card companies, the satellite TV, phone, internet and electric companies – for the most part these companies don’t accept that there is a functioning world outside of the U.S. – Jimmy tried to check in online for our transatlantic flight 24 hours before departure.

“I don’t believe this!”

“What?”

“They haven’t got our reservation!” With the stress of packing, planning, making lists and arguing with corporate America on the phone I was surprised his head hadn’t exploded.

My heart sank but I tried to exhibit calm in my voice. “Let me try.” I carefully typed in our reservation code – 6yk2E7i14clD5CK – easy, no? and I got:

We don’t recognize this reservation.

Our furniture was gone, truck shipped, apartment lease terminated, hire car returned and taxi to the airport booked. I tried not to think through the consequences of having booked flights with a company online we hadn’t previously used.

“Have you typed your name correctly?” I asked.

“Of course I have!” said like this: “&*  #&*%@*  #  &*$#!!!”

“What name did you book it in?” I asked patiently. He has two names, first and middle, like many of us, but uses them interchangeably, unlike many of us. They were both on the screen. “Try taking that space out.”

Up popped our flight reservations effectively putting the pin back in his primed grenade head.

We celebrated with one margarita too many at happy hour. So cheap! How could we not?

The taxi turned up early the next day and we arrived at the airport in good spirits.

After the lost reservation fright on the laptop at the hotel I was unable to check in online anyway as I am to become an alien once again in the UK and I needed to be scrutinized. As I am “special” we were escorted to the head of the long queue.

The check-in clerk was either surprised at our cheerfulness at that early hour or just liked the look of us because then something magical happened. She put “security cleared” labels on our carry-ons and even on my handbag.

“You’re TSA cleared,” Tracy declared.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“You go through the security cleared line. You keep your shoes on, you don’t have to take anything out of your bags and you aren’t x-rayed or searched.”

We swanned past dozens of sweaty, harassed-looking, bare-footed passengers and I felt like royalty. They looked at us with hate and envy.

No more Airport Gestapo for us. We had had an encounter with an airport angel.

That’s the end of the good news.

During our trans-country flight we were concerned that should our flight be late, our one and a half hour layover in New York would evaporate and we and/or our luggage would miss the connecting flight to London.

We landed in good time and rushed to the departures board to see . . . . . oh nooooo! . . . . . a four hour delay! It was our punishment for feeling smug at security in Phoenix.

Four hours turned into six hours as we waited on board for eight passengers with names the cabin steward struggled to pronounce. They never turned up. When we finally pushed back from the gate the captain assured us these eight passengers hadn’t checked any baggage but I fretted all across the Atlantic about the airline’s record keeping systems.

You will have gathered that we landed safely. Somewhere.

London, actually. Tired and stressed but all in one piece.

Jimmy drove the two hours to our accommodation through torrential rain alternating with bursts of sunshine. With the countryside looking so green after spending  140 days in the desert with no rain we were pleased to be nearing the end of this particular journey.

caravan/single-wide/park model
Our temporary home. For now. See storm clouds looming.

Our caravan/single-wide/park model/whatever-you-call-it was pristine, cozy and dry and we tumbled in with six pieces of luggage in the evening, 36 hours after our alarm had gone off one third of a world away.

Driving rain continued on and off the next day but viewed through the window from the comfort of a warm sofa and feeling slightly smug again as we watched campers dashing in and out of their tents, we didn’t care.

Until . . . . .

“Ewwwww! This carpet is wet!”

After I’d stepped in the soggy mess our eyes drifted up to the ceiling where crumpled wallpaper showed signs of water damage. We had just unpacked and put away the contents of six suitcases and one hundred pounds (Sterling, not weight) worth of groceries. Looking like Spiderman, my hands and arms outstretched, I hopped from spot to spot and patted all over the walls searching for more signs of damp.

I patted down all the recently filled cupboards and shelves. There was no sign of running water.

We waited and watched.

Somehow a small damp patch on the carpet you could feel but not see turned into a squashy obvious puddle.

We were demoralized. The campsite owners were alarmed. The maintenance men were less than sympathetic.

“You didn’t know a swimming pool was included in the price of your rental did you?!”

Oh ha.

“You should have popped down the shops and bought some wellington boots and charged them to the campsite!”

Ha bloody ha.

Long story short . . . oh wait, too late for that . . . we have to move.

Our caravan has been condemned.

It could only happen to us.

English bottoms
Remember the view from our balcony? This is our view now. What do you think of it?

WELCOME RACE FANS! and Carol

During a lump-in-throat inducing rendition of the national anthem by Dr. Jesse McGuire on trumpet, not the usual warbling pop star, and due to Air Force cuts we were treated to a fly past of 50 – Fifty! – airplanes in a tight chevron pattern. Everyone pointed and stared, open-mouthed, as the single-engine planes kept in perfect formation. From the moment they appeared on the horizon, soared gracefully overhead and disappeared behind the stadium the crowd was awestruck. As Dr. J completed the Star Spangled Banner the stadium erupted! (Above video is from 2009.)

50 plane fly past at Phoenix NASCAR 50 plane fly past at Phoenix NASCAR 50 plane fly past at Phoenix NASCAR

I’ve got goose bumps just thinking about it. Concerns about rain delays were forgotten as tufty white clouds and a brilliant Arizona sky formed a backdrop.

The parking lot outside the stadium was a sea of RVs with more of them littered all over the center of the track.

A sea of RVs flooded the parking lot outside the stadium
A sea of RVs flooded the parking lot outside the stadium
 . . . . . . and flowed into the infield.
. . . . . . and flowed into the infield.
See those two guys dead center in the photo?
See those two guys dead center in the photo?
What a great vantage point!
What a great vantage point!

I had chosen to support a few drivers to increase my odds of picking a winner: Jimmie Johnson, because he is quite good-looking; Dale Earnhardt, Jr. because he won at Daytona and he seemed a good prospect; A.J. Allmendinger because he has the same initials as my son and you’ve just got love that last name; and Paul Menard because his car is so pretty.

Jimmie Johnson's car
Jimmie Johnson’s car
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s car
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car
Jimmie and Dale have spotted me in the crowd and are waving at me!
Jimmie and Dale have spotted me in the crowd and are waving at me!
Paul Menard's car tarted up in aqua, cobalt blue and day-glow yellow
Paul Menard’s car tarted up in aqua, cobalt blue and day-glow yellow

For me, the racing is incidental to the rest of the excitement.

Pit stop mayhem. Note the fishing poles to coax drivers in. Wouldn't it be fun to mix them up?
Pit stop mayhem. Note the fishing poles to coax drivers in. Wouldn’t it be fun to mix them up when the race police, dressed in black and white, weren’t looking?
C'mon guys! I haven't got all day!
C’mon guys! I haven’t got all day!
Hey kids! You could climb that fence a have a really good view of the race.
Hey kids! You could climb that fence a have a really good view of the race.
I'm the one in white. Can you see me? Just kidding.
I’m the one in white. Can you see me? Just kidding.

For those of you who feel that racing being incidental is a heinous statement, I took some photos of the racing.

Phoenix NASCAR 2014 Phoenix NASCAR 2014 Phoenix NASCAR 2014 Phoenix NASCAR 2014

My criteria for choosing winners needs some revising as Kevin Harvick took the trophy.

Kevin Harvick in a victory donut. Yes, he's in there!
Kevin Harvick in a victory donut. Yes, he’s in there!
Kevin emerging from a donut!
Kevin emerging from his donut! Can you read what it says on the side of his car? Freaky fast.

If you just like the noise, turn your volume right up and watch and listen to a restart.

My ears are still ringing.

By the way, did you know that if you put in silicone putty earplugs and then eat crisps/potato chips the noise inside your skull is phenomenal. It sounds like the world is coming to an end.

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