Some days just don’t work out according to plan and in spite of our best intentions, we butt heads with reality. For as much as I travel, it is amazing to me how well things work out most of the time. But when things go bad on a travel day, they tend to snow ball. Monday was that kind of day for me.
I had a great weekend at the NE Horse Fair in Lincoln. There were three incredible volunteers that helped me every minute of the weekend, with setting up the booth, manning the booth during the show, getting me food and water when I needed it. I even had a horse valet that saddle my horse (an awesome QH stallion by the name of Little Goniff) and brought him to the venue just in time for me to mic-up and step on the horse and give my presentations. I felt very spoiled. My endless thanks to Gretchen, Carrie and Stephanie for your endless energy and cheerful company.
The weekend went so well, I should have known it was too good to be true. In fact, on Sunday I found myself bragging that because I had an early flight on Monday, I would be back in Denver at 7:20a and home by noon—half a day more at home than usual! I was in bed early that night in anticipation of a 5:00a trip to the airport but my sweet dreams were rudely interrupted at midnight with a call from the airline that my flight had been cancelled and that I was rebooked on a 7:50 PM flight (12 hours later!). Arrghh! I cancelled my early wakeup call and decided to worry about it in the morning.
Monday morning my options didn’t look any better—there was one earlier flight but it was very over-booked (love those airline policies) and my chances looked slim for getting on standby. After a little research, I discovered it was only a 6 ½ hour drive from Lincoln to the Denver airport, where I could retrieve my car and be home three hours later. If things went according to plan, I might be home by 7:00p, almost a full hour before my rescheduled flight would’ve left Lincoln. Since hanging out at the cozy Lincoln airport all day did not sound even remotely appealing, I was on the road in my rental car to Denver by 8:00a.
At the next town, I ordered some fast-food and picked up an audio book and soon I was cruising happily down the interstate, the miles flying by quickly with the straight highway and high speed limits. I guess it worked out better for me than for some others but it wasn’t long before I hit my first delay: the west-bound interstate was closed due to a roll-over accident. Thankfully no one was hurt, but conveniently (not) the SUV had come to rest on its roof smack in the middle of the two-lane highway; so there we sat for almost 45 minutes while EMS tended to the accident. Oh well, with that delay behind me, I was soon cruising again, still hopeful of making it home before nightfall.
Things went smoothly for a while, except for the harrowing drive that I had when my gas warning light came on in the middle of the Nebraska corn fields, with a sign announcing, “next exit with services 28 miles.” With the help of my clenched butt cheeks and white knuckles, I made it to the next gas station, plugged in the gas hose and ran inside for an urgent visit to the facilities. When I came back out there was gas spraying all over the ground; my tank had filled but the emergency shut off didn’t work. I took a berating from the clerk, but then as I was leaving realized that it was their faulty equipment that had not worked. Why were they blaming me? No matter, back on the road again, with Denver International now in my sights.
With the efficiency of someone who knows her way around the airport, I drove up to my truck, unloaded my considerable luggage, drove back to the rental car return and hopped the shuttle back to the terminal. Within 20 minutes, I was back on the road home, this time in my own vehicle. Smugly, I called Rich to inform him that I would be home in time to have dinner with him and he warned me not to count my chickens before they hatched and to drive very carefully on this last 175 mile leg of my 825 mile trip.
Then I hit the visqueen. With heavy interstate traffic approaching Denver, I was in the far left lane with a concrete retaining wall on my left and cars on all sides when the huge shoot of plastic appeared in front of me, wafting around the car in front. In a split second I made the decision it was too dangerous to veer and that it was just plastic and wouldn’t hurt anything as it hit my grill. Proud of myself for maintaining a steady course, I glanced at the rear-view mirror hoping to see the sheet of plastic appear from behind me. No such luck—no plastic. Clearly it was stuck on my truck and seconds later, the loud staccato ”pwof-pwof-pwof” was all the proof I needed. I quickly crossed four lanes of traffic and pulled over to the shoulder; leaning under my truck, I could see the whole sheet of plastic perfectly wrapped around my universal joint like a cocoon. Great. Wondering if it might melt or unravel, I drove a little farther on the shoulder, hoping to make it to the next exit. But the noise was very loud and I was concerned for my aged but beloved Chevy.
Figuring it was high-time to get my money’s worth from my AAA membership, I called in for the first time ever. Amazingly, within 10 minutes a tow truck appeared and the guy went right to work freeing my drive train from its bondage (it wasn’t easy). Apparently competition amongst tow services is fierce in that part of Denver because two more tow trucks appeared while I was there, their drivers aggravated they didn’t make it to the scene in time for the catch. Surprisingly, within 20-30 minutes, I was back on the road again with everything running fine.
Cautious but optimistic, I completed the drive home and even with all my delays, I still made it home before my rescheduled flight would’ve even left Lincoln. Amazingly, Plan B worked. And I made it in time for Rich and I to have a late dinner together. It never felt so good to be home and I finished the audio book just as I pulled in the driveway. All things considered, not a bad day.
This weekend I head to Lexington KY for the National Youth Horse Leader’s Symposium—a gathering of 4H, Pony Club and other horse club leaders from around the country. It should be a great event and I am excited to see some of my old friends there. With a little luck, I’ll make it home on Sunday this week, instead of my typical Monday. But I am not counting my chickens yet.
Enjoy the ride,