Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Trials of Travel

Travel can be restorative, broadening, and a blessing.  Unfortunately, the process itself can itself be so stressful as to make one wonder if the benefits outweigh the costs.  That certainly was the case for me yesterday.

The day actually started out as the night before, where I wanted to leave the office between 3 and 4 so that we could leisurely make our way to Milwaukee where we'd stay ahead of our 6:00 AM flight.  Unfortunately, my work day exploded, and I ended up arriving home at 7:00.  Regardless, we made it to Milwaukee by 9:30 and our accommodations were serviceable.

We awoke at 3:30 AM to make a 4:00 shuttle, but arrived five minutes late and missed it.  Stress.  After ten minutes of waiting for the shuttle to return, I made the decision to grab the car and drive ourselves to the airport.  Stress.  By the time I got back to the lobby, lo and behold, there was the shuttle.  Stress.  Back to the packing spot and a dash back to the shuttle.

We arrived at the airport about 4:30 and found the check in area swamped with people.  Stress.  Fortunately, we'd been upgraded to first class, and there was an empty priority line.  Finally, a break.

We flew into Atlanta for our transfer to Nassau, and it was a tight layover of 40 minutes.  Stress.  In all of the documents received from Delta, they warned that we'd be flying out of the International Terminal.  Here's a screen shot of an example:

The International Terminal is at the end of the train line - Gate F - and we arrived at Gate A; as far away as possible.  Stress.  Hence we hustled hard, and made it go where we thought we needed to go.  Immediately, though, it appeared obvious we were not where we needed to be.  After a quick question from a helpful attendant, we found we were not leaving from the International Terminal at all, and needed to be back at Gate B.  Stress.

We ran, but were able to board on time as boarding was late.  Ah, another break. 

We flew into Nassau through a pretty bad rainstorm, but arrived in good shape.  We got through customs without issue, and started our 5 hour layover.  Unfortunately, we landed in the international terminal, and there was a whole separate terminal for our domestic flight to Marsh Harbour.  Hey, wait.  Wasn't our return layover really tight in Nassau?  How could we make it in time, especially trying to juggle between two terminals.  We'd never make it.  Stress.

Fortunately we found a nice little bar with cold Kalik Light and uneven but serviceable internet and were able to confirm our return offered us plenty of time.  Between the tasty beer, our first meal of the day (a hamburger from Wendy's) and the reassurance of our verified travel plans, I finally started to relax.

The layover lasted forever, but I actually caught a small nap and the people watching was fantastic.  A vast majority of the people of the domestic flights were Bahamians travelling from island to island, and given the lay of the country, I thought it pretty unique to anyplace else in the world. 

We boarded our turboprop right on time and made it to Marsh Harbour without issue.  Unfortunately, our friends who were supposed to pick us up were nowhere to be found.  After 15 minutes, still no friends  Stress.  Leaving the travel planning to Mrs. YDP as I had no time for it myself with work, I asked where we were staying.  She wasn't sure.  How about where the car rental place was?  More unknowns.  Did our friends even make it to the island?  If they didn't, what then?  Here we were at a darkening and quickly becoming abandoned airport with no idea of where to go or what to do.  Stress.

At this point I made the internal decision that this would be our last trip to the Bahamas.  Getting here was just too hard.  Vacation is supposed to be fun.  We had been travelling for nearly 15 hours and were physically and mentally shot.  Frankly, this sucked.

But then a rental minivan appeared in the distance, and upon its arrival exploded to reveal friends sporting wide smiles and more cold Kalik Light.  Finally, everything would be OK.

We spent the evening at Snappa's, where we drank copious rounds of Mind Snappas and had a fantastic meal of fresh mahi-mahi.  We retired to our rental home where we closed the day on the deck with more cold beer and BS stories.

I feel into bed at 9 completely exhausted, and awoke at 7:30.  It was the most amount of consecutive hours of sleep I've had in I don't know how long.  After a leisurly breakfast of lobster omlette (yes, there is such a thing), the first Kalik Light of the day, and the following beauty, it's clear I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

Stressless.  Completely.  Finally.

We'll be back, Marsh Harbour.  Count on it.

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