Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The long and winding road

Way back in September, Jenna Nejman contacted me about judging the performance division at the fifth annual Show for the Cure.  I was absolutely delighted to be asked.  For the last few years, Chicago has topped my list of places to attend a live show.  In addition to being a hotbed of high end resin and custom competition, it's also home to my best hobby friend, Tiffany Purdy.  I accepted Jenna's offer despite the fact that it didn't come with a plane ticket.

My other best friend Carol works for Frontier Airlines so I asked her if I could use use one of her "Buddy Passes" to fly to Chicago.  She's a really good friend so of course she said yes.  In fact, we even planned to fly to Chicago together and spend the day exploring downtown before I headed north to Itasca and she flew back home.

Unfortunately, it didn't happen like that.  Blame spring break, the NCAA basketball tournament and deep discounts on last minute tickets, but as the day of my departure approached, the flights went from largely empty to mostly full.  Then they went to entirely full and oversold.  Buddy passes are stand-by tickets.  If there's no room, you don't get to go.

Not surprisingly, I panicked. Carol told me not to worry.  The day's first flight was really early in the morning.  "There are always some no-shows, " she assured me.  "We'll get you on that plane."

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.  I sat and watched as the first flight to Chicago left without me.
Several hours later, I watched as the second plane also left without me.  The gate agent told me the next two flights were also oversold.  I called Jenna and Tiffany to let them know they should cancel my hotel room.  It really looked like this was as close as I was going to get to the Windy City...
And then--a miracle!  Somehow I managed to get the very last seat on the third plane.  I had an uneventful flight to Midway Airport, where I boarded the El train to downtown Chicago.  Although it was late in the day, the sun was still out and I had fun snapping a few pictures from the train windows.
I got off the El and walked to Union Station.  Since I'd originally planned to spend the entire day in Chicago, I tried to soak up as many of the city's sights as I could during that short walk.
I was having a good time until I realized how quickly the sun was setting. 
Fortunately, I did make it to Union Station before nightfall.  There I boarded another train which took me to Itasca.  Jenna picked me up at the station and brought me to the Holiday Inn.  All in all, I had spent more than sixteen hours in transit.
I wish I could say the trip home was less eventful, but sadly that was not the case.  Sometime during the course of my visit, I managed to lose my driver's license.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until I was standing at the ticket counter trying to pick up my boarding pass for the return flight.  For the record, it is possible to get on a commercial flight without picture id.  I wouldn't recommend it, however!


  1. I'm envious! From a former Chicagoan (and wishes she still was one...)

  2. I really wish I could have spent more time in the city. After getting in so much later than I'd planned, there was just no time to sight see. I definitely want to go back (preferably with Carol!) and spend a day in the city and then another couple days at Tiffany's farm. That would be awesome!

  3. Oh gosh! Sorry your trip was so stressful! I'm glad you had a good time anyway.

    Losing my ID or having my purse stolen on a trip is a phobia of mine post 9/11, how did they deal with it at the airport?

  4. I was really surprised how easy it was to get on the plane without an id. The Frontier employee at the ticket counter was NOT PLEASED with me, but I think she guessed (correctly) that I had nowhere else to go and would stand at her counter until I got a ticket. She made me completely empty my wallet and purse in search of a photo id and then settled for giving me a boarding pass with "NO ID" written on it. When I presented that to the checker at security, I was immediately taken out of the line to talk to a TSA agent. He was very nice. He looked at all the non-photo id's (credit cards, etc) I had in my wallet and let me go through after just a couple minutes. And that was that!

    Of course if I hadn't made it on the plane, I would have just had to stay on the concourse indefinitely. There's no telling if I would have been able to make it through security as easily a second time.

  5. What an adventure! As the daughter of a pilot, who has flown her entire life stand-by, I can feel your pain! Glad it all worked out in the end and you were able to enjoy the Windy City. I miss you, Chicago!

  6. We miss you too Danielle!

    Jen, if I had my act more together we could have arranged some quality time downtown. I live right in the city. Next visit, drop me an email and I'll take you and Purdy to dinner. You have to keep Tiffany away from the wine though.