flying

Hurricane Dorian approaches

The National Hurricane Center’s 5pm update shows the storm veering slightly further east than earlier reports indicated, but still shows Orlando within the “Cone of Uncertainty.” Thankfully, the chances of Dorian making landfall in Florida are getting smaller with each update.

However, a “Hurricane Watch” has been issued for Northern and Southern Brevard as well as Volusia Counties while a “Tropical Storm Watch” is in effect for Inland Volusia, Northern Lake, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Southern Lake Counties. Mandatory evacuations orders are in place in Northern/Southern Brevard starting at 8am tomorrow.

Flights in/out of MCO have not been cancelled for tonight into Monday after all, but all Amtrak service south of Jacksonville remains closed until Tuesday (yes, I’m “still mad” about that – do you know how much cab fare is from Orlando to Jacksonville?). However, Disney World, Universal and SeaWorld will remain open as scheduled.

Categories: Amtrak, florida, flying, hurricanes, news, Orlando, transportation, weather, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

Preparing for Hurricane Dorian

I wasn’t expecting to have to create a post like this this far out from landfall, but here we are:

Wednesday – Gov. DeSantis declares State of Emergency for all 67 counties in Florida. As of 8pm, NHC shows the storm making a direct path across the state, the eye crossing Kissimmee on Tuesday night as a Cat 1 storm.

Thursday – FSU’s home opener moved from Jacksonville to their home stadium in Tallahasse. Various weekend concerts are cancelled across Central/South Florida. Meanwhile, TWC’s Jim Cantore is seen having dinner in Vero Beach.

Friday – The NHC’s 8am update shows the storm making a “J” shape across Central Florida with the eye crossing directly over Orlando on Wednesday evening.

Many grocery stores run out of water/other food supplies, while many gas stations along the Space Coast report shortages. Schools across Florida are pre-emptively closed on Tuesday (as many will be used as emergency shelters).

Also, while most of Disney World is currently expected to remain open (except the water parks, Copper Creek Cabins at Wilderness Lodge, the cabins at Fort Wilderness, the overwater bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village, the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs, and any events at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports), all flights in/out of MCO have been cancelled until further notice, ditto all Amtrak trains south of Jacksonville (I was thinking they would run MORE trains to ensure the maximum number of people can evacuate – especially since landfall isn’t expected until TUESDAY).

Which effectively means I’m stuck here until the storm passes whether I want to be or not (spoiler alert: I don’t. I was planning on taking Amtrak up north on Saturday) as all residential amenities (pool, gym, leasing office, etc.) here at Sea Isle Resort Apartments will close as of 5pm Saturday with mandatory “balcony safety inspections” on Sunday.

Thankfully, as of their 5pm update, the NHC shows the storm hugging the coast all the way from Vero Beach up to Savanna. Orlando is safe… or is it?

 

Categories: Amtrak, florida, flying, hurricanes, news, Orlando, transportation, weather, Williamsburg | Leave a comment

A broken heart and tattered jeans (part 1)

As you can probably guess, this wasn’t the best week for me. My mom died suddenly on Monday night and I was told I had to come in on Tues or Wed so I could attend a viewing on “Thurs” that was moved to Saturday to be “more convenient” to out of town visitors (um, hi) meaning I paid DOUBLE the airfare (out of my own pocket no less) to fly out a day earlier than I wanted for absolutely nothing. To make matters worse, nearly everything about the combined service was a “disaster” (not my word). Thankfully, it ended quickly, and we could get on to more important things… like dozens of people I haven’t seen in 20 years (or more) asking me “when are you flying back.”

The real answer was “not soon enough,” but such honesty is kind of frowned upon in these settings so I was forced to repeatedly pull an arbitrary date from thin air right on the spot. Improv was never my strong suit so forcing me to do it on command can only end well, right?

Thankfully, after the obligatory, overlong, over loud “celebratory dinner,” my brother finally got the internet in the house working again (which is another story entirely) so I managed to book a flight a day earlier than I told people at the service. #winning

That day was Monday.

It started out by my aunts and uncle coming over and informing me to “get breakfast here as we aren’t stopping anywhere” in fact they left me alone in a dead woman’s house for almost 20 minutes so I could do that (apparently, the funeral home needed the flowers we specifically asked people NOT to send be returned that morning so they could prepare for another service). This whole self-serve breakfast thing would have been cool, but my older brother cleaned out the fridge the night before so there was literally nothing in there but two coffee creamers and half a container of guacamole… which would have worked out great, if they hadn’t taken the chips with them.

They get back shortly before noon giving me barely any time to breathe, let alone bring said flowers inside, before my Uncle Tom impatiently declares “we’re leaving. NOW. Let’s move.” Okay, fine, he also decides to take my mom’s car so he can leave his in the driveway (his wife is paranoid of people robbing the place post funeral).

Anyway, said car, actually a burgundy colored minivan, was flanked with trash bags (so animals won’t get into it) with the passenger side being blocked completely by a stack of bags nearly as tall as I am (no really). So, instead of waiting for him to pull the car out like a “normal” person, I scramble to climb over them and as I try to work my way into the cramped back seat, I hear a loud ripping noise.

I can’t check this immediately, but this cannot POSSIBLY be good. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do about it until I got to the airport…

Categories: adventures, Autism, coal region, family, flying, Pennsylvania, sensory processing disorder, transportation | Leave a comment

A broken heart and tattered jeans (part 2)

My Uncle Tom pulls up to the ticketing area around 1:30pm, and I very carefully get myself and my bags out of the car so as not to cause any more damage to my jeans. The only place I can possibly change out of these ripped pants was in the restrooms.

Fortunately, I had a spare set of dress pants in my bag, and conveniently enough the only trash can in the lower terminal was under the sink across from the exit to my stall. So, I rezip my bag, throw the jeans in the trash and head to airline check-in as if nothing happened – because it didn’t.

Yep, dress pants on, hoodie on (as I couldn’t fit in my carry-on), ticket, ID and shoes in hand. And, just as I get to the front of the line, I can barely hear a woman over the PA saying: “would the person who lost their PANTS please pick them up at the Allegiant counter. Thank you.”

Let me see if I get this straight. Someone saw the ripped jeans in the trash, fished them out of said trash, (!) followed me to the airline counter and turned them into the representative? Okay, I can sort of see the logic of that from a “security” point of view. But, seriously, let’s think how positively STEW-PED both of these individuals think I am?

AT BEST, I am a laughing stock who has given up not only his place at the front of the line but now I have to explain this to the agent. Oh, and I’m guaranteed to miss my flight so I now have 18 hours to figure out how to fit those unwanted jeans I couldn’t fit into my carry-on into my carry-on. Yeah, thanks, Good Samaritan!

What would REALLY happen is this: I’d lose my place in line, become a laughing stock of everyone in the airport (who are naturally filming this on their phones), I get to the ticket counter and am met not by an airline representative but by airport police and the TSA who will not give a damn about my “story” because I’m obviously a nutjob of some kind (the A-word would definitely NOT help me in this case). Not only do I miss my flight, I get a free trip to JAIL and the opportunity to explain this to a judge who will care even less about my “story” than the police/TSA, but at least the media (who saw the inevitable YouTube video of me) would, shoving their mikes in my face and shouting loaded questions over each other as I leave the courthouse. Yeah, all that attention, and I don’t even have a book to plug… but I would get to rebook my flight at my own expense, so there’s that.

Thankfully, neither of those situations happened. I ignored the announcements (as I could barely hear it anyway) and proceeded through the machine rewarded by a full pat down with complimentary cock groping (literally the first person to touch my cock in yeeears) and gun powder residue test (which was a new one on me) and them sent me into the terminal like “yeah, I totally not freaking out. I am not ‘violated,’ I am 100% sec- oh, shit, my flight is boarding RIGHT NOW!!

I managed to get to my gate just before they closed the plane door. I was the last person to board the plane (which made finding my seat a snap), but I was still on the plane.

Thankfully, my dress pants held up for the duration of the flight…

 

UPDATE (3/13/2019): Writing this post made me angry in spots, but it also reminded me how lucky I was in this regard as “funny” as the rest of the line found this incident, it could be seen a legitimate security risk… even if my actions made logical sense, at least to me anyway. Heck, this non-incident happened two days ago, and I keep expecting HSA agents to show up at my door. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened… yet.

Categories: adventures, Autism, family, flying, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Sanford, sensory processing disorder, transportation | Leave a comment

Photo: My favorite part of going home…

Categories: adventures, art, cartoons\memes, coal region, entertainment, family, florida, flying, Harrisburg, Internet\FB, Orlando, Pennsylvania, Sanford, transportation | Leave a comment

Travel Day

Categories: adventures, art, cartoons\memes, entertainment, flying, holidays, humor, Internet\FB, transportation | Leave a comment

Not-so-happy returns

(Sorry, I really don’t feel like doing a write up now. Hopefully, these notes will do)

 

10:15am – leave house

12:07pm – arrive in Harrisburg

12:35pm – locate the Sheet z across from the airport. Sandwiches is awful, fountain drink is okay… okay, the 2nd one was (as I dumped the first one out).

12:48pm – arrive at MDT, agent for American Airlines cannot find my tickets tells me it is MY responsibility to call Travel agent or booking site to find it.

12:59 pm – shouting my name and phone number into the phone just to get: “Sir, I can not hear you. I am hanging up.” *click*

1:07pm – try to call Expedia. Get nowhere. Go inside. “Try the other airlines.”

1:28pm – none of the other airlines can find my flight on AA either.

1:35pm – I have no choice. I MUST get a new ticket for an extra $100 plus taxes and fees. It is too late because the flight I was trying to get onto is already making its “final boarding call.”

1:48pm – have tickets in hand, go through security to have power happy TSA agent rip my bag open and lecture me about the toiletries in my clear mesh bag. She then informs me that if I continue “arguing with a federal agent” (apparently we are seeing two different things here) the officers surrounding me would “be more than happy to discuss it with you in our holding cell.”

1:54pm – Get to the other side of the “hey, that’s my fat, ugly, hairy stomach hanging out when I lift my arms, this isn’t awkward or embarrassing at all” machine and one of the intimidation agents from a few moments ago stops me and asks if there is “any medical condition that would impede me doing a full pat down of your persons?”

“Actually, yes, it’s called Autism Spectrum disorder and it means I have severe, um, dislike of strang…,” and of course he does it anyway. Thanks for making me to talk to myself.  It almost distracted me from the patdown. No, it didn’t.
“You can go now. Have a nice day.”

2:15pm – board flight as usual. It is probably the smallest plane I have ever been on. I can literally barely fit down the aisle, but my bag fit in the overhead… once I was able to figure out how to get it up there without hitting the passengers in the surrounding seats.

2:22pm – take off.

3pm – arrive at PHL for my 2hr, 15 minutes layover.

4:15pm – get early dinner at airport. Chicken was all right, but fries were cold.

4:23pm – return to terminal. Flight boards in an hour and twenty minutes.

4:47pm – Passengers from plane I’m going out on are disembarking.

5:11pm – “Once again, this is a completely full flight. ALL passengers in groups 7 or higher MUST check their carry on baggage.”

5:13 PM – cool. I’m in… group 8. Yah.

5:27 pm – boarding begins. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere for the next 10-15 minutes.

5:47pm – finally board – it is another 10 minutes before we finished boarding and pushed back from the terminal. Just to find out we are “number 20 for take-off…”

6:44pm – Airborne. Things are starting to look up…

Categories: adventures, Autism, flying, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, transportation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Norfolk: Day 1 – Travel and tribulation

It’s 10am as I’m sitting here, fighting sleep in the middle of a crowded terminal and writing this intro while waiting for my flight to begin boarding. I had less then 3 hours of sleep as my shoulder and gut bothered my for most of the night and I had to leave the condo no later than 8am to get to the airport in time to get through both the chaos at AA’s self-check-in area and the notoriously difficult TSA screening area. This is going to be a great day.

So, we arrived at PHL approximately 20 minutes early. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, except that my layover has now gone from 2 hours and 40 minutes to just under 3 hours. Three hours at an airport is a long time so I stopped to get lunch in the food court between terminals B and C before heading over to the shuttle at gate C10.

I got off the half-full shuttle, walked up to the giant monitor above the “Information” desk and saw there was a flight to Norfolk leaving in less than 30 minutes from gate F29 so after some careful consideration, I decided to go for it. I get to the counter, speak with the middle-ages agent who looks at with a plastic airline smile and says:

“I’m sorry, the last passenger has already boarded, and the plane door is already shut.”

“So,” the gravity of the situation sinking in. “You’re not saying I’m too late?”

“Yes, but don’t worry. There’s another flight in only two hours. I’m sorry. Have a nice day.”

That’s the thing about people being “sorry” for me, it’s always bad news and their semi-sincere apologies never actually change the situation. However, I likes how she said “only two hours” as if pissing away time in an airport was easy and fun. It wasn’t.

I go back to the dining area near the entrance, put my bags on a chair and sit down at the table next to them. Less than a minute later, I’m approached by a blonde-haired young man in a bright yellow vest, probably going to tell me to “move along” or something.

“My name is Alex, and I work for the airport. And I have a, um, question for you. Are you coming in or out – arriving or departing today?”

“Both,” I replied cautiously.

“You mean like a layover, um, okay, thank you. Sorry for bothering you.”

What the hell just happened? I know he was fishing for a reason to toss me out of the airport, but his body language and anxious tone said otherwise. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was…. *facepalm*

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s TWO “missed connections” in less than ten minutes. Yeah, overthinking an awkward two-minute encounter with a super-hot airport employee I’ll never see again is definitely going to make the next hour and…ugh, forty-five minutes just fly by. It didn’t.

An hour later, I was sitting in the crowded terminal area when the gate opened and people stream out of the small plane parked outside said gate, down a set of narrow stairs and down a cattle shoot to the gate that I’m supposed to be traveling out of. That is not a good sign, and it was exactly what I was afraid would happen. Guess what, it did, and as a special bonus, I was too large for my seatbelt to fit correctly and my toes were scrunched up in the same under-the-seat-in-front-of-me area as my bag. I had friction blisters on my toes, and my vacation hadn’t even started yet. The good news was it was only an hour long flight. Yep, wait three to fly one.

I leave the plane, relieved that I’m exiting into the gate rather than down those narrow stairs, and pass through the windowed bridge linking the terminal to the main lobby (which resembles the pre-security seating area at MCO) – where I could see that it was pouring rain outside. It was almost 6pm so I stopped into the only restaurant in the building that was still open – a sports bar with more TVs than patrons despite the nearly full airplane I just got off of.

I finish my food and head downstairs to the Baggage Claim area where I eventually find an information counter. When I asked the clueless young woman in the beige Navy uniform where the ground transportation counter, she just looked at me blankly. Apparently, ORF doesn’t offer “shared ride services” so if I wanted to do anything besides pick up my luggage and take it to my rental car (duh, this is America – EVERYONE drives), I was like the Navy says “SOL.”

I take my hat out of my bag, flip the hood of my raincoat up and walked around on the median until someone asked if I “needed a cab.” It wasn’t my first choice of transit, but it beat walking around on an uncovered median for another 10-15 minutes as my vacation officially opened….

Categories: adventures, florida, flying, Norfolk, Orlando, Pennsylvania, Philadephia, transportation, Virginia | Leave a comment

Holiday week in review

Dec 21st – My flight from Orlando to Baltimore was frustratingly delayed over an hour for unknown reasons so it was already dark by the time we landed at Baltimore-Washington International. I’m used to BWI, but I was completely unprepared for cold, wind… or the 35-cent increase in Light Rail fares. Due to my relatively late arrival in HVTC (7:30pm), mom decided she would pick me the next morning so I had an awful dinner at Panera Bread and could barely find my hotel in the scarcely lit side street surrounding the mall, let alone feel my ears\nose\fingers.

Dec 22nd – Overnight in Hunt Valley. Nothing exciting to report here except that I was going to post Hanukkah memes, but couldn’t find enough that weren’t juvenile or anti-Semitic. I’m all for humor (which is why I compile these meme posts to begin with), but NOT at the expense of others.

We got back to Shamokin barely in time to meet my aunt (yes, THAT one, and while I wasn’t looking forward to it, it went relatively well) and her boyfriend at a popular pizza place in the next town over. I say “barely” because mom turned down the wrong street and got completely lost so we had to ask Siri how to get back. However, I can say with certainty that “the best pizza in town” isn’t.

Dec 24th – Normally, we spend Christmas Eve going to my parent’s friends the Nye’s house for a special holiday themed “open house” at 5:30 for dinner (featuring “Uncle Paulie” in the world’s least convincing Santa outfit) before heading over to the Candlelight Service (7pm). THIS year, instead of doing that we went to my brother’s house in Nazareth for a Christmas Eve dinner with his family (wife, and two young children). It was loud, hectic and crowded, but I got some nice pictures.

Since said dinner wasn’t until at least 5pm, mom decided it was safer to stay overnight. I was downstairs in the basement on an uncomfortable air mattress with sheets that were too small to actually be of any use. Fortunately, the ticking of the clock 3 feet away from said mattress was loud enough to keep me awake until the heat kicked on around 2am.

Dec 25th – Did I mention, the kids “slept in” until 6am? Slackers. By the time I admitted defeat and headed upstairs around 7:15am, the living and sitting rooms were a complete war zone. Toys, wrapping paper, boxes, unopen able plastic containers. On the plus side, my “gift,” a plastic card for a gas station (your brother has no license and no car and you get him a gift certificate to a gas station?) was waiting for me in a tiny box in an otherwise untouched stack of gifts on the other side of the sofa. Breakfast was at 9am and was good. As soon as we finished, we packed our stuff in mom’s van and drove 5.3 miles to my OTHER brother’s house in Bethlehem.

It was 11am by the time we arrived, and my sister-in-law had just put out the last of her Christmas brunch. My mom chastised me “how can you say you are trying to ‘lose weight’ when you had not one but TWO breakfasts in two hours?” The conversation at the table I shared with my mom, brother, SIL and her parents quickly went from light and humorous to dark and slightly disturbing (dead pets, bird attacks, death camps and Donald Trump. I pitied my SIL for trying to keep the conversation as light as possible. After less than an hour there, we left and made the roughly 90-minute commute back to the middle of nowhere, where we could contemplate our nothing lives. At least, I don’t need a password for my mom’s wifi…

Dec 26th – Before today, I would have assumed this would be a separate post. You see today is the day BOTH my brothers came to Shamokin and brought their kids with them…but we weren’t here to celebrate Christmas. We were here to work, cleaning up the garage, my dad’s den and what’s left of the basement. We got the den passable – in that one is actually able to pass through it without killing themselves.

The reason only ONE of the three areas was tackled was our mom decided since my eldest was coming in around 11am, we would meet him at a REAL pizza place along with my aunt and her boyfriend (who was able to come in because it was “slow” in his shop), my other brother came in with his family at quarter-til-12 so we weren’t out of there until almost 2pm.

After this, we were ready to work…until my middle brother got an important call on his cell which left us in limbo for almost a full hour. Finally, we get to go outside and open a mysterious chest in the garage (dad wanted “all 5 boys” present for it, but my 3yo nephew and his older sister went home with their mom after lunch). Good news, there was stuff inside it; bad news, it was boring stuff so my SIL took my remaining nephew home while the three girls stayed behind and played Clue in the living room with gramma while the three of us tackled the desk\cabinets\miscellaneous stacks of paper between them (dating back to 1973). The girls definitely won the night…

 

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, coal region, family, florida, flying, Harrisburg, holidays, light rail, Orlando, Pennsylvania, transportation, weather | Leave a comment

Hanging in

Wednesday: Missed the bus to the airport this morning because I went to the wrong stop. In fairness, it WAS 5am and I was running on 2hrs of sleep (after packing and making plane reservations). I barely made it through security in time for my flight, but with the exception of minor turbulence coming into Charlotte, the rest of my trip went relatively smoothly with me arriving at MDT at 1:07pm (four minutes ahead of schedule).

My brother Andy and I arrived at the house around 3pm, and I almost didn’t recognize it: as he and my older brother Ned had spent the past four weekends sorting out his stuff whenever he fell asleep. It was a huge deal to be able to not only see but to actually be able to walk across the floor without worrying about knocking any of his towering piles of stuff over.

The meeting with the funeral director was long and arduous as we went over details for music, flowers, even the menu for the wake (to be held after the service). Then came the part about interviewing us for the obituary (which he initially said would run as a “teaser” on Friday and “in full” in Saturday’s edition). Once that was over, we met with my aunt Mary-Ann and her boyfriend at a local sports bar. It wasn’t necessarily my first choice (our options are kind of limited in town), but we did have a good time considering the circumstances even if I was on the wrong end of the table to make any meaningful part in the conversation.

Thursday: The funeral director came by in the morning to drop off the galley of the obituary for “corrections.” God, did it need them as everything they could get wrong, they did: his name, his place of birth, his rank in the Air Force, etc. Their grammar was almost as bad as their notetaking so I was basically forced to rewrite it from scratch as many of my dad’s friends came by or called to wish us their condolences.

Most of the afternoon was spent helping my brother cleaning up my dad’s den\garage. Piles of books, papers, folders, etc. were all boxed up and taken to the recycling center over on Venn Access (the garage alone took two trips – and we only tackled the front half of it). It wasn’t much… but like mom said to someone on the phone:

“It’s amazing how quickly you can delete all traces of a person’s life,” she said continuing with a sigh. “One day you have valuable possessions and then s-suddenly it’s all ‘trash’ to be thrown out.”

Friday: Woke up to see the changes Andy made to the obit this morning’s paper (I dreamed they made a bigger deal at the paper: editorial, op-ed & memorial cartoon). It made it seem so “final.”

I’m doing my best to keep everything together. Today is a “slow” day (most of his friends were here\called yesterday) It’ll be MUCH harder tomorrow when the rest of the family starts arriving for the viewing…

Categories: coal region, family, flying, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

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