Ya know what makes me a happy camper?  Being in the mountains.

Each year, when I venture out to Colorado with my extended family for our annual trip to Leadville, I can’t help but feel like it’s kind of where I belong.  There’s definitely a side of me that would love to abandon everything and move to the mountains and wake up every morning to the beautiful landscape right outside my window.  I even love the snow.  Every last inch.  Plus, it would give me the perfect excuse to buy a 4-Runner, because that’s what people in Colorado drive (seriously, must be the most per capita)…well, 4-Runners and Suburus, but those are just not my style.

So, if I just disappear one day- you’ll know where to find me….I’ll be a barefoot hippie artist in Colorado.  I think I’ll probably be a barista in order to pay any bills I may have and for art supplies, of course.  :)

If you are looking for a good, cheap place to take a ski trip in Colorado- you really need to check out Ski Cooper.  Leadville is a very old, small mining town away from the big resorts, but still close enough to hop over to Copper Mtn, Keystone, Vail, or Loveland Pass anytime you want.  Who wants to come next year?

I wish I had some exciting stories from this trip, but I don’t.  I read two full books, spent some good quality time with my family, went night skiing (snowboarding, actually) for the first time and left as a popsicle….

And it was beautiful.

Sweet, sweet, Savannah.  I hated leaving this beautiful place.  I didn’t get to see hardly more than a glimpse of the city, but what I did see I adored.

This trip was sandwiched in between a lot of things going on.  I had just traveled to Kansas and back the previous weekend, and worked the weekend prior to that too.  The Saturday I flew out of OKC I had a car seat event at Choctaw FD in the morning.  The day after I would return from Georgia, I had a 2-day training in Bethany, and then I’d be leaving again the next morning at 6 am for Colorado (did ya follow all that?).  Meetings, trainings, and a long list of To Dos for several upcoming events for work made leaving a little stressful, but it was more than a daunting list of tasks I needed to accomplish that was putting butterflies in my belly…

I never had to navigate across the country by myself before.  Airports? Terminals, concourses, gates? For someone severely “directionally challenged” and not to mention extremely sheltered, I was terrified of getting lost, missing connecting flights, and being kidnapped by a scary taxi driver on the way to the hotel.

Nonetheless, I was really looking forward to the trip.  I was invited to attend the International Boating and Water Safety Summit by the US Army Corps of Engineers from our local district, whom I work closely with on my water safety program.  An awesome opportunity to learn more about boating and water safety, network with other professionals and vendors, and improve the programs that are so important to me and my organization.  Having a couple people there to keep tabs on me would prove to be my saving grace upon my arrival to the Peach State.

I made it all the way to Georgia without a single issue.  I felt so accomplished as  I hopped out of the taxi, tipped the not-so-terribly-creepy driver, and headed into the Riverfront Marriot to check-in.  I should’ve known it wouldn’t be that easy…

The ever-so-polite “front desk manager”, upon typing in my name into his little computer, left and returned with an envelope enscribed with my name and informed me that they had given away my reservation.  Now, I could understand how that happens.  I was late.  I was standing in the lobby at 11:30 at night- not the typical noon to 4pm guest. 

However….this paranoid traveler made the round of phone calls 4 days prior to confirm all shuttles, travel arrangements, and other reservations specifically telling the hotel guest services coordinator I would be a late arrival. “Of course, Ms. Farrah, I’ll make a note of it in our system” was the confirming and comforting response I had received earlier in the week.  I was all set…. or so I thought.

Front Desk Boy informed me, as I stood opposite of him in the lobby with my cute Jessica Simpson luggage in tow, that he was very sorry and that they were completely booked and that they would provide me with a room at a hotel a couple blocks away. 

If you don’t already know this, understand that I’m extremely non-confrontational.  Here’s a typical example:  I introduce myself and annunciate as best as I can “Lauren” and the person calls me “Laura”.  Instead of correcting them, I just answer to whatever name they choose to call me repeatedly until someone else corrects them.  It’s pathetic, really.  Conflict is even worse.  I’m an ostrich with her head in the sand….but nothing was holding me back tonight.

I’m sorry Ms. Farrah, but we are simply out of rooms for tonight.

You’re out of rooms?! You’re telling me there is not one single room in this entire hotel- all 8 floors of this huge hotel?! You’ve got to be kidding.  This is not okay.

I’m sorry for the inconvenience Ms. Farrah, we have a room for you down the street tonight.

You’re right, it is an inconvenience.  Big inconvenience, actually.  I have been flying for over 7 hours, I’m from Oklahoma, I have no rental car, and my conference is at THIS HOTEL.  (I stifled my tears….)

It’s just down the street ma’am. 

How would I get there? 

We’ll be happy to provide you with a complimentary taxi.

What about my 8:30 meeting in the morning?  How will I get back for that?

(silence)

This is unbelievable. This is NOT okay… I CALLED to confirm my late arrival.

Well, I have no record of that on your reservation. You can come back after 11:00 tomorrow when people check out to try and reserve a room for the rest of your stay.

Can I put my name on some kind of list?  How can you guarantee me that this isn’t going to happen tomorrow?

We don’t have a list.  It’s a very informal process.

Ha! Obviously!  This is a joke!!

Luckily, before my dismay turned into a rant, my Corps friend came to my rescue.  He had texted me to see if I made it in, and in between the time it took me to reply that I was being kicked out and for him to make it down to the lobby, he and another guy had made arrangements to bunk up so that I could take his room for the night. 

It was a long day.

When I went to officially check-in the next afternoon, they had upgraded me to a riverfront king room.  There was also a letter of apology and a bag of assorted nuts on my pillow in my new room.

The rest of my stay was great, and went too fast.  I met a ton of new people and was welcomed very warmly at the conference.  I learned a lot.  And had fun doing it. 

Before I knew it, I was packed up, checked-out (another process, since they tried to charge me for parking my invisible car), and in a shuttle on the way back to the airport.  This time the driver was a little creepier, but he went through the city to show me around a little before I left, so he kinda grew on me.  Although, my mini tour made me really disappointed to see all the places that I didn’t get a chance to explore around Savannah.  It really is a beautiful place. 

As I left Savannah, I was definitely not prepared for the itenerary of the next 12 hours of my life.  Here’s how it all went down:

Hopped back on a plane to begin my trek back to OKC.  Landed in Houston.  Switched terminals to find my departure gate (yay, me!).  Got some food.  Settled in to wait a bit until boarding time.

Flight was delayed- no big deal. Happens all the time.  We board at 9pm.

We unboard at 9:30pm…”radio issues”.

The radio is not fixable, so they move us to another flight a couple gates over.  Wait to board….

On the new plane at 10:20pm. 

Off the new plane at 10:50pm….defroster is broken, but fixable.  New departure time is estimated at 11:40pm.

The repair apparently took longer than they anticipated…and in fact, may not be fixable after all.  But they go ahead and bump the flight to a “maybe” departure at 12:45…AM.  By now, all restaurants and kiosks are closed in the concourse.  They are offerring to put people in hotels because they can’t guarantee that there will be a flight out tonight, but you only have 15 minutes to decide if you want a room because the last shuttle is leaving the airport for the night….next flight out to OKC is 8:20am.

I have to be in Bethany for a training that starts at 8:30am, so I continue to pray and wait it out.

At 1 am they have fixed the issue, moved us gates, and we board the plane.

…And stay on the plane all the way to Will Rogers World Airport, where we landed at 2:22 am.  Thank the Lord.

I waited at the baggage carosel for my cute Jessica Simpson luggage to make it’s way around and then hoisted all 50lbs of it into the back of my dad’s SUV.  I’m sure he was regretting his insistance on dropping me off and picking me up from the airport at this point.

Made it home in time to get a full 3 hours of sleep.  (That’s a nap in my world). 

The next day I managed to stay awake through 8 hours of lecture and endure multiple doses of everyone’s favorite compliment “you look tired”.

I couldn’t help but be a little proud of my tired eyes.  I can now add “independent traveler” to my list of accomplishments.  It’s not on the list, but I’m pretty sure it will remain a memorable experience from my golden year for years to come :)

xoxoxL

 

 

I’m baaaaaack.

It has been way too long, I must admit.  But I have good reason.  Reasons, actually.  Or maybe, excuses….

First and foremost, my trusty old laptop decided to acquire a wicked virus several weeks ago.  It managed to cling on to the little life it had left with the help of seemingly hundreds of anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-whatever software, but it soon succumbed to the illness(es) and abandoned me, leaving me alone in Technology World equipped with only my smartphone… and you just can’t blog with a smartphone.

Hundreds of dollars later, I’m in good company with a new portable computer…with working parts, like a cd/dvd drive and speakers that I can hear wonderful sounds through. Now, if only I can figure out how to transfer a couple thousand songs from my old iTunes library…

The other major excuse for my absence from the blogging community is that I’ve been traveling.  Which is weird, because I rarely go anywhere.  Ever.  But in a period of only about 3 weeks I”ve been to 3 different states, spanning 3 different time zones…plus, daylight savings occurred while I’ve been in Colorado.  Without being in the office and having a normal routine in quite a while, I have no idea what day it is presently or time it will be when I return.  But make no mistake- I’m not complaining.

First stop: a quick road trip to Lawrence, Kansas with my friend/coworker, Roxie.  I only have a couple of friends that will splurge on a concert, and even fewer that happen to listen to the same music I do, so I was thrilled when she approached me with the idea of going to see one of my fave musicians, Joshua Radin.  The closest venues were either Kansas or Missouri, so we opted for the nearest one in Lawrence.

Anyone who’s ever driven through Kansas knows how exciting the scenery is.  However, something we didn’t prepare for: snow. It made the last couple of hours driving a little less boring, but unfortunately neither one of us had the forethought to pack weather-appropriate gear.  To make matters worse, the venue messed up on the concert time, so we ended up having to wait in line for 2 hours. Outside in freezing temps.  I had no socks….

All this said, the concert was AMAZING.  Opening acts were Laura Jansen and Cary Brothers- both fabulous.  And JR didn’t disappoint.  In fact, I never knew someone could sound SO much better live than they could on their record.  Like any good concert, it left ya craving more, and even more in love with the artist and the music than you were before you walked through the venue doors.

It was a super short trip, but not lacking on memorable moments.  I scared my co-pilot multiple times with my poor driving skills including unintentionally running red lights (seriously, I never see the ones that are on a vertical pole on the sidewalks) and nearly running out of gas (just so ya know, there are NO gas stations for like, 100 miles on the KS turnpike). 

Here’s a snippet from the concert (not by me) of Joshua Radin singing a Sam Cooke cover.  Enjoy….I did :)   xoxoxL

PS:  #8, complete!  Thanks Rox :)