Yesterday's breakfast was so successful, we decided to do it again. We started our day at the Wasp, with food by Jill and entertainment by Bruce. JQP offered a scenic route to White River Junction, but when I travel I tend to focus on timely arrival at the proper point of departure. So we drove to the bus station, and filled time until departure with a leg-stretch around the neighborhood in the drizzle.
Vermont bus stations are fairly casual. About ten minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave, the other passengers just headed out the door and got on the bus. Maybe the station master announced boarding on the PA system, but I just followed everyone else. Since there was only one bus leaving the station for several hours (and the sign indicated it was the Manchester/Boston bus), it seemed reasonable to just get on, too.
This was fine, except for a few tense moments as we approached Manchester. The highway signs indicated an exit to Boston, and Manchester straight ahead. Since we were heading for the Manchester Airport, I expected the bus to continue straight, but it took the exit, and I had the sudden panic that this was a Boston-only bus. The rational part of my brain (which is used to dealing with this sort of behavior), pointed out that the schedule CLEARY STATED that this bus was going to the airport, but the other part was not mollified until we saw signs for the Manchester Airport exit up ahead. We all arrived at the airport a few minutes later, as scheduled.
I then had several hours to wait. I had chosen to take the earlier bus so I could write up my adventures and reflect on my time in Vermont. For example, if I had a dollar for every cemetery we passed, it would pay for my trip. A week had elapsed between the first siren call of the "Do Not Touch" sign on the metal moose sculpture in the Manchester Airport and when I rebelliously touched it. The hardest part of documenting events was remembering on what day each thing happened. All in all, I was tired and congested, but I had a good time.
There was one more bit of excitement which I promised to tell about. My itinerary required switching planes in Atlanta, with a 37-minute window between arrival and departure (my second flight departed at 7:12 pm). The first plane left Manchester fifteen minutes late, which cut into my time, but I figured I'd be okay. Then we had to avoid storm clouds, but by flying PAST Atlanta and circling back, delaying us even more. Once again, I was tense. We landed, then SAT on the runway for what seemed an eternity, but was probably only four minutes. Finally the plane taxied to the gate and a horde of anxious connecting-flight passengers burst forth, right at 7:00 pm.
We arrived at B24, and my next flight left gate D33. You Jet-Setters probably already know that Atlanta is set up with five huge concourses connected by an underground subway system. So getting from B to D is not just an easy jaunt. I rush from B24 to the center of the concourse and down to the lower level. The next train isn't for a couple minutes. So I speed-walk along the pedestrian tunnel to concourse C. Fortunately I paused to check the trains, and one arrived a few seconds later. So I rode from C to D, and lunged out as soon as the doors open. Up the escalator, and zip off toward D33 (which is, naturally, near the far end of the concourse). I arrive at the gate (sweaty, tired, and promising myself I'll get back in shape) just as the last dozen passengers are filing into the jetway. Pleased with the success of my efforts, I board, stow my bag and find my seat. A few minutes later the plane pushes back, and I can see the long line of jets waiting to take off. Sure enough, the pilot announces that we were about 20th in line, and it would be 45 minutes or so before take-off. Crap. At least I was ON the plane.
We took off almost an hour behind schedule, making the flight well over six hours long. I know this isn't the LONGEST flight one can take, but after a bus ride, a flight TO Atlanta, a tiring dash through the airport, and then sitting for all that time, I was so very ready to be off the plane in Portland.
drarwenchicken met me just outside the security point. She had checked the flight info on the web, which first said the plane was delayed, then said it was on time, causing her to scramble to the airport only to wait. On the good side, it gave her a chance to eat some sushi at one of the restaurants. So it all worked out well, and even though it was a long, exhausting day, I was very, very glad to be home.