Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lost in PDX

Here are the highlights of my trip to Lake Placid:

~The rubber tip of my cane fell off on the first leg of my flight, and by the time I figured it out it was too late to go back and get it as I was "running" (those of you pre-PAO know that "running" is the euphemism for "hobbling a bit faster than usual") through the Atlanta airport, trying to make my next flight. Atlanta - now that's one big airport, especially if one is hobbling.
~Traveler's "Tip": Always carry a spare tip. Wooden cane without rubber tip on marble floor does not make for a stable walking aid! In fact, it's rather useless and just served to get caught in my coat and backpack.
~When I arrive in Lake Placid I have to explain to everyone who hasn't seen me yet what the cane's all about. Helpful yet annoying acquaintence tells me my upcoming hip surgery will be a piece of cake. "A friend of mine had both of hers done at once and was back in action a couple of weeks later." A few repetitions of, "I'm not having them replaced" did not get through ... I finally resorted to the tried and true, "they are breaking my pelvis in 3 places" ... Blank look ensued. I smiled and went to get some hot chocolate.
~I am told by everyone that the hotel is a "short walk" from the rink. This "short walk" is downhill on snow and ice and I have a cane that is broken. The able-bodied judges, some twice my age, walk to the rink while I wait for the shuttle. Alone. Pathetic. Feeling sorry for myself.
~Shuttle passes the others, who look mighty cold out there. I smile smugly from the warm heated shuttle seat. Perhaps there is a silver lining after all.
~My husband calls from home to tell me that my handicapped parking papers have arrived in the mail. Yee haw, I will be able to go to the mall before the holidays!
~On Sunday I am scheduled to leave on the 5:15 AM shuttle for the two hour ride from Lake Placid to Albany to catch my 12:45 flight out. Um, OK, I guess sleep is overrated after all. The later shuttles all appear to be full so I half-heartedly set my alarm for 4:15 AM.
~I'm on the shuttle on time. It's one of those big tour buses. Thankfully there is a bathroom. However, the heater appears to be broken. I attempt sleep in a half frozen state and eventually give up and listen to the guy behind me snore. The scenery in the Adirondacks is beautiful, but this early in the morning it's too dark to see much.
~I am in first class on my flight and finally able to sleep after a couple of Baileys!
~I arrive in Portland to the rare winter storm which has shut down the city. After traveling all day, all the way across the continent, I am halted within 20 miles of my home and have to spend the night in an airport hotel room. The lesson learned - always pack an extra pair of underwear just in case you are stranded for an additional night. Thankfully I learned this lesson on a previous trip and I was well prepared.
~Screaming children run up and down the hotel hallways into the wee hours. The people in the room above me appear to weigh a lot and walk around the room dragging tree trunks or dead bodies, and/or jump on and off the bed, until midnight. Is this my destiny? Do these loud hotel people follow me around every time I travel somewhere? I swear I am not making this up.
~The next day dawns bright and early. My office is closed due to weather, which means I can spend most of the day getting from the airport to my house. I take the hotel shuttle to the airport, take the parking shuttle to my car, drive my car downtown and park it at work, wait for the bus for an hour and a half (temperature = 18 degrees, but note that it's really zero degrees with wind chill). I know my car won't make it up the ice covered hill to my house without chains, and the last time I left a car at the bottom of the hill and walked up, someone smashed into it. Thus I am leaving the car in the lot downtown. I would rather bus it and walk than deal with that hassle again.
~Buses are on "snow routes," which means they come sometimes, maybe, on occasion. I ride bus 51 which shares a stop with bus 15. Within 10 minutes, four (FOUR) #15 buses come and go. None carries more than a few people. Where is the 51? Can't someone simply reverse the damn digits and give me a 51 bus? I'm freakin' freezing out here! And hey, I have to pee, but I am not going to do that because if I do I know the bus will come while I'm in there.
~The 51 finally comes (I've been standing outside waiting for over an hour and oh by the way, I walked 10 blocks to the bus stop) (and 10 blocks may not sound like much to those of you with normal hips but for me it is about 9 too many), and today the bus is on "alternate route" status which means it goes everywhere it would on a normal day, except near my house, and so I realize it is going to drop me half a mile from my house vs. a few blocks away. I get on the damn bus anyway because what else am I going to do?
~I realize that I am not supposed to walk, much less on ice in subzero temperatures, for half a mile. Oops. Oh yeah, I'm disabled. Forgot about that. And did I mention I never had time to get the cane fixed? It's going to be pretty useless.
~Bus drops me off, I walk the half mile (very slowly) ... the standing in the cold waiting for the bus made my hips hurt, but the walking on ice is making them REALLY hurt. I am almost home, but then ...
~I live on a narrow winding steep two-way road which is only about one car width wide. We call it the Goat Trail. I realize I may have to slide on my butt down the iced over goat trail to get home. Luckily I am able to remain vertical, but it takes a very long time to negotiate the icy slope.
~I arrive home to a roaring fire and needless to say, run for the bathroom. It takes about 2 hours to thaw out.
~Next trip: Cleveland in January, oh joy. Another icy cold adventure awaits, but at least I know I'm up to the challenge.
~There's no place like home!

P.S. - I would like to write about my ongoing adventures with that marvel of modern machinery, the automatically flushing toilet, which is available in fine airports all across America, but that will have to wait for another day. It's a topic I've wanted to write about for a long, long time, so stay tuned. It's bound to be a very special post, and just in time for the holidays.


Gordon said...

The obvious question is why didn't you take a taxi or have someone come get you? Not to be too obvious..

HipSk8 said...

Well duh, if I had done that, this story wouldn't have been interesting at all!!

OK, the truth is, I live at the top of a hill and the streets were totally frozen over. Taxis were no more equipped than my own car to get up there. My husband, at home with the Subaru and tire chains, said he was pretty sure even he couldn't get down the hill safely. So weighing all that, I decided the buses, with chains, were the best bet to get me as close to home as possible.