#WOMBATSDOAMERICA Day 15
Posted by wombat37
Blogging our recent US trip day by day, four weeks after the event.
“Don’t worry,” they had told us about our first flights abroad. “Things so rarely go wrong. I’ve been flying for umpteen years and never had a problem.” Oh yeah, virtual smug person, well you can stick that right up your pipe and smoke it. Stream of consciousness notes from the travel journal follow:
“Gate A8 to Detroit, some ‘weather’ so we’re going over the top of it and coming into Detroit from the east leaving Minn. 3 seats each side of aisle, pro tip: roll-on bags fit better wheels out. Air. Bumpy fluffy clouds.”
That’s enough of that. It’s like reading Finnegan’s Wake, sheesh. I’ll start again.
Sad we were indeed to leave our wonderful South Dakotan hosts. They had shown us such a wonderful week, with unforgettable experiences and laughs that will linger in my memory until the day I kick the bucket. I had moist eyes as we left Barry and Janine at FSD.
We had no problems reaching Minneapolis, and finding Gate A8 for our flight to Detroit. On take-off Captain Sillyname informed us that there was ‘some weather’ in Detroit (no shit, Sherlock) so we would be flying over the top of it and coming into Detroit from the east. Before take-off we were given a bit of good advice – put your roll-on bags into the overhead compartment wheels outwards: they fit better.
The plane did a lot of taxiing at Minneapolis. The runway must be miles away. In flight, the plane was bumpy passing through clouds. That never occurred to me before. I always imagined that a cloud would make little difference to how a plane flew. Such innocent musings were soon gone as, three-quarters of the way to Detroit, Captain Sillyname made an announcement.
“Sorry folks,” he said, “We’ve hit a bit of a snag. We can’t fly over the big fuckoff storm in Detroit because our weather radar is knackered.” (I’m paraphrasing him here) “It’s a sod, but we’re going to have to return to the Twin Cities and have it fettled.” So return we did, and spent some of the time while we waited for an engineer looking up why Minneapolis was called ‘The Twin Cities’. Turns out that it’s actually two cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul’s. Like Manchester & Salford, I suppose, only cooler.
Now, our itinerary had given us a long connection time in Detroit, over four hours, but would we now still make our flight to Erie? Only time would tell. Engineers replaced the weather radar within an hour while the passengers chatted and walked about. The doors were closed. We might just make our connection after all. Captain Sillyname came on the PA.
“Thanks for your patience, folks. The buggered equipment has now been repaired, and we’ve whacked some more fuel in. We have been given clearance for take-off, yay! Oh wait. Bloody Nora – I’m now being told that twatting ATC have closed Detroit to all traffic due to the arsing storms there. FFS.” (still paraphrasing)
And so we continued to sit on the plane and chat or read or sleep. Eventually, after an age, we did take off. We had no idea at all what we would have to do in Detroit, so there was no relaxing on that flight. The Detroit screens showed that the last flight to Erie had indeed left, so we staggered to a crowded help desk where a harassed woman kept telling everyone to use the scanner. The scanner would not scan our thingies though, so we settled in for a long queue to have a word with the poor overworked agent.
“Wombats? Do we have Wombats here?” came a loud voice from a corner of the bay. Puzzled, we answered the shout and took a phone call from a lovely woman called Flo. She told us that Kim had spoken to her on the phone, explained the situation, and that we should come find her in the ticketing office where she would sort everything out for us. We found her, and she did, bless her heart. Also, we will be forever grateful to Kim for her heroic phoning and organising on our behalf.
Flo arranged for us to fly the next morning to Cleveland (where they had been going to take us anyway) to meet up with Kim and Tom. She also arranged a hotel for the night and transport to reach it, which turned out to be a limo. The driver took us through some dodgy looking areas, though.
Knackered, we spent the night at the Country Inn at Dearborn, having eaten only a cheese scone at breakfast. We did nick a couple of cookies from a basket in the lobby, and found some ice to melt for drinking water. The room was very comfortable, very clean, with two double beds. It also had a clock that ran an hour slow, so we made a mental note not to trust it, showered, and collapsed.