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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It wasn't easy getting to the Big Easy

When the Ohio blizzard started in Dayton last Friday, I canceled two appointments and stayed home, letting my husband use my SUV for his errands. I had plenty to do to get ready for my 6 a.m. Saturday flight to New Orleans to teach a Louisiana Artist Association workshop. As the storm raged, it began to look like I wouldn't make that flight, but I pretended I would, just in case. Then Delta called and told me that all Saturday flights were canceled out of Dayton and they had booked me on a flight Sunday afternoon.

This wasn't acceptable--I was expected to judge a show and give a lecture on Sunday in N.O. I called the airlines and waited for two hours to speak to an agent, who said the 6 a.m. flight had been restored and she was able to get me on it. But when we got up at 4 a.m. Sat. morning, the blizzard hadn't abated. I kept checking the flight and it said the flight was on time, but we couldn't get to the airport--there was a truck jack-knifed on the highway between our house and the airport. Besides that, I wasn't thrilled to get on board a little commuter plane in the high winds.

I waited another two hours on the phone to speak to a Delta agent, who said she could get me on a Cincinnati flight to Atlanta around 2:40 if we were willing to drive to Cincinnati. I booked the flight and we set out on the long drive to the airport in northern Kentucky. Normally an hour and fifteen minutes, the drive took us about two-and-a-half hours (and nearly four for my husband to get back home.) Top speed, 30-40 mph on I-75.

I stood in line for more than an hour to learn that the 2:40 flight was canceled. The agent and I got creative and booked me into Dallas, then to N.O. on American Airlines. I checked both bags, not wanting to schlep my carry-on around the airport for the long spell I would be there. Big mistake. My flights were changed three more times before I finally got off the ground. When I got to my destination, twelve hours after the ETA of my first booked flight, my bags didn't make it.

My luggage appeared the next afternoon (Sunday) after I had spent a bunch of money on cosmetics and essential clothing--and after I had already given my program attired in my travel outfit. It was a relief to have my own things; I was able to return some of the unused items before I returned home. I'll never again check my carry-on.

Before it was over, the blizzard dumped 13" of snow in Dayton, close to the record of the blizzard of 1978. Once I got to New Orleans, it was really pleasant to have 60 degree weather and sunshine for the length of my stay.

Loved the workshop. There were 15 in the class and we had a good time together, ranging from color to collage and creativity for three days. I had judged their show on Sunday and found some wonderful artists exhibiting there. They had asked me to critique the winners at their opening event in the afternoon and to give a demo, and I opted to give a lecture on talent and creativity. It's a good thing, because I had my lecture notes, but my watercolors, paper and brushes were in my lost luggage.

There were a few more adverse adventures, but nothing impacting the workshop. On the last day the workshop coordinator took me on a mini-tour of the area, which was delightful--two plantations, the bridge over the Mississippi, and sites between. She mentioned that one street of nice houses and landscaping had been underwater after Katrina--impossible to imagine.

I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. for the flight home, which was uneventful, probably because I slept through both legs of the journey and got home yesterday around noon. I still feel like someone has been beating me with 2-by-4s after wrestling my luggage around the airport and through security.

I was a bit nettled that Delta twice changed my reservation without consulting me, and both times it wasn't doable for me. However, the circumstances were so extreme and I realized that they were making a valiant effort to get as many people accommodated as possible. Every agent I talked to was patient and helpful--and willing to work with me until we worked it out. I'm grateful for that and hats off to them.

Now I have to get down to work and catch up on email, laundry and such. I don't think I've quite recovered from the stress of the blizzard-y trip, so will have to have a nap soon.

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Blogger Karen Jacobs said...

What a trial your trip was! So glad you enjoyed "my old stomping ground"... I love that area around the bridge and up and down River Road. Fortunately our son and g-kids still live in Destrehan so we get to visit often. Sure would have loved to been able to meet you there, I'll be down for Easter... and so it goes...

7:14 PM  
Blogger Nita said...

My workshop was in Destrehan at the Methodist church across from Mochaccino's. I don't know street names. Lovely neighborhood and it was great seeing the azaleas and spring flowers in full bloom.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Gerry Claude said...

Thanks Nita for an enjoyable and educational workshop. It was great! I hope you enjoyed our southern hospility and that your scale doesn't show just how much fun we had.

9:45 AM  

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