The classic times abounded this Christmas season but there were also a few brutal travel adventures thanks to the crazy weather. On Christmas Eve, Debbie and I spent our morning making our way up to and back from OHSU for a doctor's appointment. Normally this would be no problem but with the nine feet of snow we got in Portland, we made the whole trip via public transit. Oh yeah, and Debbie had strep throat the whole time! Good thing we stopped by the ER after her appointment. It was a cold and exhausting adventure but the bright side was we got to ride the world-famous tram, and it was free! :)
The day after Christmas was the really lame day. It's estimated that I'll get to live a little more than 27,000 days in my life and Northwest Airlines has now claimed one of them. Debbie and I went to Richland Center, Wisconsin to visit the in-laws and, as is pretty typical when you travel to the midwest in Winter, there were complications. We woke up at 4:00 am to catch our flight to Minneapolis and we thought everything was fine until we got on our connecting flight to Madison, Wisconsin and heard the pilot announce that there was too much fog in Madison to land. He updated us every half hour for 3 hourswhile we taxied until they finally canceled the flight. Then after 20 minutes of scrambling around trying to make other arrangements, they told us there might be a bus to Madison. After an hour and a half of waiting in the boarding area, they instruct us to go out past security and to the ticketing booth by 7:30, where a bus would meet us. Debbie and I then go get some takeout and head to the ticketing area. At 7:15, in the middle of eating my burger, an NWA representative tells us all to go back through security and wait at gate C18 for the bus! We do all this and get to the gate at about 8:00 to find a mob of people and a woman leaving the area yelling "The bus is full!" Luckily she was mistaken. We wrote our name on a waiting list and they told us the bus would probably get there at 8:30. They were wrong, we finally set out on the hour and a half bus ride to Madison at 10:00 pm. The fog in Madison was as advertised. Thickest fog I had ever seen. Epic fog. It took us three hours to get to Richland Center instead of the usual hour and a half, putting us in our hotel at 5:30 in the morning. Just brutal.
It was a pretty frustrating day and I thought NWA handled it like an airline that had never encountered a situation like this before. The biggest problem was the lack of information. People got angry and started shouting when they didn't know what was going on and they got worried that they'd be left behind. I would watch people walk up to the NWA agent at the counter, one after the other, asking the same question. Why wouldn't they just make an announcement after a while so they only have to answer the questions once? It was also frustrating that I couldn't count on what they said. In fact, I heard a woman on the bus telling the person next to her that she showed up at the ticketing counter at 7:30 like we were all instructed to do but found the place deserted because they had already come by and told us to go through security (she luckily found someone who knew where we went). I'll be making the trip to Madison pretty much every year and unfortunately not many airlines fly there, but for all my other trips I'll be looking for another airline.
Other than our two excursions, the holidays were great! We enjoyed the snowfall here, it made our first Christmas as a couple of married people perfect. I grouped the whole season into one album this year so if you want to see the month in pictures, click here!