Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stranded




Wednesday morning I woke up to snow. It wasn't much. I had a turn that I had to work on Thursday, so my plan to was to catch a later flight on wednesday night. So when I looked out my window and saw just a dusting on my car, I didn't think anything of it.

I went to the living room to turn on the local news. As I fixed my coffee, I overheard on the news that United had cancelled every flight after 12. Uh oh.

Deanna's car is somewhere in this picture

I hurried up, packed my stuff, checked the bus and flight schedule, and figured that if I hurried, I might be able to get on a 2:20 flight out to Chicago. But would the airport close down? Dressed and ready to go, I didn't know what to do. Without the internet I didn't have updates as to what Southwest was planning to do. But i knew it couldnt be too different from United.

So I called my friend Don, my father, and a couple others to see what my options were. As a commuter, theres a policy in place to protect us in case we can't get to work. I realized this was going to be one of those occassions.


Realizing that work wasn't to be, I undressed, put on regular clothes, jumped in my car, and drove to my friends house in Golden, CO. I figured if I were to be stranded by a blizzard, it wasn't going to be alone. I was headed to my friend Deanna's house.

My failed attempt at a snow angel

Golden welcomes you to a wintry wonderland

Deanna knee deep

At this point, it was a flat out snowstorm. Trucks were putting chains on, 2-wheel drive cars were spinning out, and Drake and I just puttered along the highways onto Golden. I arrived safely, met Deanna, and we settled in for the long-haul with hot tea, a fire, and Elf.



Soon after, our friend Adam called and he decided to join us. The evening was coming together. Deanna and I ran out to the store to get things to make cookies (Drake still plowing on through) and returned to meet Adam at the house. We spent most of the evening watching old episodes of Lost, and heading out to the neighborhood hill to try our hand at tubing.



While tubing, Adam and I noticed a guy stuck in his station wagon. We helped him out, then watched as he slid one way, then the other, then the other way again, all the way down the road.

The house we spent the blizzard in

Even with 4 wheel drive, I was staying in for the evening. I called scheduling and informed them that I wasn't going to make it for my turn the next day. They pulled it from my schedule, per commuter policy. The airport was shut down, and would be until friday.



We headed back, finished watching some Lost, had pancakes and hard cider ale for dinner, and fell asleep next to the fire.



Thursday morning, still snowing. At this point it was really piling up. After an hour of digging out Adams truck, we drove to the grocery store and picked up items for breakfast and lunch. The store was surprisingly busy. We met some of Deanna's friends who were snowshoeing all the way to Lakewood.

Adam digging out his truck

Back at the house, we ate a large breakfast, put on our snow clothes, and took a walk around town. (On the way we got to dig out Drake) The town was alive with people enjoying the weather. We were attacked by snowballers (they were lucky I was hiding behind a construction sign), then we sat by the frozen river and tried to break it with snowballs. We ended up at the coffee shop for steaming hot chocolate.



I wanted to make it home by dark (During the day ice melts, then when night hits the melted snow freezes, making roads especially treacherous.), so we headed back to the house, and bid our goodbyes.



Back at my home, my friend Sarah calls and tells me they assigned me a trip out of chicago for the next day (I was sitting reserve). I called scheduling to inform them that again I wasnt going to make it into work. We worked out a deal that I would go to the airport the next day and be used as a Denver standby. Maybe they could work me out of there. My trip was pulled from my schedule.

Me snowshoeing

2:20am, I receive a phone call, saying that I had received a trip. "i've told you guys twice already. I'm stuck in denver, theres no way I'm gonna make it."


I explained everything to him, and he obliged. My trip was pulled.


The next day I headed out to the disaster that was the airport. At 9am, it wasn't so bad. After all, the airport wasnt even open yet. I called scheduling to see if they found anything for me, and he informed me that I could be stuck until the next day.

Dang.


Snowing


Drake and I, halfway dug out

15 mins later, they call back, informing me that they were must-riding me out at 6pm. (that means I get a seat no matter what). Thats a long time to wait. but at least I was getting out.



So at 1pm, the airport opened, things got nuts, I sat in the corner with other FA's trying to get to work. It wasn't so bad of a day. Met a lot of people, just had a good time. In the end, I made it to chicago, and back to work.



As we speak Denver is receiving another blizzard. I wish I were there.



-JJ





Sunday, December 17, 2006

TRACKing down history

Scheduling called me the other day. They told me I had to overnight in Omaha...NEBRASKA...I hate the cornhuskers, and the whole state is technically flatter than a pancake..

Yet I was excited. See I've been reading this book, in which thousands upon thousands of workers spent who knows how many years (i havn't finished the book yet) to build, with their sweat, blood and tears, a railroad that spanned the continent. They dug tunnels by drilling with a sledgehammer, then shoving black powder in it. Feats were accomplished that have recently been attempted, then abandoned, then deemed "impossible." (Read: Blue Goose)

There were two railroads, the central pacific and the union pacific. Both starting at opposite ends, and they raced to the undetermined meeting place.

The Central Pacific started in Sacramento, CA.

The Union Pacific started in Omaha.

I arrived at the hotel, quickly changed, and headed to the lobby to ask the front desk where I could go.

"I hear you guys have a lot of train stuff around here."
"Well, I know, really..."
"Well, how about a museum?"
"oh yeah, thats down on 10th street. But its kind of a long walk."

I learned recently that these days anything over a mile is a "Long Walk."

I walked.

I saw evidence of trains as soon as I left the hotel. The street outside was Dodge street, named after one of the main builders of the railroad, Grenville Dodge.



I continued towards the museum, stopping at a tourism office to ask for directions. She informed me that if I made it before 5pm, the museum was really cool.

At least someone in this town knows a little history, I thought.

I got closer to the train station, and even the old buildings, newly converted to condos, were interesting to me. I started envisioning stagecoaches rattling along the streets, and trains unloading their cargos into those very warehouses.


I arrived at the station, which I knew had been renovated sometime in the 30s. I entered, and was told by the lady at the desk that to go any further would be 6 dollars.

I tried to talk her down since I had less than an hour there, but she would only go down to 5. In the end we struck a deal in which she let me walk around and see little exhibits and the gift shop, but I wasn't allowed downstairs to the main exhibit. I agreed. It ended up being my biggest mistake.

I gave myself a quick tour of the station, and a little browsing in the gift shop.




I left soon thereafter, and crossed a bridge over the tracks, where I found what I figured was the original train station. It was a little dissapointing to see it run down and dilapidated. It was called the Burlington station. I also found a building which apparently used to be the post office. I imagined this part of town bustling with business.

.
It was getting dark, so I headed back to the hotel, and passed the Old Market. I figured this is where they sold all the stuff that came in on the trains.



Closer to the hotel, I passed the headquarters of Union Pacific, which is still based in Omaha.

The next day, on our flight out of Omaha, I met a gentleman who works for Union Pacific. It came up because he noticed the book I was reading. (Its called "Nothing like it in the world: The Men who built the transcontinental railroad.) We discussed the trains, whats left of it now, (apparently Truckee, CA, just outside of Lake Tahoe, has ALL original railroad buildings) the fact that they no longer move passengers, just freight, and other topics.

I inquired about the Burlington station, and if that was the original. He then informed me that the downstairs museum, the one I had skipped out on, WAS the original.

Dang.


Nonetheless, it was cool to have a trip through history.

-JJ

As an added little bonus, about a year ago I took some pictures of our airplane wings at night with the lights blurred. I've been waiting for an opportunity to get some more with winglets on the end, and I got them recently. I don't think the pics are as good, but whatever.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Greediness consumes

Before I start, I'd like to say that its borderline offensive when a Texan claims to be part of the south. Sure, its geographically southern, but so is Arizona.

Back in 1971 3 guys got together and decided to form an airline that ran between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. They called it SOUTHWEST. I see the SOUTH as LA, GA, AL, AR, TN, SC, and NC. (maybe VA, but thats pushing it) Florida is NOT a southern state. It's like a younger brother of NY. Southerners don't wear cowboy hats. We don't ride horses (not as a lifestyle, anyway). We run around barefood, chew on grass, and ride rafts down rivers. You can't be barefoot in Texas because the dry, dead grass with stab right through your heel.

Moving on...

How long will we be so DAD GUM greedy? How many of us want to move out of the city, have our own 10 acres of land? When I drive up through the mountains, through the wilderness, I really wonder how long its going to all last.

I just finished reading a book on Lewis and Clark, and their account of the land they were passing through was amazing: Buffalo as far as the eye could see, elk, wild animals everywhere. Now they are all pushed up into the mountains because of the spread of human society. it's all because of our greediness for wealth and land. And now land has become so valuable that farmers who GROW OUR FOOD can't afford the land. Those who do have land sell out and sell it off to rich land prospectors who turn it into apartment complexes or malls.

I don't mean to hate on my parents, but recently our home in Louisiana, which previously had been surrounded by woods, has now been built up and we have more neighbors than we ever wanted. But seriously, whats so wrong with living next to someone?

If it were up to me, we'd all live in these dense cities, with public railway systems that we'd all take. No, you woudln't have a yard and a white picket fence, but whats so wrong with going to the local park and throwing the baseball around? Why ya gotta gave a backyard to do that? I'd leave the rest of the land to farmers and recreation: skiing, hiking, camping, etc.

Not that it would ever happen, because we're all so dad-gum greedy...

Sometimes I think Laura gore is right when she says i was born in the wrong century.

Next up: There IS something cool in Omaha!


-JJ

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Texas Poll!

Question:

Do you consider Texas part of the South?

Comment your answers!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blossom of Lights

In my whatever semblance of a social life that I have in my home of Denver, Colorado, I joined 2 of my best friends there, Deanna and Jenny for a Christmas celebration. During the holidays The Denver Botanical Gardens strings all of their horticulture (kent, yes I did look that up in the dictionary to make sure I had it right) with twinkly little lights. It was a chilly evening, so we bundled up, ate at the "burger stand" for dinner, grabbed some hot Latte's, and started along the illuminated path.

The lady at the entrance informed us that if we spent 2 bucks on 3d glasses, all the street lights and head lights will look like snowmen or snowflakes. Shes sounded like she'd been sitting out in the cold a little too long, so we ignored her, and moved along.

A little later a gentleman let us peer through his 3D glasses, and it was amazing what we saw. Seriously, you should have heard Deanna scream.

I'll let the pics tell you the rest of the story. You won't be able to miss the pics through the 3D glasses.










-JJ

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

All Wheel Drive Is verrrry good...

...but it isn't everything.

I pondered for a whole 5 minutes on whether to post this and show my foolishness and ignorance and whatever other deficiencies it points to. But...DEEP BREATH...here it goes.

I flew home saturday night, and while landing, saw a sea of moonlit snow. During the blizzard of snow and ice that swept the country last week, I was enjoying the toasty weather of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Tucson, AZ, and San Diego, CA. I love snow and coldness and whiteness, and I missed the whole thing.

But upon arriving at home, I found that it was waiting for me.

Sunday morning I drove on into church, and to get there you have to drive up a very windy and somewhat steep hill. This hill was covered in hardened snow and ice.

I enjoyed church among my sniffling and sneezing, then started to head out for home. I turned left onto the snowy street, and for some dumb reason my right foot decided to give ole' Drake a little more gas than I should have, sending the car into a spin.

yup, I said it, a completely uncontrolled -heart stoppin-clench the steering wheel - white nuckled spin. Unfortonutely the street wasn't exactly wide and cars were parked on both sides.

Oops.

Ok so I wasn't going really fast, but one car hitting another at pretty much any speed will do damage.

So as the back end slid I found myself facing two parked cars about 10 feet away and closing in. Theres nothing you can do. At least thats what my brain told me, as I was too horrified to try to correct. I just wanted to stop. By foot was hard on the brake (whether this was a good move or another dumb one, I really have no idea) and Drake slowly crept toward the left front fender of one car and the back left bumper of another. At least i was going for their bumpers, not the door.

As the car closed in, I found myself realizing that I was about to damage my brand new car. I started whispering, then a little more loudly, "NO..NO..NOOOOO"

Then it stopped. Drake had listened. When it came down to crunch time, I had PLEADED with Drake not to hit those cars, and he hadn't. If I had gotten out to look, I probably would have found that he had stopped no more than 2 inches from the other cars.

My hands shaking, I threw the car in reverse, backed up, and headed down the hill pondering what had just occurred. And I definitely utilized the one snow and ice driving technique that I DO know...engine braking by downshifting. I can say that I was a little flustered.

I have a lot to learn about this snow and ice stuff.



I told this story to a friend of mine and he told me of a time when he, in his little red pickup truck, tried to turn right down another road, only to see the road pass by him, then he saw another car that was trying to turn FROM that same road, as he slid sideways down the street. He smiled and waved at the lady in the car, and thought "ahh well, I was wanting to go this way anyway." He calmly corrected back down the street, and continued on his way. he mentioned that the lady in the car didn't seem concerned at all.

At least I'm not the only one.

-JJ