Monday, June 11, 2012

America's Southwest - It All Started With a Travel Voucher

I had just gotten an American Airlines Advantage credit card. It came with a travel voucher. Spend a minimum amount on airfare and a second person would fly free. I decided to share the voucher with my travel buddy. We met at his apartment to discuss where we might want to go.

It was at this point that we discovered the catch with the voucher. Airfares being what they were at the time, the minimum amount we would be required to spend would mean that we would have to fly to the moon and back in order to redeem it. We decided to go a different direction.

I don't remember exactly how we came up with the concept but we were soon making plans to experience the natural wonders of southern Utah and northern Arizona; flying in and out of Flights were booked, a car, we felt the only option was a convertible, was rented and a hotel room for the first night in, was secured.

The day of the flight Chicago was in the grip of a serious heat wave coupled with intense humidity. The air was so oppressive it was almost solid. The moisture in the air so dense that the park across the street from us could barely be made out. The appointed time for my travel buddy to arrive at my apartment came...and went. I made phone calls. They went unanswered. After more time and  several more calls, I, in desperation, mixed with some concern, began to walk the few blocks to his apartment. I met up with him on the sidewalk, rolling luggage in hand. He had gone to a party the night before and had slept through his alarm. Standing on the sidewalk using his cell phone we reserved seats on a later flight then went to my apartment to snooze until the new departure time arrived.

After checking in at the airport we were informed that our bags were being subjected to a "random" search. This was prior to 9/11. I think they were suspicious because we had missed our initial flight. As we boarded the plane a cold front came through colliding with the heat of that day, setting off intense electrical storms. Since we were already on the tarmac in line for takeoff we had to wait out the storms sitting on the plane. Pelting rain streamed down the windows. There were lightening strikes and thunder seemingly everywhere. It is somewhat disconcerting to be in a large metal object in a large open space in the middle of a massive electrical storm. Eventually, the storm passed, the plane took off and were were on our way.

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