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Friday, December 14, 2007


Doing a Fly By

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about going off to Omaha to speak to a group of rheumatologists-ALL BY MYSELF. I had never traveled anywhere without the benefit of a family member sitting next to me before. I must say it was a terrific experience.

My husband dropped me off at John Wayne Airport at the unholy hour of 6:45. Not a drop of coffee or breakfast in my belly. I went through the check point and into the terminal. First things first. I bought a local paper and found the Starbucks. I had an hour to enjoy the morning news and the caffeine I needed for the day.

Now, it didn’t start off to well. At what should have been the boarding time, it was announced that one of the flight attendants had yet to arrive and we were to be grounded until their arrival.

Great-my layover in Denver was only 45 minutes! We left 45 minutes late, but somehow arrived only 20 past our scheduled time. The flight went quite well. Fortunately for me (and my foot with the “problem”) Denver has conveyor belts which got me over to my next gate in just enough time to be the last one aboard. And off we went to Omaha.

Landing at Eppley Field 10 minutes early, my first call was to my husband to let him know I had arrived in one piece. Then I called the driving service. Mid-westerners are very friendly and helpful. Since it was 3 o’clock and it was a flat rate, my driver suggested going through Omaha, instead of taking the highway. He learned I was only in town for that afternoon and wanted me to at least see some of his hometown.

We passed a small river with some beautiful old brick homes, the original Father Flannigan’s Boystown, the Qwest arena, Creighton University, the real Mutual of Omaha building and what was later to become the infamous mall that had the unfortunate shooting the next day.

My driver, John was originally from Jamaica, I couldn’t understand his most of his story on exactly how he got to Omaha, he kept interrupting himself to point out certain spots.

I arrived at my appointed hotel and was greeted by a very helpful staff that not only checked me in but assisted me in retrieving my boarding passes for the next morning. John had already assured me he’d meet me the next morning and take me back to Eppley Field.

The room was nice; I had a view of a desolate yet very nice looking meadow. There was a problem with the hot water tank-it didn’t have much. The hotel kindly shuttled me over to Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse where the dinner/seminar was taking place. I spoke for 15 minutes and answered questions. I met some very nice people who couldn’t thank me enough for sharing my story. I thanked them for being interested!

My contact Melanie Lestrom took me back to the hotel and asked if I would consider coming back to speak at Arthritis Day in the Spring. My pleasure.

Now as for the weather-landed in 45 degrees, but no wind, rain, sleet or snow. It was brisk, but not uncomfortable in the least! Yeah!

Next morning however-I had to be in the lobby at 6 a.m. (that was 4 a.m. in California). John was there waiting for me, as promised. I went out the front door and was nearly blown right back into the hotel! It was 35 degrees and there was some very strange white stuff floating through the air. Guess what-it was “flurries”. Everyone was grinning at this born and bred west coaster. Hey, I’m sure I’m not the only 50 year-old who has never seen snow! Am I? Wait-my husband hasn’t seen it either, still hasn’t.

John smiled and asked if I wanted to go through town again or take the highway. It was pitch black, freezing cold and I was again, working without the benefit of coffee. To the airport, straightaway.

Going home was something I was indeed relishing. With the exception of being told by the airport guard that she didn’t like the brand of baggy I used to hold my cosmetics, all went well. The first flight was delayed for 20 minutes for what reason: AIR FORCE 1 WAS LANDING!

Yes, I saw the president’s plane. I would have rather left on time, but okay. In Denver-I practically walked right into Anthony Bourdain and his entourage. For those who have no idea who he is, he is a celebrity chef who does the Travel Channel show No Reservations. Being a foodie, I was more impressed by him that AF1.

I landed back at John Wayne Airport 10 minutes ahead of schedule. My husband and I kept missing each other. Seems I walked out on the wrong level. We found each other and caught up on the past 24 hours. We went right into a business meeting and then out to my parents to celebrate Hanukah and our niece’s birthday.

It was fun doing all that on my own. Tiring too. Would I want to do it again? You betcha!

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