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 Category:  Biographical Non-Fiction
  Posted: August 16, 2018      Views: 21

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My name is Susan Weimer. I chose the handle "Insignificant Weed" because I am a Dandelion. The Dandelion is a weed. It is a bright pretty flower that when you have many of them, you actually have a "bouquet." The Dandelion is a prolific re-generator - more...

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A Lewis & Clark Trip traveling from West to East
"A Lewis & Clark Trip" by Insignificant Weed

Hawaii at Christmas -- what a wonderful place to be! I was visiting my step-daughter, Sandy Rancer, for the Christmas holidays in the mid 1980's. We took it all in: Haleakela, Maui, the Road to Hana, and Diamond head. The weather was cooperative and we had a good time taking in a few shows and doing some market shopping.

The trip TO Hawaii was uneventful. I would describe the return trip as "Lewis and Clark" fighting their way across the United States only from west to east with the mode of travel being the commercial airlines.

My United Airlines' flight from Hawaii was running a little late, so I was concerned about having enough time to catch my next flight to Chicago. Chicago-O'Hare is a hub for United Airlines, and most planes traveling from west to east made a stop there. As our plane landed in Oakland, CA, we were informed that any flights to Chicago were cancelled because it was snowing there. So, I sure didn't need to worry about making that connection. Other options loomed before me.

United Airlines announced that they would take care of passengers by getting them settled in a hotel or the passengers could request a flight with another airline. I kept thinking, "I don't want to go north; I want to go south." I did not relish the thought of staying in Oakland, CA on New Year's Eve. Actually, all I really wanted to do was get to the other side of the Rockies. I opted for a flight with another airline.

The United Airlines attendants opened up about 5 -- 7 counters to help the passengers. All of us on that flight were jammed into one waiting room. You had to push and shove to get to a flight attendant. When I finally worked my way up to an attendant, I told him that I wanted to be put on another flight. The attendant found a Delta flight that was scheduled to leave in about an hour traveling to Dallas and then to Atlanta. "I'll take it," I said. "What about my bags?" The attendant said that they would arrive in Greensboro eventually. Yeah, right!

The Delta flights were located in an entirely different building and a good distance from United Airline's terminal. As I was leaving the United Airline's terminal, I saw a large pile of suitcases and bags. I took a good look at them, and lo, and behold, I spotted my bags! Now how did that happen except for the providence of a Higher Being who was looking after me? I grabbed my two bags and started lugging them along with my carry-on luggage and my souvenirs from Hawaii. I figured the airlines wouldn't even miss them and besides, they were MY bags. I had the tickets to prove it. Luckily the security was pretty loose.

Try to carry three bags and your fragile souvenirs and travel as fast as you can! I was trying to hurry so I didn't miss the flight. My bags were so heavy; I was completely exhausted when I got to the Delta terminal. I felt like an Olympic Gold Medal runner collapsing after crossing the finish line.

Ah, peace and quiet. It was about 11:30 pm and 1986 was about ready to move in. I was a "stand-by" passenger and I was just hoping that I would get a seat. As it turned out, the plane was practically empty. I mean, who wants a "red-eye" flight on New Year's Eve? Although my choice was not to be at a bouncing party, I did not want to be in a hotel room in Oakland, CA with the holiday rapidly approaching.

Once on board, I lifted up the arm rests and stretched out to take a well-deserved nap. I was on the plane when the New Year rolled in. We hadn't even taken off yet. The nap never materialized. Have you ever tried to sleep on a plane with the engines roaring loud enough to blast a hole in your eardrums? Sleep was not an option; rest, maybe.

Arriving in Dallas, my next flight was a Delta flight that had just arrived from Hawaii, non-stop to Dallas. My assigned seat was in the middle of the Georgia Tech basketball team. They had been playing in a tournament in Hawaii and were on their way back to Atlanta. At least I had plenty of leg room. If I had chosen Delta as my carrier, I wouldn't have had all the hassle I had in Oakland. The thought of a non-stop flight to Dallas would have greatly reduced my stress. The importance of more advance planning floated upper most in my mind.

When I arrived in Atlanta, I went to a United Airlines service counter and showed the attendant my ticket to Greensboro. The attendant informed me that United did not have any direct flights from Atlanta to Greensboro. Learning my lesson well I asked, "Can you get me on a flight with another airline?" I found myself on another Delta flight.

Since my luggage had been checked to Atlanta, I went to retrieve my bags. I had a fairly long layover and just had to get myself to the correct terminal. Of course, the Gate was way at the end of the terminal, so at three in the morning, I was making my weary way down the concourse.

The urgency of getting home was paramount since I needed some recuperation time before I went back to work. Teaching is a very taxing occupation. It works best when there is continuity and the "real" teacher is there in the classroom. I was hoping to avoid a "sub" situation.

Clutching my bags and souvenirs, I arrived in Greensboro three hours later than my regularly scheduled flight. I had conquered the fight to get across the United States. I am still shaking my head at the circumstances surrounding my apparently blessed return flight. I was very glad that I was not in Oakland, CA!

Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry

Author Notes
This is a description of my trip from Hawaii to North Carolina. The trip to Hawaii was uneventful; the return trip was like Lewis and Clark fighting their way across the United States but only from west to east. After landing in Oakland, CA, all I wanted to do was get across the Rockies.
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