The joys of flying - and forgetting stuff

I'm usually pretty good at trip planning, but not always so great at doing packing and the little details that should 'only take a few minutes' in advance. This trip was of course, no exception.

I did price my tickets even before deciding I was going to DR, but didn't book all of them until a week later. As much as it irks me to use a Microsoft owned product or company, I generally wind up using either Expedia (MS owned) or Travelocity to book my flights, hotels/motels, and cars nowadays. I used to scour the web checking with a myriad of other sites, but nowadays things are basically on parity price-wise, and Expedia and Travelocity have really taken over between the two of them.

I'd decided I was going to stop in FL for a few days prior to going to DR, to visit with my Mom for a few, but annoyingly, neither site made it easy to fly from NC to Fort Lauderdale, then on to DR, then back to I got the bright idea of booking a pair of one way tickets, then a round-trip from Miami to DR and worked out cheaper than the closest I could get what I wanted through Expedia, so I booked it...except for the last leg back, as I hadn't yet decided if I was going to hang out in Miami for a day or two post DR.

What I didn't think of was whether or not I'd be able to have my luggage jump seamlessly from DR to Miami, then on to whatever connecting flight I decided to take, if I didn't stay over in Miami...oops. I guess we'll see what happens there, as I'm really not too fond of the idea of going to baggage claim, grabbing my bags, then going back through baggage check-in and security yet another time, but...we'll see.

I wound up postponing the trip to FL by a day,because a friend was sick, and I thought we might be winding up at the emergency room or urgent, the day came and I hadn't packed, was still working on things for work, so I figured the lower stress was worth it, as well.

Of course, that meant I managed to NOT pack for another day..followed by running around like a headless chicken for a bit while attempting to pack 'everything I needed for 9 days' in about an hour. All in all, I did pretty well, and made it to the airport with some time (a relative amount, in this case, around 30 minutes to spare after security check..) to spare. I managed to not be able to find my Airhawk, which I'd wanted to bring in the event the seats on the Wee-Strom were as bad as well, virtually any OE seat out there...Airhawks look pretty dorky, but hey, if they save my butt during a week of riding, who cares?

I also managed to forget to grab a pullover or light rain jacket, but not the end of the world, I figure I'll find one somewhere if I wind up needing one, and I felt sort of overpacked as it was. Socks for the duration, some LDComfort underwear and a few normal ones, I 'splurged' and grabbed two pairs of jeans, some UnderArmour shirts, my riding gear, and a few wicking compressible, wrinkle-proof 'convertible' pants (they unzip into shorts), and a pair of wicking pullover polo type shirts that at least look presentable, and I can wash on the way if need be. I'm not a big fan of Dick's sporting goods, but the pants and wicking polo shirts rock.

My riding gear filled my big Cabellas backpack with my CamelBak, and all the clothes stuffed nicely into a large compression dry sack stuffed into my tailbag, along with a super-absorbent large camp towel (these are awesome!), and a microfiber or two, plus my toiletries.

Sadly, my new mesh kevlar jacket from Motoport wasn't to make it for the trip. I love the gear, but it sounded like it wouldn't be ready in time, then I found out it had shipped..if I'd gotten a heads up, I could have had it shipped to FL and would have second day aired it, instead it's on it's way to NC to get the the day after I left...ahh well, hopefully it'll fit perfectly and be a nice surprise when I get back home.

Re-booking my ticket to FL was a nightmare. Even 'non-refundable' tickets are usually transferrable for a fee, and while Expedia customer service was very nice (even English speaking!), they just didn't seem to get that for a $105 ticket when purchased, paying them another $150 transfer fee, to then credit $100 of it towards another ticket....really wasn't the best idea I'd ever heard. :-/ So basically, I threw the first one way ticket out, and booked online while being frustrated on the phone with them. I'd meant to fly into Ft Lauderdale, and thought I'd gotten the identical flight a day later, but...again, oops. I'd booked flying into Miami, instead, which meant either an $80 taxi or limo, or..screw it, a $60 car rental for a few days...not the end of the world.

So, most of the travel stuff dealt with, I really only had one thing remaining - to actually get there! Which meant it was time for flight delays. I was flying into Charlotte, then connecting through to Miami 45 minutes later, which meant we were delayed for around an hour sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off. Surprisingly I made the connecting flight without issue though, as we made the time up in the air, and the flight to Miami was also delayed a bit as well, so I got into Miami a few hours later than expected.

I picked the rental car up..I figure when I'm renting a car they're not going to give me something entertaining, like a Miata or an Elise, so I just get whatever the cheapest thing they have is...which in this case, apparently didn't include electric windows, something I'll admit I have kinda gotten used to having. But hey, it had 4 wheels, and air conditioning, so all good.

Driving out of Miami was somewhat entertaining; a mixture of people that shouldn't be driving for a variety of reasons - old age, with some incompetent yet fast drivers thrown into the mixture for good measure, while I passed through a few torrential downpours. I'm not so sure I'd be thrilled about riding a bike on I-95 around Miami, yet I made it to my destination without incident, regardless. Talked with Mom for a few then got some sleep after reading a few more chapters in the random Michael Crighton book I picked up at the airport for the trip.

The next day was spent mostly spending time with my Mom, and getting my health insurance info over the phone to find out that in the event I did need to see a doctor in DR, I'd have to pay cash, then submit back to the insurance company. Nice.. :-/ AT&T once again made me so happy I'm a customer when I inquired to find out about temporarily going onto an International phone plan, which turned out to be just short of rape - $1.69/minute on the plan, or $1.99/minute if just using my normal plan. Utter waste of time, and they didn't even catch the phone sex comment I made once I was done choking after hearing the rates.

Last time I was in Boca, all I remembered was a ton of old people in small congregations, who had obviously lost their spouses, and it was depressing as when Mom took a nap, I figured it was worth taking a drive to give the place one more chance, plus I had to pick up a few things anyways.

I'd left the bike GPS at home, figuring as it's nearly useless in DR anyways, but it turns out I could have used it. I managed to get a bit lost, and apparently AT&T cell service is as questionable in FL as it is elsewhere - when I was trying to find my way back, my phone was on the passenger seat, and never rang, yet at some point told me I had voicemail, to find out apparently there was some unspoken rule that my Mom had to eat by 6:30 PM or something...oops. Called her back but got voicemail, and as she has no cell, she went and got takeout while I was less than 5 minutes away. Ahh well...we still had dinner, then when she went to sleep around 10, I decided to go and look around some more, thinking I'd find somewhere to shoot some pool for a bit or something. Note to AT&T and Apple (iPhone) - what good is pseudo GPS ability via Google Maps and 'use current location' when half the time you can find the right starting location yet continually give 'unable to route' as a response, even when you can find each point individually? :-/ This happened over a dozen times when trying to use my iPhone to get me back to my Moms..weird but sucked.

The FL highlights in summary amounted to spending some time with my Mom, meeting a cute foreign girl at a Best Buy and grabbing some coffee, and a bit of random bar hopping around Boca one night, which was entertaining, but I'm sort of picky when it comes to beer, and the choices were right out of Nowhereville, USA - Bud, Heineken, or Coors. Yech.

It was almost time to ride...