In July P and his mother (Maa) and I planned to take a little vacation to Alaska. P and I left at 6 a.m. and stopped in Phoenix for a 10 our layover to visit my youngest son J. Maa was to follow at 4:30 p.m. We would all then catch a plane at 7:45 p.m. and head up to Anchorage.
Good plan, right?
Turns out I had to go up a month early. At least the price was right! I picked up a one-way ticket the day before I left for $300! (Check out www.cheapoair.com and buy the tickets as close to the date you want to leave as you can manage. Check several different days, cuz just one day can make the difference.) After 3 weeks I came home and flew back up with P and Maa. I wanted to visit my son.
Our flight out of Boston went off without a hitch. We arrived in Phoenix and had a nice visit with J. The weather was pretty nice: 115 degrees in the sunshine (cuz there wasn't any shade! Did you know that the best parking spaces are not closest to the door? They're the ones in the shade.) For us, the 30% humidity was fantastic. For the locals, it was sweltering and muggy. Goes to show it's all a matter of perspective!
We were advised to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before Maa's flight was to arrive, since the rush-hour traffic could be horrendous. We took that advice. The USO at the airport is very nice. Tons of sugary snacks. Computers. TV room. No bathroom.
The trouble started when we looked up Maa's incoming flight. There was only a 45 minute layover, which wouldn't have been bad, considering the arrival and departure gates were fairly close. Howsomever. . . her flight was about 30 minutes late. We had no intention of following the admonition of the gate agents who insisted we would have to leave on our scheduled flight, since they wouldn't reschedule our flight without charging about $1500 for the privilege. (That's a $200 per ticket change fee, and the difference between what we paid for our tickets and the going rack rate.) Before her plane arrived Maa was already booked on another flight at 7 a.m.
Would YOU leave your 82 year old mother to fend for herself over night in a strange airport?? Yeah, well, neither did we. As her (now 1 hour late) flight was arriving I went over to the service desk to see if we could all get on the same flight the next morning. There was an agent at the desk I had not talked to. I explained the situation to her (minus the part about having to pay for a ticket change). She looked up the flight the next morning and said there would be no problem getting us all on that flight. "Wait! How about the same flight number, just tomorrow night?" "Let me look", she said. "Yes, I can get you all on that flight." YAY!! Thanks Lord!! And no mention of charging us for the privilege, either. Double YAY!! Thanks Lord!!
I called the hotel we were to have stayed at in Anchorage and released our room. They didn't charge us. I'm sure it was rented before long. There was an air show in town, and the room was on the Air Force Base. I also called the Anchorage car rental agency to cancel our car, since we
wouldn't be able to pick it up on schedule. I'm equally certain it was
rented without any trouble. Someone was thrilled to find it. Daddy,
who works for a car rental agency, said we would have been lucky that
the car was actually on the lot in the first place!
We headed over to the Raddison Inn and paid a grand total of $75 for a double room, compliments of the discount from the airlines. The next morning we rented another car and planned to head down toward Tuscon. Maa had friends there. We were treated to a very tasty lunch and good company, and then we headed back up to the airport.
The next thing to take care of was a hotel room in Anchorage when we arrived at 12:45 a.m. I looked on Hotels.com and found - - - 3 rooms in all of Anchorage: $215 per night, $425 and $35 per person. The last was at a hostel. The room had 2 bunkbeds, and specifically said 'NOT CO-ED'. I was hoping maybe they'd let it slide if we bought all 4 beds because we were a family. The agent from Hotels.com assured us it would be okay. I booked the room, thankful we didn't have to spend a minimum of $215 to sleep for 6 hours. Thanks again, Lord.
I wish I had a picture of the next fisaco. There is a picture of the car that was purchased a few weeks earlier on that impromptu trip to Fairbanks. The thing that worried me a bit was the transmission - it didn't like reverse too well. It's a 5-speed manual. To find reverse you have to put it in 5th first and drop it straight down into reverse. So my mechanic friend discovered after I left to go back to Boston for a week. I never had had any luck with reverse. She's not too pretty, and only 2 doors, but at 44 mpg I'd have P drive, and I'd ride in the back seat if necessary!
Okay Lord. No point in worrying about it tonight, says I to myself and anyone listening. "Let's head over to the hotel and get some sleep and worry about the car in the morning."
It was a nice thought, ya know?? But there was no room at the Inn. Seems the confirmation number was there, but the reservation never made it to their system. Several someones were sound asleep in our beds.
Sounds like a combo of the biblical 'no room at the Inn' and Goldilocks, doesn't it??
No point in raisin' Cain. If there were no beds, there were no beds. Back to the airport in the rain (and a second $25 taxi ride). At least it was safe and dry. $50 to sleep on the benches at the airport. . . (you know - the price of two taxi rides?) But we found 3 benches together that were flat, instead of those concave seats with arm rests between each seat. Thanks Lord!
Maa got a few hours of sleep. P and I did not. About 5:30 P and I had come to the conclusion that we didn't trust the little blue car. Back to Hotwire.com to look up cars. You remember those '3 hotel rooms'? There were 3 cars to match. The cheapest one was $150 a day. Plus all the other stuff they tack on to that daily rate, like additional drivers and insurance. Lord, this isn't going to work. We can't afford that.
Light bulb! Try my other favorite website, Cheapoair.com. And right there, in front of God and everybody, was also 3 cars - but the first one was only $51 a day!! Quick! Hit the 'select' button!! Conveniently, I am automatically signed in to that site. I quick went down to the car rental place at the airport - where the car was supposedly located - to see if they had the confirmation and the car. Not trusting such easy reservations after the Inn fiasco. They did! And the agent asked me how I got such a good deal, because that particular car goes for $200 a day!! Yes, indeed! God was working overtime! THANKS LORD!! I said out loud to everyone in range of my voice.
(UPDATE! I just stumbled upon that website where I found the car. It wasn't CheapoAir after all, but Cheapair! I must have selected the wrong site from the list of options on my tablet. But God knew where to send me!! Amazing!)
We picked up the car and headed up to Healy for a town reunion. On the way up it crossed my mind to check our reservations. No idea why I would think of that. . . . Originally, I had booked 2 cabins for Friday night, one for us and one for my parents, but that got changed, so I rearranged the reservation to 1 cabin for Friday and Saturday night. At least that's what they guy said he did. . . Are you surprised yet?? Two cabins, Friday night. I calmly explained what I had done with the reservations, and asked if they had anything available on Saturday night. "No? Okay. You'll refund the money for the extra cabin? Thanks! I appreciate it." Just that calmly, honest.
For Saturday night we had no idea where we would sleep. On the way to the reunion picnic we passed Faith Hill Lodge out in the middle of nowhere. The price was more than we wanted to pay, so P said he'd think about it. The owner said to make him an offer. P did, it was accepted, and we slept in the largest room of the whole trip! (Not including the 3-bedroom townhouse we had for 3 days down in Anchorage at the end of the trip.)
Now, tell me - was that a bunch of work on God's part or what?! Don't you just love a good Watchin' God story?!