21 May 2007

STL and the worst airport/flying experience EVER!!!

Hey all... I've decided to lift the restriction off the "purely" food aspect of this blog, and turn it into just a blog. It makes for better writing, since there's so much more going on that I can talk about. ANYWAY... about my trip to the STL...

Wedneday, May 16, 2007:

Chris drops Ben and I off at the airport. Our flight was scheduled to leave Newport News (PHF) at 6:10pm and arrive in Atlanta (ATL) at 8:something; then, we were supposed to catch a flight from ATL to St. Louis (STL) around 10pm to arrive in STL a little before 11pm (central time). Unfortunately for us, due to bad weather conditions in ATL (rain, thunder, lightning), our plane was delayed 2 hours. We asked the ticket lady at the Delta counter if this would prevent us from catching our connecting flight to STL, and she told us that that plane was also late and we shouldn't worry about it.. WELL... we arrived in STL a few minutes after our connecting flight took-off (she was wrong!). Ended up that Delta rebooked us for a flight the next day (11:45am), but we got on stand-by for an earlier flight since we wanted to make it in time for Jill's graduation from SLU. Delta comp'd us a hotel room and some meal vouchers, but we couldn't get our baggage (because it would take "3-5 hours, and that's not even a guarantee that you'll get your stuff"). We also couldn't get refunds for our tickets and try to get on another flight because, apparently, there are no red eye flights out of ATL. So, the first Delta worker who helped us gave us a hotel room at the Red Roof Inn. We go outside to wait for the courtesy shuttle, unable to get through on the courtesy telephone. An hour or so later, we finally get through by calling on our own, and they're all booked up. ALL of their rooms were taken because a MILLION people were also stranded in ATL. We go back inside and talk to a different lady at the ticket counter. She gets us a room at the Comfort Inn (which isn't really that comfortable) and called to make sure that they still had rooms. We also picked up some "overnight kits" from the Delta baggage claim office, since we didn't have any stuff with us. It consisted of a XL t-shirt, toothbrush, toothpaste (that tasted like soap), (men's) deodorant, laudry detergent (wtf??), razor and shaving cream, and a hair brush, all packed up in a nice little bag. The only thing going for the hotel was that it wasn't the airport.

Thursday, May 17, 2007:

We get up around 6:30am, since we want to try to get on an earlier flight. The second thing the Comfort Inn has going for it is continental breakfast. I had 2 hard-boiled eggs and 1/4 of Ben's waffle. We got to the airport, and the man driving the shuttle told us that the security lines are going to be packed (since EVERYONE and their mom got stranded at the airport last night). As a side note: My mom was also stranded at the airport Wednesday night. She missed her flight from BWI to get home from my Grandma Slike's funeral, so they put her on a different flight to Philadelphia, then home. Philadelphia was also experiencing bad weather on Wednesday, and she spent the night at the airport because they didn't comp her a room (idiots!). Anywho.. we get through security (yes, it felt like a semi-infinitely long line) and get to the early flight. They're overbooked (I dont' understand how that EVER should be able to happen), but for some reason the lady on standby before us gets on it (DAMNIT!). So.. we end up having a few hours to kill at the airport before our flight. We eat at a French Bistro place and sleep and watch CNN and mosey about.

We get to St. Louis around 1pm. Ben's father was there to pick us up. We go straight to the graduation (with a slight detour since Ben's father missed the highway interchange we were supposed to get on) and make it there about five people before Jill. So we missed all the boring stuff and got to see her walk across the stage. Then pictures and pictures and (early) dinner at Landry's Seafood at Union Station. I had the crawfish etouffee, and it was good. It was a nice joint, and his family was really nice and happy to meet me. Then we went to his Nana and Papa's house. We hung out there for a while, then went home and rested up a bit (took a shower and watched TV). Afterwards we went over to his Uncle Dave's house, because Ben's parents don't have internet and Ben needed to check on some important bill stuff online.

Friday, May 18, 2007:

The morning dragged a little slow, but we eventually went for a run/walk at Mastodon State Park, which is right by Ben's house. It's pretty treachorous, and I couldn't run the whole thing, so I ran some, walked, and then walked the end while Ben ran with the Dog. We got back to the house, and showered and waited for his parents and his sister to get home from the store. Then we went to the Arch, that was pretty cool. You can see clear into Illinois!!! It's only across the Mississippi River, but still, it's fun to say. We got very nice views from the Arch, but Jill pointed out that many overweight people would not be able to get up there. For one, they wouldn't be able to fit into the little tram that takes you up to the top, since the door into the tram is only 4-feet tall by 2-feet wide and the tram itself is not much bigger and can barely fit five normal sized adults comfortably. For second, they wouldn't be able to walk around much once they were at the top, since it is a pretty cramped space.

After the Arch, we grabbed some candy from a little "antique" store in and walked around the Museum of Westward Expansion, which is in the base of the Arch. Then headed home for rib-eye steak and all the sides (baked potato, corn on the cob, green beans). The steak was a little too done for my liking, which made it a little tough, but it wasn't too bad, and all the other stuff was good (the corn was really sweet). Also, Judy (Ben's mom) made this fruit dip that's a combination of marshmallow spread, cream cheese, and vanilla extract that's SO GOOD. We dipped strawberries and pineapple chunks in it. MMM! After dinner, we helped set up a little for Jill's graduation party, and then headed over to Ben's grandparents' house to see his Uncle Greg. Then over to his Uncle Dave's house to watch Casino Royale. Dave made popcorn, out of a popper, and it was awesome! I fell asleep during the movie, of course, but the popcorn was still good.

Saturday, May 19, 2007:

Ben and I get up and head to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. It was pretty cool, though the packaging plant was closed for maintenance (that was the only thing I really wanted to see). We got to taste some beers at the end, but none of them were any good. After the tour of the brewery, we stopped by the Historic Soulard Farmers' Market, which is wicked cool. I wish we had something like that out here, but, alas, we do not. They even had an indoor part that was open year-round.

We got home and helped out with last-minute party set-up stuff, and then the party started. I met a lot of people that day, and I don't remember all of their names or faces, but it was mostly family. I did get to meet some of Ben's friends from high school, and we went to S&J's for custard and snowcones. I had a Heath Concrete, which apparently is a Heath Bar blended into custard soft serve. It was good, but Ben's Baby Joey was better.

After S&J's, Ben and I went to play tennis with his friend James and his fiancee Becca (Ben's going to be James' bestman at the wedding in August). Now, I've always sucked at tennis, but it was pretty fun. After that, we all got washed up and had dinner at Fitz's, which was an OK restaurant, but the soda was a bit sweet (they make their own). I had a roasted red pepper and portabello sandwich with an orange cream soda. We also walked up and down the Del Mar Loop, but we didn't feel like bar-hopping, and all the cool stores were closed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007:

I woke up at 5:30am thinking it was 6:30am to go to a 7:00am service at St. Joseph's. When I realized that I was an hour early, I went back to sleep, only to get woken by Ben who was worried that I would miss the service (He was up becuase the dog needed to be taken out). After the service, I came back to the house and watched TV, ate Eggo waffles, played with the cat, watched TV. We all went to another service at 10:30am. Ben's parents and his Uncle Dave sing in the choir. It was different, considering I've never been to another Christian service before. After that, we all had lunch at Applebee's. I had the buttermilk shrimp and cherry limeade. Ben had a Crispy Orange Chicken Bowl and a strawberry lemonade. Then, tearful "good-bye"s at the airport, and we were off. So we thought...

Our flight out of STL was supposed to go to Charlotte, NC, and then to PHF. Apparently, the flight crew never showed up in Charlotte to come to STL in the first place, so a bunch of people were stranded in Charlotte, and a bunch of people were stranded in STL. US Airways had rebooked us for a flight later that evening, but a lot of people had to stay overnight because they're weren't any available flights that day for them. We waited in line for an hour to finally check our bags, there were so many people. Instead of heading out of STL at 3:10pm to Charlotte, we were on a 6:30pm flight to Philadelphia. Then a quick (40 minute) hop from Philadelphia to PHF. We got home only about an hour after we were supposed to arrive, so it wasn't that bad. We were, howeve, stranded at STL for three hours with nothing to do. I took a nap. Ben did too, but I don't think he was able to get as comfortable as I was, given my small size.

So.. that was the weekend. His family is great! Really nice and open and fun and just easy to get along with. They seemed to like me, at least that's what everyone told me and that's what Ben told me when we left. But, then again, who doesn't like Tran? (I kid, I kid). Pictures to come soon.

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