It was like the Universe knew I was leaving last Wednesday to go on the world's most awesome vacation to Maine (hence my absence from the Internets) and decided to heap every last ounce of shit it possibly could in my direction.
I fly a fair amount - maybe 6 or 7 times a year. And usually it's a random weekend i.e. NOT the day before Thanksgiving which qualifies as The Suckiest Day Ever To Travel so you can imagine my surprise when I arrived at the airport last Wednesday, a random July 14th, and it was a zoo to the point that almost every single parking deck/lot was full. Seriously, I ALWAYS park in Daily Parking, which at $6/day is twice the long-term lots but which is 1) close to the Terminal so you can walk if you want and 2) also covered parking so your car is not exposed to the elements, and when the not-so-helpful guy told me it was closed I stared at him dumbfounded because: Seriously dude? Where else am I supposed to park?
I was pointed in the direction of Daily North which I have never been to and by the time I circled the airport and pulled in, I thought it should be called Long-Term 5 because 1) it's nowhere NEAR the terminal; 2) it's NOT covered parking which means my car would be sitting in the baking sun for 5 days and/or get hailed on should any more bad storms come to town and 3) was still $6/day. Sorry airport, but I call bullshit on that one.
I will pause to say that it was a mere FLUKE and-or-slash miracle that I happened to arrive at the airport 2 hours early because Holy Hell it was going to take me that long to park. No way was I paying premium prices for crappy parking, and with my sanity starting to fray slightly, I made the command decision to go to Business Valet. Now our airport has 2 ways to valet parking: curbside parking which is right at the terminal and which is a chere $16 or $20/day, and business valet which is removed from the terminal i.e. you have to take a shuttle bus but which is also only $10/day - still pricey but not that much more than what I was used to paying plus the parking is covered plus I don't have to fuck with anything plus I had decided that my mental peace of mind was definitely worth the extra $16.
Still, I had to drive through Daily North and then wait behind 5 people who were all paying and exiting. I finally got to the cashier, gave her my ticket, told her I was just passing through and oh yeah by the way, how do I get to Business Valet.
Her: "It's over somewhere by the terminal."
Me: "Are you sure? I thought it was off of 74 somewhere."
Her: "Well it's valet so it's gotta be close."
Me: "There are 2 kinds of valet parking. One is by the terminal. One isn't."
Her: Blank, dumb, empty expression.
Me: "Ok. You clearly have NO idea. Thanks for being so NOT helpful. Bye." And I pulled out.
What followed was yet ANOTHER 20-minute odyssey of me circling the airport, not seeing any signs for Business Valet, having to exit onto the highway, make a u-turn, and re-enter the airport. When I finally found the lot, I nearly wept with joy. Also? I knew I had made the right decision because there was zero chaos and zero drama and I didn't have to circle for 400 years looking for a spot, I just handed the guy my car, he handed me a ticket, and I got on a clean, air-conditioned shuttle bus which no one else was on so it was essentially private.
Given the fact that 3/4 of the parking lots were full/closed, I should have known that the airport would be a zoo. And it was. Plus, one of the 4 security checkpoints is closed for renovations (no - really) so the massive crowds were compressed into 3 checkpoints. The line I was on snaked halfway down the airport. No joke. And the only reason I didn't panic was because again, I had oodles of extra time - time which I had planned to use sitting at the airport bar and reading through some work stuff.
While tediously inching my way towards security, I emailed Dr. Diva. The valet had mentioned an online coupon which would reduce the rate to $8/day so I sent her a quick message and said if you can find it, great, and could you print it out and bring it to me since I was without computer and printer and she wasn't joining us in Maine until Friday. I got an email back 30-seconds later saying Done and Done. Sweet.
Security took exactly 30 minutes and when I got through, I checked the monitors to confirm my departure gate. B-12. I double checked it was Portland, ME and not Portland, OR and it was. With some time to spare, I made my way to the mid-terminal bar where I indulged in some white wine and managed to relax. Briefly.
I got to B-12 right as my plane was getting ready to board. It was crowded and the gate agents were saying something about being full and or oversold and I was like, Great. A few old people were wheeled on and then families with kids were making their way on and then I don't know what possessed me and I looked at the sign closely and it said Portland, OR. And I was all: No. Fucking. Way. I dashed to another set of monitors and sure enough, the departure gate for Portland, OR was B-12 and the departure gate for Portland, ME was D-12 - ALL THE WAY ON THE OPPOSITE END OF THE AIRPORT. And then I died because I was I going to make it in wedges and lugging a suitcase? Also? Had I been that stupid?
The Universe finally gave in and smiled on me because I found a nice young man sitting in an idle cart - you know the ones they use to tote people who can't walk very well and/or are lazy from gate to gate - and I totally flagged him down. Nice to know my legendary taxi-hailing skills can be re-applied. Anyways, he was more than happy to help and when I explained to him that I was in a DESPARATE rush because OMG my plane is already boarding, he opened that baby up and took me through the airport NASCAR-style. Seriously - we almost ran over a priest.
Of course the drama was for naught because my flight was in fact delayed and so by the time I was deposited at D-12 (in a full on panic) no one had yet boarded. AND - as it turned out - I spoke to a handful of other people who had been at B-12 first so I KNEW that I wasn't in fact a stupid moron and that actually, the airport/airline had switched gates and OMFG who replaces 1 Portland with another? At least they could have boarded a Cleveland flight out of B-2 instead so I would have instantly known about the gate change.
Long story long? I finally arrived in Maine AND I managed to find The Brit Girl which was of some concern seeing as she had no US working cell phone and the Universe seemed to have it in for me.
More on the EXTREME AWESOMENESS of Maine and pictures to follow. Today is just the pre-vacation drama.