All I Wanted To Do Was Relax On The Beach

...and instead I had the most stressful trip of my life. *sigh* This all started after I got my new job offer - I didn't know what my vacation situation would be after I started & I really wanted to go lay on the beach one more time. My friend CM lives in Miami Beach & had issued a blanket "come visit!" invite, so I checked with him & decided to make a weekend trip. I used some FF points & booked my trip a week before I was supposed to go. During that week, Tropical Storm Isaac decided to come into existence & start causing trouble. Yes, I lived in Florida for almost 4 years & yes, I totally didn't even think about the fact that I was trying to go to Miami during the active part of hurricane season. *sigh*

I kept an eye on the storm, and the forecasts said it shouldn't hit Florida until Monday, so I figured I could get out on Sunday morning & be fine. So down to Miami I went. Because I booked so late, I had to do a connection in Atlanta - I detest connecting flights. I've also been having trouble with my ears, specifically the right one refusing to equilibrate the pressure & staying blocked for days after a flight. My flights on Friday resulted in the same thing *sigh yet again* a blocked right ear & feeling like I was stuck underwater. But nevertheless, I made it to Fort Lauderdale, where my friend picked me up. We made a stop at the worst Target ever - how is it only 830 and there's only ONE checkout line open for 30 customers because the manager sends everyone else on break? Ugh. And I had some great Cuban food that night #yum.

Saturday I was expecting to hit the beach, but the weather had other plans. It rained all morning, and not a sprinkling, but a serious storm with lightning & wind & stuff. Needless to say, I was unhappy, but the weather began to clear up around noon. My friend & I headed out to get some food before we hit the beach.

While finishing up lunch, I remembered to check-in for my flight so I grabbed my phone. That's when I discover that Airtran has canceled all flights in South Florida for Sunday & Monday, and rebooked for a flight on Tuesday. Yeah.....NO. I can't go home on Tuesday, I need to be in the office as its my last week at my old job & I have a ton I still need to wrap up. I immediately begin freaking out - I cannot be stuck in South Florida! We head back to my friend's house while I'm on my phone trying to see if I can hop on a late flight from FLL...well btwn then & us getting into the house, the seats were gone :-( . Everything in South Florida was either sold out or had left already, since it was after 3pm by this time. My friend suggests I try Orlando, so I do - and there's a flight at 8pm Saturday night! But how will I get to Orlando? We start calling rental car companies & I book the smallest car at FLL. Luckily, my things were still relatively packed well & we raced out the door to pick up the rental.

If you know me IRL, then you know that I have a little problem with road rage. Well I wasn't even driving & I was stressed out to the max at the folks on the road. I needed to get to FLL immediately & folks were out driving like it was Sunday morning. I spent a lot of time tapping the car door & I also busied myself by checking in for my new flight on my phone. We finally make it to FLL but then we can't figure out how to get to the rental car counter! We finally decide that my friend will drop me at the rental car return area, and luckily it was 100 feet from the counter. I run in, sign my paperwork, run back out, throw my stuff in the tiniest Toyota I've ever seen, and head out to 95. While i'm on 95 I realize 2 things: this car doesn't have cup holders or cruise control *facepalm*. Yes, I had the privilege of driving 200+ miles with no cruise control.

My flight leaves at 8pm. I arrive at FLL at 430pm & I'm on the road by 445pm. Time is not on my side here. It's normally a 3hr drive btwn Orlando & Miami, but I can't take 3hrs, cause I won't make my flight. This is how I ended up dong 85-90mph the entire time I was on the Turnpike. It was a necessity. Luckily there wasn't much traffic & also no cops which helped immensely.

I reached Orlando at 715pm, and hopped on the 528 to drive the 5 miles to the airport. I got my car turned in at 730pm, and of course the woman trying to check the car in was new & didn't know what she was doing. I wanted to scream at her that I was going to miss my flight but I held my tongue. Luckily I know MCO (Orlando airport) like the back of my hand from my years living there. I raced across the street to the terminal so I could get my boarding pass & then ran over to security, which was empty! But I had to take a moment & open my bag to remove my liquid items & my little Ziploc bag had broken so I had things all over. I navigated through security, grabbed my stuff, & was able to meet a shuttle to the gate just as it was pulling up. During the shuttle to the gate I had a moment to check my phone (its 741pm by this time) and tell Mom that I made it. I run off the shuttle & down to the gate, in a skirt that I'm pretty sure was flying up & showing everyone my goodies, but hey, I didn't have time stop & worry abt it.

I reach the gate, they scan my boarding pass & I make it down to the plane - success! I find my seat & a place to stash my bag & I even got some water, cause by now I'm out of breath & abt to die. By this time, its 745pm. The Universe was looking out for me!

I have a flight thru Atlanta, and I was even more miserable on these flights because my ears were even more screwed up. On takeoff & ascent, my ears would pop violently, causing a sharp pain in my ear. And then on descent & landing, they would clog & not release. On my second descent into Minneapolis, the pain in my left ear was almost unbearable, my ear was under so much pressure. It lessened by the time I ended up on the ground, but I was still in pain & couldn't hear on my left side.

I hopped off my flight & headed to the parking garage where I parked & drove home - tired, in pain, cranky & hungry. At midnight. But I was home & not stuck in South Florida.

And so, this is how I spent 24hrs in Miami, took 4 flights in 2 days, screwed up my ears even more, and paid a ridiculous amount of money for a flight. I got nowhere near the beach, and instead of relaxing had the most stressful travel experience of my life. But on the bright side, the Universe helped me make it home in 1 (damaged) piece.

I'm not allowed on another plane until I see the ENT specialist on Sept 11.