But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, I should establish the setting. Thursday evening Niki and I did our usual open-house Yule/Solstice get together, complete with gargantuan log - seriously, this thing was a Dire Log, several categories increased from normal. We had guests over, including burning_tree, redfierma, mollybzz, sgailean, our downstairs neighbors Dan-Bob, Lorellai, and DJ. Trouble arrived late, having gone out with the Thursday night cruisers. If you hadn't noticed, there's something like three feet of snow on the ground, so we largely considered him crazy, but it was good that he arrived safely home at some point. The evening was great, though perhaps a little long. In the end, everyone went home and Niki and I curled up near the last ember of the blazing fire that had been.
The next day, DIA reopened its doors for business around noon. Our flight was, serendipitously, at 7 PM. United was claiming that it was still a going concern, so we packed. Niki tried the car, and found that it was non-functional. This was concern #1. After mild panicking, we tried Super Shuttle, but their line was completely busy. But Trouble, the saint of Getting People to Airports, was happy to give us a ride. So, reassured, we finished packing, trudged over the embankment of snow to Trouble's car, and galumphed off.
This was approximately 5ish. By this time, our flight had been delayed until 8 PM. The roads, however, were utter crap. More accurately, the traffic was the problem, as the roads were mostly clear. We progressed alternating between speeds of 30 MPH to 5 MPH, depending on how much gawking people did. I saw several vehicles stuck on the side of the road that were still buried up to the windows in snow, including one semi. Forty-five minutes later, we called United's line to find out that the flight had been delayed to 9 PM. Then 9:15 PM. Trouble remarked, "The longer we take, the earlier you'll be!" We eventually got to the airport at around 7. That's right. Two hours driving. I owe Trouble dinner or something. Several, even.
I'd like to take a moment at this point to praise the glory that is curb-side check-in. We didn't have to wait in line, we just handed our bags over, along with a modest processing fee, and got our boarding passes. It took two minutes. That done, we headed inside, grabbed a quick bite to eat at Domino's, and then braced ourselves for the longest line in history for Security. Literally, with no exaggeration, the line began on one end of DIA, wrapped all the way around the airport, and ended 15 feet from where it began. There was another line for the other security section, I think, but I couldn't find it. Stranded travelers were camped out on cots throughout the building, and it was clear that the airlines had sponsored their feeding. I can't imagine what it would've been like to be connecting through Denver and be snowed in for three days.
Anyway, it took us just under an hour to get through security. About 5 minutes into that Domino's came down with a stack of pizzas and sedated the crowd by giving them out, for free. I presume this was a brilliant move by DIA's crowd control team. We felt just the slightest bit chagrined that we had bought food from the very establishment earlier, but I just took a piece and handed the box to the next guy without complaint. Considering everything, I was amazed that the line moved as quickly as it did. I don't think we completely stopped moving for more than a minute during the entire thing. And after we got through security, getting to the gate was easy.
Sadly, just getting to the gate was not enough. The plane had to get there too, which was non-trivial. Then once it got there, they only had three flight attendants, and the FAA requires four. The rustled up one from some magic box that they keep spares stashed in, and started boarding the plane. About five minutes into boarding, however, they found out that one of the other attendants had been flying for longer than the regulated maximum hours - an airline equivalent of MTBF - and so they had to deplane everyone plus the expired attendant and look for a new fourth. At this point, some young woman near us broke down, having stayed in the airport for who knows how long and was clearly dispairing that this flight was going to be canceled. But they simply delayed departure, and eventually got another attendant. Finally, around 10:30 PM, the flight boarded and took off.
We landed at 2 AM central time, which I wrote about yester...er, this morning.
Now, I think I'm going to go walking with Niki. and see what we can see. The weather here is mild, so I don't think I'll even be taking a jacket. I'll be online, if anyone wants to ping me. And yes, I'll be bringing home souvineers for special someones. Is it odd to take a vacation and miss one's friends so soon?