The first lucky thing that happened Friday is that it rained. Was planning to walk to the airport shuttle, but I chose to drive because of the rain. Got to the airport early, at 5:49AM. Tried to check in. Check-in machine said my flight was departing at 6:20AM. I definitely booked the 7:45. AA representative said, "Well, you're on the 6:20 now." Got moved to the front of the security line. Got another Leatherman confiscated (I have to remember to take that thing out of my backpack before traveling). Sprinted my ass off down the terminal and just made the flight.
So I wound up in Orange County with lots of layover time. Walked around looking for food. Saw a shop selling a t-shirt saying, "Not all who wander are lost." I wanted to buy it but didn't have any room in my backpack.
Hit the flight to St. Louis. After touchdown the flight attendant listed gates for connecting flights and said, "If the St. Louis area is your home, welcome home." I nearly cried right there. Got the car, drove to Marion while listening to the Cubs lose to the Cardinals. Ronny Cedeño, pinch running for someone (Mark DeRosa, maybe?), had the green light on a 3-2 pitch, the batter walked, the catcher threw to second. Ronny got second base automatically because of the walk but he slid past the bag and the shortstop tagged him out. That was the second out in the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs down a run. I may have got cheated out of snow in my visits to the midwest this year, but at least the Cubs found a way to lose for me. Met the team at Williamson County Pavilion. Wanted to buy a River to River license plate holder and some bumper stickers, but didn't have room in my backpack. Grrrr.
Ran the race. Did pretty well. Wrote about it in the runblog. Wore a jacket and pants all day in the heat to keep from getting sunburned. I got lots of comments. I didn't get sunburned. Southern Illinois is beautiful. I'm sure you all know that I want to live there someday.
After the race I didn't have any specific plans for the night and it wasn't too late so I went back to St. Louis. Formed a plan involving finding a room downtown, wandering around and maybe having a beer somewhere, waking up early, watching the sun rise over the casinos on the Illinois side of the river, dropping off the rental car, going to the airport. Plan was busted by the fact that I couldn't find a room downtown that wasn't way too expensive, didn't know my way around, didn't have a very good map. And I wandered past a bunch of bars and clubs and casinos with a bunch of cops milling around outside and all these people trying to look cool and being loud and drunk, and I was wearing my new River to River t-shirt because it was one of two clean ones I had left, looking really dorky and being quiet and sober.
So I headed out towards the airport, found a motel out there, was so tired I forgot to set my alarm before crashing. Woke up kind of late. But could make it if I hurried. Went to go return the car. I'd seen signs for the rental car checkin the night before, so I followed them. They were for different companies. Looked at the rental car map and tried to reconcile that with what I remembered from watching out the window of the shuttle bus from the airport. This part took about an hour. Fuck. I got to the airport 10 minutes after the flight left. They had me try to make standby on a flight to Dallas, and then try to make standby from Dallas to San José. Fun.
There was a sort of crappy airport bar outside my terminal. I got a banana and a muffin at the nearby Starbucks and then headed for the bar. Ordered a gin and tonic. Bartender said everyone ordered those at the casinos, but almost nobody did at the airport. Well maybe a gin and tonic is good luck. Would I like to make it a double for a few extra bucks? I've gotta make two flights on standby to get back home, so yeah, you'd better make that a double.
I think that's the most drunk I've ever been before noon. With my rather low alcohol tolerance, I don't think I was walking quite straight, or speaking very clearly. But I made the flight! Fifth out of six standby passengers to get called! Win! Sat next to the engine. Tried to read a bit. Observed myself getting soberer. Landed in Dallas.
Walked around the D terminal for a while before eating a burrito and some ice cream (the airport industry made a killing off of me on this trip, but I was stressing out... whatever). Ahead of me on the standby list were a group of three and two groups of two. Eight seats available and I'm in; seven seats I'm out; six seats I'm in; five, I'm out; four I'm in; three, out; two, out. There was one seat. I was in.