This was supposed to be a quick trip to a small Ohio town to look at a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that I had been drooling over for several weeks. I felt that the seller was being totally honest with me but my advisers persuaded me that I would be sorry if I didn't go and look at the motorcycle in person. Unfortunately, I had been coughing, hacking and sneezing since New Years' Eve and wasn't any better by flight time. But the trip had to go on, so I packed my colds medicines and went.
On Saturday, January 8th, I left home at 6:15 a.m. and arrived at San Jose International Airport's new Orange Parking Lot at 6:36 a.m. I was near Shuttle Stop H but was told by the shuttle driver that I had to catch the shuttle at Shuttle Stop Q. (Can you tell that this is a governmental operation?)
I took the shuttle to Terminal C, then to the Northwest counter, where my County Government photo-I.D. card was not recognized but my driver's license was and they issued my boarding passes. On the way to the gate I took my Ginger Root tablets (motion sickness preventive).
It took three tries to get through the metal detector. Fortunately for everyone's safety, the machines successfully recognize a pocket full of coins, a small flashlight, folded scissors, my pager, Sprint PCS phone and belt buckle. After practically disrobing, they let me through.
It was a long, slow boarding process. I was eventually seated in 15-C and we took off at 8:13 a.m. The announcement said the flight time was 3 hours and 14 minutes.
Everyone in the vicinity was annoyed by a repetitive chirping sound; three beeps coming from something. It wasn't me, all my stuff was turned off. Eventually the flight attendant located the noise; it was a sleeping passenger's cel-phone voice mail signal. She woke him and asked him to turn it off. Nearby passengers breathed a sigh of relief.
Breakfast was served: Rice Chex and milk, a banana and Ginger Ale. Then came coffee service. Then came water service.
As we approached the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the flight crew apologized for the rough ride, but it wasn't too bad. We touched down at 1:25 p.m. central time, a little early.
Unfortunately, this meant that our gate was occupied by another plane. We had to take Gate 75 instead of Gate 63, with my connecting flight at Gate 41. I had to go from the Green Concourse to the Blue Concourse but it wasn't too far with moving walkways. If people could just remember to follow the signs: gab, chit-chat and stand on the right while others walk by on the left.
I found Gate 41 and realized there was quite a bit of time until the next flight. I used the bathroom, got my Boarding Pass ready, and by 1:56 p.m. was ready for the 3:10 p.m. departure.
I had another dose of Day-Quil, a muffin and a drink to wash it all down, then waited with about 15 other passengers for this flight. We boarded at 2:49 p.m.; I got seat 11-B.
Wheels up at 3:25 p.m., wheels down in Cleveland at 5:45 p.m. Eastern Time, a little early.
It was already dark in Cleveland, we had a slight delay at the gate, I got down to the Hertz counter and followed directions to door 5 and onto the common bus to the car rental area at 6:00 p.m.
By 6:20 p.m. it was 39 degrees Farenheit and I was inspecting my (dirty) red Ford Crown Victoria. I found the usual minor scratches, plus bird droppings, but it had a full fuel tank and was ready to go. The Hertz exit guy helped me find a country station, WGAR 99.5 FM, and I was off.
Following Tom's specific directions, which I had printed, I was able to find his home and pulled into his driveway at precisely 7:30 p.m.
He saw me coming and opened the garage door. There was the Road King in all her glory! It was love at first sight - she was all that I had expected.
For the next few hours, he told and showed me everything about the bike. We tore ourselves away for a wonderful salad and steak dinner about 9:00 p.m. After dinner I handed him the check and we signed the bill of sale, then continued inspecting the bike until nearly 1:00 a.m.
On Sunday morning I was awake at 9:00 a.m. I dressed, had some juice and went outside for a brisk walk with the dogs.
A little later, Tom loaned me a pair of gloves and let me to ride the Road King about 6 miles down the road and back. I could get used to this! He was in a generous mood when I got back and gave me quite a few accessory items that will make cruising a very pleasurable activity.
Around 1 o'clock we left for breakfast at a nearby cafe, then went with Tom to his workplace. I won't go into all the details but it was very interesting.
Following a pre-arranged plan, I called my insurance agent's answering machine and gave him the "go" signal to submit the policy application. I stopped at the Harley-Davidson dealership where I had arranged shipment and looked in the windows since they are closed on Sundays.
Then it was back to the car rental center via the gas station. I arrived shortly before 5 p.m. and then boarded the shuttle to the airport.
At the Northwest counter I discovered that the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport was fogged in. The agent found a seat for me on Trans World Airlines and gave me a $5 voucher good at any airport restaurant. I used a little over $3 of it at Burger King and then headed toward Gate A-6.
Boarding was another long process, many carry-on bags. Can you say "like a cattle car with wings?" I knew you could.
Wheels up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Wheels down at 7:30 p.m. Central time at St. Louis. We came in at Gate C29 and my connection would be at Gate D36. So I scurried over there, only to find that the flight had been delayed and that they could not do any better than seating me in 24-A.
After a long wait at the boarding lounge, I was seated at 8:50 p.m. and we pushed back at 9:05 p.m. The public address announcement said we would have four hours of flying time.
Wheels up at 9:18 p.m. Central Time. A very unpleasant flight: a crying child in the next row made it seem like a lot longer than four hours. Wheels down at 11:16 p.m. We were parked at the gate at 11:20 p.m.
They promptly turned off all fresh air and we started to bake while waiting to get off the plane. Nobody was willing or able to help with the problem, so we just suffered. Thank you, TWA, for a very unpleasant experience and especially for your uncaring, unconcerned, unpleasant and unresponsive personnel.
I was able to get onto the shuttle bus and back to the car for the drive home. I arrived at 12:20 a.m., cursing TWA the whole time. (But I'm over it now.)
The trip was proved to be unnecessary but it was great to see the motorcycle.
Shipment of the Road King from Ohio to California involves another long story which I may be persuaded to tell in person.