About a week before I expected to finish my bike tour, I booked a flight home from Portland on Southwest Airlines. I chose Southwest because I had enough points on my Southwest account that I could fly for free. I chose a flight between 10 and 11 on Saturday morning. All the other flights left before 6 am. I also chose this flight because it had only one stop, Chicago’s Midway airport.
I was about to call a cab to go to the airport when I received a notice from Southwest that my Portland to Chicago flight had been canceled. Southwest re-routed me on a two-stop flight leaving Portland at 5:40 am on Sunday. UGH!
After much agonizing about getting a hotel, I decided to extend my stay at the hostel. I did some laundry, read a book, and took a walk. At 10 pm I went to sleep for five hours.
My cab arrived at 3:30. 20 minutes and $50 later I was at the airport. I tried to use a kiosk to check in but the software wouldn’t let me. So I got in the long line to see an agent at the check in counter. The line moved fast. I explained calmly to the agent that I had been rebooked. She immediately gave me preboarding status on all three flights. This was a courtesy I was later to learn was extended to others who had been re-scheduled.
When I lined up for my first flight and saw all the people waiting to board, I was feeling burnt out and a little angry, despite my preboarding status. I started chatting with a woman standing next to me. She was traveling with her family to DC to attend a conference about disabled people. She, her husband, and younger son were traveling with her elder son who was obviously disabled; he could walk but needed to much assistance and persuasion to board the flight.
To make matters worse, the family had missed the first day of the conference.
So much for my personal pity party.
When I left the plane at Denver, I was met by a woman with a wheelchair. I turned it down, of course. It gave me a good laugh, though.
The next two flights, Denver to Dallas and Dallas to DC, had more disabled people in the preboarding line. This included five people in wheelchairs in addition to the family I met in line in Portland.
During the descent to Dallas my ears plugged up and became very painful. The pain went away but the “plugging up” worsened. By the time I arrived in DC, I couldn’t hear a thing. I attributed the hearing loss to sitting next to one of the plane’s engines.
With two connections, I assumed my bags would be delayed or lost. In fact, I had only a five minute wait for them once I arrived at baggage claim.
I hefted my tent bag and my duffle and headed outside for a cab. There were none. I took an airport shuttle to the main terminal where the shuttle driver dropped us about 150 yards from the taxi line.
For the previous two weeks my back and legs had shown little sign of my stenosis problems. Hauling those bags around at the airport brought my stenosis symptoms back.
Once I arrived home, I realized I could not hear our whole house air conditioner running. I did some laundry and couldn’t hear the machines working. I had a stuffed up head and felt tired. I attributed this to jet lag.
Today I went to the pharmacy to get a prescription refilled. While waiting I went to the barbershop. I returned home with my medicine and some ear drops to unplug my ears. Curiously, I was now coughing up drainage from my sinuses.
After tending to post-ride business, I took a nap. After dinner I decided to test myself for Covid. Knock me down with a feather, I’m positive. After two months on the road, I finally caught the disease. I had previously made an appointment with my primary car doctor for tomorrow so I’ll probably be zooming with him.
I am four times vaxxed and eligible for Paxlovid. No worries.