Back in the saddle at my little hole in the wall in Wyoming after a sublime experience in the eastern Caribbean. However the trip back home was filled with one hilarious gaffe after another on my part, which I’ll describe in more detail later.
Right now, I have important business to conduct w/anyone reading this. I’m looking for more fan stories to publish, and yes, that means you. The mission of our BillsMafia blog is to provide a voice for more than 90,000 members united for a common purpose; do good while cheering on our team, win or lose.
That ‘voice’ is something I take seriously. In the dawning of the digital age, I feel it’s important that all fans of the Buffalo Bills have a place where they can express themselves with the only stipulation being that any expression be conveyed through a framework of kindness. I laugh like anyone at some of the stuff I read on BarStool or DeadSpin… and cringe at others.
Regardless, there are plenty of venues out there more than willing to judge, criticize and demean anything in their path. It serves a purpose, I get it. However, there’s precious little out there in terms of places where one can express themselves without being FOBBed… Fear Of Being Berated.
So that’s what inspires me to try and create a place for respectful fans to engage with one another and share our common sorrow these days; being fans of Buffalo sports teams. To that end, my very favorite assignment is to put together fan stories and publish them here so we can come to know one another as more than digital friends.
With that in mind, I’m looking for more stories to publish for our BillsMafia blog. If you’re interested, you can DM me @RobynMundyWYO on Twitter, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All I need is around 600 words (+ or – a lot) and three pictures to go with your story. Pictures should include full name of people in photo (left to right) and approximate date & place picture was taken. Please share your story!
The other thing I plan to do during the offseason is to share more of my drivel periodically with the hope that at least one person finds something to laugh about, or cringe with the knowledge that life can be ironic and downright funny at times.
Without further adieu, I’ll launch my first extra credit wyobabble about a recent experience spending the night at Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson International airport…
The 12 hr. night layover: #AirportHell
I knew when booking the flight a few months ago that it was likely to be an unpleasant experience spending 12 hours (8 p.m. to 8 a.m.) in the airport in Atlanta on the return trip from St. Lucia. However, that’s a given for any international flights taken when you live in Wyoming. In my case, there’s always the additional two and a half hour drive from either the Billings, MT or Casper, WY airports in addition to the flights.
Whatever. I’ll get through it… I thought to myself. Little did I know my ignorance sealed my fate for 12 hours of hell that oddly ended with a sense of gratitude for each foible along the way. It started with the hour and a half taxi trip across the island of St. Lucia to get from Rodney Bay Marina to the airport.
I should have known that when a accident shifted traffic over the island instead of around it that things were not exactly off to a good start. Thankfully for an experienced professional driver I made it to the other side of the island alive.
Between driving on the ‘other’ side of the road through traffic circles and the 100 or so switchbacks along the way, it was inevitable my first experience with motion sickness would be in a car on the way home instead of two weeks on a 54 ft. sailboat in 35 knot winds (just a pleasant roll!).
It also probably didn’t help that the airport (UVF) at St. Lucia is open to the air outside and not really air conditioned… and it was the muggiest day I spent on the trip. So my already nauseous, sweating body piled onto the five-hour Delta flight to Atlanta parched and dehydrated.
By the time the flight took off and they started serving beverages I must have looked the part because the steward immediately asked me if I needed more than one glass of fluids, no extra charge of course. When he put down the fourth glass of water (and a cranberry apple drink as well)… and I didn’t need to use the bathroom the entire flight… I concluded that I must have been majorly dehydrated. Was that why I was so dizzy?
Bomb scares aside, landing at the International Terminal in Atlanta is quite an experience in and of itself.
Am told explosives detection k9 alerted on bag from Qatar Air flight; an area of Atlanta airport intl concourse being evacuated @wsbtv
— Mark Winne (@MarkWinneWSB) March 24, 2017
Thankfully that occurred two nights after my surreal night spent there, but you get the point. Welcome to the nightmare that is a 12-hour layover in Atlanta.
What you have to remember in the context of reading this garbage is that this endeavor was undertaken by and old woman from a county in Wyoming twice as large as the state of Rhode Island with a population of 35,000 people. Consider the alleged more than 100 million travelers through Hartfield-Jackson airport a year and you get the picture; it’s not going to end well.
It didn’t. I quickly find out the reason I checked my bag was now useless. If you have more than a 6 hour layover, you have to claim your baggage and then recheck it no sooner than six hours prior to departing. So my attempt to avoid dragging my suitcase around the Atlanta airport for hours on end was an epic fail.
Perhaps the fact that I was also dizzy in addition to being old, tired and a total bumpkin contributed to my inevitable meltdown. It started when I could not find a sign or a person in the entire lobby that could tell me where I was supposed to go next. No signs for the naive like me who might be clueless that I was actually in a terminal separated from the domestic flights by about five miles of airport along the way.
However, before figuring out I had to take a 45 minute shuttle ride to the domestic terminal I met my greatest adversary, the escalator that goes literally nowhere. In a state of abject confusion, I thought maybe if I rode this escalator up I’d find the doorway to the magic kingdom that would facilitate my transport out of hell.
Such was not the case. In fact, in my effort to hide my obvious embarrassment I failed to secure my bag properly on the trip down escalator. Oh my… what a trip that was… trying not to fall and secure a bag empowered by gravity to batter and bruise me in the most brutal fashion in front of everyone in the international terminal. Nice going, Robyn.
Probably should have also known on that shuttle ride to the domestic terminal that when the wind came up so fierce it nearly blew over a full shuttle bus and freaked the driver out that it was going to be a long night. After locating a place to sit down and put my feet up around the food court next to a plug-in for my phone, I thought I died and went to heaven.
No point in going anywhere until that phone reached 100%, right? So I settled in for what I hoped would be at least a cat nap before the 2 a.m. time when I could check my suitcase in again. The best I could muster was a meditation to the sound of machines waxing floors and the emergency alarm going off in full regalia every 20 minutes. Sigh…
So it came as a bit of surprise when 2 a.m. finally arrived and I could go check my bag. I rounded the corner expecting to see the same one lone check-in associate reading a book. Woops…
Apparently in the midst of this ‘meditation’ I missed the hundreds of people who were apparently diverted from Atlanta during that storm blowing in during my shuttle ride to the domestic terminal. They had all just finally deplaned and were waiting in line to have their flights rebooked.
The look on their faces said it all. I felt guilty for my self-imposed pity party when they explained what happened during our nearly two-hour wait in line. Apparently they spent an hour on the flight from Chicago to Atlanta circling the Hartfield-Jackson airport before the pilot finally gave up and diverted to a closed airport at Huntsville, Alabama.
But that wasn’t before they experienced the ride of their lives they no doubt hope never to experience again. Passengers described going through ten minutes of thunder & lightning, and turbulence so bad it frightened the staff and the pilot. They repeatedly dropped 30-50 feet crashing so hard many on the plane started to vomit. Most said they truly believed they were about to die and said their prayers. They didn’t, but some felt completely traumatized by the experience.
If that wasn’t enough, after landing at Huntsville, they were forced to wait on the ground in the plane for over two hours while staff came in to refuel all the planes diverted there. Their three-plus hour flight turned into nearly an 8 hour odyssey from hell, and now they had to stand in line waiting for the opportunity to possibly experience it all over again.
Yea, I shut my mouth at that point and thanked my lucky stars for my boring flight from St. Lucia. However, there’s no way to express the feeling of finally getting to head of the line after nearly two hours only to be told that they would not check my bag until after they cleared out all the passengers that had to be rebooked from that late flight… so come back in 45 minutes.
Folly for me to think that would be the end of the conspiracy to suck the life blood out of me, after finally getting the bag checked I proceeded to the entrance to “ALL GATES” delusional with joy… only to find all the trains to the various concourses were “out of order”.
Natch, the concourse I was seeking was the farthest possible point from where I stood at the domestic terminal and a over a mile of power-walking stood between me and my eventual release from hell. At that point, it didn’t matter. I could have had to walk to the moon and back, nothing was keeping me from getting on the right side of the Mississippi River again.
In the end, I made the connection to Salt Lake City on time, and the short stint on to Billings, Montana felt like being released from caged captivity. My husband poured me into our vehicle and drove this exhausted old woman home to big skies and the comfort of the wild animals that surround us.
Cross that one off my bucket list.