Saturday, February 12, 2011

Atlanta Downtime

It is an oft-repeated quip that when you die in the south, it doesn't matter whether you are heading to heaven or hell -- you have to change planes in Atlanta. Our flights were on Delta, and the only place Delta flies from Killeen, Texas is Atlanta, on a plane so small they gate-checked our bags (free, as opposed to $25 to do it at check-in).

All well and good, but we only had a 50-minute layover on the schedule, and our flight was half an hour late taking off. We hit the ground with only 20 minutes to make our flight to DC, and waiting on the Jetway for our bags to be handed over was an agonizing five minutes or so. And so it was that we sprinted, O.J. Simpson-style, from gate C-42, at the absolute end of the C concourse, all the way to the escalators in the center, shoved our way onto the inter-terminal train just as it was ready to depart, and sweated bullets until we finally made it to gate B-12 just as they were calling our boarding group. I managed a mad dash into the rest room, but the hoped-for snack or quick check of email was not to be.

By contrast, today's flight pair had a scheduled two-hour layover, and due to a 15-minute early (really) departure from BWI, we arrived at ATL a full half hour ahead of our scheduled arrival, sending the ground crew scrambling. We had the same huge distance to cover today, arriving as we did at B-5 and departing again from C-42, but we could amble in a leisurely fashion and even browse the terminal amenities on our way. As I type, Louise is getting a mini-massage from the little spa down the hall, and this terminal even has a "mini-suite" place where you can get a miniature room with a bunk to rack out for a while. We'll even have time for a light dinner at the Sam Adams pub next door to our gate before we have to board.

Our training in Virginia went remarkably well, considering we were still hammering out the agenda and curriculum by the end of the day Monday. We got it all done at the last yawning moment, and the students, who knew they were the pilot group, were all very positive and appreciative of what we delivered. We spent most of Thursday afternoon, after the students left, debriefing on the whole experience, and a good part of Friday was spent fixing minor glitches in the printed exercises and making agenda and syllabus adjustments. I have more reservations on Delta to do it all again in Memphis in two weeks; Louise will be staying with Odyssey and watching the pets. We will be somewhere in the Phoenix area by then, possibly staying with friends in Casa Grande.

We were graciously put up at the home of one of the technology activity leads while we were here. John and Lynn were excellent hosts, even fixing us dinner most nights as well as breakfast each morning, and John schlepped us from and to the airport, a good hour from their house. They have a nice place just a few blocks from Old Town Alexandria, and we had dinner there a couple of evenings. John is the Communications lead, and I developed the Communications curriculum, so this gave us a chance to work together on Monday and again each evening to iron out the kinks.

This evening we will be back in Killeen. I expect to spend some of tomorrow getting the replacement wiper motor installed, as it arrived at our friends' place shortly before we did. The replacement hydronic pump, however, has not yet arrived. I hope we'll see it Monday so we can be back on the road sometime Tuesday. My flight reservations out of Phoenix mean that we are once again under a travel deadline.

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