The Adventures of Vitas Povilaitis: Ohio Trip 1999


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Short story

The trip was fun; the traveling was no fun.

Long story

FRIDAY

When my flight arrived in Chicago, I double checked my ticket to see when the connecting flight leaves. The ticket said 12:40. I check my watch. It says 1:40. I panic!

Then I realize I'm in a different time tone, and it's really 12:40. This means I'm still running late and I panic!

I find out that the flight was delayed because connecting flights like mine were running late, so I had until 1:30. Whew.

The plane arrives and they announce that the flight will be delayed because they have to clean up after a passenger got sick. (I think I would have been better off not knowing this bit of information because then I'd be wondering if the seat I was in was the seat someone got sick all over! Yuck!

Finally we boarded (and, fortunately, they didn't let anyone sit in the "sick" seats! :-) The flight got delayed because of bad weather while we were waiting. Then it was canceled. It was an impressive storm, though, with little visibility and impressive lightning strikes!

The airline said they could put me on standby for the next flight or put me up for the evening and put me on the first flight the next day. Well, I thought the odds of getting on the next flight were slim. The flight on the next day was at 7:30AM. That's *AM*! I knew, being the night person that I am, that I'd never make it to that. Anyways, we'd be leaving for Cedar Point the next day, so if I couldn't get to Wauseon that evening, the whole trip would've been shot.

So, I decided to rent a car.

First thing I did was cancel the Toledo portion of the airplane ticket. (I have to mail in for it so it'll take a while to actually see the refund.) Then I went to the first car rental place I found. "No more one ways." Same thing at the next, the next, the next and the next. Doh! So I decided to get a car for the round trip. I would've needed one while I was there, so that wasn't too bad, but renting a car out of Chicago is more expensive than Toledo. Sigh.

I secured a car from Enterprise on the phone.

Then, I went to get my baggage. It wasn't there. Well...it turns out that the crew was grounded because of the bad weather, and no one would retrieve my luggage. It will arrive in Toledo on the next flight. Sigh.

I rented from Enterprise, because they had better rates. They were outside the airport, so I took a shuttle to get to them. Everything was going fine until they ran my new credit card through. DECLINE. I had no other means to pay for this, so I was in a panic. I called the credit card company and they said they just needed me to confirm the card, and now it's all set. (This was odd, because the card worked for some Internet purchases, and when I called the 800-number to validate the card, the automated response system said that the card was already validated.) So I told the salesman, whom I'll refer to as "Moron" from now on, that the card is OK to charge now. Moron said that the system won't let him try the same card again for another 24 hours, so I should go back to the airport and try a different rental car company! I was frazzled by this point and I was debating whether to cry or punch Moron to a bloody pulp. Instead, I looked pleadingly to his co-worker--sending telepathic messages asking him to "save me from this Moron!" Moron's co-worker picked up on this and suggested that Moron delete the transaction and try again from scratch. Moron did so, and swiped my credit card through, and...voila, it worked! I had my car--an Oldmobile Alero. It was a nice car, and a sheer pleasure to drive!

I asked Moron for the nearest mall, because I needed clothes for the next day since my luggage is going on without me! He gave me directions to a mall. I thought a mall would be good because, among the variety of stores, I could get some cheap clothes to hold me until I get my luggage back. Well, it turns out I was directed to an upscale mall where Eddie Bauer was the cheapest place to get clothes! Oh well, I needed some good clothes anyways, and I felt too frazzled to search for other places.

I was struck by the open fields in Ohio. Even in the dark, I could see how expansive it was, and it reminded me how claustrophobic I feel in Massachusetts, and of how wonderful it is to drive in new places. That car was a sheer pleasure to drive, comfortable, ergonomic, and a good stereo system.

I arrived at Heather and Mike's in Wauseon at 2:30 AM. Heather, Mike, and Heather's son, Ryan were still up. We stayed up and chatted and played Magic: the Gathering.

I finally went to bed at 5:30AM. I was the first to call it a night. After all, we wanted to get up early to get to Cedar Point. I had to get up at 7:30AM.

Saturday

With just two hours of sleep, I was off to Cedar Point with Heather and her friend, Al. At the park, we met up with Heather's MUD (multi-user computer game) friends, Chaz and Sam (who were boyfriend-girlfriend.)

On the way, we went to the Toledo airport to pick up my luggage. It wasn't there. But the man at the counter seemed sincerely interested in helping. (Such a change from the big, impersonal treatment in Chicago!) He took down my address where I was staying and said they'll deliver the luggage when it comes in.

The first ride we went on (which I have to mention because it was new to me) was the Power Tower. It's a 240 foot tower which works either by lifting you to the top as you sit in seats, feet dangling, then shoves you down in a free fall, or by shoving you to the top and dropping back down. It's very thrilling!

At noon we met up with a mutual friend, Laura. Then we went to the line for the Raptor (my favorite roller coaster--feet dangling, loop-de-loops! :-) While waiting, a thunderstorm started and the ride shut down. Some people ran for cover, but we decided to wait it out, as many park-goers did, in the shorter line. It rained harder, and Al ran for cover. It rained harder, and Sam and Chaz ran for cover. It didn't let up, and the ride operators abandoned the ride. OK...at that point, it seemed hopeless, so we left. Chaz and Sam decided to leave completely.

We went to have dinner at TGIFridays. When we returned, the rides were running, and we took advantage of the fun.

When the park closed, I had to drop Laura off at the campsite where she was staying. She was giving me directions. I guess at this time, I felt fuzzy from the lack of sleep...because Laura told me to turn left, then told me no, the next left, and I straightened out while still in the oncoming lane with a car heading towards us! "Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!" we screamed. Fortunately, they oncoming car hit its brake, and I swerved safely around it. I was in a panic thinking how much worse an accident would've been to top off this trip. I was alert the rest of the drive.

I stopped for gas on the way back. A girl in another pickup asked, "Is that an Alero?" "Yes." "Cool car." "Thank you," I said, and I really meant it. I can't remember anyone ever complimenting me like that before out of the blue. I felt good! I wanted an Alero of my own and drive past babes everywhere!

So I use my Credit card for the gas. DECLINED. Sigh. (I didn't push it because there was a long line for gas.) [Calling the next day about it shows that the card wasn't even checked at the credit card company by the gas station, so I have no idea what the problem was that time.] I had to did into my cash fund which was dwindling faster than I anticipated.

When I returned, the luggage was there! I told Ryan that I'll get his gift out. I found that it was soaked! Did a shampoo bottle break or something like that. No. Apparently, my luggage was left in the rain and got drenched. Ryan's gift was ruined. I told him it'll have to dry first. Ryan spent a lot of time asking me if it was dry yet during my visit.

The rest of the trip was calm, with us chatting, watching TV, and playing role-playing games.

Tuesday

I drove to Chicago. The rental turned out less than I thought it would be, and I was able to catch an earlier flight.


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