I have the midas touch when it comes to travel chaos.
Or maybe Dallas just prefers I don’t come. Last time I went to Dallas it turned into QUITE the adventure. Now it looks like I am living through ‘Donloree, Not Texas Ranger II‘
While planning for to the final meeting at Leadership Network, I realized in comparison to my house, Birmingham is basically in the neighbourhood of Dallas comparatively to my house in Canada. So what else is a girl to do but drop in on an amazing friend and hang out at Pursell Farms for a few days?
This was Monday….
I was blessed to travel the whole farm and see the golf course, the cabins, sample the food and even go to the top of hole five.
Then we went to bed and woke up to what many in the south are calling ‘Snowmageden‘, otherwise known as Winter Storm Leon.
From my subarctic perspective, it is but a skiff but if you don’t have the equipment to deal with the resulting ice, it is rather epic. The roads quickly turned into iceskating rinks, semi trucks jackknifed, people abandoned cars, flights got cancelled, the airport closed and everything stopped.
Nonetheless Dallas requires my presence.
It is such an odd feeling to be ‘stuck‘ somewhere. Although if I am going to be stuck, there is nowhere else I would rather be than with an amazing friend and looking ridiculous while watching TV with shared sound silencing headphones.
On Wednesday afternoon it appeared to be no way to get me out of Birmingham earlier than mid-day Friday, which would mean I would arrive just in time to miss every moment of my meetings.
Disappointment requires southern style comfort food.
Intuition pays off.
Don’t ask me why, but despite the airport being closed, the highways shut down and basically no known way to get to the airport, I decided to pack up and be ready to go at the drop of a hat.
Seven men from a marble mining company up north were also stranded and just happened to find their way to Pursell Farms and rented rooms rather than sleeping in their car.
I decided it made the most sense to assess what their plan was and see if I could fit into it. The men rented a seven passenger van and planned on driving to the ‘Ham‘, as they call is down there, around noon. After an impassioned plea and some eyelash batting, I convinced a man named Paul that I could think skinny enough to sit on my suitcase in between the two bucket seats and that it would be great fun.
We were scheduled to leave at 11:00 am.
11:00 came and went, 12:00 did the same. There wasn’t clearance from their pilot to leave, so we invited them all over for chilli, corn bread and pool. A true southern night of hospitality in the midst of a winter storm.
Icy winds of change.
Without notice, they were cleared for take off. I knew it was my only chance to get out and possibly make it to my meetings. I quickly googled flights and miraculously got the last seat on a direct flight to Dallas leaving at 7:20 Thursday morning – just in time to get me a few moments late to my meetings.
Before you knew it I was hugging the amazing and hospitable Pursells goodbye, being handed food for the road and smooshed into a van with seven men I had never met before.
Sometimes the diem requires carpe-ing.
In these moments I wonder what my mom would think if she knew what I was doing. There was no doubt in my mind she would be freaking out about me traversing icy roads with seven men who had a private jet.
I was fully prepared to sleep at the airport until my flight left, after all there was no room in any inns in Birmingham.
- Except the Holiday Inn.
Fred, the pilot of the seven men I had just spent the last two hours with, no longer required his room so they gave it to me. A quick hand over of keys and I was on my way to get feeling back in my arse and find food.
There was only one option for supper and I took it. Anything with hanger in its name has to be good.
Falling into bed with a belly full of hanger steak and corn, I set the alarm for 4:00 am and tossed and turned until I finally got up at 3:45.
Dallas here I come?
Dressed, ready to go and beyond ready to get to Dallas, I arrived at the airport way earlier than necessary. It seemed only reasonable to be one of the first people to the airport so if someone needed to get bumped it wouldn’t be me.
I wasn’t about to take any chances of not being on the first flight out of Birmingham.
After the ice removal, we pushed back. Then we returned to the gate and two men in blue Southwest Air jumpsuits came on board to fix our plane. Apparently something mission critical broke.
- My patience nearly broke as well.
By the time I was supposed to be in Dallas, we finally left.
Landing in Love Field, I walked as quickly as my red heeled boots would allow and got into a taxi. The driver put my destination in the GPS and we proceeded to get lost.
Did you know they keep running the meter even when they are lost?
Tax Cab Driver – I cannot see it. It doesn’t appear to be here. You must have the wrong address.
Donloree – Well this is the address from their website. Do you think we should stop the meter and ask for directions?
Tax Cab Driver – We keep driving. I will make more u-turns.
Donloree - More u-turns won’t help if we don’t know where we are going. Besides u-turns cost money!
Tax Cab Driver - You call someone. We will wait here. (Pulls over, meter continues to run)
Donloree – I don’t have a phone since I am from Canada. Drive me somewhere so I can ask for help with the directions.
The driver pulls into one of the fanciest hotels I have ever been at in my life and continues to let the meter run while I ask for help from one of the many men in suits who are parking cars.
For some unbeknownst reason, one of the men in suits decided to help the woman from Canada wearing the red boots and whisked me into their courtesy car for the three minute drive. I sat on the plush leather seat in the back of the Mercedes ensconced in silence. When the door shut I felt as though I was either a movie star or politician. I looked around to see if I suddenly picked up a body guard as well.
Leaving the car, I had no American cash to give the driver. Simply a heartfelt thank you for rescuing me and bringing an end the crazy travel adventure. I did think about hugging him, but he was too uptight and aloof for such a whimsical thank you.
I clacked my way down the sidewalk and up to the ninth floor with my bag rolling behind me.