Thursday, July 30, 2009

Travel Adventures with Jeannie Watt

I’d like to thank Leena for inviting me to blog today. July has definitely been a busy month for me. My sixth Superromance, Cowboy Comes Back, hit the shelves and I’ve had the opportunity to travel to both coasts in one month. In fact, I’m still on the road, spending one last night in Reno before returning home tomorrow to rescue my plants from travel-induced drought. This morning, however, I wasn’t so certain I was going to get back to Reno—not today anyway.

For once in our lives my husband and I decided to try an airport shuttle instead of wrestling our luggage onto the BART, a feat that always involves me accidentally taking out some poor commuter with my suitcase. I clearly remember my husband saying, “Let’s just spend the fifty bucks for the shuttle. It’ll be easier.” I agreed, and indeed, it showed all signs of being easier—the van showed up on time, the driver loaded our luggage for us—right up until the driver locked the keys inside the van.

My husband and I stood on the sidewalk outside the hotel for twenty minutes while we waited for the driver’s boss to show up and unlock the door. The driver did mention, between repeated calls to his boss, who seemed to be in no hurry to rescue us despite living close, that this was the second time this had happened and he didn’t think his boss was very happy with him. We should have taken this as a warning. We didn’t. Instead we assured the driver that we were early for the flight and didn’t mind waiting. Eventually the boss showed up, unlocked the van and then drove away without a word.
The driver seemed edgy, but I assumed everything would go well now that we were actually traveling. It was not to be. We had two more passengers to pick up and, as we were driving over the Bay Bridge, the driver said in an offhand way, “This GPS is bad. It isn’t telling me where to go.” He wasn’t kidding either. After getting off the bridge, we drove around and around in a ruralish suburban area somewhere near Oakland. Finally, after yet another fruitless pass around the rabbit-warren-like neighborhood, he called the passenger and she talked him in.

He found the house and all was well…until the driver backed the van over the woman’s fancy steel mailbox, demolishing it. He got out and surveyed the damage, then got back into the van and drove it off the mailbox before the woman came out of the house. She got into the van, he loaded her suitcase and off we went. I’m not certain if she knows yet that she’s going to have some problems with mail delivery in her absence.

At this point the driver was getting a little frantic about time and proceeded to demonstrate his NASCAR technique on the freeway, weaving in and out of traffic as we, the victims—I mean the passengers—clutched at the seats and each other to keep from being thrown into the sides of the van. Finally he exited the freeway. And then he got lost again. At this point I was suffering from serious motion sickness and we’d been dealing with this “easy” van ride for almost two hours. Thankfully the driver, who was still cursing his GPS, accidentally found the street he needed and picked up the final two passengers without demolishing any lawn ornaments or mail boxes.

We did get to the airport in time to get through security, but only because no one flies out of Oakland on a Wednesday. So here I am in Reno, happily writing my blog and hoping the van driver either has a better day tomorrow or finds a new profession.

Have any of you had any adventures traveling from hotel to airport or was this just my lucky day? I’ll give a copy of Cowboy Comes Back to a reader who shares in the comments.

***Jeannie picked housemouse88 as her winner! Please email me at with your full name and mailing address so Jeannie can get your prize in the mail. :) Thanks to everyone else who left a comment!***


Unknown said...

What an adventure !!! I can't say something as weird/fun/crazy ever happened to me though. Never had much trouble with bus/van/tavi drivers... part of me is jealous !!lol

Donna Alward said...

Oh JEANNIE! I'd be lodging a complaint. I seriously would.

I'm so glad you made it on time for your flight.

Laurie G said...

We took a shuttle van from the airport( milwaukee) to visit my mom who lives 2 hours north. Unfortunately, there was a blizzard! Just as we are leaving the driver got a call to wait for another passenger who was just landing, so we waited, and waited, and waited.... over an hour later she showed up! Then we found out that she lived 1 1/2 hours west of where we were going and we had to drop her off first!! Due to the bad weather we finally there 8 hours later! IT WAS A NIGHTMARE!! NEVER AGAIN!

Caroline said...

The only real adventure I had was a 48 hour delay. At the end of a great holiday we arrived at the airport to find out that our plane was overbooked so we had to stay another 2 days in.....Antiguia. I was devastated (not) at the thought of being put up in a 5* hotel for another 2 days! It was great! Take care. Caroline x

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey everyone--great to hear from you.

Donna--I probably should lodge a complaint. This guy looked like a puppy, though. An inept yet enthusiastic puppy. I'm still debating :)

Emmanuelle--It was kind of cool once we knew we were making the flight, lol.

Laurie--I get angry just reading about your experience. I would have been livid. In fact, I think in your situation, the van may have been hijacked by the passengers.

Caroline--You have my extreme sympathies, lol. I hope I have that problem next vacation ;)

mslizalou said...

I also would file a complaint. I've been pretty lucky with my travels so far. Just given bad directions once, but was able to figure it out pretty quickly.

EllenToo said...

First thing I would do would be to report the incident to the shuttle company. That man is dangerous. And no I've never taken a shuttle but then I also don't fly.
And don't enter me in the contest as I have the book, have read it, and loved it.

housemouse88 said...

Hello Jeannie,

I've never taken a ride quite like what you experienced. I think a roller coaster would have been safer. Hope you have better luck next time if you decide to do it again. Have a great day.

Michele L. said...

Oh wow, what an adventure Jeanie! I can't say I had one even close to that!

My husband and I did have a mishap one time when flying back home into South Bend, Indiana's airport. We just missed the train by about 15 minutes going home to Chesterton, Indiana. So we wondered what to do next. We came up with taking a taxi home since the next train wasn't due for another 2 hours.

While we were checking on them, a busniess man happened to overhear us and said that he was renting a limousine back to Illinois. He offered us a ride since our area is on the way to Illinois. We couldn't believe our luck!

That was my first and only ride in a limousine. It was so beautiful inside with maroon upholstery, leather trim, wine, glasses, etc. The driver was so nice and actually dropped us off at our house. We gave him a nice tip and thanked our lucky stars!

Laney4 said...

I empathize, Jeannie. That's absolutely terrible! I agree with the others: lodge a complaint.

I'm happy to report that our family has not experienced any problems (knock wood) with shuttle buses to or from the airports. I DO know that I can get lost very easily and would never drive directly to our closest international airport (1.5 hours away in Toronto); instead, I am quite fine with driving right by it and driving another half hour or so to a smaller airport (in Hamilton), where I can park in a cheap parking lot, walk 100 feet to the front door, walk another 20 feet or less up to the desk, wait nearby, and then take my carry-on luggage outside and up the steps into the plane! And it isn't difficult to find the carousel when I come back, either! To me, THAT is the way to travel -- no worries!

Pat Cochran said...

A trip to Venice some years back
literally ended in a dash across
an airport building. Late departure
from Venice had us cutting it very
close on our connecting flight home. We deplaned at Charles de Gaulle, boarded a shuttle on the tarmac, on our way to the Air France plane, so we thought! The driver left us at the opposite end of the building from our gate. The seven of us had to run to make the
flight! This short, rather rotund
woman nearly had a coronary, can
you see me running? Two young college men who were part of the "dash" spaced themselves between us and the rest of the group to
make sure that we weren't left
behind! God bless them!

Pat Cochran

Cherie J said...

Wow! Talk about a rough beginning to your vacation. That guy needs to find another job. Nothing like that has ever happened to me and I hope it never does.

Jeannie Watt said...

Liza--You are lucky and I hope your luck continues.

Ellen, Too--I'm so glad you liked the book!

Housemouse--A roller coaster would have been safer. I was seriously getting worried during the Nascar segment of the trip.

Michelle--That is a cool story. What a nice guy to offer a ride and how neat that his ride was a limo!

Laney4--I love small airports. I've flown out of a couple and they're just so personal and nice.

Pat--Oh how funny about the college guys. Love the image!

CherieJ--Amen to that!


penney said...

Hi Jeannie that's an adventure!
Your book sounds good. I love the cover and cowboys!!

Mary Kirkland said...

Wow, that sounds like quite a time. I really don't travel much so I can't say I have ever had anything like that happen to me.

Jeannie Watt said...

Thanks, Penney.

Mary--I hope something similar never does happen to you. :)

Mari said...

I am one of those people who always has the luck of sitting next to people who want to talk the entire plane ride. Lucky me!

Jeannie Watt said...

Mari--Lol at the chatting seatmates. You must have a friendly empathetic face :)

robynl said...

my friend and I got a cab to the airport and she bargained with the cabbie for the cost; when we got there the cabbie of course tried to charge us more.
The ride to the airport was wild to say the least; in and out of traffic and 'speed' was very much in use(shall we say he was in a hurry). It was a harrowing experience for us.