Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Orleans or Bust! Planes, trolleys, automobiles, pedicabs, trains.

If you follow me on Facebook, none of this will be news to you. In case you ]don't, I just made a trip to New Orleans to the High Schools that Work Conference. Talk about an eventful trip. First, Christina Spurgin and I were the only two who could get away this summer to go, so we decided we would fly instead of drive. There were a couple of reasons for our decision. First, our school vans are getting kind of old, and I didn't really want to take off for a twelve hour drive through Louisiana in an iffy vehicle, especially with just two women. OK, maybe my dad had more influence on me than I realized. He always felt better if he knew that a "man" was going to be on a trip with us, even if that man had no mechanical skills whatsoever. I left my house at 5:00 A.M. Wednesday, picked up Christina and headed to the airport for a 7:30 flight. Because of a storm in Houston, our plane did not leave OKC on time which caused us to miss our connecting flight in Houston to New Orleans. We were able to get on a flight to Baton Rouge, rent a car and drive in to New Orleans. Amazingly, our luggage was waiting for us at the New Orleans Airport when we arrived there. We then had to pay a ridiculous 38.00 each for a round-trip airport shuttle because our hotel did not have shuttle service. We finally arrived at our hotel about 8ish. Our original plan was to be in New Orleans by noon and attend the conference that afternoon. Now for the hotel, the -call center (in India?) that booked our reservations assured us that the hotel was right across from the Convention Center. There was a Hilton Garden Inn accross from the Convention Center, but it was not the one that had our reservations. No, we were 15 blocks from the convention, in New Orleans, where the temperature is 95 and the humidity is 100%. We looked and felt great by the time we arrived at the convention both days. The hotel staff was nice, accomodating, and apologetic, but they could do nothing about the mixup. We left the hotel and walked to find a place to eat, had a nice dinner, went back to hotel and crashed. The next morning we walked down to the convention, attended several sessions, walked to Johnny's for a muffaletta, shopped near Cafe Du Monde, had beignets. We tried to get on a trolly that would take us closer to our hotel. We were standing on the platform, being polite, waiting for the people to get off. We had our $1.25 in our hands. All of the sudden, the doors closed, and the trolley took off. So we rode back to the hotel on one of those pedicabs (felt sorry for the poor guy who had to pull us). We rested and cleaned up. Late that night we went to Deanie's for seafood. We had an hour wait, but it was completely worth it. Friday morning we headed back to the convention and attended several more sessions, ate our famous HSTW boxed lunch, went to a couple more sessions and headed out to shop for souvenirs. We rode the trolley this time. We were a little more aggressive getting on. We headed into the stores to shop, and probably hadn't been in there five minutes when we looked out and realized that it was pouring down rain. So...we hired a cab to take us to the hotel. We got back to the hotel around 4:00 to meet our shuttle. The craziest driver in all history sped through New Orleans to take us to the airport. We both were a little queasy by the time we got to the airport. Guess what, because of delays in Houston, we were stranded in the airport for several hours. Then we made it to Houston and encountered even further delay. Our plane finally took off for OKC at 11:30. We had been joking about the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but we hadn't ridden a train. As soon as we made it through security, we were told that we had to board a train to get to our gate. It was far, far away from the main part of the airport with no food available. Crazy! When they finally announced that we should board, about 30 people started singing Oklahoma! Two groups were coming back from mission trips, so I know they were ready to get home. The singing abruptly stopped when we were escorted out on the tarmac to board a very small plane to take us to OKC. Classic. On a good note, HSTW convention did just what it is supposed to do. We both started talking about next year; we began discussing and sharing ideas that we learned at the sessions. And...maybe most importantly, it gave two colleagues a memory that will bond us even more than we were before. I'm blessed to work with such a dedicated teacher. Next years' convention is in Charlotte. That is a long way to drive, but I'm thinking it may be worth it to avoid all the transportation glitches.