Friday, February 24, 2017

How to evaporate a time cushion

We planned this trip to have a civilized mid-morning start and yet with a comfortable four-hour time-cushion before an 8pm game. This post is about how that cushion almost evaporated on us.

The plan began with an 11am flight from SJC to Portland, to arrive at 1pm. Pick up a rental car, drive two hours south on I-5 to our hotel almost next door to Gill Coliseum. Then there'd be time for a nap and a leisurely supper before hitting the gym door at seven for the 8pm game.

The plan started to unravel about 20 minutes out of San Jose, when the flight attendants asked if there were any doctors or nurses on board. A passenger a few rows ahead of us was having a medical emergency. A few minutes later the pilot announced that we would be diverting to Sacramento.

At Sacramento airport a couple of EMTs quickly escorted the ill passenger off the plane, and in about a half an hour we took off to resume the flight to PDX. The plane landed only and hour and a quarter later than planned. Cushion still looked fluffy.

Then a couple of slowdowns. First we needed to pick up some sandwiches so as to have lunch en route. Chose sandwiches at a Deli in the terminal, but magically a line of half a dozen people formed ahead of us, all to be dealt with by one clerk. Five (5) other employees were standing around but somehow none of them could open a cash register. Fifteen minutes down the drain.

The rental car office for Budget at PDX is off-site, but that isn't apparent until you trek down into the garage and find the Budget counter where a sign directs you to wait for a shuttle at Island two. The shuttle showed up after a few minutes. Then we found out that to reach the rental cars, it had to go a couple of miles on I-205 North, which was bumper-to-bumper. Another 20 minutes gone.

Into the rental car at last and started South on I-205 about 3:30 on a Friday. Note to self: don't do this again. We spent the next 100+ minutes traveling less than 30 miles as we crept through Portland. Traffic didn't begin to move until well south of the 5/205 junction.

At the start the Garmin was predicting arrival at our destination at 5:45 but as we crept along (and the light faded, and the rain fell), the prediction kept shifting until it reached 6:45. In the end that was accurate: we pulled into the hotel lot at 6:45. Our four-hour cushion was now 15 minutes, and any thoughts of a nap or supper were out the window. Supper, in fact, was a pint of Umpqua ice cream shared at half-time. OK, that's not bad. It would have tasted better with a Stanford win, but at least we got there for the game.

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