The plane touched down, and I got out to walk through the airport located just off the famous “strip” of Vegas. I called my friend Taylor because she’ll be competing in Miss America there in just over a month. (Tune in on January 30th, at 7 PM to watch Taylor win!) Then my sister and I talked for a few minutes and she told me I should watch the expressions on the people’s faces who were playing slots. Wow. Obsessive. Especially the 80 year old lady. She’s either getting crazy now or been throwing her money into her wasteful addiction for awhile. Glazed eyes. Pull the lever. Lose money. Do it again. ok, ok I’m off my soapbox. I’m sorry.
My layover was for three hours, so I stopped in at the food court to get some chicken at Popeyes. (Much better than when I was 10 and we were in Korea and had Popeyes…it was so spicy, I thought it would burn a hole through my tongue…it didn’t). I was actually doing something productive, working on a lesson, when I felt my phone vibrate. There was no missed call, just a voice male. “Hello, this is Southwest Airlines calling for David Skidmore. Your flight departing from Las Vegas, today, at 6:30 has been cancelled. For more information regarding flight changes or refunds, please see the Southwest agent at your flight’s reservation kiosk.”
I walked over to the kiosk, and joined the mob. Man, was it angry. Although, there were only eight in line who had heard that flights were cancelled, there were a few perturbed in the line. There was a girl who had cool glasses, we’ll just call her Jenna, cause that’s what her name is who was standing next to me, and a guy who looked like a real life 70 year old version of Moe from the Simpsons. We began discussing options. Jenna told us that there was fog in Boise, so no flights were going out until Friday afternoon at 2 from Las Vegas in that direction. My quick decision was to start calling rental car shops. After all, it was almost 4 Vegas time, and I found that Vegas to Boise is only a 10 hour drive. HERTZ had some rental cars available. I made a public announcement in the line that I was planning on getting a refund (which ended up being a total of 10 buckaroos) and that I was driving to Boise.
Why? My Mom was graduating with her master’s degree on Friday morning. I wasn’t going to miss it.
A fifty year old lady came up and said, “I’d like to come on the drive to.” Her name was Mary Jane. As far as I know, that’s still her name.
Then an 18 year old girl walked up and said, “I’m in too.” Her name is Kelsey.
There was a guy in line who had a bewildered expression on his face. His name was Israel. He was in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He talked like a New York gangster from the 50’s except the accent was dropped. Fast talkin’ dude with an arm in the sling who was considering going with us as well.
There was also a young mom with more ink from arm to neck to chest than 100 BIC pins contain. She had a baby in the stroller and wanted to come to Boise as well.
The debate began about who was going and who was staying and different possibilities. We went down to the big Southwest ticket counter and that’s when things started rolling in the right direction. Southwest connected us to Hertz at a cheap rate, so we made plans to head to Hertz. Only problem was somebody had to stay. The car only seated 4…max 5, but there was no baby seat, so we couldn’t take the young mother and baby with us. It was kind of a heart wrenching moment because she was really down on her luck, but I was with the most generous strangers I could have met. We contributed towards her trip back to Boise, and then we headed to Hertz.
By this time, the clock had swung from 4-6. As we left, I saw Jenna again. I think she was kind of torn because she wanted to go on the all-nite adventure with us, but her parents randomly were in Las Vegas even though they live in Boise so she opted to stay with them. As we left she shouted something about praying for us. Prayer seemed like a good idea since Israel, Mary Jane, Kelsey and I didn’t know each other at all. It was determined I would be the driver because Mary Jane and Kelsey didn’t care too much for night driving, and because Israel’s arm was in a sling. However, Israel would be driver 2 (which was KEY later in the trip).
Hertz took about an hour. The lady there’s name was Chona and the way she talked to Isreal and I made me think that she spent half of her time working for Hertz and probably half of her time with an escort service or a “special” phone line. Just saying.
Chona upgraded us from a mid-size car to a mid-size SUV. We got in and off we went. Well, off we went through the wrong way of the parking lot. A guy with Barney Fife’s personality from The Andy Griffith Show stopped us and explained with big waving arms the direction we should take. We thanked him smiling and trying not to laugh and departed. By this time it was 7 Vegas time, 8 Boise time.
We got onto I-15 and I got to drive along the Strip. Izzy (as Israel called himself) travels to Vegas some with his NASCAR job. I kept my eyes peeled for Planet Hollywood cause I hear that’s just the place to be around January 30th, but I couldn’t see it. I did see Caesar’s Palace and MGM and I felt like James Bond except that my journey wasn’t about gambling, killing, and women…mine was just an all-nite escapade with 3 strangers quickly turning friends.
Once you get out of Vegas, there’s not a lot happening on I-15. We kept the conversation hopping.
An hour outside of Salt Lake City, I decided I would make it to Tremonton without wearing out. It was cool to go through Salt Lake because I spent a decent amount of time when I was in high school. It felt like I time-warped, and everything was slightly off. Still, pretty cool.
When we were ten miles from Tremonton, and we hit a wall of fog. The inversion was ridiculous, and night fog makes a driver wear out like 40x quicker than normal. By the time we got to the Tremonton gas station, I was worn thin.
Anyway, we drove all through the night. Pretty intense. I drove the first 9 hours up to Tremonton, Utah. Israel drove from Tremonton to Boise. We arrived around 8 AM.
Kelsey goes to school in San Francisco and she hadn’t seen her Mom since August. Even if it was early in the morning, their reunion was beautiful. If you could bottle love, there would definitely be a few vials from that moment.
Then we dropped Israel off at his apartment. I think he was totally worn out from traveling all over the country and the final three hours of driving. What a great guy though, really solid traveling friend!
I dropped off Mary Jane, and then went home. I was so excited. My Mom was going to graduate in a couple of hours. I had driven all through the night to get here. Finally, the road trip was over. It was a great experience. I have a few new friends from the experience. I have a great experience. I learned once again that great journeys, stories, and experiences unite people in ways that nothing else can.
Was I slightly frustrated when my flight was cancelled? Yes. Did I love the journey that led me hear? Yes! I count it a divine detour. I’m not sure how it all works, but I’m sure God is working on me in the process and I’m looking forward to lessons I’ll look back on in a few weeks, months or years from this one trip.
Yes, it was worth it.