challenges, travel

Southwest Shitshow

Today I am flying across country. From one cold front to another. Snow coverings to celebrate a white Christmas this year and frigid temps that call for warm blankets and toasty fires on the home front with my puppies. A welcome I gladly await but sadly have postponed it thanks to Southwest Airlines and their poor service.

I had been magically flying just above the clouds somewhere on the way to Denver, Colorado. It was a peaceful time of reflection. I was thinking of all the people I have in my life that are amazing yet missing those who aren’t with me this holiday season. As I was flying high I felt the presence of those I miss this year. It was almost like the clouds had names of loved ones gone too soon. At this point in the day there was a calm in the air. Not a worry in the world and I was looking forward to being home.

After landing in Denver, the trip home became a little more complex. Staffing shortages for Southwest Airlines were spiraling out of control for days and today things were supposed to be back on track. That was false. Insanity was lurking everywhere. Crying people everywhere. Cops patrolling gates which is not normal. Emotional outbursts at counters. Lines for days at every Southwest counter yet no supervisors in sight and guess what corporate is closed for the holiday!

The backlog and staff shortages caused rippling effects across the county but Denver was one of the most hard hit. The airline swears it was not poor planning on their part rather storm related issues but I beg to disagree. Plane after plane delayed or cancelled waiting on flight attendants to show up to staff a flight or pilots running out of time due to long delays and federal regulations. I have never seen planes sitting at a gate for hours waiting for staff to load the hundreds of people waiting to get on the plane. Most gates had no attendants either because all those who showed up for work didn’t appreciate the hounding of those waiting for a human to give an update.

Fast forward: many hours sitting and being shuffled gate to gate only to watch planes sit idle or get unloaded due to no staff, incomplete flight crew, or in my case over time limit pilots. It was pure insanity and I was in the midst of it. Then finally we load onto a plane at 8:45 pm and sit for over and hour. Babies crying. People getting anxious of why the plane hasn’t moved. The list goes on and on. Then they take us off the plane because the pilots are under the federal guidelines but their union contracts says they can’t fly. Oh the crowd went wild. Anger was written on many faces while tears well up in the eyes of tired and hungry kids. No hand out of water or blankets for those forced to sleep in the airport. No hotel voucher. Nothing. Just a long line to wait to be rebooked on the computers they kept crashing due to overload of resources. An absolute shit show. The picture above shows the length of every line at every Southwest kiosk. The wait was hours long.

Most rebook options were 2 days out at best, but my case was 12/31 some 6 days later with no access to my bag and no accommodations. Sounds amazing right?

That means you are stranded with no access to bags. Many in tears due to holiday gifts being in their checked bags. No options. Many just stuck. Some elderly couples were in disarray not knowing how to operate the internet swiftly or an app. It was unsettling to watch as folks crumbled around me. A young couple had tickets to Disneyland for first time with young kids and they wouldn’t get that money back or get the experience they had planned. 

I have never experienced such chaos in an airport. Southwest had people stranded for days. My inconvenience seemed minimal in comparison to those traveling with small children or even animals. I heard so many kids crying that just wanted to see Grandma or Grandpa for Christmas. It was awful. Now flip the script to other airlines. They are still flying and the chaos seems mild in comparison despite other airlines taking all the rebooks from Southwest’s incompetence.

In my case it cost me another $1,500 to get home and I had to split up with my child to even make that happen. I had to spent the night in an airport and I had no luggage or hygiene items. By the time I got off my cancelled flight no food places were open. Stores were closed for even water. I will definitely rethink my carryon accessories in the future to prepare for airport Armageddon. When I finally boarded my Delta flight Santa had delivered goodies to all their passengers. Mini stockings full of candy. What a treat and what amazing service. Southwest didn’t even give a bottle a water or blanket to those stranded. What an irony.

Signing off a little sleep deprived. A little annoyed. Most definitely disappointed in Southwest Airlines customer service. 4 hours to wait by phone. An app that crashed. Terminals frozen at the airport. Disconnects on phone and so on. Delta will get my money in the future even if it’s more expensive. Delta even gave out mini stocking goody bags to its passengers on my rebooked flight. So crazy.

I will pick up this with the how to get my bags from Southwest in the coming days.

nature, working women

The Old Barn

This old barn sits on a property I frequent. It is old and dumpy to say the least. However I love taking pictures of this old barn. Whether I choose natural light, black and white or some variation thereof, I am happy. Each view is special. Each moment captured tells a story.

Sun rising. Sun setting. Fall or spring. Each season and each time of day makes it look a little different. I don’t know what year it was built and I definitely don’t know of its history. I can tell animals were fed there at some point due to the feeding troughs inside, but that’s about it.

The barn’s aged wood makes for a great photo backdrop. The unfinished look is all the rage for photographers. This still shot is just from my camera roll but it still shows the beauty of its imperfections up close. Even the weeds off to the side add character.

This angle shows the door up close. Once practical but now ornamental. Again a beautiful backdrop but yet so different the the previous shots. Somebody’s junk is always another’s treasure. For this barn is junk to many but it’s a hidden treasure to me.

The silver tone above again highlights the barn a little different. Just the angle makes the size and shape seem a little different. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this little dumpy barn is just a little happy spot for me. I can sit by with my old truck and think about what it once was. I can drift by it while doing my lawn trimming and sigh that it’s all mine.

Not sure how many heavy wind storms it will hold up against but for now I’m enjoying the sight of it. One day I might just have the photos. Time will tell. Just a girl and her red barn story today.

adventure

24 Hours

I had a small window of time to do a lot. Would I get it all in? Should I try to fit it all in? Do I focus on the need to’s or want to’s? I just said fuck it, and rolled with the punches.

I started out solo by car. I was pretty excited so I got up extra early. I totally miscalculated my arrival time as I changed time zones. Oops! First diversion in place unintentionally.

Visited a military installation. That was not a new experience, but something I hadn’t done in 10 years or so. Brief visit was good for me. Grabbed a coffee and snack with a buddy. Did some apartment shopping in the town I was visiting. Interesting to see old vs. new and how one mile one way you get one quality of life and the other way is completely different. Hence the purpose of shopping around.

Took a scenic route to visit the big city by car. Did some walking. Then some window shopping. Popped into a cozy bar for some punch in bucket and some good ole boy music. Not planned and not my normal environment, but in the end the lack of planning was good and so was the the punch bucket. I guess I sucked it from the bucket.

Time to kill before a dinner reservation. Time to sneak into a tattoo shop to get small piece of art to commemorate the 24 hour stint with my buddy. One for me two for the other. Inked up in no time. Feeling a little tired but time to fuel up to endure the time clock.

Refueling station (aka meal time) was again unplanned but a unique experience nonetheless. A supper club with 3 floors and a roof top. We sat on the main floor but could observe everyone coming and going from the main door. This of course made for good people watching while the food was prepped. Smash burger and turkey pastrami sammie for the win. Not five star but maybe a three for the food quality, but the substance was enough to level up in the time category.

Just when I thought I packed in enough we booked tickets to the hockey game. What are we thinking? Already pooped but we made it. A win for the home team and some great drunk people watching. An unexpected/unplanned adventure that exceeded my expectations.

A quick trip to the hotel to crash. Just a few hours to spare for rest. I didn’t want to get up. It was so early the coffee wasn’t even done brewing in the lobby. Such a tragedy. My route back home involved a plane. Solo again. A full flight. A mask which I almost forgot about. I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing over what I just did in a short 24 hour period.

The year of 2022 has brought so much new to me. New ways to look at life. New experiences. New adventures that lack my normal plan– gram style. There are some days where I think life is an absolute shit storm while other days I think are just amazing as they can be.

Sometimes I write to have memories for later. Sometimes I write for therapy. Today I write to say today is a gift and tomorrow is never guaranteed. Take 24 hours and spin it your way. Lose the worry of tomorrow and be present in today.

Tomorrow may look different for you. You never know. Therefore embracing what is today is a true gift. My 24 hours with my buddy was a gift. One I will treasure for years to come. 24 hours. Your gift. Spend those hours your way. Enjoy!

balance

Sunday Breeze

It’s still the hot of summer but today there seems to be a Sunday breeze. Temps have dropped to low 80’s thanks to the cloud cover today. An approaching storm has the trees wrestling. Oh the Sunday breeze today is just right when out in the shade.

A relaxing afternoon. Sitting outside enjoying the cloud cover and breeze. My mind drifts. I think about my plans for the coming days and weeks ahead. As the breeze blows I think about the many things I am thankful today. Life is interesting. Slowing down sometimes helps you appreciate what’s right in front of you.

Today I’m thankful for the Sunday breeze and everything that blows along with it. Riding topless on a day like today is like a dance with the clouds, but many danced today when I was on the road. By dancing I mean dipping and dodging rain drops, clouds and sunshine. Those who ride topless know the fierce dance. Will you get sprinkled on? Will you get soaked? Maybe a Jeep ride today. Maybe a convertible. Maybe even a motorcycle. Whatever method of topless you like, today was a nice day to feel the Sunday breeze. A refreshing feeling in the air today to break from the normal hot summer sun.

If the above isn’t just the cutest cover to a notebook. Today, I decided I needed a new notebook. A place to write my thoughts when another Sunday breeze rolls around. For this cover is peaceful and quirky, yet it reminds me to stretch. Stretching my mind, my body and my goals. For this book will capture new scribbles and thoughts. All of which may unfold into opportunities. Thankful for the cloudy days ahead when I can stretch and use my book.

Enjoy your week.

3Splitz Farm, adventure

Zowie

Zinnias. I’ve shared my affection for them before.

I’ve loved them for years. I still have two huge patches of them at my house that expand every year.

Now I’m a flower farmer. Zinnias are beautiful and fairly easy to grow, so we have many of them this first season. I had done my research on kinds, choosing some Benary’s Giants, Oklahomas, and Queen Red Lime, Orange, and Blush. As I browsed the seed catalogs, several that I hadn’t heard of captured my attention. Seeds aren’t very expensive, so I grabbed a couple of those offbeat varieties just to see how they turned out.

A few months later, I met Zowie! Yellow Flame (seemed a silly silly name) and whew, she took my breath away! I used to roll my eyes when people said they were “obsessed” with a flower, but this one fit the bill.

The yellow flame is a perfect name. Orange and red in the middle part of each petal with a flame yellow tip that just screams “happy!” Then the wondrous crown of stars in the center. But the real surprise is that little whisper of hot pink just on the part of each petal right near the center. What a show this girl puts on. She looks amazing with pretty much anything on her arm! I’m sure you see her front and center in this bunch.

I’ve already started scoping out more unusual zinnias for 3Splitz Farm’s next season. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon anyone? Should be a knockout!