Thursday, 20 May 2010

Catch-up Blog #4: Adventures from the Ash Cloud...


And a good evening to you from…wait for it…wait for it…ACROSS THE POND!!!! That’s right – my dear friends in the Civil Aviation Authority and at US Airways were determined to get me back to my muffin puffin and home in time for mum’s visit! And so, here I am, currently typing away on the Gatwick Express.

Okay, so today’s blog will recount the adventures due to the Ash Cloud, meaning my time in CLT from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday. Tomorrow’s blog will feature today and Friday, at which point I’ll be caught up. A word of warning in advance to the Readership faithful – the next couple of weeks could be patchy blogging due to lots of visitors and some travel (insert Tom Price and Christine Weber saying “What else is new?” right here).

Sunday: On time…on time…on…oh, wait…

So when I last left you, my mum, dad, and I had spent a FANTASTIC Sunday afternoon hanging out, and mom dropped me at the airport just after 4 PM. I checked in no problem, cleared security, and rolled to the lounge. For the record – EVEN AT 5:15 PM THE FLIGHT WAS LISTED AS ON TIME. At 5:30, however, just before I was planning to back up, I thought I’d check a final time and confirm. Sure enough – the flight had been delayed until 7:55.

It was at this point that I remember Jenny saying, “They might close British airspace at 1 AM BST.” Doing my gorilla math, that equated to – you guessed it – 8 PM CLT time. Sure enough – 1 hour later we get the announcement.

So I make a mad dash for the check-in counter, only to be told that I have to pick up my bags first in the event they can re-book me. The conversation was something like this:

Sam: “You definitely won’t get me there tonight.”

Lady with no concept of flight schedules (LWNCOFS): “You don’t know that.”

Sam: “I’m certain. You only have 2 flights to London, and the other one is in Philly but I can’t get there in time.”

LWNCOFS: “You don’t know that, sir.”

Sam: “Actually, I do know that – I just saw the board and the flight to Philly is gone.”

LWNCOFS: “You need to gt your bag sir.”

Sam: “And I WILL – AFTER I get rebooked.”

LWNCOFS: “They can’t help you without a bag – they can’t book you on a flight tonight without your bag.”

Sam (exasperation and determination working in lockstep): “That’s GREAT news for me – BECAUSE I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE BUT WILD WINGS TONIGHT.”

Because I was Envoy, I got on a flight for Wednesday. It’s a good thing, as economy was totally full until Friday. Determined to make my bonus time in the QC count, I promptly called Fizz (who didn’t answer) and then made my way into town, getting some Fat Tire and a burger at Fox & Hound whilst watching some NHL.

All was well and I tucked in for sleep that night, only to be woken up at 1:15 AM but Fizzy. You see, due to a combination of Black-eyed Peas, steaks, and booze, Lizzie wasn’t in a completely coherent state of mind and thought I’d just called her. To her credit – she was trying to rescue me from the airport, so that’s Liz! Boom-boom-pow forever!

Monday: Surprise! I’m back in the office…

So the work day went well. In truth, it was great, as all of my meetings were with US cats. More to the point - dinner that night was STELLAR.

Since Hitman was leaving on Tuesday morning for 3 weeks vacation, we all hit Cedar Street for a few pints (3 magic hats for this guy) before going our separate ways. Most went to the house. I, however, went to Wild Wings for some Red Sox and hoops. Oh, and wings and Fat Tire – SHOCKING, I know.

So there I am, tucked into my frosty mug and my Red, Hot, & Bleu wings, when this guy across the bar starts talking about how Ohio is the greatest state in the union and how there is no university like Ohio State in ALL respects. He’s a nice enough guy, proud of his alma mater and all, and we’re getting on fine, when this other cat rolls up. He too is from Ohio, but he HATES EVERYTHING ABOUT THE STATE AND THE UNIVERSITY. An absolutely HILARIOUS battle of wits then kicks off, and I can’t help but stick around for the fireworks. All the same, 3 beers, 8 wings, and a basket of buff chips later, I decide it’s time to retire. However, since it’s only 9 PM, I realize there is really only one thing left to do – GO TO ANOTHER BAR.

And so there sits Sammy, alone in Champions, working on another pint of Fat Tire and an order of cheese fries for dessert. Hey – I’m carbo-loading. Not sure for what, exactly, but it’s good to know the fuel will be there once I find it.

It should be noted that I passed OUT at 10:30 but woke up at 4:08 AM like a shot and could NOT get back to sleep. I’m pretty sure that’s my body in rebellion. Can’t say I blame it.

Tuesday: FINALLY – back to the streets…

So the work day was again good – nothing exciting to report there. The big news, however, was that, for the first time since October, Sammy FINALLY RAN OUTSIDE!!!! It was a PERFECT Charlotte day – blue skies, puffy clouds, light breeze, little traffic, and I logged 35 minutes on the streets. It wasn’t pretty and I was tired when it was over, but the foot felt great and I was THRILLED.

That evening I met Senora Bulkeley, Velvet, Old School (CHECK OUT THAT PINK SHIRT!!!!), and Ash for a drink at Champions and then dinner at Black Finn (GUUUUUUUUUUUUD burger). However, I have a bone to pick with Black Finn. They advertise all burgers “cooked to your specification,” but when I said Medium Rare, his response was “all we can do is medium well.” I mean, I guess those two temperatures have the word “medium” in common, but that’s about it…

Also, Black Finn’s “tap plumbing” was having a problem, and so they had NO DRAFT BEER. That is akin to inserting a dagger into my heart and twisting. But hey, I guess I needed one more Corona before heading back to the Mother Country.

We had a night cap at Wild Wings (I don’t think I have to tell you what pint I had) before calling it a night, and I was PASSED OUT at 10 PM.

Wednesday: The hairless wonder with chopsticks – an image I NEVER thought I’d see

So the news from Wednesday – THERE IS NOW AN ALL YOU CAN EAT SUSHI BAR IN UPTOWN!!!!!!! And more shocking was the man who led me there – TOM PRICE. Honestly, it broke my heart that I didn’t have my camera with me, as I NEVER IN MY LIFE thought I would EVER see Tom Price eating sushi, yet lightning struck twice within a week. I am in a small state of shock still as I type this. And P.S. – that place is GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUD. And in case anyone’s scoring – I took down 3 plates. Really, once this whole “expat payroll guy” thing ends, I think I might try to get on the Fine Living Network in a combination show of “Three Sheets” and “Man vs. Food.” After all, we know I can eat a who habanero…

I got to the airport about 4:30, but that’s where I’ll stop for today. After all, the arrival at the airport brings a different set of stories, all intertwined with mum’s visit.

Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Chat tomorrow!


Sam (who will soon be FINALLY reunited with Muffin Puffin!) and Jenny

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