As LuRue writes this, Montana is on her way to Seattle...assuming her flight took off on time. Via a text from home last night, she is heading into minus 50 degrees. Lucky girl!!!
Our “Return Day” was only 31.5 hours from waking to bedtime, quite an improvement over our “48-Hour Day” trip over. Nevertheless, we both fell into bed last night at Holiday Inn-Airport as jelly blobs, barely capable of rational thoughts or actions.
After checking out of the Alam Indah and gesturing our “namaste” pose to staff people as we left, a driver took us to the Denpasar airport. We went through one baggage security immediately as we entered the door, looking for the next logical stop...the EVA Airline ticket gates. Though there weren’t many signs, we got into the likeliest line and it turned out to be the right one. With boarding passes in hand, we went through the main security line wondering if we should have paid our 200,000 Indonesian rupiah departure tax before that, but no one said anything. On the other side, we found ourselves in more ribboned-off aisles with officials calling people “one-by-one” to check passports and boarding passes. Still they didn’t ask for the departure tax. It might have been included in our ticket somewhere, but we could never find note of it. So now LuRue already has some Indonesian rupiah for her next trip in March.
As we have come to expect, the airport looked more like a shopping mall, with high-end shops looking glitteringly out-of-place. There never seem to be many, if any, customers in any of them. It would be interesting to know the true marketing strategy behind them. Fronts for something else??
Since we had plenty of time, we went in search of something to eat so that we could say “No Thank You” to the airplane food. Though it was still illegible to LuRue, eagle-eyed Montana spotted a Haagen Daz. We completed our research on “frozen treats” in Bali.
Having eaten dessert first, we next found a Hard Rock Cafe, where we stuffed ourselves on burgers.
The return trip would follow the same basic route as going over...Bali-Taiwan, Taiwan-Los Angeles. Both planes again had movies, which helps the time pass more tolerably. A few of new releases watched by LuRue (Deep Water Horizon, Queen of Katwe, and Snowden) were good enough that she wants to watch them again via Netflix when they won’t be interrupted by announcements, carts in the aisle, offers of beverages, etc.
Montana is getting much better at turning “airplane sleep” into some real dozing off. LuRue nodded off a few times, but the head falling forward doesn’t lend itself to actually falling asleep. She apparently did use Montana’s shoulder for a minute or two one time. A stranger might not have been as forgiving.
The Taiwan-Los Angeles leg was almost four hours shorter this time, flying about half-way between Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands. LuRue will have to do some research to find out why the airlines fly the routes they do...air currents? She is still marveling at how much air travel has changed during her lifetime. She wonders what it will look like in the year 2080, when Montana will be Grandma LuRue’s age now.
You might think that the end of the long flight would have been almost “home free”, but it wasn’t. Montana and LuRue got shuffled from one line into another into yet another to get through immigration. Somehow we went from the middle of the pack to the end stragglers, though we’re not sure how that happened. It took about an hour and a half to make it to the baggage claim area. Even then, we had to wait quite awhile for our bags to appear. Montana went off searching the carousel & came back victorious with both bags.
The next hurdle was finding the hotel pickup area, then figuring out the shuttles. Turns out there are three different Holiday Inns, so you not only have to figure out which shuttle is yours, but be able to charge through the crowd to hail the right one as it stops for half a second, usually either a 100 feet to the right or 100 feet to the left of you. A “wrong one” Holiday Inn driver took pity on us and went out of his way to point out the right one as it pulled up. Grandma LuRue was beginning to look like she would topple over any second by that time, so he probably wanted to avoid an ambulance call.
After a night’s sleep, we were looking forward to a typical motel breakfast, but turns out our $200+ room didn’t include that, so we hopped the shuttle waiting outside full of airline personnel and a few others. Montana’s check-in went smoothly enough (via a machine), especially after a guy came over and helped with the baggage tag which had gotten “unpeeled” improperly. Everything is so automated these days! I suppose that all is routine for business travelers, but we have learned that if you don’t carry a cell phone, are not sure how to use the kiosks, etc, you are left in the dust.
Our plan had been to check in early enough so that we could have a nice breakfast together before saying goodbye. The guy at Alaska Airlines said that the only place not beyond security was a Starbucks on a lower level. So that’s where we headed for coffee & tea, then back up to the departure gates where security was right there. LuRue said her goodbyes to Montana and watched her disappear down a hall.
With more than six hours left, LuRue began the process of checking in for her flight to Tucson. LuRue found the helpful guy at Alaska Airlines who said that SkyWest is operated by American Airlines, which happened to be right next door. But, he added, SkyWest is connected with three airlines, actually. When nothing showed up on the American Airlines kiosk, the roaming assistant said that it was probably United, which was in Terminal 7 (we were in Terminal 6). So...out the door to the sidewalk to dodge people, carts, luggage, etc with about 15 pounds of carry-ons and a 45-pound duffel bag to haul. The legs were beginning to turn to jelly again, but Terminal 7 was finally reached. Here the kiosks were outside, and an attendant helpfully assisted. But all that came out of the machine was a note to see an agent inside. After standing in ‘Line 6-Assistance Needed’ for over an hour, it was finally LuRue’s turn. A woman came from down the hall, announcing that they were trying to get to everyone as quickly as possible. On the way back to her station, she mentioned that four people had called in “sick” that morning. Then it became obvious that the other agent (a man) next to her actually needed help with everything he was doing with another passenger. The woman couldn’t find any reservation at all. After trying several options without success, it occurred to LuRue that it might be the third airline, which the woman said is Delta, Terminal 5. So back out on the sidewalk, hauling everything, for about a half-mile walk to Delta. Imagine the relief when the kiosk spit out the boarding pass!
Still time for something to eat, but choices limited to Oriental, Fish Tacos, or Burgers. Burgers won out. Then to waiting area, where most of this blog was written. Struck up a conversation with a nearby woman, who was originally from Thailand, whose flight had been delayed. During the conversation, subject came up as to necessity of cell phones these days. LuRue mentioned she would have to use a pay phone to call the motel in Tucson; the woman immediately dug four quarters from her purse and insisted on taking them.
After arriving in Tucson and collecting the duffel bag, LuRue was grateful for the four quarters, as she needed them. All motel pages had been torn out of phone books, but a woman behind a tour desk provided the motel phone number. For the next trip, LuRue will bring a cell phone!!