Thursday, May 24, 2007

Yesterday's events

Well, the trip yesterday turned out to be a mind-boggling disappointment in many ways. First, there was almost no travel-related drama. This was rather surprising because the entire time I was in Vegas I had heard horror stories about how the airport is a nightmare first thing in the morning, what with all the east-coast folks flying out early in order to get back home at a reasonable hour. "Get there at *least* two hours aheard of time," people would say "the worst time I ever had at an airport was for an early-morning departure. I spent an hour alone at the taxi line*!"

I woke up at 3:00 am and was in the taxi line by 3:30. I was pretty proud of myself, and it wasn't as bad as it sounds**. What was even better is that there was only one group of three people in front of me. So much for the "massive taxi line" rumor. And when I arrived at the airport I found there was *nobody* there - not even the American employees working the bag check. So I had to wait another twenty minutes until a little after 4:00 am to get checked in. Another 20 people or so showed up and were milling around too, but I staked out my claim to a terminal and three minutes after the bag check people showed up I had my bag checked and made for security. I mean, maybe it was just American that was light that morning, and I'd walk into security to find a line of tired, huddled masses not seen in this country since Ellis Island. Turns out that wasn't the case either. There was *nobody* in the security line - it was kind of freaky actually, to walk up to an empty x-ray station and be able to take all the time I wanted to take off shoes and unload my laptop without feeling the pressure of all the people behind me.

So the two hours I had been told it would take to get through security took all of 20 minutes. Even better, since I had to much time to kill I sat down and put $5 into a slot machine and won back the $20 I lost on Monday, thus once again leaving Vegas having broke even!

Of course, the rest of the day was spent flying. I had been disappointed on the way out to Vegas by the fact that American put us in a plane that had no in-flight movie. Sure, the movies they show are often awful*** but I do appreciate the *option* of being able to zone out. Besides, there's usually at least some Dave Letterman on beforehand. Well the flight out of Vegas didn't have movies either, and the flight from Dallas to Hartford had monitors, but they didn't show movies because the audio wasn't working.

When I got to Hartford I was disappointed *again*. Hartford is a rapidly growing airport that serves as an alternative to Logan. I'd flown through Hartford on multiple occasions, but never on American. My impression had been that Hartford was a pretty new facility with the latest amenities and a modern design. But apparently that's only in the *new* terminal. American must have pissed someone at the airport commission off because they are still in the old part of the terminal that was straight out of the 1970's. Seriously, I hadn't seen airport facilities this outmoded since flying through the old Midway Airport terminal 8-9 years ago. I was a little surprised that the carpets weren't shag. no doubt I'll be assaulted by Hare Krishnas when I fly back out this afternoon.

The final disappointment was the hotel itself. Examine the picture of the Springfield Marriott at right (which is very similar to the one shown on the Marriott.com page for this hotel). See the big tower? Does it appear to you as though that big tower *is* the hotel? Or at least the major part of it?

Well, in a word - no. That building is not only not the hotel, it's not even a part of it, it's not even near it. It's some sort of bank building that's over a block away. The hotel itself is the smaller building just in front of it (behind the parking ramp). Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a seriously misleading picture. Although maybe it's unreasonable to expect a high-rise hotel in Springfield, MA. I mean sure, the Basketball Hall of Fame probably pulls in lots of tourists, but I doubt it brings in enough to justify high-rise lodging.

* This didn't surprise me, Las Vegas has nowhere near enough cabs - those of you who've ever waited for 45 minutes at Caesars Palace trying to get back to your hotel after 10 pm know what I'm talking about.
** Since 3:00 Las vegas time is only 5:00 am Chicago time and I hadn't been out there long enough to get on Vegas time.
*** Case in point, the in-flight magazine promised either "Bridge to Terabithia" or "Because I Said So".

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