Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back from Florida and Jeez, is it COLD!

Ah, man - central Florida was in the 60's and low 70's for most of the past 10 days, and I'm already missing it. We did dip down into the 50's a bit and the locals were bundled up in coats, hats, and gloves, shivering, turning up the heat and complaining about the "cold." Now I'm back in chilly ol' Ohio, where the high today was about 35. Luckily, I did miss the 2 degrees above (with -12 degree wind chills) from just a couple of days ago.

Boy, do I have a bunch of good photos for you! I'll try to organize them into themed posts, but to whet your appetite, here is a brief taste of what I have been doing while I was away. I call this post:

The Coat Tour

My famous OSU jacket traveled to Orlando in my checked bag from the Cincinnati Airport (which, if you didn't know, is actually in Kentucky). A near-tragedy occurred when one of my checked bags (the small one) traveled with me on my connecting flight through Atlanta while the larger one, containing ALL of my outer clothes, including my wonderful coat, somehow took a direct flight. While I was enjoying (?) the hospitality of the Hartsfield airport, my large bag was all alone, waiting for me in Orlando. Perhaps it looked sad and lonely, perhaps it had that "Take me home" expression, or perhaps some people are just idiots, but when I arrived at the Orlando airport, it was gone.

"All the bags from your flight are in this area," was the so-not-useful comment from a Guy in a Tie near the carousal, when I told him my suitcase was missing. I renewed my search, only to confirm my suspicions. No suitcase. The Tie Guy sent me on to his supervisor, in the office.

"Our records show your bag was checked in, Ma'am. It is here in the airport," said Ms Helpful Supervisor Person. "It's NOT!" I choked out through the lump in my throat.

Thinking perhaps I couldn't SEE a large black wheeled suitcase with red tartan ribbons attached to both handles, Ms. Helpful looked at all the bags scattered around the Baggage Claim area. She even inspected the hot pink duffle and the paisley overnight bag, just in case my suitcase had somehow mutated during the flight. It hadn't.

This is when the lowest ranking guy in the baggage area informed me that he had pulled my bag off a different flight, and had put it aside to await my arrival. (Thank God for blue-collar workers who notice ACTUAL suitcases rather than trusting computer reports.) When he shared this info with Ms. Supervisor, she was of the opinion that someone else had taken my bag by mistake, and all we could do was wait for some honest soul to return it to the airport. She took my hotel and cell phone information, and left me feeling less than hopeful.

Yes, friends and neighbors, KatDoc was stuck in Florida wearing hiking boots, corduroy pants, and a sweater. The small bag held my jammies and unmentionables, but all my lighter clothes were MIA. More to the point, my OSU jacket was gone. I almost cried in the airport.

What happened next was either a minor miracle or a reaffirmation that honesty and decency still exist in the human race. A woman called - she had my bag at her business. It had been picked up by mistake by visitors from Europe. When they arrived at their destination, they realized they had the wrong suitcase, but they were a long way from the Orlando Airport, and they decided to return it when they went back to the airport for their flight home. In two weeks.

Two weeks?!?!?! What kind of goofball, ignoramous, IDIOT keeps someone's bag for TWO FREAKIN' WEEKS? Fortunately, the business lady said "There is no way I can let this woman go without her luggage," and even though her company wouldn't pay for the bag to be shipped back (and the Europeans obviously weren't taking responsibility) she took it upon herself to return my suitcase to the airport. The airline, in turn, sent it on to my hotel, and while I was telling the front desk that I was expecting my lost luggage to be delivered, the driver arrived. Right there in the hotel lobby, I opened the suitcase to find -

MY JACKET, on top of the rest of my things. Hurrah!

That's when I decided not to let that jacket out of my sight. I would take it with me everywhere. So, here are photos of The Jacket, enjoying itself in sunny Florida:

Relaxing in a chair at the hotel room,
regaling me with travel tales.
Having breakfast at the hotel.
Sitting in on lectures at the Convention Center.
Lunching by the pool at the Gaylord Palms.
Looking for manatees on a pontoon boat trip.
Taking an airboat ride.Hamming it up at Lone Cabbage Fish Camp.
Birding at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge.
Waiting for our flight home.

In later posts, I'll share more of our trip with you, including some pretty good bird photos. As a teaser, I was hoping to see about a dozen Life Birds on this trip, and I got close. Trip List to follow...


Mary said...

YOU are a scream! This is hilarious - of course knowing you have your jacket and all...

Lost luggage ain't no fun and I commend that woman for the extra effort she took to have your bag delivered. There ARE good people out there.

So, we've seen the jacket. Let's see more! Glad you are back.

holly said...

Welcome back! I've been looking for a post indicating your return.

I'm so glad your coat got to do all kinds of interesting things and see cool sights on it's vacation! The pics have me lol'ng!

Kathy said...

So glad that you are back, and that your jacket wasn't lost forever! The jacket got to see lots of interesting things. I recently read about a cat that got in a suitcase without its owner knowing, was taken to the airport and got picked up by the wrong person at baggage claim. When the person opened the suitcase, the cat jumped out and scared the lady. Fortunately, the cat had id tags, so the lady called the owner and the cat was reunited with the owner.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

So glad you got back "with" your jacket and suitcase. Can't wait to hear birding tales and see all the fun you and your jacket had. It sounds like your jacket had a good time.

Anonymous said...

If someone picks up your luggage at the snack bar, it is theft. Why should it be any different for an idiot who picks up your luggage from a carosel?

Great post. Looking forward to the pictures.

Susan Gets Native said...

LOL...You remind me of Amy Hooper (Wild Bird on the Fly) and the rubber ducks she travels with and photographs.

Julie Zickefoose said...

That is one bitchin' jacket. Sounds like something you may want to carry on from now on. Sorry about the Ohio weather. We cooled it down for ya as a welcome home.