Flying to Las Vegas -- 01/09/05

So I never went to bed last night...

In parallel with fixing dinner, I made a big pasta sauce (with ground turkey and zucchini and onions and peppers and celery) for Nancy to be able to reheat to make quick and easy dinners while I am out in Las Vegas. For dinner I cooked up some boneless chicken breasts (that I had marinated in Salameida's State Fair Spiedie Sauce for a couple of days) along with a salad of organic baby spinach and some rice pilaf and (by this time I was hungry and also tired of cooking and just wanted to get dinner served) heated up a can of sweet corn. And we sat around after dinner, sipping wine (a pinot grigio) and just talking.

Eventually I got around to throwing in a load of laundry (because I wanted to pack a sweatshirt and a t-shirt that were in the laundry basket). It was getting to be so late and I felt I had to leave so early to get to the airport, that I decided there was no point in bothering to go to bed. (Usually things move quickly and smoothly at the Providence airport, but Nancy and her sisters and mother ran into a significant bottleneck in the security process last summer when they went to Chicago for a niece's wedding and had been very concerned that they might miss their flight.

Jeremy drove me to the airport, aiming to be there shortly after five, but there was almost no traffic and we made such good time that he dropped me off about five minutes before five. Continental didn't have anyone doing curbside luggage check-in, so I went inside to their counter. It was empty -- so I used the self-check terminals to check my seating, change to an aisle seat for the Newark to Las Vegas leg of the trip, and printed my boarding passes. In a couple of minutes the Continental counter opened and I was able to get the appropriate barcoded tags put on my suitcase, took it to baggage security screening, got into the passenger screening line, took off my shoes and my watch and emptied all the change from my pockets and took my laptop out of its carrybag and put my coat and all this stuff into plastic tubs to go through the x-ray screening, walked through the metal detection gate, and gathered up my stuff on the other side.

It was now 5:11.

My flight was at 7:00.

So I got a fried egg on a toasted bagel and a cup of coffee and read for a while. I was sitting in the gate waiting area half asleep when they called us to board -- one of those Embraer regional jets with single seats on one side of the aisle and pairs of seats on the other. Everyone was on board and ready so we rolled back from the gate and actually took off a few minutes early. I had one of the single seats and took some pictures of dawn from the air.

I was reading a paperback science fiction novel (Elizabeth Bear's Hammered) much of which takes place in Hartford, CT in the year 2062. Not too long into the flight, after I had put my camera away and began reading the book, the pilot announced that we were now flying over Hartford. (Yeah, that kind of coincidence appeals to me.)

We landed at Newark almost fifteen minutes early. I found a food court and had another egg and bacon on a toasted bagel and another coffee. For all of my grumbling about having to change planes in Newark, everything went smoothly.

The Newark to Las Vegas flight it listed as being five hours and thirty-five minutes. I got a lot of reading done, but I also spent a lot of time with my eyes closed -- not sound asleep, but dozing on and off. When we finally reached Las Vegas and I claimed my suitcase and found where our chartered shuttle buses were waiting, I fond that it was raining. Las Vegas is located in a dessert and is relatively flat and I understand that they have problems with rain.

My employer (which was bringing around 18,000 of us to town for this technical conference) had a fleet of shuttle buses to take us to the various hotels (Mirage, Venetian, Bally's, Paris, MGM Grand and The Flamingo -- I was at the Flamingo). Get to the hotel, register, then sign in for the conference, grab some lunch, then I'd try to find my room (suitcase was being delivered to the room).

I suddenly realized that I did not have my winter jacket with me -- must have left it on the airport shuttle bus. Okay, let me drop my laptop and backpack in my room first before I set out back down to the bus area.. I reached my room, set down my stuff, and was checking out the view (I was on the 22nd floor) when the phone rang.

"Mr. Lawrence?"


"Are you feeling a bit chilly without your jacket?"

It was hotel security calling to tell me that I had left my jacket on the bus and I could claim it by coming down to their office.

But I didn't have my name or anything on the jacket... "How did you know it was mine?"

"Oh, we're specially trained by the FBI; we can track down anyone" She laughed and continued "Also, you had a receipt with your name on it in one of your pockets."

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