As I was saying, that wake-up call came much too quickly. But we’re off for Hilton Head, SC, so I really wasn’t complaining.
We did our last minute packing up and headed for the shuttle. At first, the shuttle driver started to suggest that we wait for the “next bus,” but since there were at least ten people waiting and he probably started thinking about the tips, he decided to take the run. So he unceremoniously dumped everyone’s luggage into the back of the mini-bus while we all got on in front and found seats.
When we got to the airport, Delta was the first stop. Most of us seemed to be going there. When the driver went to take the luggage out of its compartment, he took even less care than he had in loading. It was a good thing my husband was standing nearby. As the driver started pulling out bags, my carry on, which contains my CPAP machine, fell from the top of the pile (imagine, he started by pulling out a bag in the middle of the pile). If my husband hadn’t caught the bag, my machine might have been in more pieces than it’s intended to be. And I’d have had big problems! Funny thing – my husband didn’t give the driver a tip. I didn’t ask why.
Since we had checked in for our flight online, we had our boarding passes and didn’t have to go to the ticketing counter. We checked our one large bag at the curb and headed over to the LONG security line with our carry on pieces. Although long, the lined moved along fairly quickly and we started to be lulled into that sense of false security (pardon the pun). We had packed so that everything that needed to be checked separately was easily accessible. The ziploc bag with any small liquids, the CPAP machine components, the laptop – all put into bins along with purse, shoes, jackets, etc.. No problem with the metal detector. Then, as I was gathering my shoes and other personal belongings, I hear one TSA screener ask another, “What’s our policy on CPAP’s this week?” I knew these things changed from one flight to the next – now I had this as proof. The have always checked the machine for explosives, as they did today. Having to put it in a separate bin, out of its suitcase, is something relatively new. I know, it’s a fluid thing (oops, sorry, another pun). It’s also a pain in the *** for us older folks who want nothing more than to get somewhere that’s warm.
Our route took us from Boston to Cincinnati, where we changed planes to fly to Charleston, SC. All the planes along the way were small, only 2 seats on each side of the aisle.
The first flight had a slightly bigger plane, but the same configuration. It also had a flight attendant who, like me, needs to lose a bit of weight. Okay, she didn’t need to lose as much as I did! But she couldn’t walk down the aisle without bumping people all along the way with her hips or butt. Every time I started to doze, she bumped me and startled me awake. You be the judge. We also had 2 wailing babies within a couple of rows away. One mom solved the problem by nursing her baby – good job! Good for the baby and good for us. I couldn’t see what the other mother did, but things eventually quieted down. The plane landed at a gate on concourse A in Cincinnati. Our connection departed from a gate on concourse C. Of course!!
So we took the moving walkway to the shuttle bus (yes, bus) that took us to concourse C. We finally made our way to our gate, only to learn that the plane we would be taking had arrived late and was still being cleaned. We would be leaving late as a result. What else is new, right? They had also oversold our flight and were looking for one volunteer to take a later flight. They finally got a taker. Eventually, we boarded and got underway.
This flight was somewhat better than the first leg had been – better flight attendant, no babies. It was shorter, too. We landed in Charleston and taxied for what seemed like a week until we got to the terminal. Really – we’ve flown in to a lot of airports, but we’ve never had such a long ride from touch down to disembarkation. When we did get off the plane, we had to descend a stairway to the tarmac, walk about 20 yards and climb another stairway up to the terminal building. Then we had to cross the entire terminal to get to baggage claim.
This is where we started to get cranky. Why? No, not lost luggage. Not even a long wait for the luggage. While I waited for the one bag to come out, my husband had gone over to the Thrifty Car Rental counter to get our car. We had a reservation. He got to the counter before the bag came down, so I figured we’d be off as soon as it did. Wrong! When I got the bag, he was still at the counter, looking really p***ed. So I hauled the bag over and asked what the delay was. They didn’t have our car. They had gotten “slammed” with business and hadn’t kept a vehicle for us. I took all the bags (thank God for the new Samsonite “Spinner” wheels) and moved over to the seats near the baggage carousel. I didn’t want to be near him for this one.
After over 20 minutes, they finally got us a vehicle. We walked out to the lot and walked down the aisle, past many other small vehicles, looking for the one they said would be waiting for us. Nope, not there yet. Another 5 minutes later, the car finally appeared. We checked it out carefully for damage, then got in. Oh look – the “low tire pressure” signal light is on! Wonderful. The attendant in the lot was much more helpful than the counter crew. She got in the car with me, drove over to the maintenance area, had the pressure checked and all was well. The signal light was still on – obviously a sensor problem. But we now knew we weren’t going to have a flat half an hour down the road.
We finally got on the road to Hilton Head. We had planned to stop for a meal at Red Lobster in Charleston before we took the low roads to our resort, but now we were running late and we didn’t want to get there after dark. So we grabbed burgers at Hardee’s. I admit it wasn’t really a sacrifice – I love their mushroom burger.
Fortified, we felt better and drove off toward the ocean. Parts of the drive were scenic, parts of the drive reminded us of housing on the reservation (very poor). When we got to the island, the scenery improved.
The Hilton Oceanside really is. The have a large expanse of beach right outside the back door. Okay – it’s a small walk, but the only thing between the hotel and the beach is their boardwalk/pool area. Our room is on the fourth floor, oceanside. It’s a suite, really – living area and bedroom with a balcony that extends along both. There are sliding glass doors and windows along 3 sides. From any spot in the suite, you can see the ocean. Not a sliver of ocean – the real deal – ocean, sandy beach, and sky. You don’t even see the pools and boardwalk unless you go out onto the large balcony. We watched the sky turn colors while we sipped champagne and ate dark chocolate covered strawberries. I’m not usually a champagne girl, but this was great. Maybe it was the ambiance and companion.
I think maybe I should stop here, before things get too steamy . . .