Monday, May 6, 2013

Road Trip: San Francisco! (April 28-May 3, 2013)--Pt. 1, The Airports

There I was--surrounded by hoooooomasexshuls!

...and I couldn't spot 'em.

To hear the wingnuts & other haters tell it, San Francisco is World Homo Headquarters, every street corner populated by mincing, very nicely dressed, expensive cheese-eating, twinkletoed incubi indulging in every one of the Kama Sutra positions, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, but mostly in massive, sweaty, leather-chaps-and-rainbow-flag-draped orgies of sin that would embarrass Satanists and shock the ancient Greeks, who are well-known to have indulged in lustful Baccanalic displays themselves.

The strangest thing I saw was one old man wearing a backpack and using ski poles to cross-country hobble through a crosswalk. Nothing kinky about that: maybe his back hurt. After three days of airports and three of walking and climbing the sights (and sites) of San Fran, I could have used a pair of those poles, myself.

Instead of "Great Babylon is come up before me" (as a scandalized Rachel Jackson said of New Orleans as she and husband Andrew made their way to accept receipt of Florida from Spain in 1821), San Francisco was cleverly disguised as an ordinary town with ordinary people doing ordinary things such as shopping, driving, and working.

Not so much as a Gay Pride Child Recruitment Center!

I left Pensacola Sunday afternoon, had 90 minutes in Houston, and on to SF. I'd be returning Thursday by flying cross-country to Charlotte, NC, 4-hour layover, then 90 minutes to Pensacola.

Maybe it's because Pensacola's airport is so small, but the security line was ridiculous! The line was pretty long and there was just one checkpoint (there's only one terminal). Took close to 45 minutes to get from right next to the check-in counters to the other side of the checkpoint. Man, were my legs tired. Fortunately the terminal is small. Getting to my gate didn't take long even with a couple of rest breaks.

I was hoping that all the standing and walking would help with the leg problems I've been having since Aorta Day. Nope.

Houston airport could have used more benches (something I noticed about every place I went). Most of my 90-minute layover was spent in me hobbling toward the next terminal, finding a train, then hobbling to the departure gate. I saw some passenger carts toting people around, but figured they were pay-to-ride, so I just kept going. I was too tired to smirk at the the place being named after George Bush (the wimpy, ineffectual entitled prat, not the war criminal). Airports should be named for heroes like astronaut Rick Husband, not zeroes. Check out all of Husband's accomplishments. Imagine landing at Houston's Rick the Astronaut Airport. I made it about 10 minutes before boarding started.

I really liked San Fran airport. The terminals are arranged like spokes on a wheel. Get off your plane, head toward the hub and get out. Minimal hiking, no pain-in-the-ass navigation. Still a long walk. Man, were my legs tired.

At the other end of the trip, I got to San Fran airport around 7 Thursday morning. Check-in was fast. The security line only took a few minutes. My legs and back still got sore from the standing, but I was expecting that and flagged down one of those people-carts (finally realized they're free--but considering all the luggage carts for rent, the quick cellphone chargers-for-pay, and stuff like that, my earlier assumption is understandable). I rode like a tired-legged prince to my departure gate and relaxed.

The Charlotte airport was a nightmare of long stretches without benches. Hell of a place. Three and a half hour layover. I started off the right way by going the wrong way in my arrival terminal. When I figured out that the gate numbers were going the wrong way, I sagged, turned around, and moved with what little purpose I could muster. My destination, Terminal E, was at the furthest point possible from me. Man, were my legs...well, you know. Started looking for one of those handicap buggies. Didn't find one for the entire length of Terminal B, or into the mall along the main building. Finally flagged one down only to be dropped off at the top of an escalator. Down that, try to find another cart, end up walking...and damned if I wasn't overtaken by a cart a few minutes later. Finally grabbed another one after more walking and a few rest stops. This one got me to the proper gate, allll the way at the end of Terminal E.

Did I mention that my legs were tired?

Sat there, pondering trudging back up the terminal to one of the restaurants. My phone rang. Flight's canceled, call us to reschedule, thanks for trying to fly us, g'bye. Automated message. I called and learned that I'd be staying in Charlotte for the night ("aircraft maintenance")--in a hotel. Guy told me to find the closest Customer Service desk. Said it was several terminals away. Nice.

Again with the cart-hunting. Not one in sight the entire length of the terminal, until the end, but this one was unattended. I sat, anyway, and waited. Got passed by a couple of active ones. Finally gave up and hiked until I found one, flagged him down. Turns out I passed a Customer Service desk in Terminal E--but my driver took me to the now-closest one and dropped me there. A little ticket for the next morning's flight, voucher for the hotel.

Next morning, check-in went fast, security took maybe 20 minutes (including the line). Now that I was savvy to the handicap carts, getting to the terminal didn't take long.

Pensacola's airport really needs to get their game together and work on decongesting the security line, even if it means putting some more people on the payroll to open up a second line. The single checkpoint worked as well as it could, but took 2-3 times as long as it needed to.

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