Dickinson Or Bust
Well, here I sit, wore slap out. I got up at 3:20 this morning to get to a 5:30 flight on time. Today is Dickinson day! 5:30-7:30: in Atlanta. 8:30-10:30: in Denver. 11:30-1:30: in Dickinson.
Wow, that alarm went off early. My husband and I both staggered out of bed. I had taken my shower the night before, being unwilling to wake up early enough to wash and dry my hair. The last thing we packed up was my computer. I had my purse loaded up with money, ID, printouts of plane tickets, Hertz reservations and hotel reservations. There was also plenty of gum, and Atkins bars. My little quart Ziploc was loaded with various liquids under 3 ounces. I did a tight pack job on my backpack, which is designed to carry my laptop plus some other stuff. The other stuff was spare thermals, spare scrubs, clean underwear and socks, in case they lost my luggage, along with scarf, muffler and gloves. And more Atkins bars. We scooped our daughter out of bed in her footie pajamas and tucked her into the van with her blanket and a stuffed animal. And we were off!
I made it through security without being cavity searched, which is an acheivement for me. Well, I did get patted down AFTER I went through the little x-ray revolvy thing. The connection in Atlanta was going to be pretty tight, and I was worried that my suitcase might not make it. The suitcase contained my camera equipment in a hard case, about ten pairs of scrubs, about 20 pairs of underwear, a couple pair of jeans, my tennis shoes, a pile of thermals, some polar fleece and yes, you got it, more Atkins bars. Just in case they don’t have them in Dickinson.
I barely made my connection in Atlanta. I sank with relief into the airplane seat. I was actually so exhausted that I was able to sleep on the plane. I also discovered two great things about traveling with a big fleece jacket: you can wear it like a blanket when it gets cold on the plane, and you can wad it up into a ball and make a dandy pillow.
When I arrived in Denver, I had to go all the way to the A terminal. It seems the A terminal is kind of where the misfits go: international connections to Montreal and Cancun, and the dreaded Great Lakes Airlines. There is a basement in the terminal just for Great Lakes. You are at the level of the tarmac and have to walk out to your plane. Their fleet of planes are all twin prop jobs, alarmingly primitive and ancient in appearance. Then I got a nasty shock. A woman in a uniform came up to me and told me I would have to check my backpack; only one piece of carry on was allowed on these tiny planes. My backpack had my laptop in it! Unless, she told me, I could somehow fit my purse into my backpack. Impossible! My purse was very large, and very full, as there is no point in bringing a small purse as one of your carry on items. You have to pack as much stuff as you can. I started freaking out; they were going to smash my laptop in the cargo hold. I quickly discovered that it is amazing what you can stuff together when you have to. The woman did say that they wouldn’t say anything to me if the backpack was unzipped, as long as the purse was all the way in it. Well, I STUFFED that sucker in there. And no, it wouldn’t zip, but it was in there, and if I held it with both hands, it would hopefully stay together to make it onto the plane.
They let me on the plane. Then another awful shock! The overhead bins were so tiny, I couldn’t even fit the backpack in them. I started to panic, then realized that the gaps under the seats were pretty roomy. I stuffed that sucker under my seat and kept kicking it until it fit like a cork in a bottle. I sort of rested my boots on top of it, so the flight attendant couldn’t see that it stuck out a little bit. And seriously, she was the Carry On Police. She inspected each row on each side to make sure not even a tiny bit of anything was sticking out anywhere. I rested my fluffy jacket on my lap to make it hard for her to see down there. Somehow I passed muster. I made it on with my stuff and saved my laptop! The downside was, I couldn’t access my purse, as hard as it was stuffed into the backpack, which was jammed under the seat. So I couldn’t get to my Kindle and had no way to entertain myself.
The view out the window was not reassuring. I was right over the wing, with its rickety looking propeller, with warped looking metal and graying rivets. Now, my husband owned a Cirrus, and I am used to riding in a prop plane, but his plane was new when he bought it, and the whole plane is fitted with a parachute in case the engine goes out. This plane had no parachute, and seriously looked like a relic from the 1940′s. I closed my window because I did NOT want to see the engine when it caught on fire. I stuffed my jacket up against the window and buried my head in it. I woke up and we were landing. Yay for landing!
I was surprised to see there wasn’t very much snow on the ground. I had expected feet of snow just lying around from previous snows, but it seemed like most of it had melted. Today was a super warm day here too. I’d been following the weather out here before my trip, and had gotten used to seeing temps like -8, so it was at once a relief and somewhat of a disappointment that it was 44 degrees. However, it seems the weather is going to oblige me tonight with a blizzard of at least 3 inches of snow and a precipitous drop in temperature. I’ll be ready for it!
We trekked from the plane into the tiny airport. The baggage claim was a single slanted straight ramp. Lo and behold, my suitcase was on it! I went to the Hertz counter and they had my reservation all ready, with a packet of keys and instructions. He was nice enough to have a guy bring the car around, and gave me some directions to get into town. Frankly, navigating town wasn’t too hard as it is laid out with two intersecting main roads, and the population is only 18,000. I made it straight to the hotel and got checked in. No problems! The girl behind the counter said she was incredibly bored. I verified that they had an exercise room and a laundry room. I got her to give me directions to the WalMart, which turned out to be about six blocks north.
I decided to do the WalMart trip this afternoon, before the cold snowy weather set back in. I drove up there, and I think I have the only car in town. Everyone else has big pickups, vans, and four wheel drive SUVs. WalMart was WalMart. I’ve never been crazy about the place, but as far as I know, there’s only one other Mom & Pop grocery store in town and I’m not sure where that is. They sure are optomists in there, because they had aisles of Easter candy and little short-sleeved Easter dresses on display. I think Easter is in March this year, and surely these people are aware that it will still be freaking cold here in March. I was pretty amused. In this unseasonably warm 44 degree weather, I saw families and teens without coats and wearing shorts! I guess it’s kind of like a heat wave. But the snow is supposed to come in tonight, and by tomorrow night, the temps are going to be down around 3 degrees.
I’ve explored the hotel and unpacked my bags and written a blog post. I texted my hubby to let him know I made it OK, and I called my folks and chatted with them. They were anxious to hear all the details of the town; they’ve always enjoyed travel wherever it led them. They are considering coming to visit me while I’m up here. So I’m going to force myself to eat a frozen dinner (I’m not really hungry) and then I’m going to load up my backpack for my trip to the hospital tomorrow. And then I think I’ll go to bed, because I’m exhausted. So tomorrow I will post about the first day on the job in Dickinson, ND.