Friday, February 4, 2011

On the road again: Austin, day 5

When you wake up in Boston, look out your hotel window, and see an inch of snow and ice coating the cars in the parking lot, you think nothing of it.

When the same thing happens in Austin, it's rather a different story.

After a morning phone meeting, we checked out, a process that consumed entirely too much time as the front-desk clerks debated how to process my bill, and then began the skate to the airport. Austin is not equipped to plow roads, not even major ones, so we drove at times on snow, at times on ice, and whenever we could in the ruts worn by earlier travelers.

As you might imagine, it was a very slow and tense drive.

The airport was exactly the sort of calm, quiet place you'd expect from a city besieged by winter and dependent on a major hub, DFW, that was canceling hundreds and hundreds of flights. After rushing wildly to make a flight that our extremely cranky gate agent said was already boarding, we...waited. Two hours.

The brightest spot of the trip was lunch during that time: barbecue from The Salt Lick at the airport. Any day with BBQ in it can't be all bad.

A gate change later, we made the short hop to DFW, survived the disconcertingly uneven landing, and found that my flight home had already departed. Fortunately, the good folks in the Admiral's Club at AUS had reserved a seat for me on a later flight, so I grabbed some bandwidth and went to the gate for that flight--only to find that it had moved. Off to the new gate at a brisk pace because the flight was boarding. Nope. False alarm. Another hour-long wait, and then, finally, we boarded.

That flight was a dream. I had a first-class seat via an upgrade. They brought me Diet Coke and water, the guy in the seat next to me fell asleep, and I dove deeply into work. The trip passed in an instant, and finally I was home.

I am ever so pleased to be here, where I shall remain for the nine days until the next trip.

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