Brian Ho (brianho) wrote,
Brian Ho

SMJT2009(ws) - Day 1: Saturday 9/12

I woke up at about 5:45 am, scrambled around to pack a few last minute items, and headed out the door.  Super thanks to belindashort for taking me to the airport!

I arrived a little bit after 7:00 am, got my bag checked, and got through security with no issues.  Both processes were actually quite quick and efficient and the people involved were pleasant and friendly.  No complaints.

At this point I still had about an hour before my scheduled 8:33 am departure.  I made my way to the designated gate and grabbed an exorbitantly priced breakfast at > $9 for a bagel sandwich and orange juice.  It was at least tasty and filling and the service was again friendly.  But this was about where my travel luck ran out.

Once I boarded the plane, we pulled away from the gate and started taxiing.  I was pretty sleepy, so I think I drifted off a few times.  I woke up to realize we were just sitting around on the ground.  It took me a second to realize that the ground was still Indianapolis.  I know the flight to Chicago is short, but I didn't think I had missed a take off and a landing.  As it was explained, there was dense fog in Chicago, so flights to O’Hare were being delayed since they would not be able to land there.  In addition, other flights destined for O’Hare that were already in the sky were being diverted to Indianapolis.

The captain and the rest of the flight crew were very nice and as informative as they could be.  Unfortunately, they could do little more than simply relay the information they were getting.  Initially the delay was estimated to be one hour.  But that came and went.

Fortunately, everyone onboard was pretty patient and things didn’t get ugly.  The flight attendants did a good job at trying to make everyone as comfortable as possible by serving what little food/drink was onboard and being as helpful as possible—even trying to lookup additional flight information on the internet.

I ended up burning my entire laptop battery and most of my phone battery just killing time sitting on the ground.  I was in the last row of the plane, so it was easy for me to chit chat with the attendants and some of the people around me, so that helped pass the time as well.

Once the fog finally cleared and the hold was lifted, all of the planes that had been diverted to Indy had priority to leave.  I believe I heard there were something like 17 of those, and they could only move them out so fast.

Sometime after noon (when we had been sitting out there for almost four hours) they brought our plane back to the gate to refuel since we had been sitting out “cooling our jets” (literally) for so long.  They let us deplane to get some food and use the restroom.  I took the opportunity to get some ice cream from Cold Stone which was surprisingly priced the same as it is outside the airport.  Go figure.

My connecting flight from Chicago to Tokyo was scheduled to depart at 10:50 am Chicago time (11:50 in Indy).  I didn’t know what its status was.  Perhaps it had been delayed getting out of Chicago.  I considered just staying in Indy and attempting to rebook for the next day, but I decided I’d go ahead and get back on the plane to Chicago.  I figured I would have more options from Chicago as far as alternate flights or whatnot.  Also, I know people there, so I felt safe about not being bored or stranded should I get stuck in the city.  As I came to find out later, my flight had been delayed a little, but only by about half an hour.  So, it had indeed already left for Japan before I had even left Indy.

Once I got back on the plane, I think it was another hour or so before we finally left the ground.  I completely passed out for the flight.  I vaguely remember taking off and the next thing I knew, we were on final approach to O’Hare.  Once I got into the airport, I was directed to the customer service counter to try and figure out what was going on with my continuing flights.

They had announced on the plane that everyone had been automatically rebooked for the next flight, but I wasn’t sure how it would work since my first leg was a code share flight on United Express and I’d be continuing to Tokyo on an All Nippon Airways flight.  Also, I didn’t know when a “next flight” would be even if I had been automatically rebooked.

Of course things were kind of crazy at O’Hare with all of the delays from the fog.  When I arrived at the customer service desk, there was a huge line that looked like at least one or two planes worth of people.  I think I ended up waiting almost two hours before I got to the desk.  Fortunately, once again people were pretty nice and I was able to have some conversations to help pass the time.

Unfortunately, all of the flights to Tokyo had already left for the day, so I was going to be stuck in Chicago.  The agent told me the ANA flight was all booked up, so he put me on a United flight that left a little later but would still get me to Tokyo in time for my connection to Okinawa.

Meanwhile, I was able to get a hold of yeehawmckickass who graciously came out to pick me up at the airport.  While I waited, I strangely was able to get a burger, fries, and a drink at O’Hare for less than what I paid for breakfast in Indy.  Weird.

Shane took me out to Tilt to see the Dance Freaks machine he’s considering purchasing.  I approve.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to play the Korean songs in Dance Freaks.  The charts are really fun and actually kinda tough.  That particular machine needs some work but nothing super extraordinary, and they definitely have it priced to move.  After that, we went over to Lewis to hang out and kill time with a little Pump.  And then we went out to get some dinner at a Chinese restaurant where starartist joined us.  Yum!

Then it was on to Brunswick Zone for a (not so) little birthday celebration.  Geez…it seemed like 20-30 people must have showed up.  Unfortunately, by that time I was really worn out.  I had also developed a bit of a twinge in the back of my throat.  I'm guessing it was a combination of not having a lot of quality rest the night before or throughout the long and busy day.

This was a game at Brunswick Zone.  I didn't actually play it, but the marquee made me laugh: SHOOT LIKE CRAZY!! SMASH AND DESTROY!!  I thought the cabinet as a whole was fairly cool with the lighting and whatnot.

Shane was a gracious impromptu host.  I was right...I wasn't bored being stuck in Chicago.

We played a couple games of bowling and some laser tag.  Bowling was fun though I didn't do particularly well as I was in rental shoes that kept sticking.  I haven't had to play in rentals recently (not that I really bowl a whole lot), but I didn't pack my own shoes in anticipation of going bowling in Japan...much less Chicago.  Laser tag was fun, but I was so tired that I wasn’t really able to run around too much.  I spent a lot of time getting shot. :P

Then it was on to Shane’s place where I was able to get a much needed shower.  Unfortunately, I opted not to pack any clothes in a carry on, so I had to just put my dirty clothes back on.  It figures that the time I consciously decided not to pack clothes in a carry on since I had never needed them before would be the time I ran into a problem like this.  Oh well.  The shower still felt good.

Before I went to sleep I checked online and found out that I was still booked on the ANA flight for the next day afterall.  That flight was earlier and I really wanted the Japanese airline experience I’d heard such good things about, so my preference was for that flight if I was indeed able to be on it.  Unfortunately, they were already closed at this point, so I was going to have to get up in the morning to call and try to figure it out.

And with that, it was crash time.  It was technically hours into Sunday at my origin, my present location, and most certainly my destination.

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