I went to Denver last weekend with Mom & Dad. We had been planning it for several months but it kept getting pushed back. They didn’t want to wait so long that the weather turned crappy and I kept having work conflicts. Anyway, about three weeks ago Mom & I sat down and hammered it out. We ended up booking through Priceline.com about which more later.
They bought the tickets and paid for the hotel room and I paid for the rental car. I think they want to reimburse me for the car but I will resist.
The trip actually was OK overall, but there were difficulties with practical issues.I did a pretty good job of slowing down my expectations of what Dad can do. Spending 4 solid days with him gave me a new appreciation of what Mom has to deal with. He’s just enough on the ball to surprise you once in a while but more often he’s just not quick enough to do what he wants to do. And I can see he wants to do all the things he’s always done.
Especially traveling around Denver, his home town. He knows the streets but not necessarily the best way to get around. I ended up using the GPS in my phone most of the time but one time he was right and I was wrong and I gave him full credit. At all times I tried to treat his directions with respect.
Traveling is tiring under the best of circumstances and even though it didn’t seem like we did much, he was worn down. Sunday night at the airport going home, Mom told me (out of his presence) he said to her, ‘Never again!’ That makes me sad as he has always been a great traveler.
The weirdness started Wednesday night. I went down to Santa Clara for the night. Mom and I had agreed when we did the booking that we would fly out of SFO instead of San Jose because there were more and cheaper flights. Oh you fools! Well, that meant we had to get from Santa Clara to the airport and back during a time when everyone in the local family was working. I decided to drive Mom and Dad each way and just use long term parking. Expensive, but simpler.
When I got to Santa Clara, Mom was concerned that they hadn’t been abler to check in for the flight so I went straight to the computer. There I found to my horror that the airline we had chosen, Frontier, charged for baggage on a sliding scale. The closer you got to the gate, the more it cost. Not only that, they charged for carry-ons! This discovery was after we all had packed in small bags for our 4 day trip. It was actually cheaper to check the bags than to pay the fee for carry-ons.
Then it turns out that if you want to sit together, you have to pay extra to get a seat assignment. What??!! I had to do the same thing on the flight back so that added almost $200 to our trip costs.
We got up the next morning and got to the airport in good order. Got on the plane, got to Denver pretty much by the numbers.
Our plane landed at 3:20 (I kept notes for all of this). At 4 pm, after thrashing around with different carrels, our luggage came out. Then we got on the shuttle to the Avis rental place. Arrived there at 4:30 to find a line of perhaps 50 people to rent cars. I got to the head of the line at 5:20 and showed the clerk the timer on my phone. He said, yeah that’s about right. then he hammered me with all the stupid extras that I never want; tried to upsell me to a larger car. Jeez, just give me the goddamn car, would ya?
At 6pm we were driving out of the lot. We never did get lunch. I spotted a Denny’s on the way to the hotel and we went there (6:30 pm).
I realized after I got home that I had paid Priceline ahead of time for the rental so when I returned the car I had evidently agreed to a $30/day loss damage waiver so there was another $100 I hadn’t counted on. Priceline, Frontier and Avis – you can all piss off. Never again.
Well. it’s only money. The hotel was fine (Holiday Inn Express). Friday morning we ate breakfast late, marveled at the stopped traffic on the freeway at 9:30 am, and headed along surface streets to the stone cutters. That was the main goal of the trip and it was perfect.
I’m going to finish this story later.