Well, after lots and lots of travel, I made it back to the USA. Right now I'm sitting in a cafe in Madison, catching up. It's good to be back home where things feel right, people drive on the right side of the road, soft drinks are cheap, drip coffee is common (bleah), and the money is green.
On the way back, my travels took me on a train to the Sydney airport, on a plane to Los Angeles, another plane (late by 2.5 hours) to Chicago, and then a car to Milwaukee then Madison. When I landed in Chicago, two bad things happened; first, my plane was very late due to crew being late to show up. Then, since we landed late, I missed my connecting flight to Madison.
(9:30pm) As a result I tried to re-book for a later flight -- but the next possible flight was at 4pm a day later. I decided to try and get put on the standby list for the 12am flight to Madison -- and to do that I had to walk CLEAR across the Chicago O'Hare airport to the gate... both the shuttle bus and train were broken.
(10:10pm) When I got there, the nice lady informed me that there was no way in hell I would make the flight, and that I should think about taking the bus that goes to Madison at 11pm. So I made a call to United using a service phone (after using the nice desk-worker's cell phone to call RAM and arrange a car ride from a friend). The nice folks on the other end of the line informed me that they could not cancel my ticket over the phone, I would have to speak to someone at the service desk. So I walked to the nearest service desk, and got in a line that extended way down the corridor.
(10:50pm) Still in line, waiting, talking to some other nice folks. United begins cancelling flights due to weather and a surplus of baggage they will have to send to other airports. The line grows immensely.
(11:20pm) Finally talk to a service rep who says he can't refund the flight since it's bound to the LAX->Chicago flight. I ask him for a travel discount or free flight voucher. He gives me a $50 discount voucher for my next United flight.
(11:40pm) Arrive at bag claim looking for my Milwaukee friend. I think I spot my luggage sitting by one of the claims, but I was told to get it in Madison on the following day, so I give up the search and head for the toilet to take care of what pressure built up during the last 4 hours instead.
(11:45pm) Find my friend, get in a car, go to his house. We arrive a bit after 1 and I hit the sack.
(1:00pm) We leave for Madison the next day, and head to downtown where, at 3:30pm, I meet up with RAM and finally see her! Yay! I pick up my new cell phone (email me if you want the number) and then my pal and I go to pick up my bags.
(4:20pm) I easily find my bags. The Madison airport has been overhauled, and looks beautiful now!
(5:30pm) I finally change into clean clothes at the hotel and clean up.
The rest is history. I have a good sleep, and then today I'm tooling around downtown Madison looking for trouble. My throat is sore and I think I'm getting a cold, but other than that, things are back to normal.