Monday, May 16, 2005

Back Again, for a bit

I have been out of town again for the past few days...we took a family vacation to Flagstaff, AZ. I know what you're thinking - you've never heard of a family vacation to Flagstaff before. The reason behind it is because my wife's brother got his Masters' Degree from Northern Arizona University and so we went down to see his commencement and spend a few days down there with him and his wife and son. All-in-all, it was a lot of fun, but it's more driving than I've done for a trip in probably 10 years. If it weren't for the Grand Canyon, it would have been a lot more direct of a drive. Instead, you have only a couple of options from Utah - you can cross the Colorado River just below Lake Powell at Page, AZ; you can cross at Navajo Bridge, about 10 miles south (but unaccessable from) of Page; or you can go to Las Vegas and cross in front of Lake Mead at Hoover Dam. What makes things even tougher is that that's the easiest way to get there. Last summer my wife flew down there (she didn't drive because I couldn't go, so in gas and wear/tear on the car it was cheaper to fly) for a few days and, when you add in the time waiting at the airport, it actually took longer to fly there.
Okay, a quick story about that. Unfortunately for everyone, the only airline with service to Flagstaff is America West Airlines. They fly those little turboprop puddle jumpers from Phoenix to Flagstaff - and that's the only service. There's nothing else. So I drove her to the airport at 6 in the morning for her 8 am flight. Well, as is typical for America West, she was delayed. Her flight didn't leave until after 10. It was delayed for some reason or another, causing her to miss her connecting flight in Phoenix. When she finally got there, she ran to her new connecting flight, which she barely made, but which was also promptly delayed as soon as it was out on the tarmac and not at the gate. I can't think of a worse fate than being on a turboprop aircraft with no legroom, little air conditioning, and in the middle of a Phoenix summer. After an hour of torture, she was able to go to Flagstaff. Final time spent travelling: 10 hours. Then her flight back was delayed in Flagstaff, then her connecting flight to Salt Lake was delayed, then they lost her bag in the process too. Again, it took about 10 hours to get back here. You wouldn't think it'd be quite so difficult, but such is travel on America West. This, of course, is in contrast to 8 hours of driving each way. The moral of the story: Flagstaff is far enough away from everything that it's tough to get to any way you travel.

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