Coming Home

After what happened yesterday, when I saw that weather predictions in Chicago are still Thunderstorms for the day, I was worried what is going to happen. However, I was not as much worried as I was yesterday. However, given that I did take up a flight that gave me a 5+ hour layover in Chicago was an insurance. I started my day early and reached at the Airport at 7.15am. It was well in time and I did bring in the bag that I was leaving back yesterday. I did bring in some more of my clothes than I was thinking off.

After checking-in the bag, when I reached at the Security counter, I met Alex. We first met at the Marriott last year, but he left the job in January and we have kept in touch via Facebook. We did talk about meeting up at the airport but his was a morning shift and yesterday I was going at noon. But, today I ended up being at the same spot where he had his duty. He did come up to meet me after his shift was over – it was nice catching up with him.

I had a 2 hour wait at the MSP airport which got extended to 2.5 hours because the flight got delayed. Flight was initially delayed for an hour but luckily it was cut short by 30 minutes and we were airborne. I did watch Episode 14 of Season 8 for House MD. I had wanted to complete the series in US itself a couple of months back, but then I got hooked on to Lost and never got around to finish this series. This was an interesting episode where I found Gregory House (the lead character) take an unexpected turn. But, the way it ended, I have a feeling the Lisa Cuddy will break-up with House after what he said to Lisa. Next episode in the flight to India.

I reached Chicago Airport in about 50 minutes of flight which was all smooth expect the last 10 minutes of turbulence. The plane taxied for 15-20 minutes at the airport and the attendant informed us that it had taxied at every taxiway that exists in the O’Hare terminal – that was something. I did notice that place crossed a bridge over roads and railroad tracks – that was cool (don’t get to see that happen in India). At the airport, I found my way to the Gate – K16 and once I had located the same, went over to Starbucks and got a Mocha and Banana Cake. I also paid up $7 for accessing internet at the Airport. I don’t know why people say it is free at the airport!! It is not. And, here I am – writing this blog post which will be updated when I arrive in Delhi. Time to go and find some other stuff to do on internet :).

Enjoy this until I update this on other side of the planet.

Update

Read the update here.

It happens for a reason and that too a good one

Last month has been a different one for me. Three things happened for me and all those were that are completely against my first nature.:

  1. I took a road-trip to Wisconsin, Chicago and Indiana all by myself. For someone who never goes alone anywhere it was a big deal. People close to me would know that I don’t like to travel much let alone go some place all by myself. This was a trip that happened all of a sudden and in the end it was a one to remember. When I started the trip I did not realize that I would be seeing one of the most amazing things I have ever heard of or seen – The House on the Rock. As the trip ended, I did realize that it was for the good;
  2. A couple of weeks after that, I went on another road-trip to Mt. Rushmore and neighboring areas. This trip I guess was another one out of impulse. I have not yet written about it, but in this trip I did drive though the most beautiful country side ever. I never thought I would do it and thought that my best would be the drive from house on the rock to Plymouth a few weeks earlier. But, this was even better (I will write about this soon);
  3. Another week gone by and I had yet another string of events on the day of travel back to India.

This is not the first time that things have happened around me that I can not explain. While I have a strong belief in “the choices we make are the basis of what happens with us”; yet there are several times where I just can’t explain why it happened. Like today, when I had to cancel my plans, I lost my passport only to find it 30 minutes later. I never wanted any of that to happen yet it all that happened.

I am still trying to understand the events and decipher the reasons behind all of it. I can not  decipher any of that until next few days till the time I reach home safely and I am with my family or till the time I get my bags. The question arises at the point when all of it has happened as it should have happened – “Why did it all happened in a different way if the result was the same?”. Unless, something changes during next 36-40 hours.

I just spent last 5 minutes thinking what to write next and I came up blank – I just don’t know how to think on this. I just am blank on this. I just feel – that things happen for a reason and that too a good one. Few more hours to find the reason behind all this and realize what was good in that.

Travel experience to remember

I don’t know how (good, bad, evil, bizarre or just another experience), but I will definitely remember the experience I had today. Today was the day when I was supposed to fly back to India. I slept well yesterday getting ready with packing and everything. I woke up to an overcast sky and started to watch the weather channel and noticed thunderstorms over Minneapolis and Chicago – two destinations where I had to take my first flight to.

As I was about to start from my place, it started to pour really heave, but stopped before I left and sky started to open. By the time I was at the airport weather was good and Sun was shining brightly. However, the personal at the airport that O’Hare (Chicago) has huge delays and my flight to Chicago is already delayed by 40 minutes. I was given a choice of switching my flight plans to Sunday, but I decided against it and decided to take my chances with the flight and connection happening. So, I went ahead and checked-in, passed through security checks and was at the lounge well in time. However just before the flight was about to leave, it got delayed even more and the woman ay the AA counter informed me that I will most certainly miss my connecting fight. The associate at the airport gave me following options:

  • Take a flight via London, but this was stricken out as there was no seats available out of London to Delhi Sunday;
  • Take a flight via France – these flight meant that I would have lost only 5 hours in overall travel time. The catch here was that the layover in France was only 90 minutes and France only allowed people with Indian passport and US VISA to be in country for 24 hours. If there was any delay in the flight to France and I was to miss the connection they would deport me back to US. This confused me on two counts – 1) why would they deport me after 24 hours; I was not going to leave the airport would just be stuck in transit and 2) Why would they deport me back to US. However, given that this was another country I just did not want to risk sleeping at the Airport or getting deported back to US and then restart my journey. I quickly dismissed the notion;
  • Next option was given was to move the entire trip to Sunday or just the trip from Chicago to Delhi to Sunday. And, again there was the catch that the flight on Sunday had just 4 seats left, so if I choose to wait until I reach Chicago and those got booked it meant that I would leave on Monday instead

 In the end, I decided against all my wishes to postpone the entire trip to Sunday. But, this time I will take a morning (9AM) flight to Chicago to beat any kind of delays (hoping). I rather wait in Chicago than to miss my connection again. I was asked to go to baggage claim and get my bags and come and check-in tomorrow.

As I reached the baggage claim, I was informed that bags could not be given to me because they were already on the ramp and I will not receive them at the Delhi Airport. Now, I didn’t know that or else I would have taken my chances in Chicago. But, nothing could be done now and I was stuck in Minneapolis airport for another without my bags and clothes.

Anyways, I could not do much and I just waited for Sahil and Jiten to come pick me up. As I was waiting on the airport, I decided to check a few things on the flight tomorrow and took out my tickets and passport. As I was still checking my mobile AA application, Sahil called up as they had arrived at the airport. I just got up and moved out. Only after 7 miles of travel I realized that I had dropped my passport at the Airport. I asked Jiten to take a U and we headed back to the airport. Next 20 minutes were so stressful because if I did loose my passport, I would not know what I would have done. I just knew that I was stuck in this country for a few more days or weeks or months.

As I moved into the Airport, I saw that where I was sitting the passport was not there. So my next stop was the closest Information counter and the guy there told me that they found it. He asked me to go over to the nice woman who was helping me with the baggage earlier and she did have that on her. When the woman gave the me the good news, I was so relieved and started my journey back to apartment.

On my way back, I checked the status on the flight (AA/292) from Chicago to Delhi and saw that it gor delayed by 30 minutes. And, I just realized that I would have made my connection. As I was sitting at Aum’s house having lunch I noticed that flight was now delayed by 90 minutes – I would have definitely made my connection. As I sit and write this blog post, the flight is not leaving at 6.20PM which meant I had almost 1 hour and 40 minutes between flights. But, here I am sitting waiting to start my journey tomorrow.

I don’t know why all this happened, but have faith must have happened for a reason and a good reason.

Road Trip – Day 1

Big Cat Rescue
Image by Пероша via Flickr

This is a description of my Road Trip to Wisconsin during may last month of stay in US. During this trip on day 1, I went to a bunch of places in Wisconsin and one place in Chicago. However, the important part was that many of the places I decided to be, some of them were spontaneous and I was out there going for it.

I covered for 240 miles in around 3.5 hours to reach the Big Cat Rescue and it was a wonderful drive. During the long drive, I did have to take a couple of pit-stops. the first one was at the Three Bears Lodge. I have made several trips to Chicago and always wanted to stop here. This was not planned at all and when I saw it, I just had to stop because I didnt knew if I would ever come back to this place again. So I had to see it. And this was a good pit stop as I came to know of a lodge that has a lot within itself – indoor/outdoor water park, nice cafeteria, places to stay. I liked the place but this did not have any place for a good coffee.

My next stop was at Mauston and this was triggered by seeing a food outlet for Dunkin Donuts. I stopped at DD and ate my favorite breakfast – Bagel and Cheese. took a coffee, refueled and I was on my way to Big Cat Rescue. when I reached Big Cat rescue it was still around 10.30 in morning and there was just one other car around me. This was a nice place. They had a lot of cats including Leopards and Lions. I would have enclosures without grills that would have allowed me to take better photographs, but it was what it was. I spent almost 30 minutes taking pics and observing cats, but they were not doing much. It was hot almost 80 deg and cats just wanted to rest in shade. Three of them didnt even show up, they were just sleeping in their den. You can view some of the pictures on my facebook album. The best part of the trip was the drive from I94 to the place. It was simply awesome – it was scenic as I was driving through some villages and was winding roads at a speed of 35m/h. It was so very different. I always wanted a road-trip through grasslands and this was just a preview of that.

As soon I put the address to Riverside and Great Northern Railways, I realized that I will have to back track on I94 for about 10 miles. But, it was worth it. When I reached the place, I saw it was not a museum that I expected. I realized that people there were all volunteers and were a part of a restoration society who were doing this to keep alive a piece of history. I took a tour of the entire place and came to know of how it all evolved and how things work around there. I saw many steam engines (small ones), where they were built, the boiler room, the room where coaches were constructed. It was fun and educational. I also took the ride in their train and I was surprised to see that the train went relatively fast at a speed of 9mph. Given it is a short gauge train it was definitely faster. I took a bunch of pictures and you can view them on my facebook album here. I spent around 90 minuted at this place and it was all good. Given this place, I did feel if I would have brought Aabhya and Preeti they would have enjoyed too, but I was unable too. even if i tried it was impossible because they are closed during that time of the year when there were here last year.

Once I was done with this place, I decided to move but decided not to go to Circus World, instead thought of going to a few places in Chicago and Millennium Park was a candidate. I never liked driving through crowded downtown areas in US, but this trip I was not going to hold back to anything. So, after driving for almost 260 miles for about 3.5 hours I reached Downtown Chicago and as I expected it was scary. So many people – just way too many. I have never seen so many people in the same place in US ever. They even beat Delhi I guess. And then the driving was scary. There were roadblocks, one-way streets and cops all over. However, I managed to get myself to a parking lot and it was $25 bucks for parking. Now, living in Plymouth all I ever payed for parking close to downtown was $5 and ret everything was free. So, $25 was surprisingly expensive. I parked and hoped it was worthwhile. As I entered the park, I realized in a few minutes this was going to be dis-appointing – much like our trip last year to Sculpture Park in Minneapolis. However, this was a little better and there were some good pictures that I was able to snap. I was looking forward to going to the bridge and view Chicago’s skyline but they closed that too but not before I took some pictures. All the pictures of the park are on my facebook album.

The day was rounded up at Bhua’s place in Valparaiso, Indiana. Another 90 minutes drive to her place. And during that drive there were some showers and lightening strikes but weather cleared up and the day ended up pretty smoothly talking to her. It was very nice to catch up with her and talk to her about various things. It was there that I also decided not to go to Niagara Falls – it was just too much to travel all by myself. however, Bhua did help me plan for Sunday.