Holy crap, you guys!
I have been waking up at 4am, and then falling asleep every time I sit down during the day. I feel like a staggering drunk.
Hopefully this weekend will straighten things out?
As promised, here is part one to the Dubai trip saga:
The plan was to fly Salt Lake City to Atlanta, and then Atlanta straight to Dubai.
So we arrive at the SLC airport with time to spare.
For those of you new to my blog, my husband works for an airline.
We get free flights. Which is awesome, but we fly stand-by, so you have to be very flexible.
We arrived in time to hit three possible flights to Atlanta.
The first flight looked good, like it had seats enough, but if it happened to fill up, we had two more chances to get to Atlanta in time to catch the evening Dubai flight.
We start checking our bags in, and Sam can't get our reservation to come up on the computer.
He asks the desk worker to help him pull it up.
Apparently the reservation was flagged.
Aaaand the adventure begins!!
Those of you new to the blog may want to note that virtually none of our vacations have gone off without a hitch. It just adds to the excitement. Or something...
So the desk guy is trying to figure it out.
He calls other people over to look.
Then he catches it.
Apparently to get into Dubai, your passport has to be valid for six months from the date of your arrival.
Sam's passport expires in 5.5 months.
I am not even kidding.
He was short of the six month requirement thing by TWO FRIGGIN' weeks.
So they would not let us even book our flights to Dubai.
He needed to renew his passport.
So here we are at the airport, bags in hand.
We considered heading to Cancun or something, but we had family waiting for us in Dubai, and our hearts set on seeing them and the country.
So Sam makes some phone calls.
Books the earliest appointment available to get a passport, in a passport office.
It happens to be in New Orleans.
They told him it would be a 12-24 hour wait to expedite it, if he came in person.
So we all hopped on the Atlanta flight.
Sam's Mom and Dad went on to Dubai, and us detouring to New Orleans.
Crossing our fingers that the wait for the passport would be more on the 12 hour side...and that possibly we could make the Dubai flight the following evening.
While we were in Atlanta waiting for our flight to New Orleans, I had Sam check on his fancy-schmancy Internets phone to see if there was a Costco or a Walgreen's close to the New Orleans airport.
He needed passport photos by 8am the next morning for his appointment.
That would be tight.
We kept looking...
We booked a hotel.
And when we were headed to our gate for the New Orleans flight, I asked an airport worker if there were passport services anywhere in the Atlanta airport.
It was a long shot, but you never know.
Have you seen the Atlanta airport?
Well, it was a Christmas miracle.
Not only did they have passport service, but it was located directly behind us!
Not even kidding.
So Sam busted in there, and for $12 got his passport photos.
We got on the flight, and landed in New Orleans.
By the way, do you say it New Or'lins, or New Or-leans?
Sight unseen, we had booked a Country Inn and Suites.
We usually always choose them.
They are clean, and inexpensive.
Plus, they have waffles for breakfast, okay?
I love a good waffle.
Now we just needed to get there.
The airport shuttle wanted $14 a person.
A rental car was $125, plus taxes and insurance and whatever crap they always tack on.
What to do?
Keep in mind, we are the cheapest people on the planet.
We have five kids, Yo!
Pretty soon the airport has kinda cleared out, and we are left there deciding how to best part with our money. We really didn't know where the passport office was, or how far away it was from the hotel, therefore, do we need the rental van?
Out of nowhere this guy approaches us.
He was one of those chauffeur guys with a suit and a jaunty little cap, holding a sign with someone else's last name on it.
"Hey, do you need a ride? My fare didn't show, so my car is available."
We asked him how much it was going to be to shuttle to our hotel, and he quoted us $40. Flat.
We took it.
We made the executive decision that Sam would be better off taking a cab to the passport office, if we only spent $40 on a shuttle to the hotel.
So the driver took us out to a parking garage, loaded us up in a nondescript black car, and proceeded to take a long phone call outside the car.
You know, I have read a lot of horror books, and that is exactly how people get mugged and/or killed. Trust the guy in the suit...disappear in a dilapidated parking garage...
I panicked a little.
He ended up being the nicest guy.
Plus, his name was Lloyd.
How many killers do you know named Lloyd?
I have always wanted to visit New Orleans, and I believe everything happens for a reason. It was awesome!
Lloyd was so proud of his town, and took an extra hour, at least...just to drive us around and show us the sights.
We saw the French Quarter:
He had us roll down the windows to hear the Jazz music.
I would describe New Orleans as Vegas with tons more character.
Bright, and (good)loud, and lots of energy.
It was not far from the French Quarter.
It was charming.
I don't use that word much, because it sounds super corny, but I don't know how else to describe it.
It was a very old renovated building with thick plaster walls, and exposed floor beams and pipes.
We needed to find a place to eat, so we ditched the bags and headed out on the streets.
The kids were wide-eyed.
The store fronts were very, uh, raunchy.
I explained to them the tradition of Mardi Gras, and why there were a million bead necklaces for sale. (Some of them sporting inappropriate charms.)
They were not in Kansas anymore.
Away from the sheltered bubble of Utah.
We walked quite a ways, everything was closing up.
So we white-trashed dinner:
As fate would have it, while walking around near our hotel, we found the passport office Sam needed to go to the next morning.
Within walking distance.
Sometimes we luck out like that. Or should I say Sam lucks out like that.
The next morning, Sam got up and headed out to the passport office.
I knew we had 12-24 hours to pass, so after breakfast waffles, the kids wanted to go swimming??
In the outdoor pool, in the balmy 50 degree weather...
Who those crazies?
I had been on the treadmill a little over 45 minutes when lo and behold, Sam comes walking in.
His passport was done.
Just like that!
Sometimes his luck is just unreal.
We had enough time to put the kids swim crap in the hotel dryer, get some lunch,
see some sights:
The boys were super grossed out by this lady at the airport that had allegedly flashed her goods and earned herself those honking Mardi Gras beads: