Woke up (ha, yeah right, didn't sleep much) on the day of the flight. All the luggage was put in the trunk the night before and all we had to do was get dressed (and me take yet another Imodium). Night before I get a message from the youngest grandson........he had packed a bag and tried to 'go to Gwamma's' and when his mommy said I was going away on a trip he yells 'Gwammma!!! Get offa da pwane'...so of course we thought we were jinxed. Thank goodness, it was only a cry for 'bring me goodies, lots of goodies' and not a curse.
Our train was to leave Cornwells Heights train station at 5:59 a.m. We got to Joe's dad's at 5:25. We had made arrangements for us to leave the car at his house and he would drop us at the train station in time for the train and then pick us up when we got back....saved us from either parking and leaving the car at the Lansdale train station near us or, heaven forbid, paying the astronomical fees at the Philly Airport to park for three days. We got there in time to buy a ticket from the agent soon were chugging down the rails towards Philly. We planned to go to Market East station, but the consensus of the commuters on the train with us said we would get to the airport sooner if we got off at 30th Street (Amtrak Station) instead, so we did. They were right. According the original schedule, we would get to the airport at 7:58 a.m. and we were to be at the airport two hours before flight time (10 a.m.). Instead, we got to 30th Street at 7:04 and had enough time to buy our tickets and for me to attempt to defrost (I was C-O-L-D, cold) and Joe to have one of his multiple cups of coffee that he needs to survive. I go up to Dunkin Donuts in the train terminal and the poor girl behind the counter was having a 'really, really bad day'. She had just dropped sugar on the floor and then dropped a 'shit' right in front of her supervisor, so she was frazzled. She asked what I wanted....I told her my husband wanted a cup of coffee and she asked how I wanted it....I told her 'he likes his coffee the way he likes his women, hot, sweet and black, but all he got was white and cold, so could I get a medium cup'....she dropped her mouth, then started to laugh. Glad I made her day. The $2 for a medium cup of coffee didn't do much for mine.
We catch the train from 30th Street and get to airport at least 20 minutes early. We get our tickets, check our bags and zip thru security all before the 7:58 the original train was scheduled to arrive. We were ahead of schedule....whooo hooo.
While we were waiting, we were going to get something to eat...I know, I know, airport food is expensive, but you can't take ANYTHING past security and I didn't want to piss them off and get tossed before we even got to the airplane. Went by a couple of food stands........now our mamas didn't raise no fools, we were not gonna pay $10 for a breakfast sandwich so we ended up at McDonalds (it's been a good year since I ate fast food - Thank YOU Jesus for Imodium) and Joe got a cup of coffee with his sandwich so all was good.
We flew Southwest and they have a system of seating that places you in groups, then you sit where you want. We were in the second group, #35 and #36. We were able to sit in a three-group seat and he had the aisle and I had the window (no one in between). Now, I am not a 'flying virgin'...but almost. I have only flown two other times, once in 1982 to Orlando and back, and then to Chicago in 2002 for Joey's boot camp graduation. I have no pictures from our take off since I was ripping Joe's hand off praying to Jesus not to let me die when the plane banked on take-off and I felt like I was gonna fall out the window (Insert Mitt Romney airplane joke of choice here). Then when we hit the 'bump' when we went thru the clouds and lost sight of the ground I changed my prayer to 'oh lord, let the Imodium work'.......fortunately for us, it did. AND we got a tail wind and made Chicago in record time, arriving 30 minutes early.
Thank goodness, we just had to go from one end of the terminal to the other in Chicago (no security checkpoints) and they did have moving walkways, so we just found our gate and waited. Our gate was right near the bathrooms (yeah, God truly WAS my co-pilot that day)and the plane arrived early. We were able to board and get situated and soon were on our way to Omaha!!!
We were scheduled to arrive at 1:55 in Omaha. Yet again, we had a tail wind and made it about 15 minutes ahead of time. Not only was our baggage waiting for us (no loses, no missed flights) but our 'chauffeur' was waiting for us by the baggage carousel. Jonathan (remember him from the Prelude - he's the Contract Manager) was 'supposed' to pick us up, but he had a meeting to attend, so 'his' boss, Joe's original Contract Manager from when he first started, Bill Halloran, was there to pick us up. Now Bill is nice man, and a good choice to send to meet someone in a crowd. Tall dude, real tall with a big smile. Soon we were on our way out of the airport and off to Aureus's offices. Interesting bit of useless information.....we visited two states at this time. The Omaha, NEBRASKA airport is actually in Council Bluffs, IOWA!!! So in 15 minutes, we went from Iowa to Omaha and then to C&A Industries (Aureus' parent company). Jonathan met us at the doors and was taken short when he realized that when Joe told him earlier that he would be at the airport with 'bells on' he actually meant it, as I have a necklace made of sleigh bells from Christmas that Joe had on and jangled at him when he came out the door. After regaining his composure he took us on the grand tour of the offices that all of Joe's contracts are sent from (when he remembers to hit the button and send it on as an attachment)......I had a flash back to when I worked for Prudential....all the cubicles, or gopher farm as it is often called, filled with people on their phones doing what it is that they do. Joe got to meet all the people to whom he has talked with over the years and finally got to torment them in person. In fact, he had been receiving emails from a young lady named Melissa regarding the updating of his training...the last piece of this puzzle was his CPR card. To the joy of all surrounding her, he goes up to her and whips out his wallet and pulls out the CPR card, hands it over and said 'here, I HAD to hand deliver this, flew out to Omaha JUST TO GIVE THIS TO YOU!!!'
After laughing and joking around a bit, it was decided that those who weren't 'lucky enough' to be the manager of the EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR had to get back to work plotting the overthrow, or at least revenge of the Nerf dart kind, of the manager of the current one (aka Jonathan). It was up to Jonathan to get us to the hotel and see that we were checked in. Now we knew that we weren't going to be put up in the Motel 6, but we were not expecting what we got. We were put up in in the Embassy Suites adjacent to the convention center that the banquet was to be held in. Let me describe this for you.....On one side is the Embassy Suites, on the opposite side is the Courtyard by Marriot and in the middle was the La Vista Conference Center ( http://embassysuites3.hilton.com/en/hotels/nebraska/embassy-suites-omaha-la-vista-hotel-and-conference-center-OMAESES/index.html) all I could say is OH.......MY....GOD!!! A two room suite, with a king sized bed and a bathroom that I instantly fell in love with. Now those of you who know me, KNOW how important the bathroom is to me. Not only was it huge, but it had two doors, I could go from the living area OR the bedroom area, no detours!!!! So, what does one do when one gets in a room like this? Joe, of course, as an homage to his mother, went looking for the Weather Channel. That was the 'only' disappointment. The channel was listed, but it had home shopping on it....oh well, Mom, we tried. Me, on the other hand, made a bee line for the shower. Marbled shower big enough for two (no, this was my shower time, not sharing my warm water time, nope, not happening) and enough hot water to steam all the 'airport grime' off my hide and hair. Everything cleaned and primed we went downstairs to the lobby and waited to be picked up for dinner.
The hotel had a 'manager's cocktail hour' between 5 and 7 every night, but we didn't bother with that, as we were to be taken to one of the best steak houses in Omaha. When the plans were made for us to go out to Omaha, Jonathan asked Joe what he wanted to do. He told him 'eat meat'. Since Omaha was known for it's steaks, Joe wanted the biggest steak in Omaha. We ended up at The Drover (http://droverrestaurant.com/) and both of the guys ordered a 22 oz. whiskey marinaded steak and a potato...I ordered a 'petite'.....that was *only* 10 oz. We enjoyed a nice, leisurely meal, good conversation and made plans for the next day. I told Jonathan that the *only* thing I was concerned with was meeting his two little kids.......having heard so much about them, and what his wife went thru having the last little one, I HAD to love on those babies. The grandbabies by birth were back in Pennsylvania, but the Gramma was on the prowl, so of course I needed some 'honorary' grandbabies to cuddle. With plans made, we were returned to the hotel and I got up close and personal with that king sized bed. I was chilly and when I got under that fluffy comforter, I *think* the television was on....can't tell you for sure. It was a Wednesday, so I put on SyFy, figuring I would watch some mindless TV (Ghost Hunters), but a haunting was not in store... unless you call Morpheus calling a 'haunting'.
Thus closes the first day of Joe and Ginny's Excellent Adventure. It began early in Coopersburg/Philadelphia and ended in LaVista, Nebraska.....Good night, peeps, Day 2, THE Award ceremony is coming up.