Grand Junction, CO
This new chapter began at 04:30 in Madrid. I was up at that time. I had not slept well at all, just dozing at best. Leslie and Tyler joined me at about 05:00. We all placed the final few things in our luggage and began our wait for the driver. We had requested a driver pick us up at 07:00. He actually arrived at 06:55.
We arrived at the Madrid airport at about 08:00 and began to unload our six pieces of checked baggage and our three carry-on items. Once inside the airport we stopped to have our bags wrapped in plastic. I wanted to do that for the added protection; however, it was expensive, about 51 Euros.
Once they were wrapped we headed to the check-in counter. That is where we had our first surprise. We were told we were only allowed one checked bag per person. I thought I had read that we were allowed two. Regardless, we had to fork our an additional 150 Euros. The next problem at the check-in counter was that the agent initially checked our bags to Dulles, VA. When we finally got him to understand that our final destination was Grand Junction, CO, his luggage tag machine stopped working. So he had to write all six tags by hand. This was much to the chagrin of the first class passengers standing in line. We had been motioned over to the first class line when we were in line. At that time, there was no one else in the first class line. Even with those few hiccups, the agent was very pleasant.
Next up…security. We put our three carry-on bags through the x-ray machine and walked through the metal detector. On the other side the agent stopped me and asked if those three bags were ours. Of course I replied yes. She showed me on the screen that there was a wine corkscrew in Leslie’s bag. I had to hunt to retrieve that. Then my bag came through and she told me I had one in my bag too! That is when I remembered I always took one on the train with me to Barcelona. I had forgotten to take it out. I gave both of them to her and she threw them away. The good thing with this ordeal is that she was very, very nice about everything.
Our next hurdle was at passport control. The female National Police officer took my passport and looked through it for a good minute. Then she asked me if I spoke Spanish. I said I spoke a little. She asked me in Spanish if I had my Spanish ID cards. I told her I had turned those in the previous Friday. She asked me a couple of more questions and finally stamped my passport. Leslie and Tyler followed much more quickly.
It was about 09:15 when we finally made it through.
The next order of business was breakfast. We had not had anything since we woke up. I was looking forward to pan con tomate. Unfortunately, the place we chose did not offer that. Leslie and Tyler both had a muffin. I selected a tortilla de patata con pan. We also each had orange juice and coffee. That all came to about 22 Euros.
When we finished breakfast we all made a restroom stop and then stopped at the money exchange booth. I had about 54 Euros in my pocket. They returned $63 to me.
We finally made it to our gate, A2, at about 09:45. Roughly five minutes later I was standing in the boarding line waiting for our 10:10 boarding call. One of the agents at the gate happened to be the same one that had helped us originally check-in. I asked him if we could board early due to Leslie’s hip. He said yes with no problem. So, at about 10:15 we boarded the plane.
We actually pushed away from the gate at about 11:00, on time. One hour later we crossed the Portugal coastline just south of the town of Oporto. At that time we had about 6:47 of flying time left to Dulles. There was about 3,174 to go to Dulles. The plane was traveling at 483 mph and the outside temperature was -68F at 37,992 feet.
Arrival in Dulles was at about 13:30 local time. It was quite a hike to passport control. The agent there welcomed us back to the Unite States. He quickly stamped our passports and we made our way to baggage control. Once there, our bags were some of the first to arrive. That is the first time that has ever happened to me. Usually we have to wait for a long time to receive the bags. We grabbed our bags, quickly breezed through customs, put our bags on the carousel to go to the plane, and went to the security line. We made it through security this time without any drama.
Our gate was quite a ways from the security area, of course. We had previously arranged with United to have a cart or wheel chair at the plane for Leslie. It was not there. We did not have to wait very long to board. Once again, Leslie was allowed to board early. Unfortunately, that flight from Dulles to Denver did not leave on time. As we ultimately found out, there were two United employees “fighting” for a seat on the plane. We were not seated far from where the one employee was seated. One of the flight attendants asked him what his seniority date was. He replied that he could not remember. Finally after about 10 minutes of just sitting there, he jumped up, grabbed his bag, and left the plane. A female flight attendant took that seat.
The plane backed away from the gate about 15 minutes late. That was somewhat disturbing because we only had 55 minutes to make it to the gate in Denver for the Grand Junction flight. A little less than an hour out from Denver, it got really turbulent. That really made Leslie and Tyler nervous. I just sat there and waited to land.
At the gate in Denver, once again, there was not a cart for Leslie. We had to walk from B39 to B80. That was a long ways. Once we got to B80 we were able to relax. About three minutes later we were boarding the plane.
We made it to Grand Junction at about 04:30 Madrid time. It was a long 24 hours, but we were all very glad to be back in Colorado.