kim June 8th, 2009
Matt and I spent the weekend in Minnesota, on a shorter-than-I-would-have-liked trip to attend Andrew and Crystal’s wedding. Unfortunately (for me), my last day of school is this week, so we had to fly in and fly out, which turned out to sound easier than it was.
The cheapest flights we could find was on Frontier Airlines, based out of Colorado, and thus, the flights (in both directions) included a layover in Denver. On the way over, said layover was four hours. I got some much needed rest.
When Matt and I flew into Minnesota on our way to Paris (in April), everything was brown and dead. (I couldn’t figure out why the acres of what appeared to be farmland were fallow. I forgot about the minor detail of safe planting dates waaaay up north.) This time, everything was green and beautiful, and Matt and I were hoping to go hiking before the wedding, but it turned out to be pouring, so we went to the Mall of America instead.
(A very nice man offered to take our picture, saying, “I’m a little afraid of your camera, but I’ll give it my best shot.” One thing we noticed about people in Minnesota: They’re extremely friendly. Another thing we noticed: Their driving culture doesn’t seem to match very well with ours.)
The Mall of America is, unsurprisingly, enormous. It includes an amusement park.
When we were there, it was also housing Pinewood Derby races.
In spite of the rain, which apparently appeared just in time for the wedding and is scheduled to go away mid-week, Andrew and Crystal had a lovely wedding.
They also had a fabulous reception. Andrew said they were inspired by some elements of Matt’s and my wedding; we wish they had gone first so we could have copied some of their ideas. I especially loved the Polaroid guest book; guests took a picture to go with what they wrote. (Matt was particularly impressed by the fact that Andrew and Crystal could obtain Polaroid film. “Because they’re not making it any more! None!”)
We headed back to the airport Sunday morning, where I did not get Thai curry soup, but instead had an all-new adventure trying to obtain a paper. (Purchasing adventures seem to be the theme of the Minnesota airport.) I was trying to purchase the Star Tribune, but the vending machine demanded coins (any denomination, it said), and I had only a $20. Fortuitously, or so I thought at the time, there was a change machine across the hall that claimed it could change a $20 for three $5 and five $1 coins.
“That’s astonishing,” I said to Matt.
“It kind of is,” he replied.
Unfortunately, the operative words here are claimed and astonishing. The machine took the $20, no problem, but only returned one $5 and five $1 coins. Oops.
Matt located a packet of refund envelopes nearby. (“SATISFACTION. . . at the drop of a coin,” it reads, which is apparently the Theisen Vending Company motto. The bottom of the envelope reads, “WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE.” There’s space on the envelope for you to fill out contact information, and to describe the problem you had with the machine, and to detail the amount lost, which we duly complete.
So what’s the problem? Well, once the envelope is filled out, there’s nowhere to put it.
So Matt and I trek back to the kiosk we passed labeled “Traveler’s Assistance,” staffed by a lovely woman (her name tag indicates that she’s a volunteer, and while Matt and I cannot fathom why anybody would want to volunteer at the airport, we’re very glad she did) who calls the company for us. They say they will call her back, and she suggests we check back in, if we can, before our flight leaves.
We agree, and head back from whence we came. I stop by the machine to pick up another envelope, just in case I need it, and Matt finds a completed one, stuck back in with the blanks, by someone who was apparently as flummoxed by what to do with the completed item as we were. We had this over to the Traveler’s Assistant, who is growing increasingly indignant on our behalf, as well as on the behalf of this unknown traveler who lost $15 on Friday.
While we wait for the plane, we sip coffee and I read my $12 paper. (Adding insult to injury, the newspaper vending machine didn’t take $1 coins. We had to get change from the coffee place, which you’d better believe I wish we had just done in the first place.)
(Shockingly, the Theisen Vending Company does not call back the Traveler’s Assistant, who gives us a feedback form to fill out for the airport commission. I’m also planning to call them later this week.)
The $12 paper turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. We were delayed in Minneapolis half an hour due to fog in Denver. After we boarded in Denver, we were delayed another half hour due to fog in San Francisco. (Frontier let us get off the plane, thankfully.) This delay eventually turned into an hour, as “fog” was really construction at SFO. Then, when we’d re-boarded and were ready to go. . . a thunderstorm rolled in. We had to sit on the tarmac for another hour-plus waiting for the lightning to stop, the wind to die down, and then for lightning to remove itself to a distance of five miles from the runway. (The guy sitting next to us joked that the next thing to delay us would be bears on the runway.)
We finally got back to San Francisco about four hours late, and I have never been so glad to hit the ground, because small planes + wind + my propensity for motion sickness = really bad. (Although Frontier did give us free TV on the Denver-San Francisco flight, for some reason.)
We’re very glad we went, though, and, flights aside, we had a lovely time. Congratulations, Andrew and Crystal.