Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Return

Sunday

With things winding down on Sunday, we went back to Tulsa with Ryan. Despite a stop at a McDonald’s in Springdale, we managed to make it all the way to Tulsa before I realized that I didn’t have my purse. After calls to several locations, we determined that I most likely left it on the door of the rental, although there was no one there at the time to verify. June and Bill were kind enough to drive over and check it out. Sure enough, it was there. Dave, Cyndi, and James were halfway home by that point, but were kind enough to turn around and meet June halfway back to get my purse, despite the fact that it meant they wouldn’t get home until 10pm. I was very grateful to them for their generosity. Otherwise, we would have had to wait until Wednesday to head out, which would really start pushing our schedule.

Monday

I had checked us in for the 6am flight knowing that it was very unlikely that would make it on the flight. Regardless, we still needed to be there by 5am. Rising at 4:15am, we made it to the airport just before 5am. This turned out very fortuitous, as we were nearly the last in line at the security checkpoint before a large crowd joined the line, taking it outside the security queue zone and lined up along the wall for over 100 feet. The line was so bad that we barely made it to the gate as they started boarding. Halfway through the time allotted for boarding, we will still missing 30 people who had yet to make it through security. This boded well for us. It is actually an awkward feeling hoping that people will not be able to make their flight so that we can fly, makes me feel like a horrible person. They started calling out standby names. Many weren’t there either. We were numbers 23 and 24 on the list, but there only seemed to be about 6 other people standing there with us, giving us hope. Sadly, they delayed the flight a few minutes and the majority of the revenue passengers made it on the flight. We didn’t make the cut.

Next two flights were fully booked as well, but didn’t have near the excitement of getting on, especially since all those standing by ahead of us had time to show up for those flights. At the 8am flight, they asked if we wanted to separate and one of us get on the flight. We passed. I knew we could eventually get on the 12:45pm flight together if we waited. Finally, by the 9am flight, we were the only ones on the list. They called us up and said that there was only one seat available. The agent was said that we should have split up on the last flight. We decided we would wait and see what happens. Sure enough, someone didn’t show up and we both got on the flight.

The DFW-MIA flights didn’t look good. Based upon the seats available and the standby list, I didn’t really expect to make it until 3 or 4 in the afternoon. But, as we hurried from one terminal to the other, we discovered we were already on the cleared list, we got our tickets and boarded immediately. Quite miraculous, really.

We arrived in MIA with several hours until the 6:25pm flight to MGA. We were hungry so we walked around the terminal and until we found some suitable grub. After that we wandered to our gate and took a seat—it was going to be a while and it was very unlikely we would get on the flight. Last I had checked (I believe anyway), the flight had been oversold by 5 and there was one other person standing-by. When the gate informational screen finally started showing information for our flight, I sent Jonathan over to find out where we stood on the list. He returned and told me that we weren’t on the list. I have had similar incidents happen before, and if you aren’t on the list, you don’t get on the flight. Concerned, we both went over there and showed one of the agents our standby passes and said that I didn’t see our names on the standby list. She scoped it out, agreed, and added us to the list. Fortunately, we were added to the front of the list as well (sometimes when that happens, you get dropped to the bottom). It wasn’t long until boarding time, so we stood nearby waiting (either way, we would be sitting for a long while shortly). Surprisingly, as they were still boarding the majority of the passengers, we were called forward and issued first (business) class tickets!

I tell you, when traveling internationally, first or business class is the only way to go. Besides much more comfortable seats, blankets, they offer better service and meals. They served us a filet migñon dish and a chicken and rice dish for dinner. They even offered complimentary wine.

DSC04614 Literally, one of the best meals we have had in months.

DSC04615 Even the cheesecake was delicious (I am very picky about cheesecake).

We made it quickly through immigration, baggage claim, and customs. I tell you, they make it a lot simpler for people flying in than for those traveling overland. We found the van in good condition and settled in for bed, happy to have made it unexpectedly in one day and not have to find a place to sleep in MIA.

Tuesday

After paying for our weeklong parking at the airport, we made our way north towards Estelí, where we planned to get information about our next camping spot. Turns out Google’s location of the UCA – Miraflor building is correct—not Lonely Planet’s, but we found it without too much trouble. We learned that the Miraflor reserve camping area was still about an hour and a half down a unpaved road. Didn’t sound very desirable, so I asked if there was any other location we could camp nearby. The guy recommended Parque Nacional Cerro Tisney-Estanzuela, which was only a half-hour away. He didn’t know exactly where we could stay, but I figured we would figure it out.

We turned down the bumpy, unpaved road and followed signs for the park. Once we entered the park, we started looking for places we might camp. There was a sign that we stopped to read. While we were reading, a girl ran out of a store to us. I told her we were looking for a place to camp for the night. She thought about it for a bit and said she could allow us to camp here for C$30pp, since that was only about $2.50 total, we agreed, despite the sparse offerings of only a pit toilet. There was a waterfall and a couple of pools we could visit while we were there. I forgot to take my camera when we went, but after our workout, they were useful for rinsing off.

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