Last month my daughter and I went to St Helena to visit my son who is attending school at the CIA. It was not a flawless trip.
Mistake #1. In Napa, we pass a little strip mall that has a UPS sign on the street that says they ship wine. I told my daughter as we drive past it that maybe I should turn around and go back and have them send the wine so we dont have to check a piece of luggage for $15. She doesnt say anything so i am thinking i had a bad idea and i just keep driving south.
Mistake #2. Our flight out of Oakland was at 6:10 pm. I didnt really know where to go shopping in Oakland so I opted for San Fran. We get to the Golden Gate bridge and I have $4 on me. The toll is $6. I tried to pay with a debit card or credit card and the attendant says they used to take plastic but they dont anymore. He gives me a ticket for $25 in addition to the $6 that I still owe.
Mistake #3. It is pouring buckets in SF. We finally get to Union Square and shop. My daughter checks her phone to see how long it will take to get to Oakland airport and it says 30 minutes with traffic. So we left Union Square at 3:00 pm on a rainy Monday afternoon to catch a 6:10 flight out of Oakland. I am thinking if we leave at 3:00 and it takes 30 minutes to get to the airport that will leave plenty of time to gas up the car, return it, check our bag with the wine in it and get through security with NO stress. HAHA!
It is pouring so hard that the drains are overflowing and we are driving through gigantic puddles. Roads close downtown because of flooding so now the open roads are PACKED. We get on First St. There are 4 lights that we have to get through to get on the Bay Bridge. It took an hour to go one block. The light would change 5 times before one car would get through the intersection. It is a four-lane, one way street and I was in the third lane. The fourth lane on the far left was for buses and taxis only. Occasionally a bus or taxi would go by otherwise the lane was empty while the other three lanes were packed like sardines. Once in a while a car would go up that lane and then dive into the intersection and clog it and make the traffic going the other way mad. Horns would blare.
The clock ticked on. It is 4:00.
Then the gas light went on.
The clock ticked on. It is 4:30.
My daughter looks for the nearest gas station on her phone. It is at the top of the hill near the on-ramp. Thank goodness. She said it was on the left. I asked her if i could go up the bus lane to the gas station. She said no because the far left lane is left turn only at the top of the hill. Plus, she said that lane is for buses and taxies only. Darn rule follower.
The gas gauge needle is at E.
The clocked ticked on. It is 5:00.
My daughter checked to see if there was a later flight. Thank goodness for iPhones. There is a Horizon flight that leaves at 6:45 with a stop in Portland.
The gas gauge needle is below E.
My BP is off the chart.
I told my daughter that we still have a chance to make the plane. If we run out of gas, we have lost that chance plus, we will make drivers mad as they try to get around us. I said I have to drive up that bus/taxi lane and get gas. So off we go up the empty bus lane. One light, two lights, three lights. Guess what? The gas station is not on the left side of the road, it is on right. We have to force our way through three lanes of backed up traffic to get to it. Some drivers were nice – some werent. We got gas. Got on the Bay Bridge, which was going the speed limit.
Our hopes go back up, BP down. We get on 880 and the speed is 60 mph. We will get on the plane. Oops, spoke too soon we hit the backup. It is slow, but not stopped. We have 10 miles to go. We return the car, catch the bus, get to the airport at 5:30. We run like OJ to Alaskas counter. I tell the agent that we need to be on the Seattle flight.
He said, Do you have any luggage to check.
I said, Yes one bag because there is wine in it.
He said he couldnt check the luggage because we were too late. The flight is scheduled to leave in 40 minutes. I asked if we could get on the Horizon flight instead. He said it is oversold but he can put us on standby but there is no guarantee we would get on. I asked if our one piece of luggage could go on a flight the next day and I would drive back to the airport to get it.
No, says the grumpy man.
I really wanted the 4 bottles of wine I had bought for my husband (plus they cost me $250). But I wasnt willing to spend the night in Oakland. So I open my suitcase, take out the four bottles, tell him Merry Christmas and grab my boarding pass.We rush through security where there is no one in line. The security guys are real nice and told us we dont have to rush because our gate is at the top of the stairs real close and since the plane doesnt leave for 25 minutes it is probably just starting to board. HA. We get up there as the agent is closing the jetway door. Everyone is on board. She opens it and lets us on. The flight departs 15 minutes early.
Moral: Dont go to SF when it is pouring. or dont be a rule follower – drive up the bus lane immediately so you get to the airport on time. or, dont buy wine. or, do mail wine if you buy it.
Oh and lastly, keep $20 hidden in your wallet for emergencies like bridge tolls.