LIFE IN OUR MOUNTAIN TOWN: Surviving vacation disasters | SierraSun.com
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LIFE IN OUR MOUNTAIN TOWN: Surviving vacation disasters

KATIE SHAFFER, Sierra Sun

Is it just my family that experiences travel disasters every few years or so, or do other families have stories to tell as well?

I’ve written about a forgetful child in my family in an earlier column. Now I am going to shed some light on her parents, who also have a tendency toward forgetfulness.

A few years ago, right after the Federal Aviation Administration set up the new law that says all passengers over 18 years of age must show a driver’s license to board a plane, we showed up for a flight without my husband’s wallet.

The woman behind the airline’s counter was refusing to let my husband on the plane, or his luggage for that matter, and we were standing there begging for her to let him fly with us across the country. As the minutes ticked toward take-off, the woman asked if perhaps I had a picture of my husband and me together in my wallet. I knew I didn’t. All I could offer were a few school pictures of our children. I think in desperation we asked her, don’t our children look just like us?

For some unknown reason, the woman finally took pity on us and my husband was allowed to board the plane. We ended up having his wallet shipped overnight to us in Connecticut so that our return trip would go much smoother.

Ever since that experience, my husband and I always double-check with each other to make sure we have our wallets before we head to the airport.

Just when we thought we had everything under control, we again drove ourselves to the Reno airport on the day before Thanksgiving. We had our wallets. We had even remembered to leave our house-sitter with the garage door opener.

We pulled up to the airport drop-off point, got our bags checked, and we then enjoyed an extra 10 minutes in which we found time to buy a newspaper and stand in line for some Starbucks coffee. The flight was uneventful.

Once on the ground in Phoenix, our youngest child asked the rest of us: “Why did we leave our car parked on the side?”

At first her question made no sense. I didn’t know what she meant by “on the side.” Then, all at once, it sunk in with each of us. We had left our car parked right in front of the Southwest Airlines door at the airport in Reno. My husband was going to go back and park it in long-term parking, but instead we just walked away from it.

Without trying to make excuses, the best explanation I can offer is that it was very early in the morning. The unfortunate truth is that it was just one more thing that needed to be taken care of, and we just plain forgot.

By the time we reached the house where we were staying in Scottsdale, it was 11 a.m. It had been over five hours since we had strolled away from our car at 5:30 a.m.

While our kids swam in the pool, my husband called the Reno airport. I listened to him place the call while he sheepishly asked, “Uh, yes, did you happen to tow a white Toyota this morning?” He told them where we had left it, and asked how we would go about getting it out of hock when we arrived back in Reno on Sunday.

It’s one thing to have worked at ski areas and know all about dealing with Thanksgiving tourists who pull bozo moves during one of the busiest weekends of the year. It’s another thing to have to be that Thanksgiving bozo yourself.

Much to our surprise, the airport personnel came back on the line after checking the situation out and told us that our car was still there. When my husband expressed surprise, he was curtly told “it’s the busiest travel day of the year.” Yes, we knew.

And so our luck began to change. Because the airport had not gotten around to towing our car, we could have it towed ourselves and save some money, relatively speaking. The first towing company that my husband called would not help us because they would not take a credit card over the phone. That small setback turned out to be just as well, because our next idea was to call Dependable Tow in Truckee.

Good old Dependable Tow promptly took care of everything.

When we arrived back in Reno, there sat our car in long-term parking, with a fifteen dollar ticket for disobeying posted signs shoved through the driver side window.

Next month our family will be traveling cross-country again when our children are off from school for Ski-Skate week. I can’t say that I’m sure we won’t forget anything, but I’m pretty sure we’ll remember to park our car.

Katie Shaffer has lived in

Truckee since 1981.


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