The traditional SwankPoet family vacation (well, thus far, it may change once there's a Hedgehog in the mix) has us traveling to a location that will allow Sweetie to get a couple of states knocked off his list in his quest to see a minor league baseball game in each of the 50 states. We fly somewhere, rent a car, and go on a road trip to see at least a couple of baseball games and find some local fun and adventure along the way.
Thus, we found ourselves in Little Rock, Arkansas, for Spring Break 2008. We would knock Arkansas and Missouri off the baseball list, and spend a few days checking out the Ozarks.
The first night of our trip we were scheduled to stay in Branson, which is about a 3-1/2 hour drive North of Little Rock. We were in the area, so it seemed a necessary addition to the itinerary, and my parents offered us a night of free timeshare as a birthday present.
Our plane into Little Rock was late because we were flying through Chicago and it seems that if there is the slightest hint of weather anywhere in the world it will slow down the planes at O'Hare. And Cmy luggage was nowhere to be found.
I reported it to the airline's luggage office and while they filed a report they really seemed to not care much at all. They had no idea where my bag was or when it might be discovered. But it would turn up eventually, usually within the first 24 hours, and then they'd deliver it to me.
This threw me into a tailspin. The fact that I was hungry after a long day of flying didn't help things I'm sure. I was without clothing or toiletries. No one knew, or cared, when I might have those things again. And my vacation plans took me away from Little Rock until the end of my vacation, staying somewhere different almost every night, so how the hell was my luggage supposed to get to me?
There was a chance my luggage would be on the last flight of the day into Little Rock (that was scheduled to arrive around 10 or 11 pm), but no one would know for sure until the plane touched down and the luggage was on the conveyor.
Seriously, if anyone with any sort of power with an airline ever stumbles across this blog post, please contact me. There are so many seemingly simple things y'all could be doing to make the process work so much smoother for people and could, potentially, save you a lot of money. It makes my blood boil just thinking about the experience nearly a year later.
Anyhow, we were in a quandry. Do we bail to Branson now, and pray my luggage catches up to me eventually? Do we wait for that last plane of the night to come in and pray my luggage is there and we're alert enough for the middle of the night drive to Branson?
Luckily, Sweetie knew I wasn't thinking straight and took control of the situation. We needed food, pronto. He pulled out the Arkansas guide book and found a burger joint that supposedly had really good milkshakes - The Purple Cow.
As he acquired the rental car and started navigating our way to the restaurant I was on my cell phone with the airline trying to figure out what could be done in the short term while sorting out the long term problem of reconnecting me with my luggage. Without too much challenge I got the airline to agree that they could reimburse me "reasonable expenses" to purchase clothing and toilitries to hold me over for the next 24 hours, but could only authorize expenses on a day-by-day basis until my luggage was found. What was much more difficult was getting them to tell me what they considered "reasonable expenses." Some people consider exclusively shopping at Nordstrom and the like "reasonable expenses." I'm more an Old Navy gal myself, but still wanted to know what I was working with.
The answer: $50. To cover clothing and toilitries. And we were staying in a time-share condo that night, not a hotel, so I couldn't even count on complimentary shampoo to help stretch the budget. It would be at least 8:00 before we were leaving town, and we still had a cooler to stock as well. My dreams of making it a week in Northwestern Arkansas without setting foot into a Walmart quickly faded into distant memory.
I came to grips with this fact over dinner. I'm not normally a milkshake kind of gal, but I was tired and hungry and sad and upset and really just didn't give a shit, so I opted for a purple vanilla shake to go along with my burger. I was tempted to order an "adult shake" (add a shot of your favorite liquer), but we did still have a bit of a drive ahead of us. Damn, if that wasn't one of the best milkshakes I've ever had in my entire life. And tasty food to go along with.
The restaurant was obviously a local's favorite, and while there we saw several families who were obviously regulars that the staff considered old friends. The best sort of place there is.
Our wonderful meal was made even more wonderful by the phone call I received as we were wrapping things up and trying to get our heads around just what we were going to do next. My luggage had been located. In Jacksonville, Florida. They could get it to Springfield, Missouri (not too far from Branson) the next morning, where I could pick it up and be reunited with my things.
We asked our server for directions to the best Walmart before we left the restaurant. He pointed us in the right direction and sent us on our way. And thus, the Arkansas adventure had begun.
And, while it does not qualify as a state memory, it does deserve mention when speaking of the state of Arkanas and, specifically, the city of Little Rock. We returned to the city at the end of the week for baseball and the trip home. Did you know there's a President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock? There is. That shouldn't necessarily surprise or amuse you. But the bit that I will chuckle about until the day I die is the fact that it appears to be the center of the weekend nightlife for Little Rock college students and twenty-somethings. Sweetie and I surmised that this is the street that was chosen to be named after President Clinton because it is the street where he spent most of his time while serving as Governor of Little Rock.