Tag Archives: ash

Sunblock

As I look above my head, I can’t see a single cloud.  There are birds tweeting and chirping.  I don’t know if they are pets, or if they are wild.  They could be either.  The beautiful sky is a rich blue colour.  The sun is beating down on me, as I sit, with my computer in the back yard of a colleague’s house.

The day started with an alarm call at 7am.  I got up, packed my stuff and met with a couple of the other guys outside our hotel.  We hopped into the rental cars and drove up the famous ‘Route 1’, the coast road, from Monterey to San Francisco, passing through Santa Cruz along the way.  It was a bit of a pointless mission, of that we were all positive, however we still had to give it a go.  We checked with the United Airline’s website to see if our flights to London had been cancelled, but there was nothing to tell us if they had or not.

The drive itself is lovely.  Just so beautiful.  I have practically driven all of the coast road now between LA and San Fran, and if you have the opportunity and the time, this is the best way to move between these two cities.  It is a road, so photos don’t really do it justice, but I will post this one just to give you the idea.

Arriving at the airport, things didn’t look good as I spotted a British Airways 747 literally parked up away from the terminal.  Near it were a Lufthansa 747 and a 340-600.  All parked up and sleeping.  From the monorail (this word always has me thinking of the Simpsons!) there were Air France and a Virgin jumbos in view.  They were parked practically nose to nose – also obviously not going anywhere.

The departure board then confirmed what we already knew.  The flight was cancelled.  Let the queuing begin!  At this point I split from my colleagues.  They are heading to Germany, and I am heading to the UK, so asking what my options were, the agent told me that I would be standby for all London bound flights as of the next day, and that they would need to re-book me onto the next available departure to London.  At this time, unfortunately, this was on the 29th!

The previous day I had hatched a back-up plan.  Return to LA and stay with a colleague there, until it literally blows over.   My thinking was that I would be able to book a flight from SanFran to LA paying full fare, and therefore making it fully refundable.  This would then allow me to fly to his house and hopefully get re-scheduled to London from LA without any penalty.  I explained this to the agent, and asked the availability LAX to LHR.  The first open seat was then on the 27th.  That is progress, of sorts, so I asked her to reserve it, reticket and change the frequent flyer number (I am collecting on a different programme) to reflect my ‘one up from the great unwashed’ status, and give me a slight priority on the wait list.  With the charm turned up to ten, I then went about enquiring rather casually, how I would get to LA.  It worked a treat, and the agent gave me a free transfer, allowing me to cancel and claim the refund on the previous day’s ticket purchase.  What was even better was that at the gate, the gate agent spotted the ‘one up from the great unwashed’ card, and upgraded me to a better seat in the ‘economy plus cabin’ rather than right in the back.  The difference is mostly in the head of those having their ego’s stroked, but there is little wrong with that!

So here I am.  Back in LA and sitting in the sun.  The volcano is still erupting, and I am to check the flight status everyday to see if I get a standby seat on a different flight.  In the meantime, I will work from here.  In my job there is very little that changes because of my location.  As long as I have my pooter and email I can work.

Pass the sunblock.

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Sea Otter and Volcanoes Continue

We went and picked up Team Rider Dave Weins yesterday from the airport.  Anyone who knows Dave will confirm that he is one of the nicest, gentlest and warmest people in the whole scene.  It is an honour to count him amongst my friends, and that his face genuinely lights up in friendship when he greets you.

He is leading a 100 mile ‘Grand Fondo’ today at the Otter.  It involved a 7am start for him.  I am sure that at the end of it, he will still be pretty fresh and joking around.

The show itself is pretty cool.  We were massively busy yesterday selling product and explaining it to people.  Fans of the brand were also out in force, willing to consume anything related to the brand at all.  They wanted plastic bags, jerseys, t-shirts, grips, whatever (we’re a grip company).  We didn’t have any t-shirts in the size they wanted, so I literally took the one off my back and sold it to them (it was fresh that morning, and brand new, so I didn’t feel that bad).  Funny though to to sell the shirt off my back.

The night before last we were at the premiere of ‘Ride the Divide’.  We sponsored this movie, and watching it at the IMAX was pretty good.  It sees riders taking on the great divide riding from Canada to Mexico, none stop.

On another note, I am facing up to the prospect of my flight being cancelled due to the volcano.  I am planning going to LA and staying in a hotel or at a colleagues house.  I presume that this is all a travel insurance thing, but need to check it out.  I think it may be defined as ‘an act of God’ – although given I don’t believe – I don’t know what that means for me!?

Stuck

So the airspace over the UK and a lot of Europe is closed.  Volcanic ash from the Icelandic volcano eruption.  My flight back to Europe isn’t scheduled until Monday, arriving in Europe Tuesday morning.  As yet, I don’t really think I need to worry, but I will be keeping an eye on the situation.  If it worsens or continues through Saturday, I will perhaps be effected.  The aircraft will simply be in the wrong places at the wrong times, and getting everything back to normal will take forever.

It is a strange feeling.  Normally I have a safe little thing, filed away in my head.  I know, that no matter where I am in the world, I can get home.  I just need to grab the plastic and I will be able to fly, short notice (should I need to) to anywhere.  At the moment, for the first time, I just can’t do this.  The option has gone.  So I am trapped.  My get out of jail free card is useless.  I don’t like that feeling.