Friday, November 11, 2011

Not So Smart

I got to Fort Lauderdale after a relatively painless 12 hours on the train. Interesting scenery - forests, orange and lemon orchards, lakes. Saw a few birds - bald eagles, turkey vultures, great blue herons, white ibis. I think I spotted a few turtles and a couple of lizards on a wall but hard to be sure when you're zipping by.

The train was freezing again. I'm sure engineers think that thermostats and heating/cooling systems are a boring solved problem. Obviously they've never ridden the bus or train much! Eventually the attendant noticed that everyone was wearing all their jackets and wrapped in blankets and turned off the air conditioning briefly. (My theory is that because it was too cold they had opened the door at the end of the car to let some warm air in. But I suspect that the thermostat was near the door, so it got the warm air from outside which kept the air conditioning running full blast.)

I was expecting a main train station, but it was more like a commuter stop. I figured out how to buy a ticket from the machine to take the local train to near the airport and my hotel. I'm glad I got my ticket right because a train cop handed out two tickets in my car to people with incorrect tickets! (The ticket machine was poorly designed - one of the too common systems with a row of buttons beside the screen and labels on the screen, where it's very hard to tell which label goes with which button.)

I wasn't quite sure where my hotel was relative to the train stop but I knew it was close. I went out the front and looked around. Sure enough there were a couple of hotels and one of them was a Marriott. The trick was to get there since the train stop was surrounded by freeways. (This was the airport stop and most people were just getting on the shuttle bus to the airport.)

I managed to play frogger across the freeways and get to the hotel. I was a little tired and hungry at this point, but feeling pleased with myself for navigating another day of travel (not to mention, 10 days of train travel from Saskatoon to Florida). One of the reasons I like taking the road less travelled is that it's more of a challenge and therefore more rewarding. But pride goeth before a fall. When I went to check in, they couldn't find my reservation. But I was prepared, I showed her the confirmation number on TripIt on my iPhone. That didn't work either. But being a belt and suspenders kind of person, I was prepared with another fallback - I had a printed copy of my confirmation email. I'm feeling a little smug, obviously tempting fate. I joked, "This is the Marriott, isn't it?" What I didn't realize was that there were two Marriott's and I was at the wrong one. Damn! 

I asked how far the other one was. She said it's just across the street. I breathed a sigh of relief since I had started to wonder if I got off at the right train stop. "But," she said, "you can't walk there from here." I'm normally pretty suspicious when non-walkers (i.e. just about everyone) tell me what is walkable. But given that we were in the middle of a bunch of freeways I make the mistake of believing her. She said she'd get a shuttle to take me over. So I sit and wait for 20 minutes. 

When the shuttle finally comes, it takes me back to the train stop! The other Marriott was about 100 yards behind the train stop, across the parking lot. If I'd looked around a bit better when I came out I would have seen it. Doh! Luckily I wasn't in the Amazing Race or I would have had to face Phil telling me I was the last one to arrive and I'd been eliminated.

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