Well, I'm back.
The Chargers' improbable run to the playoffs ended in the divisional round with a 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field. The loss also ended my cross-country adventure, which included stops not only in Cincinnati and Denver, but also expected (and unexpected) layovers in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Oakland.
I love to travel for my job (probably because I don't get to do it all that often). However, I probably wouldn't love it quite as much if every trip went like these past 10 days.
It all started on the Friday before the Wild Card game. I had booked a 7 a.m. flight to Cincinnati through Denver, but I wouldn't make it to the Mile High City until more than a week later. Fog at Lindbergh Field prevented our plane from getting in the night before. After waiting in line (and on hold on the phone) for three hours, the ticket agent told us she couldn't guarantee our Cincinnati arrival until Sunday afternoon.
Um, that's not going to work.
"We can put you on standby for a flight to Chicago in four hours, but even if you get on the plane, I don't have two seats open for a flight to Cincinnati."
Well, I guess we'll take it. Worst case scenario, we can rent a car and drive from Chicago to Cincinnati (for about 6-7 hours over treacherous icy roads, I might add).
We waited nervously at the gate before our first stroke of good luck. Not only were there two seats on the plane, but we were also given boarding passes for a flight from O'Hare to Cincinnati later that night.
We made it to Chicago, but unfortunately, when we arrived, there was no crew for the next flight to Cincinnati. Every 15 minutes, they'd tell us that a crew "was on the way" or "just about to land" or "we have most of the crew, but we're still waiting for the first officer."
Finally, after about six hours in the Windy City, we boarded a plane to Cincinnati, arriving a little before 2 a.m. local time. It was 3 a.m. by the time we checked into our hotel, and I was up just a couple hours later doing live reports back to San Diego for 10News.
Covering the win was fantastic, and I started looking into travel to Denver for the following week. First, though, we had to get home, and our only option was to fly east to go west. So after 90 minutes of going the wrong direction, we turned around in Philadelphia for a 6 1/2 hour flight, and arrived in San Diego just before midnight on Monday (Tuesday morning).
Travel to Denver on Saturday morning was a snap -- direct flight at 7 a.m. But we weren't so lucky on the way home.
Our scheduled noon departure out of DIA was delayed more than five hours. That meant we'd never make our connection in Oakland (yes, we flew through some random cities), but after a long negotiation with the ticket agent, we were able to re-book a later flight from OAK to SAN.
That flight, however, was canceled during our Denver to Oakland leg, leaving us stuck among the Raiders fans for a few hours before we could catch a later flight back home.
Finally, late Monday night, we arrived back in San Diego, but of course our bags didn't make it onto the new flight.
In the end, though, I was able to get my bags the next day, and I'll have a great travel adventure story to break out the next time someone complains about a long trip.
I only wish I was getting the chance to fly to New England this week.
Well, I'm back.