Not Exactly About Wine, But…
Any trip to any wine country is always a glorious thing. The hills, the valleys, the wineries, the weather are beautiful and add to the experience. Any visit will leave its mark on your soul, and if you are already a wine lover, it only confirms your passion.
But before the wine country, there’s the trip. While wine country is glorious, the trip…well, not so much.
The quickest way to get to Medford, Oregon, from Vegas is via Allegiant Airlines. A “no frills” airline, it advertises prices which are way below everybody else’s. For instance, the advertised price from Vegas to Medford is (usually) $76.00. AND I can be there in about an hour and a half. What’s not to love?
While I understand the taxes (not really, but what can you do), the fees are something else. While the initial price is irresistible – and, after all, getting to wine country as quickly and cheaply as possible is the goal – the reality after the hits to the credit card is something else. There’s a fee for checked luggage and another fee for additional checked luggage. There are fees for the snacks and fees for the drinks given by other airlines gratis. There’s a fee for your carry on – I actually had to check to see if they charged for the “personal” item that everyone else allows for free. So do they, but they certainly keep it hidden. If they could, they would probably charge for the special air you breathe. All told, my $76 price amazingly increased to nearly $200. Frankly, if it weren’t for the convenience – and the fact that the nearest competitor is at least $100 more and takes five hours, a lengthy layover to an unrelated place and also has “fees” – I’d find another airline. Sorry, Alaska.
Leaving wine country, on the other hand, is not nearly so pressing. That allowed me to take another airline, in this case, United. I used the super budget package and although the layover was in San Francisco, the flights were peaceful and uneventful. And few fees!
United has a terminal problem. We arrived at Gate 84 at San Francisco – a tarmac affair – and I was ready to mosey to the next gate.
From Gate 84 to Gate 61 was a trek worthy of the Tour de France. And I had 15 minutes in which to get from one to the other. Boarding was immediate.
I made it to the Gate and boarded the Airbus. The flight, as I mentioned before, was peaceful and uneventful. Good thing, because things were about to get dramatic.
We arrived at Terminal 1 at McCarran. Since my iPhone had completely died (due to a faulty charging connection on my rental car), I knew that I had one last late chance to catch the WAX bus from its station to the Park ‘N Ride near home. And then the flight attendant announced, “Your luggage can be retrieved in Terminal 3 at Carousel 19.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!
Terminal 3, by the way, is the International Terminal. It’s approximately half a world from Terminal 1. Why would they send our luggage there?!? Dammit! Fortunately, it wasn’t that far – at least compared to San Francisco – to the shuttle to Terminal 3. AND THEN it was a long walk to Carousel 19. Which turned out to be the wrong one since our luggage was on Carousel 18.
The walk to the shuttle – this time a bus since we were no longer in the secure area – was at least 1/2 mile. Not sure, admittedly, but long enough to consider getting a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or something. While I’m sure that 10,000 steps were accomplished at SF, the trip back to Terminal 1 was at least as tiring, and this time I had both pieces of checked luggage and my bag (with my beautiful Pinot Noir glasses) to trundle through.
The trip from one Terminal to the other was far longer than the train shuttle. I had just FIVE MINUTES to spare before the WAX bus showed up. Good thing. Because with the iPhone drained, I had no way to getting to either my Lyft or Über apps.
The WAX Bus
The Airport Express is not nearly as “express” as it is on the way to the airport. The trip to the airport is filled automated voices about delays due to construction, detours, upcoming stops, payments, etc. And you’re there pretty quickly. On the way back, on the other hand, there’s only one stretch that can be called express, and that’s just before the Park ‘N Ride stop.
People get off and on the bus at the various stops from the Strip to Downtown, and any number of them are worthy of a Night Court episode. Last night’s winner was a guy who got on at the stop at New York New York. He looked like a regular Vegas tourist – I’m guessing from the Midwest – a little boozed up just enough where he had overly erect posture and spoke, clearly enunciating each syllable. He nodded affably at us and chatted about being in Vegas. Then he sat his backpack down, took out a Bluetooth speaker, and proceeded to play Dock of the Bay and sing loudly along with it. Halfway through the song, he popped open a can of Coors Light and grinned happily at us all. But when he decided to play Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror came on, he cranked up the sound and began bellowing along with him. Of course we grinned! He was hilarious!
The bus driver then demanded that he turn it off. Not down. Off. Mr. Wannabe Crooner whined a little before departing at the Fremont Street Experience. But he bowed and waved to us, and left the bus. He left lots of grins, by the way.
The rest of the trip was really uneventful. The worst problem was that by the time I got home and got into bed it was nearly 2:00 am. The exhaustion was palpable.
Okay, now back to wine country. The next couple of posts will not only be talking about the wines and wineries (including a couple I missed last time), but also the partying. Okay, at my age, “partying” may not be the proper term, but there was more than wine. And there was wine!