Because the Pride of America is an American ship we are having to do a lot of extra things to fulfill US Coast Guard Requirements. Last week Jeannie and I had to go to the Dr. to get physicals, drug tests, hearing tests, eye tests, blah, blah, blah...
On Tuesday I received a phone call telling me that we had passed all the tests and that "flights on Thursday had been approved and confirmed".
My first thought was "good, I'm glad the flights were approved and confirmed."
My second thought was, "What flights on Thursday?"
To my surprise, without checking with us first, the recruiter from NCLA had scheduled a meeting for Jeannie and I with the Coast Guard and Homeland Security...
I told her that I wasn't really available to fly to Memphis on Thursday. I had a meeting in the morning and in the evening.
Her response was that I really needed to make myself available.
I cleared my schedule and called Jeannie to tell her that she was going to fly to Memphis in two days.
She was none too happy.
This morning I woke up at 4:00am and went to the airport. The line to get through security was so long that it took me 45 minutes to get through it. It was pretty scary. I was dangerously close to missing my flight.
I arrived in Memphis and waited for Jeannie's plane from San Antonio to arrive.
It had been a week since I'd last seen her so it was really nice to see her walk off the plane. While the impromptu trip was a bit annoying it was a nice treat to be able to spend the day together.
We went to the Coast Guard office and presented them with our 3 forms of identification and all of our applications. They fingerprinted us, made us take an oath and had us sign numerous forms.
After 45 minutes we were done.
We then took a cab to the Port of Memphis to meet with Homeland Security. Once we were there we filled out more forms, were fingerprinted again and took a photo for an ID badge.
We were done in 15 minutes.
And, that was it.
Counting cab rides from the Airport to the Coast guard to the Port of Memphis, the whole process took 90 minutes.
We flew all the way to Memphis for something that took 90 minutes to complete. I'm not complaining, I'm just amazed.
Since we had quite a few hours before our flights were leaving Memphis, we took a cab downtown to Beale Street.
Jeannie hadn't really been to Memphis before so it was nice to be able to show her around some of it. Our cab driver had insisted that we go to the Pig On Beale.
It was a very cool place.
Our cab driver had told us exactly what to order so we followed his instructions and got the rack of ribs, half wet/half dry. (wet=covered in BBQ sauce. dry=cooked with a dry rub of BBQ seasoning.)
Here's a picture of Jeannie taking a picture of her rack of ribs.
Now, I'm not a big ribs person. In fact, I've never ordered them in a restaurant before because I knew I wouldn't like them and it would be a waste of food.
The other reason why I wasn't going to order them was because in the past 10 days I've had BBQ 7 times. Unintentionally, I seem to have embarked on a BBQ tour across America. In the past past week I've had BBQ in Lockhart, San Antonio, Durham, Raleigh and now Memphis.
The final verdict was that the ribs were very good. In fact, Jeannie said they were the best ribs she'd ever had. I probably would have liked the pulled pork or smoked turkey, but we were in Memphis and if you're in Memphis, you need to eat the ribs.
After lunch we went to the airport and waited for our flights back home. We were there at 3:00 so we had plenty of time to spare.
Checking the weather on my phone I could see that Chicago was getting hit by storms. My flight wasn't supposed to leave until 6:00 so I was hoping it would blow over and I wouldn't be delayed.
Jeannie's flight back to San Antonio left on time, but my flight wasn't so lucky. It was pushed back to 9:00.
The last flight out of that side of the Memphis airport usually departs at 7:oopm, so at 7:30 the lights went out.
We sat there in the dark for half an hour until a security guard wandered over and turned them back on. It didn't bother me because I was watching the Cavs/Rockets game on TNT, but the people who were reading were pretty steamed.
At 8:00 they announced that the flight was now pushed back to 9:30.
No one thought that plane was leaving Memphis. In fact, there were only 11 of us left. Everyone else had rebooked their flights for first thing Friday morning.
At 9:00 they put us on the plane.
As soon as the door was closed the captain announced that he had been instructed to reroute us to Nashville.
If we weren't going to Chicago why not just stay in Memphis?
A few minutes later he announced that we were not going to Nashville after all. However, we were going to be sitting on the runway for at least another half hour.
If you look closely you can see there are only 8 of us on the plane.
45 minutes later we took off. We were headed to Chicago, but were informed by the captain that we could end up anywhere between Memphis and Milwaukee.
90 minutes later we landed in Chicago without any trouble. It was raining, but it wasn't too bad.
I arrived here in Old Town and flipped on the TV to see the replay of the Illini/Gophers game. I've been awake for 22 straight hours.
I'm not complaining. I'm just stating a fact.
Actually, I wasn't really annoyed or bothered by anything that happened today. It was just a long, eventful day.