On the ground, finally! It’s been a long day of travel, but we are in beautiful Vero Beach, Florida. Just checked in to the Howard Johnson’s. Its about 11:00 pm, Florida time. School actually starts tomorrow, check in is between noon and 5:00pm, with orientation beginning at 7:00pm.
Since we were traveling from the west coast, there was no way to make tomorrow’s deadlines without leaving a day early. We couldn’t secure a spot at the school for the night, so we are staying at a hotel near by.
Today, we hit the airport in San Diego at about 9:30am for a 11:30am flight. If you’ve ever flown Southwest Airlines, you know they don’t have assigned seating. It’s just a cattle call. Sure, you can pay extra to board early, but we neglected to do that in time, so we were scheduled to board towards the end of the pack. That means the back of the plane, but not for Bill. He worked at the airport for 10 years before being laid off a number of months ago, so he still had a few contacts at the airport. Bill made a phone call to one of his buddies that still works there, a regional maintenance supervisor for Southwest Airlines. Nice to have friends in high places. He said he could get us on the plane early, but I wasn’t about to go along with that plan. Myself, not being a good flyer, I didn’t want any bad karma. Bill said he would save a seat for me, and walked down the passenger ramp with his buddy, basically the first in line. I opted to board at my assigned time and stayed back to spend a few more minutes with my wife. Oh by the way, Bill got my wife a courtesy pass and she was able to stay with me right up until boarding! I guess I have to take back all those bad things I said about him! When the time came, my wife and I said our goodbyes, and I walked down the ramp. There were a lot of tears, mostly mine, but I boarded the plane anyway. As I entered the plane and turned the corner, I felt like Bob Uecker, we were in the front row! Bill earned his keep already! We had a great flight. I took a NFHS practice test, graded it, and the time flew by. I know, shocking, but what else would an umpire do on a 4-1/2 hour flight? I guess, drink, too. We landed about 7:00pm Florida time, got the rental car, and hit the interstate headed for Vero Beach.
We got off the interstate at our exit at about 10:30pm. As we turned off and headed towards our hotel, we noticed a couple of young guys walking down the street towing what looked to be like some luggage and a couple of umpire bags. Sure enough, as we passed them we couldn’t help but notice the big Wilson logo on one of the bags. Wonder when those two were headed? We pulled over and sure enough, they were going to TUS, also. They were walking a short distance to their hotel and didn’t need a ride. I guess we’ll see them at school.
Anyway, we’re here safe and sound, and the adventure continues tomorrow.