Saturday, February 5, 2005

Volleyball in Turks

We finally made it to Club Med Turkoise in Turks and Caicos. Honestly, we're not big fans of the Club Med facilities, but this is where the Volleyball Vacation was so you have to live with the spartan accommodations if you want to play with the pros. Albert "Al-B" Hannemann is the pro beach volleyball player who organizes the trips. He brings along a few other pros to help teach, and drink, with the campers. We were stuck in Atlanta with two of the pros, and met a third in Miami, so we didn't miss too much instruction that first day. I had a good time playing with some old friends and lots of new people. My Apple buddy, Kevin, and I managed to win the Men's B doubles tournament, which entitled us to an exhibition game with the pros as our partners. The last couple of days were very windy so the volleyball play was not exactly pretty, but we all had a good time. I also got a chance to try the trapeze which was a lot of fun. We'll post some pictures soon.

Ice Storm in Atlanta

Delta Airlines called us last Friday morning (1/28) to say that the first leg of our trip to Turks and Caicos (from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta) had been cancelled for Saturday morning because of expected bad weather. Wow, that's the first time I've ever had a flight cancelled a full day in advance. They offered to book us on a 6 AM flight instead of our schedule 8 AM flight. After some consideration, we doubted that the 6 AM flight would ever take off either so we asked them if we could fly to Atlanta that afternoon to beat the ice storm, and then hopefully take our scheduled flight on Saturday morning to Providenciales (PLS). That meant spending the night in Atlanta, but it seemed like our only shot at getting to Turks on time for the start of my Volleyball Vacation. They let us rearrange our flights to use Wilmington airport (ILM), and we rushed off to get to Atlanta.

It got cold overnight, but I thought the plan was going to work when we saw planes landing at ATL on Saturday morning. In just a few hours, we should be on the beach. We got to terminal with plenty of time to spare. The roads were icy so many of the workers weren't coming in. They had cancelled hundreds of flights at ATL, but the international flights were still on schedule. They checked our bags, boarding time was 9:45 AM. But just before we were supposed to board, the airport was shutdown. Get back in line. OK, we'll send you to Miami this afternoon, and if all goes well, you can connect to PLS this evening. We board the Miami flight at around 3 PM. We'll have to de-ice so there will be some delay, but at least we're on our way. Then, we enter the Twilight Zone -- it took eight hours to get our turn to de-ice. At first, we were second in line. Then, we were seventh. Eventually, the pilot admitted that all the international flights were getting priority over us so we were now 17th. After around 7 hours of sitting on the tarmac, the pilot finally announces that his duty hours are just about up, and since several passengers have been grumbling, he's going to have to cancel the flight! But wait, the tower has decided to let us de-ice next so now we're going. Applause! It took a long time, but we finally got up in the air, landing in Miami at around 2AM. Luckingly, we had taken a chance and reserved a hotel room in Miami. We managed a few precious hours of sleep, grabbed some breakfast and took the shuttle back to the airport for a late morning flight to PLS. We were on the beach by Sunday afternoon.

Total travel time: 48 hours. Two cancelled flights, three actual flights, a world-record wait to de-ice, but we were finally there. But our bags weren't. We each had one bathing suit in our carry-on luggage. Good enough -- let's play!