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What the heck am I doing in Spokane?

Sports Editor's vacation continues a day longer than expected


There was nothing very sporting about my mid-winter trip to Puerto Vallarta last week.

Oh I got to see the Seahawks-Atlanta game in Spanish, while the San Francisco-Green Bay game was in English. I never figured out why. Other than that there wasn’t much sports on except tons of futbol games seemingly from across the planet, 24/7.

When I left a week ago last Saturday, I attended some basketball games the night before and then came back to the office, processed some pictures and did some preliminary lay-out. I was trying to take a little pressure off the office.by: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington

My wife and I were scheduled to get in early evening on Saturday and I thought well I should drift down to the office Sunday and get a jump on this week’s edition. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Everything started off well on Saturday. We got up at a leisurely hour, meandered down to the restaurant for breakfast, checked out, and bid our longtime friends a fond farewell. We were headed to the airport about 2 1/2 hours before our flight. That seemed a little early, but I learned over the years that it does no good to argue with the powers that be.

We were sitting at the gate within 20 minutes of arriving so we had well over an hour before we even boarded the plane.

The flight to Phoenix was uneventful, and I unleashed the power of my smart phone once back in the states. Called home, gave them an approximate time we would arrive, and let our daughter know we were on the move.

Everything was going according to schedule. When we left Phoenix we skipped along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains at about 34,000 feet. The sunset was long and quite beautiful—blues, purples, oranges. It seemed to last for about an hour. When we’d taken off the pilot had said something about it being quite cold, icy, and foggy in Portland. I kept thinking we should have taken my wife’s car to the airport, so we could call Onstar and have them start it up as we landed. It would be nice and warm when we arrived in our tropical and not-so-warm clothes. As it turned out, that would have been a terrible idea.

As we approach Portland, the pilot says we’ll be on the ground in 20 minutes. I’m thinking we’re right on time, and keep on reading my Tom Clancy book. I’ve never been fond of landings, but I do like the rush when the thrust kicks in on takeoffs. It reminds me of my old ‘65 Mustang fastback.

I would get my fill of landings and takeoffs, shortly.

The pilot began his long descent into a fog bank. I’m thinking we’re pretty close and waiting to hear the clank and rumble of the landing. Nope, it doesn’t happen. Suddenly, the nose goes up and there’s plenty of thrust. “This isn’t good I’m thinking,” and put my book away. Aptly, it’s titled “Dead and Alive.” I have a vision them finding my body with it imprinted on my forehead.

“We’re going around for another try,” the pilot says. Great. Same long descent into a fog bank, same getting close, and the same pull up. We’re now an hour behind schedule.

Now the pilot says. Well, somethings not working, and we’re all going to Spokane. Seriously? Couldn’t we go to Seattle? Or better yet Hillsboro? Or Salem. I no longer want to be on this plane. Be careful of what you wish for.

We get to Spokane in fairly short order. All we hear is that they are give us hotel room vouchers. No instructions on luggage, how to get a voucher, but please exit the plane. The airport is deserted except for our plane. Most of us are standing around the idle luggage carousel. The flight crew walks by without saying a word. I decide to inquire about what we are supposed to do. They look scared when I approach. They stare at me awhile and the pilot finally comes forward, we chat and he tells me to head to the ticket counter for our voucher. It would have been nice to hear it before then. Apparently those in the front of the plane were told, but the message did not make it to the back.

It only takes 90 minutes of waiting in a line of totally ticked off passengers before we get our voucher. We venture out into the 14 degree weather for a shuttle, finally get a room, but most of us don’t have luggage. It’s after midnight and we have to be back at the airport by 5:30 a.m.

I spent a miserable night and neither the wife or I slept. I’d mention the lovely Cynthia’s assessment of the airline at this point, but she told me not to and most of it is not printable.

It goes fairly smoothly at the Spokane airport. When I texted our daughter we were in Spokane, her response was: “What the...?” Pretty much, my own sentiments.

It was actually a pretty view of all the mountains the next morning with a lovely blanket of fog covering the rest of the ground.

We descended into Portland through a fog bank, and all of a sudden...yep, pulled up and went around. This time the pilot says they can go to another runway where visibility is better and we do land. Our PV to Portland odyssey has ended. My truck was ice cold, but warmed up quickly. It’s still pretty cold here. I spent the rest of the day snoozing off and on, watching a little football, all in English.

So now, it’s late Monday and I’m playing catch-up. I wasn’t sure what to write about this week, so this will have to suffice.

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