Wednesday, August 27, 2014

DC Wins Over Maui Part I

In February, after saving money for three years, Eddie and I booked a trip to Maui right around our August anniversary.  It was kind of a delayed honeymoon, I guess, but really, Eddie's never been to Hawaii and I've never been to Maui, and it seemed so tropical and lovely, so it was our plan to go when we'd saved up enough.  I found a resort that seemed to have everything we'd want in a hotel, and through its website, it offered a vacation package complete with airfare and car rental.  After booking that, I reserved two seats on the Road To Hana van for one day and then two seats at the luau at our resort for another night.  Eddie was big on the luau plan.  He was like, We're going to a luau, right?  And I was like, you don't like food so why are we going to a luau?  He was like, I've never been to one.  So I said, Okay we'll just bring peanut butter and jelly for you.  I'd planned on making PB&J sandwiches for the Road To Hana trip too considering the included meals were something other than cheeseburgers, pizza, and PB&J.  My husband is a man with a refined palate, clearly, so if it isn't perfectly cooked filet mignon, it's gotta be one of the other three.

Anyway, between February and our trip in August, we bought a house.  When we bought the house,  I was kind of like, I wish we didn't have a huge trip planned.  Not because of the expenses of a Hawaiian vacation--we'd saved up for it and had the cash--but because moving is hectic and who knows what would happen.  Now I know what would happen because this is what did happen.

1. After living in the house for about two weeks, water came up through the seal at the bottom of the toilet after Eddie's shower and we called the plumber who said to call the sewer guy because it was a problem with the main line to the street.  Those guys couldn't snake it because the pipe was packed solid with dirt so they blasted it twice with water.  Thankfully, the pipe was not cracked or broken, but it was a huge undertaking and very costly and the stress of "will I be able to shower before I go on vacation?" was not fun.  Also not fun, the stress of "will my house fill up with water when I am away?"  This happened two days before vacation. 

2. Shooting pains careened through my abdomen.  They became so bad that they kept me up at night.  I wen to urgent care, and the doctor (who was about an inch taller than I am, which is not relevant but I notice these things because I'm rarely eye-level with anyone) gave me once over by pushing on my abdomen after showing me his hand and saying loudly, HAND.  Is this what they teach in med school now?  How to weird out the patients so they forget their symptoms?  Anyway, he was like, So what's on the right side?  The appendix.  There are no signs of appendicitis aside from your pain, so we can send you for a CAT scan since it's early in the day but you must go right now.

I went right then and when I got there, the woman behind the desk was like, You need to drink this and we will do the test in three hours.  So I went to my parents' house to use my computer since my internet wasn't set up yet and I drank the stuff for two hours and then went back and had blood taken and the CAT scan which involved an IV.  It was warm and tingly and weird.  Everyone in the radiology place was super nice and they explained everything so that I wasn't really worried about the possibility of something in my abdomen exploding.

In a few hours, I was on the phone with HAND and he said that the scan showed nothing really wrong but I should go to the lady parts doctor.  So I called the lady parts doctor and she got me in the very next day.  I gave her my symptoms and my medical history since my tooth extraction last year, which seems to be when everything started going downhill for me, exacerbated by Speedy Baddriverson.

She found nothing wrong after a few tests, and so I was given a clean bill of health with the warning, Please stay out of hot tubs in Hawaii.  To which I responded, I stay out of them anyway because they are pools of bacteria.  She liked that answer very much.  She told me to call her to let me know how I was feeling when I got back.

So I went to my regularly scheduled chiropractic appointment after calling the doc to let him know what had been happening, and he said I should definitely come in since they'd ruled out everything else, and he poked me really hard in the abdomen and was like, Does this hurt?

Umm, yes.

He told me it might be my ileocecal valve getting twisted and that it could be from stress or a complication with nerves from my back being out of whack or a combination of both.  Terrific.

So with a dull ache, occasional shooting pain, and feeling like a bubble or a golf ball were in my abdomen, plus the backpain, I was not exactly feeling like flying for nine hours let alone being so far from home.

3. The day before we were going to leave, the hurricane / tropical storm report looked grim.  What had been in the forecast as rain became the storm of all storms, and it was going to last basically the entire time we were planning on being there.

Eddie came home from work the day before we were set to leave and said that he wasn't sure what we should do. 

And then came the worst experience with customer service ever.  For shame, Pleasant Holiday, for shame! We called them to discuss our options.  The company kept us on hold for about 20 minutes before getting anyone to speak to.  Every time we talked to someone, they were like, you should go do this and that and then call us back, so every time we called back, we had to wait 20 more minutes before even speaking to someone.  The first agent told me it was going to be just a little rain for only four days.  Hey lady, I've been through two hurricanes in the past three years--don't give me your crap about a little rain.  We called our travel insurance company after speaking to her, but they close at 5 PM.  I found the number to call if we were already traveling and they answered, and the woman I spoke to was as helpful as she could be, but she didn't have access to all the information we needed.  Only the actual company does, and they close at 5 PM because, you know, vacations happen only from 9 - 5.

The second agent at the travel company gave us several options and told us to hang up and decide and then call back. When we called back, the third agent gave us a completely different story, and it got so bad that we recorded some of the conversation so when we retell our tale, we have proof of the idiocy.  Finally Eddie got a supervisor on the phone and she apologized profusely for our receiving different information from each agent.  She kept us on hold for ten minute stints while trying to figure out our options.  She even tried rebooking our trip to use our money to go somewhere else.  Then she said it could not be done.  Then she said she would make it happen.  Then she said, The accounting department went home so I can't do this for you.

The accounting department goes home at 5 PM, and it was now 5 PM in California, where the company is based, which means we'd been on the phone for three hours.  If we hadn't been put on hold, been told to hang up and call back, been given all different kinds of misinformation, we wouldn't have had to be on the phone for three hours and the accounting department would have still been there. 

So our choice was to
1. cancel the trip and submit a claim with insurance in the hopes that we'd get our money back--though we lose the money we paid for the insurance plus the money spent on seat upgrades,

2. cancel the trip and submit a claim with insurance and get our money back in credit with the company so that we would book a trip with them within the year, making us travel with this god-awful company

3. go on the trip, fly right into the hurricane/tropical storm where they were closing public schools

4. no show and lose everything.

We canceled the trip with the supervisor sounding as if she were canceling her own trip.  That's how miserable we made her feel because her company was so bad.

Then we immediately hopped on the computer.  Where did we want to go?  Where could we go that was drivable?  Close to home in case my organs exploded or the house flooded?  D. C.  That's always sounded like a neat place.

I booked a room at a Hilton in Crystal City, VA through Expedia since it had free parking.  I stayed up until 1 AM listing all the things we could possibly do and see and where we could eat.  I got directions and lists and all sorts of travel-related ideas gathered into one place called DC Trip Folder.  I found that the articles I save about odd travel things are useful since I found a mini golf course, a world's largest object, and a diner suggestion all in the DC area. 

Hawaii for a honeymoon?  Nope.  I'll take our nation's capital, thank you very much. 

The next day, we did not have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to get to the airport by 4:30 for a 6:30 AM flight.  Instead, we slept until 7ish, packed up the car with our already-packed luggage, added in extra outfits because now we had the room and didn't have to worry about what would fit on the plane, and headed out to DC! 

Meanwhile in Hawaii, the winds were picking up, and the storms were heading in. 

A hard choice, but a good one.  Plus, DC? Was a good time.  You'll see...

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