My work-week ended Thursday afternoon in Montevideo, MN, and I then drove the nearly 3 hours back to Sioux Falls airport, where I spent the night. I stayed once again at the Sheraton Conference Center, which is a nice hotel and a short 5 – 10 minute drive to the airport. Along the rural drive thru 2 lane roads, I spotted a scenic Lutheran Church, which I pulled over to take a photo of.
About a half hour later, I spotted another Lutheran Church, and also took a photo of it. Both offered beautiful architecture, and although I didn’t go inside, they both must serve the communities well. There was also a cemetery at each church, which is/was common practice at many rural churches.
I continued on my journey back to Sioux Falls, and once I arrived at the freeway, it was a short distance to the South Dakota Welcome Center where I made a short stop. I couldn’t resist taking a couple selfies by the Mount Rushmore billboard there, as well as a couple photos of the grounds. The SD Welcome Center was a nice place to take a break, as well as a great source of attraction information offered by the staff inside the center.
On my last two stays there I had a regular room on the Club floor, but this 3rd floor room was actually much nicer and larger. I don’t have any status with Starwood, so that was a nice srprise. The hotel was pretty empty Thursday night, so maybe that was a plus.
Around 6:30pm, my friends Phil and Judy picked me up at the hotel, and took me to dinner at their Country Club. Phil had taken me there a month ago, but Judy was out of town then, so it was great to see her, and go there with the two of them. Traveling for work and having an erratic eating schedule, makes nights this a real treat – plus seeing friends in their hometown. DOS and I met Phil and Judy a few years ago on a Caribbean New Year’s Eve cruise, and have stayed in touch. Here we are in the dining room, overlooking the golf course there. Thanks again Phil and Judy!
On Friday morning, I had the start of a LONG travel day! I had to fly ‘home’ to Orlando to complete my business trip, and then at 6pm it was off to Santiago, Chile and the start of a six night mini-vacation; basically stretching out the Labor Day weekend by a couple extra days.
My first flight was on an American Eagle Embraer 145 regional jet, and it left at the early hour of 6:10am. I was up at 4:30am, and to the airport by 5am, and at this early hour the airport was very quiet and virtually deserted. I dropped my rental car keys in the drop box as none of the car rental companies were open yet.
I slept most of the hour and 15 minute flight to Chicago, but I did get a nice sunrise shot as we were leaving Sioux Falls.
Once in Chicago, my connecting flight was supposed to leave at 9am, although due to the storms in Florida, Georgia, and the south in general, the flight was delayed a couple times, ultimately leaving around 11:15am. I went to the Admiral’s Club after the first delay, but walked around a bit and later by the gate area after the second delay, as the K18 concourse was quite a walk to the Admiral’s Club in Ohare.
I originally had a ‘more room in coach’ seat 9C on the American Airlines 737, however I was upgraded on the plane (I was next on the upgrade list) as a couple people in First did not show up; perhaps because of the weather. The two and a half hour flight to Orlando was quick, and even though it was now lunch time, we were served the original breakfast meal; no complaints here as it was a nice last minute upgrade.
Once in Orlando, I took the tram to the main terminal, sharing it with a man who was drinking his on-board wine purchase straight out of the bottle. Very classy indeed. Not!
DOS met me at the gate, and we went to the Hyatt Hotel, where he had stayed last night, on a park-and-fly package. It really worked out well, as with my Hyatt Diamond status we got a 4pm checkout, and I could nap for an hour or so before heading to the gate for our 6pm flight to Miami. We looked at the flight status terminals in the airport by the Hyatt, and couldn’t believe how many flights were delayed or canceled, as shown in RED.
We had our favorite 10th floor runway view, balcony room, although we weren’t there very long to enjoy it. Here we are re-arranging my work luggage from the Santiago luggage. We left my work luggage in DOS’s car in the parking garage.
We checked in for our flight to Miami in the Premium ticket lane in Orlando, only slightly delayed by a family with so much luggage they must been over the 70 pound international limit, as they had to rearrange their purchases from their suitcases. I thought Steve (DOS) was bad about shopping, but these people literally bought everything but the kitchen sink! They were pulling out fans, cake display holders (like you would see in a deli), silverware, you name it. Fortunately another agent checked us in, and we were in and gone while they still fumbled with their purchases. Note to DOS: Don’t overdo in Santiago!
Our American Airlines flight to Miami left on time, and was aboard a 767 wide body jet. We had confirmed First Class seats 4D and G (adjacent seats in the center section) for this short 45 minute flight.
We’re now in Miami at the Premium Lounge by the E Concourse, waiting for our international flight on a 777 to Santiago Chile, which doesn’t leave until 10:45pm. This lounge offers a complimentary buffet of cold cuts, snacks, cheeses, salads, etc, along with a full self-service and also complimentary bar for Business/First Class passengers.
We are flying Business/First as it’s a two class plane (coach and Business/First which is their First Class cabin on this 777) which has nice sleeper seats. Here is a shot of the Boeing 777 plane we will be taking tonight.
Signing off for now; it’s nearly 9pm. It’s been a long day, but my last and final (fourth) flight of the day leaves in less than two hours. Next stop, Santiago Chile!