My business trip this week was to Dickinson, North Dakota. I had never been to North Dakota before, so this was a bit exciting, even if it was for work. As DOS and I had stayed at the Hyatt airport last night, it was a quick early morning bag checkin at 7:30am, followed by a more leisurely breakfast buffet at Hemisphere’s Restaurant at the Hyatt. After breakfast, I headed to the gate, while DOS headed back to Sarasota. We love staying at this airport Hyatt, and do so occasionally when I have a early morning flight. The hotel is literally connected to the Orlando airport, so it’s super convenient not having to take a shuttle bus.
My 9am American Airlines flight to Chicago left on time, and I had a good 5B seat in First Class on this Boeing 737-800 plane. While the service was great, I declined the breakfast onboard as I was still quite full from the breakfast buffet at the Hyatt. I napped for a bit on the 2 1/2 hour flight, arriving Chicago ORD around 11:30am. I walked around the Chicago airport a bit for exercise, before going to the Admiral’s Club across from G8. This was very convenient as my gate my nearby G10.
My next flight was on a regional jet on American Eagle, from Chicago to Bismarck. This flight was not so comfortable, as it was on a Embraer 145 regional jet. I was in 2A, but believe me it wasn’t First Class! This all coach plane had a really tight pitch and shouldn’t be allowed to fly the two hour trip to Bismarck – way too long in an all-coach RJ. At least it was a 1 x 2 configuration, and I had the window/aisle seat to myself. Still, when the man in front of me reclined I literally could not use my laptop as it was so tight, that I attempted napping most of the long flight. About an hour is my limit on these small RJ’s; shown here is the tiny plane I was on as seen from the car rental lot.
I then rented a car from Enterprise, as there was no National Car Rental at this location. I have Executive Elite status with National so I usually get a good car (actually most locations you pick your own car from the Executive aisle), however Enterprise does not have this option even though they are part of the National group. I ended up getting perhaps the smallest car I’ve ever rented; a red Hyundai Elantra. While I actually like some of the Hyundai models, this is definitely not one of them; luxury it is not and I felt like I was sitting on the ground it was so low down. I guess I’m just used to driving SUV type vehicles; call me spoiled.
I then a 100 mile drive to Dickinson from Bismarck. While almost a straight shot along 94 East, it felt like it took forever, probably because I was tired from the long day with the two flights so far. I spotted various sculptures on the way, on this otherwise pretty desolate stretch of highway.
When I got to Dickinson, I checked into the Hampton Inn, where I was supposed to be staying all week. While it was a nice Hampton, I didn’t get a room upgrade as I normally do (being a Hilton Diamond member), and like the rental car, the room with two Queen beds felt smaller than normal, without a typical sofa-bed, only a small chair that was squeezed in between the bed and wall,
rendering impractical for use. I also had connecting rooms which I despise, due to the potential noise level from the other room. I have a ‘No Connecting Rooms’ and ‘King, non-smoking’ request in my Hilton and other Hotel chain’s profile, and it’s normally honored.
This hotel was full however, so I couldn’t make a room switch. I know it sounds petty, but when you stay in hotel rooms 100+ nights a year, you do want to feel comfortable, having a sitting area, and no noise from neighbors; i.e. TVs, loud conversations etc.
As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, the site I was working at was not ready when I went in on Tuesday, so I ended up staying here only 2 nights and headed back home on Wednesday!
Since I changed my flight home to two days earlier ($315 more too) and there were only a couple flights a day, I couldn’t leave until the 3pm flight on Wednesday out of Bismarck. I drove back to Bismarck at 11:30am, and immediately remembered that Dickinson was in Mountain time, yet Bismarck is in Central time, so I lost an hour to start with, slightly panicking in the process knowing I had a 100 miles to drive.
Fortunately I had enough time, but barely as I had to stop to refill the car, return the car at the airport, checkin, go thru security etc. On the same I94 drive back, I spotted a couple of Fedex and other trucks with 3 trailers attached to them! You definitely don’t see this back east!
Once at the airport, checkin and security where both quick, and I had only a few minutes to wait. I even took a couple more pics by the American Airlines checkin desk, of historical photos the airport had arranged. I especially liked the retro Northwest Orient photo of days gone by.
I then took my American Eagle flight from Bismarck to Chicago, again on the tiny RJ plane, followed by a 2 1/2 hour layover. As it was now 5:30pm, I had dinner at Cub’s Bar and Grille, ending up here at Chlli’s Too was so slow with their service I left without ever getting served. Cub’s, by contrast was quick, friendly, and even though they were busy, there was no wait for a table. It also had a great view of the planes and TV screens. My burger was yummy!
After dinner at Cub’s, I still had about an hour before my 8pm flight back to Orlando, so I went to the K concourse Admiral’s Club to relax for a bit. As much as I fly, I always like looking out the window at planes, and this evening shot was no exception.
Then it was on to my 8pm flight, and I had a nice First Class bulkhead row seat 3A for the trip home. Since DOS had dropped me off at the airport on Monday and I came home two days early, I took a cab home, finally arriving at 12:45am.
’twas a Long and Quick trip to Bismarck!