After a busy work week in frigid Wisconsin, I flew up to Calgary, Canada, to meet up with Steve (DOS) and start our 10 day trip around the world to Singapore. DOS got in Thursday afternoon from Sarasota (via Dallas) on American, while I got in today nonstop from Minneapolis on Delta on a tiny Boeing 717. We are staying in Calgary for two nights at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Calgary, and then are flying onward to Singapore via British Airways and FinnAir. More about our trip in a moment.
My work-week to Wisconsin started out on a bad note on Monday, with two flight cancellations and a flight re-route from Chicago. DOS and I had stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport Sunday night as I had an early flight to Chicago on Monday, connecting to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. My flight to Chicago was on a Boeing 757 and uneventful, but comfortable in First Class seat 3C.Once in Chicago, however, I found out my connecting flight to Eau Claire, Wisconsin (EAU) was canceled. My new flight had automatically been rescheduled for 8 hours later, at 7:30pm. This meant I would be sitting in O’hare Airport all day, with no guarantee the evening flight would even go. I considered getting a rental car in Chicago and driving to Wisconsin, but that would have been at least a six hour drive in possible snowy and icy conditions. I also considered getting a day room at the O’hare Hilton, and working from there, but there was still no guarantee of my evening flight leaving as scheduled.
I ended up going to one of the United Airlines kiosks, and re-routed myself (complimentary) to Minneapolis (MSP), on a 1:30pm flight, which would arrive around 3pm, and would then rent a car there instead of Eau Claire. As I had a couple hours before my new flight to MSP, I walked around the O’hare airport a bit, before having lunch at the airport Chili’s.
I had another uneventful flight to Minneapolis on United, also in First Class, but on a Boeing 737-900 series. I guess it really wasn’t uneventful, as the plane was equipped with Direct TV, and I watched the news as the stock market (DOW) was falling in a free-fall several hundred points right before my (and other startled passengers) eyes!
Anyway, not a whole lot you can do about the stock market, but it wasn’t a fun flight watching the stock market on a roller coaster free-fall.
Once in Minneapolis, I then had a three hour drive to the small town of Ladysmith, Wisconsin, where I stayed and worked this week. I had considered flying into MSP originally, but as EAU was only an hour away (vs three hours), I had booked the (one of two flights a day) to Eau Claire instead, probably asking for trouble. Yes, sure enough, the evening flight to EAU was canceled and fortunately I didn’t wait in Chicago all day waiting for the later canceled flight. Of course after arriving in Minneapolis my checked luggage didn’t follow me as I was told it would. Mary at United baggage claim was very nice, however, and assured me my luggage would get delivered to my hotel as soon as possible. I filled out a lost baggage report, and was on my way.
I rented a car at National Car Rental, and had a bit of a wait getting a car. National is normally very good and quick, and as an Executive Elite member, I normally get a nice selection of cars to choose from, but there were none – zero cars available in the Emerald Club or Executive aisles. To be fair to National, it was the day after the Superbowl, which was held in Minneapolis, so the inventory was probably scarce, with many people returning their car on Monday. Still, they should have offered me a premium or luxury car of which there were plenty, due to the inconvenience of waiting. I ended up getting the next car, which was a black Chevy Impala. I wanted my normal SUV (especially with the snowy weather), but needed to get driving, so I took what I could get.
After the three hour drive to my hotel (one of only two hotels in the town of Ladysmith, WI), I checked in, the Americinn, which was actually very nice. Here is a photo of the exterior of the hotel the next morning.
I had a fireplace in the room as well as a large jacuzzi tub, and a separate living room area – pretty awesome for $125 a night! I definitely made the right choice in hotels, as the other place looked like a dump. The Americinn was clean, quiet, and comfortable, with a rustic Wisconsin wilderness touch.
There weren’t many choices in places to eat however, but fortunately there was a McDonald’s, pizza place that delivered, and Walmart next door where I picked up some frozen dinners and microwaved in my room. The week went by fast, and I managed to adapt to the sub-zero temperatures with my heavy Columbia-brand coat, thermal underwear and t-shirts, gloves and hat. It’s been a while since I had to scrape the snow and ice off the car in the morning!
By Thursday night I had finished up my work-week, and headed back to Minneapolis, arriving around 9pm, where I stayed at the Hilton MSP Airport for the night. Along the way back to the airport, I saw this sign on the quiet rural road I was on, and had to stop and snap a photo, as we will be going to Singapore soon, which is near the equator.
I ended up dropping my car off at the Minneapolis Airport, and took the shuttle to the hotel. After checking in, I was pretty hungry, so had a club sandwich in the lounge, along with a couple brewski’s, while finishing up some work on my laptop, and people-watching some large convention of sales-people partying like it was 1999.
In the morning, I worked half a day, before my noon flight up to Calgary on Delta. I flew First Class, seat 3C (aisle) on a Boeing 717. This small-ish jet was 2 X 3 in Coach, and 2 X 2 in First, so the seats weren’t that much bigger. The service, meal, and seat were so-so, but ok for the 2 1/2 hour flight to Calgary. I even purchased a one hour internet pass to finish up some last minute work before going on vacation.
We arrived in Calgary about 45 minutes early, but by the time we got to an alternate gate (our original gate was still occupied), we were pretty much on-time. After going thru immigration and customs, I took the 3pm Airport shuttle to the Hyatt Regency downtown, where I met up with DOS. As I had just missed the 2:30pm shuttle, I stopped at the nearby Tim Horton’s and had a club sandwich combo meal.
The trip to the Hyatt was about 25 minutes, and DOS was there waiting for me in the lobby! I dropped my luggage off in the hotel room on the 16th floor, and we went out for a walk around the downtown area. I was glad to find a barber shop in the nearby mall, and got my haircut, something I had been wanting to do this past week, but there wasn’t a Great Clips, or any chain place (only a couple ‘salons’ located in houses which were closed after work when I wanted to go). I got my hair cut for $22 Canadian, and with a $5 tip, I am now good to go for the trip.
Afterwards, DOS and I walked around downtown Calgary taking photos, and enjoying the snow scenery. We went by Saltlake Restaurant, which was right across the street from our hotel, and my shuttle driver recommended it as a good restaurant, and also good Happy Hour.
DOS and I went for Happy Hour, but ended up having dinner there in the lounge area. It was amazingly good, and we hope to go back again for a nice steak dinner. We had AHI tuna for appetizers, and then DOS had a chicken pasta meal, while I had a salmon meal.
Now just finishing up the day in the Hyatt Regency Concierge Lounge, with a nightcap. Tomorrow we have a full day private tour to Banff and Lake Louise, which should be wonderful. Until then, heading to bed soon. Welcome to Calgary!