What a great time Lilliam and I had on our trip to the US. We were gone almost a month and time just flew.
I will mention an app I use when scheduling a trip like we just had. There were many flights, hotels, train rides, car rentals, etc to keep track of. I made all reservation via the internet or by phone using magic jack. All purchase conformations were sent by email.
I use TripIt to keep up with all the schedules and conformations. Once you sign up with TripIt, you just forward the email conformations to email@example.com and like magic the entire schedule is recorded.
It lists all times, conformation numbers, important telephone numbers, directions, etc. Not only that, but you can list people you want to know of your schedule to get a copy of your itinerary. If anything changes, they will know it.
On this trip, we flew on COPA from David to Panama City and then to Houston on United and then to Austin.
The stop in Houston was a nightmare. The immigrations area has greatly reduced staff and the tremendous line caused us to miss our flight to Austin.
Waiting in line we talked to others in the same situation. Some from Mexico and other Latin American countries. One was only flying through Houston to connect to another flight and not planning on spending the night in Houston.
Of course, if you miss your flight due to the lack of help at the immigration area, it is up to you to pay for the taxi to temporary losing, the losing and any fees in the change of flight.
After spending 2 plus hours in line and passing through immigration, running to get our bags we got to the United desk to find out our options. Of course our flight had stopped boarding 10 minutes before we were at the United desk.
There were only 2 seats left on the last plane to Austin. We took them. We arrived about 1AM and got our bags and took a taxi to the motel. We were in bed by 1:30 AM and had to to catch the 9:30AM AMTRAK to Ft. Worth.
Jim and Nena, friends in Ft. Worth, had told us how much fun some of their relatives had taking AMTRAK to Oklahoma City from Ft. Worth. I like the idea, so scheduled is instead of driving all the way from Austin to Enid as I usually do,
It was great. We spent the night with Jim and Nena and I had my first TexMex meal in some time. We arrived in Ft. Worth around 2PM and didn’t leave for Oklahoma until about 5PM the following day so Nena and Lilliam had plenty of time for Nena to show the many benefits of living in Ft. Worth. Garage sales, cheap shopping, etc. Luckily, Lilliam could not take the sofa she liked with her, so I skated by that good buy.
The AMTRAK to Oklahoma City was fun and exciting. We had to stop an hour in Purcell, Oklahoma to allow three tornadoes to pass through Oklahoma City. We saw lots of rain, but no strong winds or hail.
We took a taxi to the Oklahoma City Courtyard Marriott, where we had a little excitement. When I checked in, I asked the young lady for the number for Enterprise Car Rental. She rudely told me they didn’t make reservations for rental cars. I told her I had a reservation, but needed the local number to confirm it would be ready in the morning. She begrudgingly looked up the number.
She gave us our room card and sent us on our way. I put the card in the room door and opened it to find a man sitting on the floor in his shorts. Without looking up he asked if I knew how to turn on the TV? The room spelled like cigar smoke.
I immediately shut the door and went back to the lobby. I told a new attendant, that I would like to request a room that didn’t already have an occupant. I got a slight apology for the problem and was given a new room assignment.
The new room was smoke free and looked fine. We slept well. The next morning I went to make coffee and found that there were was only a single paper coffee cup. I had to call room service to have more delivered.
When I went to check out, I asked the morning lady if she would accept some constructive criticism. She was very friendly and said she would. I told her of the previous night and how my request for the Enterprise number was received, getting assigned to a smoke filled room occupied by a fellow in shorts, and finding that there was only a single coffee cup.
I told her for $230 a night, I expect a little better service. She was very understanding and knocked off $75. Lilliam had waited for me at the front of the hotel, because she hates it when I confront service problems. When she learned that the interface had been pleasant and had a financial benefit, we were back on track for a pleasant drive to Enid.
Enterprise dropped the car off at the hotel and I put in the Garmin GPS I had purchased for the trip. The drive to Enid was about an hour and we checked into our residence for the next several days. My cousin had us put in a retirement apartment complex. It was fantastic. Kitchen, living room, two bed rooms and all for $50 a day. Hotels in the Enid were going for around $100 a day, so we had a great deal.
We checked in and drove over to my uncle’s house the see how the 100th birthday schedule was shaping up. He was sitting in front of his 70” TV he had purchased since I was there last. He caught me up on all the plans and we set up to tour his farms and check to make sure my farm had not down away.
He even let me drive to see how I liked his new Ford Pickup. He had gotten this one because when you opened the door, there was a running board that came down to make it easier to enter. He said his old one was getting too hard for him to get into. This pickup had everything. The leather seats even had a “W” on them.
The last time we visited we also made the same drive to the farms, but he drove. I was in the passenger seat with Lilliam sitting behind me. As we rode to the farm, Lillim leaned up and tapped me on the shoulder and told me “He drives better than you do”.
My uncle is a real gem. He has always been my father figure after my dad died.
The day for the 100th birthday celebration came and my uncle made sure he was in dressed for the occasion including a tie.
At the end of the event which lasted about 5+ hours, the attendance was round 300. There was more food and desserts than my small stomach could take in. It was a great day. We got the award for coming the farthest distance.
After the event, I talked to my uncle and asked if he had a new milestone he was wanting to hit, now that he had passed 100. Without thinking he said he understood the oldest living man was 113. I asked if he was setting his sights on 115. He said 114. Everyone always needs a goal.
Our return trip to Texas went quite a bit smoother. We stayed in the Renaissance, where I had wanted to stay on the way up, but it had been sold out. It was about 1/2 the price of the Courtyard and much nicer. We enjoyed our stay. The next morning we left on AMTRAK for Austin. We stopped in Ft. Worth to change trains and Jim and Nena met us at the station with food in hand before our next leg.
The also brought our large luggage because it couldn’t be checked to Oklahoma. Only carry on luggage was allowed in the Oklahoma leg. Jim had noticed how light the large suitcases were. That is because they were practically empty to hold the new purchases that Lilliam planned in Austin.
We were met at the Austin AMTRAK station by my daughter and her injured husband. Reed is a bicycling enthusiast and in great physical condition. However, he had entered their home recently from a ride in his riding shoes nd when they hit the tile floor, he slipped and broke his wrist. He entertained us while we were there showing us the X-Rays and stitches from the operations. I think my daughter is placing a new sign by the front door to remove shoes before entering.
Lilliam is always in heaven when she is around babies. Great grandson Nealon provided her much enjoyment. I am happy to say he is doing well. He was over 7 pound now after being 2 pounds 5 ounces. He hd dropped to 2 pounds 2 ounces the first week after his birth. Thank goodness for digital cameras. I think my granddaughter have over 3000 photos in the time since his birth.
While he was officially just 4 months old, he was only 2 months past his intended birth date. My granddaughter’s placenta wasn’t providing the nourishment needed and he had to be taken early. My granddaughter should write a book of her experience spending 2 months in the hospital with her first born. Thank goodness he was in a Texas hospital and not a David hospital.
We spent 2 weeks in Austin. There wasn’t a mall that we missed. I took in Fry’s Electronics and Best Buy and a couple others to satisfy my technology fix. I brought back an Amazon Fire TV and two Amazon Fire Sticks. Lilliam brought back a Canon digital camera setup for her granddaughter in Panama City. Her granddaughter is taking some photography classes send Lilliam the money to get the setup.
The return flights back to Panama went much smoother. Bags were checked in Austin and went direct to David. The only thing that is a nuisance, is the COPA flight to and from David. The bus that takes you to and from the flights is extremely packed and uncomfortable. I don’t see how a handicapped person could handle the in country transportation. Luckily, I am not there yet.
But, we are back! We has a taxi driver we trust waiting for our arrival. We got home and were welcomed to a house that didn’t look like we had been missed. Of course I know all was OK because i had kept up with what was happening by monitoring the security camera system that I had recently upgraded. We knew how often the pool boy had stopped by to take care of the pool. We could monitor how the gardner ws keeping up with things.
Of course we also have good neighbors that keep an eye on things. We are lucky to live in one of the better areas in Chiriqui.
I think I have covered most of our travel to and from the US. I want to make another post on observations and comparisons we were able to make about living in Texas and living in Panama, but that deserves a separate post.