We made it to Las Vegas after a frustrating experience at the McCarren Airport…Glad to be getting settled…

Tom’s taco salad at Lindo Michoacan in Henderson, where we all dined last night.
After my flight booking error, we were hoping for a seamless experience in getting to Las Vegas on the early flight I’d booked on Thursday night when I realized I had booked the original flight for the wrong date, August 1st, as opposed to July 7th.

My error cost us $719 since the flight I’d booked in June for July 7th was entirely non-refundable. Human error.  Plain and simple. By the time we arrive at Terminal 2 in Minneapolis, I’d decided to stop beating myself up.  After all, we hadn’t made a booking error in almost five years. It was inevitable that eventually, that would happen. 

With sheer will and determination, I plugged away online to find an alternative flight. I couldn’t believe the high prices for last-minute flights to Las Vegas. I’d always assumed that last-minute flights to Las Vegas would be a bargain. Not the case.

Awakening at 4:30 am, I bolted out of bed and showered and dressed as quickly as I could to allow Tom plenty of time to do the same. By 5:30, after packing the last of the toiletries and digital equipment, we were out the door and on our way, hoping to arrive at the airport two hours before the domestic flight.

Recently, we’ve discovered that getting to the airport one hour before a domestic flight isn’t possible anymore.  With beefed-up security, long lines, and passengers paying for their baggage, the wait can be longer than anticipated.

Richard, at dinner last night.

Tom dropped me at the terminal, leaving the three checked bags and two carry-on bags with me while he returned the red SUV.  In no time at all, he returned, and we headed to the ticket counter to check our bags. We willing paid $5 for a cart to hold the bags since we were both a little sluggish and didn’t feel like wheeling the five pieces. 

In other countries, there’s no charge to use luggage carts. Why do they charge so much for these in the US, we wondered? When our bags were overweight by a total of seven pounds (based on the allowable 50-pound max per checked bag), the ticket agent suggested we unload the seven pounds. 

There was no way either of us felt like digging through the tightly packed bags when we had no room for seven pounds in the checked bags. On many international flights, the checked bags can weigh up to 70 pounds each. 

Had our bags not been overweight, our cost for baggage would have been $85, $25 for each of two allowed bags, and $35 for the third checked bag. Instead, we agreed to pay the $135. With the last-minute booking, we hadn’t been able to choose our seats or prepay the bags. The agent gave us good seats in row 4 at the bulkhead, which worked well for us with the extra legroom.

From there, we found our gate and settled in while I prepared yesterday’s short, photo-less post. Sorry about that. I hope to do better going forward, but I must admit this 115F, 46C weather in Las Vegas hardly motivates either of us to get out sightseeing.  We’ll see how it goes.  It’s in the ’80s every day in Costa Rica, our next stop in our journey.

Tom, last night at dinner in Henderson, Nevada.
“Las Vegas Temperature Yesterday, July 7, 2017”

Maximum temperature yesterday: 115 °F (at 4:56 pm)
The minimum temperature yesterday: 90 °F (at 4:56 am)
Average temperature yesterday: 104 °F”

The flight was pleasant and uneventful. I sat next to a lovely woman from Minnesota, living in Las Vegas for 30 years. The time flew by as we chatted endlessly on a variety of topics.

Getting off the plane was also uneventful. We carefully followed the signs to “baggage claim,” taking a tram to the baggage pickup area. The flight attendant announced our bags would be arriving at Carousel #25. When we arrived at the baggage claim, there was no Carousel #25. 

Searching for an information desk, we were told by the rep that we were in the wrong terminal, and based on having left the secured area; we’d have to make our way to Terminal #3, very far away. The only means of getting to Terminal#3 was by taking a bus. 

Then, we had to make our way (another long-distance) to the waiting area for the bus to take us to Terminal #3.   After a 15 minute wait outdoors in the heat, the bus finally arrived. We boarded the bus, which took no more than 10 minutes to arrive at Terminal #3.

There were many other travelers on the bus who’d done the same thing we’d done, following the signs that said “baggage claim” upon exiting the plane. They, too, were baffled that their checked bags ended up in another terminal.

I had my usual shredded beef salad with lots of sliced avocado.

We entered Terminal #3, easily finding Carousel #25 to discover there were no bags on the carousel.  Apparently, so much time had passed since we got off the plane that the bags were moved to an office within the terminal, where we were relieved to find our three bags. 

Since we couldn’t take the cart with us, we finally had to pay for a third cart, another $5, which we eventually ditched when we had to board another bus to the car rental area.  Oh, good grief. This was by far the most confusing airport we’d ever seen. 

We’re hardly inexperienced travelers. We’ve never encountered such a mishmash of “where to go and how to find it” at any airport in our past years of world travel. 

Finally, we made it to the rental car area, found Avis, and picked up the little white car into which we managed to fit all of our bags. Thank goodness we hadn’t booked through Budget, where there was at least an hour-long line.

We were first up at the Avis counter, and twenty minutes later, we arrived at Richard’s lovely home in Green Valley Ranch, which he’d remodeled and also added a gorgeous pool and landscaping since we were last here in 2012.

We’re unpacked and settled. We grocery shopped yesterday, purchasing enough food to last a few days when I was determined to make a few home-cooked meals for all of us. Last night we dined out with Richard at yet another Mexican restaurant and had a very nice evening. It was so much fun catching up with him!

We are as comfortable as we could be at Richard’s home, anticipating the next three weeks will also fly by in a blur. On Monday, I’ll drive 45 minutes to see my sister Susan.

Have a great weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, July 8, 2016:

While at a museum in Vietnam, we learned the following; In the countryside, when an elder reaches 60 years of age, a coffin is made for them and kept under the house until they pass away. Once they’re buried, three meals a day are delivered to the burial site to support the deceased in their journey to heaven. After three years, a special celebration is held, and the soul is released to heaven. For more photos, please click here.

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