Monday, July 17, 2017

East Coast Vaca - Day 5 (June 27)

What a day!!  

Backing up:  before we left home, Layth and I mused together about what adventures we might encounter.  Today was an adventure!  It was a day that the best laid plans all went awry and I am sure it will provide memories and stories for years to come.

Today was our transition day out of New York; the day we were to pick up our rental car - a minivan -  that we booked months ago and head to Boston.

Layth and Soren left to get the van (the dealer was in Manhattan) while Keiton and I stayed at the hotel to pack.  We had packed crazy tight when leaving Seattle and I was relishing the fact that I could "spread out" finally since I was going to be picked up in our rental van.   I had a snack food bag, a small zipper cooler, and a "car bag" with things like our beach towels, travel books, sunscreen, etc.  I was just completing the packing task when Layth called with the news that although our reservation was sound, they would not let us drive the vehicle off the lot because we did not have a credit card to put on file.  Now, we've rented cars in the past, both for vacation and for work, many times and have never had a problem.  

Our debit card would not work they said because we were picking up the vehicle at one place and dropping off at another (our tickets are out of Baltimore).  They would not take cash, and they wouldn't let us have a relative call in with their card - the person had to be present.  We had no option except to look for and find a rental car from somewhere else, out of New York for that day, preferably within a couple of hours, that would not require us to return the vehicle to the same location. 

It was close to 10am when I finally hung up the phone with Layth and checkout at the hotel was 11am.  Layth stayed in Manhatten instead of coming back to the hotel in case we could find something quick that he could pick up immediately and bring over.  We started to work on finding a car; Layth on a street corner in Manhatten working from his phone and me from the hotel on my tablet.  It was discouraging as we got into the process because we had found such a great random deal initially (hundreds less than anything else we had found) that the price of renting a vehicle (we quickly gave up the idea of a van and started looking smaller)  starting TODAY was shocking!  

To make matters worse, we had a lot of trouble communicating in that, for whatever reason, Layth could not call me - the call would not go through.  And my calls to him would only go through about once for every four times dialed.  It was crazy intense.  As it became clear that we would not have this resolved by check out time, I asked the front desk for a late check-out and they agreed to give us one extra hour.  Not much time, but I'll take it!!

Back to work furiously.  I finally had a brainstorm.  About 2/3 of our way through our trip we would be staying near Baltimore Airport which was the same airport we would fly home from.  Maybe we could rent a car from New York to Baltimore for the 2/3 duration, and then switch cars there for a round trip.  Looked into it and that was most definitely cheaper!  Renting out of New York is just plain expensive!  Much more expensive than renting out of Baltimore.  So, that is what we eventually booked.  It didn't get us anywhere close to our original deal, but it saved us a few hundred on anything else we could find.  I'll take it!

Still though, we booked but we wondered if the credit card thing would be an issue with this other company!  We purposely chose to book through the company that Layth books through every time he goes on a business trip because he has a "frequent mileage number" or whatever you call it.  We hoped maybe that would help our case if the card was an issue!

That finished and by now a little after 11am, Layth started back to the hotel and I called customer service to see if they would accept a debit card.  The number took me to the general nation-wide help center and the lady there said that "if we had round trip tickets it shouldn't be a problem".  Problem was, we didn't have round-trip tickets!  Our tickets were out of Baltimore!  She said if that was the case, unfortunately a debit card would not work; we needed a credit card.  My heart sank.  I was in the process of looking up the number of the specific dealer at JFK when Layth walked in.  I suggested he call them which he did.

The boys by now were upset because we had tickets to a baseball game that night at Fenway Park in Boston and the time was ticking by.  I was sad because I realized by this time that I was not going to get to do my Newport Cliff Walk which was something that i had REALLY been looking forward too!  I knew though that we needed to get up to Boston asap if we were going to get to that game.

While Layth was on the phone (11:30 or so by now) I went crazy repacking as tight as I could because we were getting kicked out of the room in just a few minutes and we obviously would be carrying our stuff... somewhere, not driving away in a roomy rental van.

Layth's conversation was pretty intense.  He got passed around to different people, and each one would tell him no so he'd ask to talk to someone else.  At one point, while he was being transferred he said to me, "its not looking good, honey".  He worked hard though and pulled all the strings he had - the fact that he had been a loyal and good customer with them for years with no issues, and the fact that we were a family in distress with nowhere else to turn; they were our last hope.  FINALLY someone had compassion and agreed to make an exception.  And not a minute too soon.  We walked out of our room at like 11:57.   Everything was packed crazy, but we were in the suitcases we had originally brought.  I was pretty proud of myself.

Called for a taxi at the front desk and off to JFK we went to get our car.  Which ended up being as basic a "midsize SUV" as you can get!  It was a Jeep, but it had only the very, very basics.  Still, it was transportation and we weren't going to be picky at this point!  We were so thankful for it.

Looking at the time frame, we knew that there was no way we would make it for the start of the game; but we decided that we would still head up and go for whatever time we could.  Traffic seemed to get worse as we went, of course.  Our ETA kept changing to a later and later arrival time to our hotel, which was about 30 minutes south of Boston.  My itinerary included the exact directions and stations we were to use to get from our hotel to Fenway - my research had concluded that parking was scarce in Boston around Fenway and VERY expensive.

It was about 7:10, we were still on the road and I was telling Layth that we might make the last inning of the game if we were lucky when I looked up to see city - city that was too big to be the suburb we were supposed to be in.  Layth's phone had the destination of our hotel which was several miles south, but I looked over and saw that there were the lights of Fenway park only blocks away!!  It was incredible!!   For whatever reason, googlemaps took us WAY north (if you look at a map, its crazy!) and straight to Fenway Park.  "Exit here, that's Fenway Park RIGHT THERE!" I exclaimed as I worked furiously on my phone to pull up the exact directions. "I guess we're parking at Fenway after all!"  God totally took us to Fenway.  And the timing gets even BETTER!  The game was slated to start at 7:10 which is just about the time we pulled off the freeway.  We took quite a while to find parking and even when we finally did it was .7 miles away from the game.  We parked and walked as fast we could to the park, arriving about 8pm to find the first pitch JUST BEING THROWN!  The game had had a rain delay and was just beginning.  We were actually there right on time.  A total God thing.  And so neat to see the way all that worked out after the crazy day we had had!

They played two innings.  We got our hotdogs and had a late dinner and settled in to enjoy the game when they brought out the massive "tarps" and covered the infield and the screens around the field displayed a warning that severe weather was headed our way and everyone needed to take cover immediately. Our seats were covered which was a huge blessing, so we just got to stay put and watch all the action.  It rained, and hailed, and thundered, and lightening(ed) for over an hour.   When it was all over, they unveiled the field, and at 9:54pm (I looked at my watch!)  the third inning began!  We lasted until 10:45 or so; we were pretty beat and had a very busy and very full day planned for the next day.  We walked the mile or so back to the car and drove the 30 minutes south to our hotel where we finally checked in at 11:30.  Such a crazy day.  Saw God's hand in it all though, and we will have more than one story to tell about this day, through the years. 

 Here she is, in all of her "glory"!

We made it!  We are at Fenway Park!!

The massive tarp on the field.  The empty seats in the open.

The warning...

I have a whole series of these photos.  One of the way we stayed occupied during the rain-delay. Funny selfies.

Family photo at Fenway Park.