I got up at the extremely uncivilized hour of 4am this morning so that I could catch a 6am flight to San Antonio, Texas via Newark, New Jersey. (Those of you who know me know that I am not a morning person so this was a major accomplishment in and of itself.)
We boarded the plane on-schedule and then spent about half an hour driving around the airport visiting the de-icing pad and then holding before taking position for take off in order to allow the engines to warm up since this was the first flight of the day.
Although we arrived about 20 minutes behind schedule, the flight to Newark was uneventful and I got a nice picture of sunrise above the clouds. This made the connection to the flight to San Antonio was one of the tightest I’ve ever had in all the flights I’ve taken over the years.
The flight from Ottawa arrived at one end of the terminal building and the flight to San Antonio was departing from the other end of the terminal. Knowing that there was less than half an hour to departure, I jogged the whole length of the terminal, pushing my way through a cluster of people trying to figure out where they had to go.
There’s nothing like hearing a general boarding call for your flight when you’re a good five to ten minutes away from the gate to get your blood pumping.
Fortunately, Newark’s airport has slidewalks, but those are only really effective when people aren’t standing smack in the middle making it difficult, if not virtually impossible, for people to shove past them. But I managed to shove past them so I was able to make it to the gate with only a minute or so to spare and board the plane without any further delays.
We pushed back from the gate and the pilot came on and told us we were #11 in line for takeoff. Well, that happens from time to time, so I used the opportunity to take pictures of the planes landing and taking off on the runway we were waiting for. Finally it was our turn and we took off and headed up to about 30000′.
Airlines in Canada have stopped serving meals on domestic flights. If you want something to eat, you have to buy it and as I’ve commented before some of the options may not be the healthiest. Continental Airlines, on the other hand, is still serving a fairly healthy breakfast, even to those travelling coach. The served everyone a meal consisting of a packet of Total Cereal, a medium-sized box of raisins and a little carton of milk — basically DIY Raisin Bran, except with half the sodium of the equivalent in Canada. A very nice surprise because I wasn’t expecting it.
The last half hour or so of the flight was a little bumpy as we flew over the weather system that appears to have spawned a tornado in Atlanta this evening. The landing was "solid". We taxied to the gate and I experienced that wonderful sensation of sweet warm air wafting in around the jetway.
I collected my luggage and made my way to the taxi queue. The trip to the hotel was fairly quick (particularly as the cabbie went through a red light when he was making a phone call to one of his buddies — but I digress).
The Westin Riverwalk is everything I’ve grown to expect in a Westin hotel. My room is huge, complete with two separate balconies and it overlooks the Riverwalk, a canal-thingie that runs through downtown San Antonio. I unpacked, changed into shorts and sandals, grabbed my GPS and a map from the concierge and headed out to do a little exploring.
While there are a several geocaches within walking distance of the hotel, I wasn’t successful in finding either of the two. Both were in high muggle areas, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time rummaging through the plants. In fact, I found the sticker marking the location of one of the caches, but couldn’t spend any more time searching where the hint said it was. Oh well.
Heading in the other direction, which is towards the Alamo, I came across an outdoor theatre that straddles the Riverwalk. They were setting it up for St. Patrick’s Day festivities, complete with Guinness and mini-donuts. (Bet you didn’t know mini-donuts are Irish, eh?)
I headed back there a couple of hours later when things were underway, bought a Guinness and, watched the dancers and listened to the live music for a while.
Dinner was found around the next bend in the Riverwalk at a sports bar. Eventually, I made my way back to the hotel.
Thus endeth Day 1. More pictures are in my gallery.