Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ukraine Trip Step 1- Check my bag

I suspected there might be an issue with the 50 lb checked bag limit when I had a hard time getting my bag off the ground. Sure enough, when I got to Nicole's and weighed it...61 lbs! After all, I had over 30 lbs of teaching supplies. So, nix the umbrella. Same with the trail mix and peanut butter. Move the Bible and paperback to my backpack. Drop a few articles of clothing. Ok, I'm ready to go... 50.0 lbs exactly.

I also suspected there might be a problem with checking my bag all the way to Donetsk, Ukraine. After all, I had one paperless ticket I bought to combine with paper tickets bought though EEM. So, I patiently waited through the line and told the US Airways clerk I wanted to check the bag all the way to Donetsk. Fine, no problem.

She clicks a few keys and prints the tag and starts attaching it to my bag... uh, that says JFK, I want to check the bag all the way to Donetsk, Ukraine. Oh, she says, that is as far as I can check it. No, no, no, I want to check it all the way to Donetsk. That's where I'm going today, and I want my bag to go there too. Uh, this is all I can do...when I enter your ticket into the computer, this is what it prints. Well, that is because you only entered the JFK ticket, and that is why I also showed you this ticket to Donetsk. Oh, that's an international flight, I can't check it on an international flight. No, no, no, I don't want to pick it up at JFK, then go through security again and recheck. Besides, if it didn't show up at JFK, I'd have a bag floating around with no markings as to where it should go. I'm flying directly to Donetsk and I want the bag to go directly there too. It shouldn't be a problem to check it straight through, I do it all the time.

Sir, we can't check a bag to an international location. We may not even have a cooperating agreement with that airline... Uh, the airline is Delta, I'm pretty sure you have an agreement with them.

Finally, with resignation and drooping shoulders, she picks up the other tickets and says, can you tell me again where you are going? Donetsk? Where is that again? I can't find it in the computer. Let's see, this Kiev, is that where you are going? Uh, I'm going through Kiev on the way to Donetsk, but I want to check the bag all the way through to Donetsk.

Sir, do you know the airport code? I can't find any Donetsk in the computer. Uh, no I don't happen to remember the code, but it is in there, because I looked at it from my computer at home.

At this point, I've occupied 20 minutes of the time of one of the two clerks. When she decides she needs to enlist the other clerk to help her with this issue, I suspect the several dozen passengers behind me may be getting a bit anxious... but the new clerk was anxious to help. Now, where are you going? How do you spell that? D-O-N-E-T-S-K? Where is that? Sir, it might be easier if you just picked up your bag at JFK and rechecked it. We can't be responsible if we hand it over to another airline...besides, we can't find this Donetsk in the computer. No, I want to check it to Donetsk! Maybe those Delta folks over there can find it if you take this Delta ticket over there. Sure enough, she checks with Delta, and a couple of minutes later comes back with a tag. DOK, that's the code for Donetsk. No problem, sir, you are on your way.

And, believe it or not, the bag arrived on schedule. Hooray, step one completed in my Eastern European journey.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pisgah National Forest
It has been quite a while since I've managed any interesting backpacking. So, when Jeremy mentioned that he will be going on Wilderness Trek this summer and would like to get some time on the trail, I resolved to work a short trip around preparations for my Ukraine trip.
We visited Pisgah National Forest, near the North Carolina-Tennessee border and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a great hike on Lost Cove Trail along two creeks and then up to a peak, before decending along a ridgeline to our starting point...a relatively easy 7.5 mile hike(except for the climb to the peak). Here is a nice Rhodedendron from along the ridgeline.
There were several nice waterfalls along the creeks.
Jeremy climbs a rock near Hunt Fish Falls and our campsite.