Saturday, September 20, 2008

hop, skip, fly...

i got home last night at 9 or so. i'm leaving tomorrow at 2. this sort of weekend is the only thing i really hate about my job. however, there was no good way to schedule all the things that had to happen in the coming weeks, there was merely a slightly less sucky way and many much more sucky ways. so i chose the slightly less sucky option, and this is it.

good news? i have a dear friend visiting, my dogs are thrilled to see me, tonight i get a mulligan on my dad's birthday dinner, i have terrific job security, and my wife keeps things rolling when i'm out. i have a good life.

it isn't often that travel really surprises me. i've been on two travel engagements a month for the last two years, at least on average, and i've seen most every possible permutation of travel arrangements. there are the airports where you have to climb down the stairs, hike across the tarmac, pick up your own bag, and walk to the rental car. there are the airports that have buses and trains and in which everything is fully automatic. there are hotels with 100 rooms and hotels with five. sometimes my wallet sets off the metal detector, and sometimes the pocket knife i forgot i was carrying fails to set off the metal detector. (don't worry, it's a tiny little swiss army-style thing made mostly of plastic.)

this last trip? i was SURPRISED. not just a little, i capitalized that part to emphasize the level of surprise. my boss-in-law booked my travel for me for this trip because it all came together at the last minute just before i left for vacation. seriously, i sent him my flight preferences at 4:45 on the friday i left for utah. he sent me a link to a hotel he knew of in the area and told me i could stay there if i wanted. i spent about 30 seconds on the webpage verifying that it was indeed a hotel with rooms that contained beds, toilets and showers and wrote him back saying that sounded good to me. so when i landed at john wayne airport in orange county, i drove my rented ford taurus up to long beach and was following the directions of lola, my gps, in the direction of my hotel. it was nautical themed, i remembered that from the website, and it was called Queen Mary. i thought that was funny and ironic, because Queens have a habit of using the phrase "Whatever, Mary," with each other when one is being excessively dramatic.

and then i drove under a freeway sign that indicated the two left lanes went to Queen Mary. this was my first sign that maybe something unusual was going on. ordinary hotels do not get their own dedicated freeway exits, let alone two lanes. after following the signs and lola's instructions, i found myself in front of a gangway labeled Hotel Queen Mary. the gangway led to a CRUISE SHIP. apparently, somewhere in the 60's, transatlantic cruising become a money-losing business. jets were popular and affordable and about 36 times faster than cruise ships. so the Cunard Line sold off their stock of transatlantic boats, and their luxurious art deco jewel - the RMS Queen Mary - was purchased by the city of Long Beach, CA for a couple of millions of dollars.

so there i was, on a floating hotel that was once a luxury cruise ship, and then a hospital ship, and a troop carrier. apparently it figured quite heavily as a floating office in WWII. and because of its days as a hospital ship, it's also quite haunted. i never saw any ghosts while i was there, i guess i'm just not sensitive enough.


Gina Q. Steele said...

Are you serious that you didn't know that The Queen Mary was turned into a hotel or are you just being silly? The Queen Mary was one of the Cunard ships, the same maker of The Carpathia; the one that rescued people from The Titanic's lifeboats. Later White Star (maker of Titanic) and Cunard merged, and later were bought by Carnival. (Oh yes, I am boat trivia fiend.) And yes, we do say "Whatever, Mary!" - some just with a little more flourish! :p

Thalassa said...

dead serious. i had NO IDEA. i've never paid much attention at all to the cruise industry or ships in general. :) the only other ship i'm vaguely aware of (besides the titanic, of course) is the QE2, and that only because it was in the remake of "The Parent Trap" with Lindsay Lohan before she was a ho-bag.