Yellowstone Vacation – Part 4
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
Wednesday morning, we woke up and Terry’s right eye was swollen shut, and his left eye was about halfway shut. We went to the emergency walk in clinic where they cleaned out his eyes. They also gave us a prescription for antibiotic eye drops and a cream to help with the swelling.
We then went to the pharmacy and dropped off our prescriptions to obtain extra medications because we didn’t know how long it would take to get home. We dropped off our film to be developed on the outside chance that we would actually be able to fly on Friday. We normally do not allow the security people to x-ray our camera bag or film so that the film is not damaged. However, we knew better than to ask for any special treatment due to the terrorist attacks.
Finally, we went to the Jackson Hole Airport. All of the rental car agencies were closed as there were no cars. Next, we spoke to the United Airlines ticket agent. She indicated that we would have a better chance of leaving on Friday directly from Denver as the flight from Jackson Hole could be delayed, and we might miss the Denver connection. I didn’t believe for a minute that the Jackson Hole airport would be operational by Friday.
We left the airport and headed to Thrifty Rent-a-car, which was off-airport. We explained that my stepfather had passed away and that we needed to take the car out of its normal territory. They allowed us to do so, at the not so small price of $450 for a one-way drop fee. I later obtained a refund by writing to the president of Thrifty and explaining that my stepfather had passed, or I wouldn’t normally have taken the car out of its territory. I also didn’t give them a choice about the refund in the letter, noting that the attorney general had issued a statement that price gouging was unacceptable and companies would be prosecuted. I hope they would have done the right thing anyway.
Thursday, September 13, 2001
On Thursday, we checked out of our hotel and headed to Denver. Terry developed a small rash on the back of his legs, but we thought it would be okay until we could either get to Denver or return home.
On the way to Denver, we saw our first moose. We thought we were lucky, as someone had caught it and it was in a pasture (not so lucky for the moose). We pulled over and got out to take its picture. We approached slowly and talked quietly so as not to scare it. After taking its picture, we noticed that it still had not moved, so we were a little suspicious. When we got back under way, we saw a sign that said “Grumpy Moose Ranch – For Sale.” We just cracked up laughing because we’d stalked up to take a picture of a statue.
We stopped for directions to the airport and were advised that passengers with e-tickets were not permitted to fly. We promptly went directly to the airport to try to talk them in to exchanging our e-ticket for a hard ticket. The United ticket agents were quite helpful and sympathetic. They issued our hard tickets — but without asking for any identification! We were so relieved to get the e-ticket, that it did not dawn on us until later that the level of error was just inexcusable in the wake of the terrorist hijackings.
The United ticket agents had also explained that United was only going to fly 10% to 20% of their flights on Friday. Therefore, it was quite unlikely that we were actually going to get on a plane even though we had the hard copies. We walked around to the other airlines checking for vacancies when we saw this huge abandoned box. It was big enough to fit a bicycle into it. Terry went up to one of the Delta ticket agents and pointed out the box. The agent was like “Oh, I noticed that earlier today.” Terry told him that he thought it was a security issue and the agent said, “Okay, I’ll get someone to look into it.”
While we were at one of the ticket counters, I think it was Northwest, the agents said that all flights were shut down due to additional terrorist threats. When we heard that, we decided that we didn’t really want to fly, but we would make up our minds on Friday if our flight was not cancelled.
Just to be sure, we checked the rental cars, but not a single car was available on Thursday night. We also found out that the busses were all booked and that Amtrak had a four-day waiting period.
While we were at the airport, we were interviewed by the local ABC station, so I was on the 10:00 pm news. We tried to get someone to give up his or her seat and let us fly home, so that I could make my stepfather’s funeral services. However, the editors cut it so much, that the whole story was not told. Unfortunately, the interview was not going to solve our problem. And the funeral services could not be delayed, as several of my family members had already driven to my hometown anticipating the services to be on Saturday.
To be continued…
Clip art courtesy of Microsoft Word.