Tripping out

Of Moose and Men

Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2007

From the American Heritage Dictionary: "vacation n. A period of time devoted to pleasure, rest and relaxation ..."

Mrs. Poynor and I recently returned from a little sojourn to Nevada. We originally told everyone we were going on vacation. However, the trip did not fit the definition.

The problems began roughly five days before we were scheduled to leave. Mrs. Poynor came down with the respiratory infection I had brought home from a business trip a week earlier. We both felt poorly enough that we briefly discussed canceling the trip but decided against it. Our decision was a good one, by the day we left, I had recovered enough to fireman carry her down the jetway onto the plane.

In Seattle we discovered Alaska Airlines had delayed our flight by two hours. Not to worry: Vegas is a town that doesn't sleep.

We touched down in Vegas at a few minutes before 2 a.m. By 2:40, when the baggage carousel shut down, we were fairly certain the bag containing all my clothes was missing. It's perfectly understandable as to why the bag didn't make it; the airline had an extra two hours in which to misplace it.

It was quitting time at the lost baggage office, and the agent's eagerness to get our form filled out reflected it. He listened with a glazed look while we gave him the name and phone number of the motel we were staying at. We explained in detail that we'd only be in Vegas one night, leaving for Ely, Nev. in the morning.

"Not a problem," he assured us, "we'll get that bag to Ely, if we have to. But I'll bet if you call after 8:30, the bag will be here on the next flight."

"Well, just in case, let me give you our cell phone number."

He dutifully wrote the cell number down, and cheerfully ushered us out of the office.

At the hotel, some point well past 3 a.m., things didn't get any better. The clerk scowled as she typed various mutilations of our name into the computer. "I'm sorry, sir," she finally said, "you simply do not have a reservation with us."

"But I have this confirmation number."

"I don't have that number, either. Fortunately, we do have a room available, so if I may have your credit card ..."

"We've already paid for the room! See? Here's the receipt."

"That is a receipt, sir, not an Arizona Charlie's receipt. You will have to work that out with them."

Too tired to continue the battle, we paid for the room and crawled off to collapse for a five-hour nap before resuming the battle. A call to netted Mrs. Poynor an assertion that the reservation number had indeed been passed along to our hotel, the Stratosphere.

I can see how those folks got confused: Arizona Charlie's ... Stratosphere ... they sound a lot alike. Shoot, they've even got some of the same letters, and both are in English. Perfectly understandable.

With the mystery of the missing room solved and a refund to the credit card we were ready to do battle with Alaska Airlines.We left a message to please call the hotel before noon, checkout time, or on our cell phone.

At a little past noon, we drove out of Vegas toward Ely, stopping to do a little clothes shopping on the way.

Ely is in some beautiful, mountainous country the key word being "mountainous," as Ely sits at roughly 6,300 feet in altitude. Our plans were to pick some pine nuts, do a little geocaching, visit some ghost towns and dig some garnets. The problem was that Ely is lower than the mountains in the area we had planned to hike. It's hard enough to just walk at 7,000 feet when you're from sea level, let alone hike. It's darn near impossible when you're hacking up a lung.

For that reason, we spent most of our time sitting around wheezing in our very own celebrity room.

Oh baby, that's right, eat your heart out: we stayed in the John Schneider room at historic Hotel Nevada. It's true Bo Duke had slept in our room. And there were numerous pictures to prove it. Sitting around, gasping for air, it was a little creepy to be looking at "Dukes of Hazard" memorabilia. I particularly liked the old metal lunch box and plastic guitar display. They were almost as neat as the Bo and Luke action figures. (Which makes me wonder why there was no Cousin Daisy action figure. Maybe it was a Barbie competition thing.) No wonder they were all secured in a locked, Plexiglas box; they were, no doubt, very valuable.

After four days of not getting our calls returned by Alaska Airlines, Mrs. Poynor called our home to check messages there. It was a stroke of genius.

"Hello," the message said, "I am Margina, at Arizona Charlie's on the Boulder Highway. Alaska Airlines delivered a bag with this phone number on it. We don't show any reservations for a person named Poynor. Could you please call us?"

News flash: there are two Arizona Charlie's in Clark County, Nev., one is right in Las Vegas, where we stayed the first night, and one is on the outskirts on the way to Boulder City, Nev. The bag had been delivered to the latter, 9 at night, the day after we had left Vegas.

A return call to Margina secured a place for the bag in the valet's luggage storage area. It also got us a room at the hotel for our early return to Vegas. What the heck, you can't sit around and luxuriate in the ghostly presence of John Schneider your entire vacation. Plus, I suspected it might be easier to breathe at a lower elevation.

For our next vacation, I think we're both going to work.

A.E. Poynor is a freelance writer who lives in Kenai.

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