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Started: 2010-12-12 21:37:11

Submitted: 2010-12-12 22:30:47

Visibility: World-readable

After staying home for Thanksgiving, I flew out to San Diego for a week, then had exactly one normal week at work before my Christmas holiday plans wreak havoc on my schedule again. (I don't really expect anything to calm down after the holidays; I expect to be back in San Diego in January closely involved in one or another facet of an Important Development Effort With Schedules That Everyone Knows Are Crazy that I managed to get myself attached to.) It also turns out that Kiesa has a boatload of comp time after working full-time for two weeks in November upgrading her integrated library system, so she decided to head out to Washington to spend a week with each of Calvin's grandmothers. I'll be joining them then in a complicated sequence of flights:

  • Sunday, 12 December: Kiesa and Calvin fly to Walla Walla.
  • Thursday, 16 December: I fly to Walla Walla, meeting Willy in Denver (en route from Alabama), for Christmas with my family.
  • Sunday, 19 December: I fly home to go back to work. Kiesa and Calvin fly to Seattle and are picked up by Kiesa's mother.
  • Friday, 24 December: I fly to Portland for Christmas with Kiesa's family.
  • Wednesday, 29 December: We fly from Portland to Omaha (stopping in Denver) for Megafest 9.1.
  • Sunday, 2 January: We fly home from Omaha to Denver.

That first date was today. Kiesa and Calvin were scheduled to depart Denver at noon on an Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle, ultimately ending up in Walla Walla (after flying to Pasco) to spend the week with my mother. This gave us plenty of time to get up at a reasonable hour and drive to the airport. I parked in the terminal garage to make sure Kiesa, Calvin, and their luggage made it to the right places. Kiesa acquired a little nylon strap that attached the toddler carseat's LATCH hooks in such a way that she could use her rolling carry-on suitcase as a sort of stroller, carrying both Calvin and the carseat with much less effort than would be possible otherwise. (The airlines will technically allow us to carry Calvin as a lap infant until he's two, but we never thought that sounded like fun. Buying a full adult fare for Calvin isn't always cheap but does buy us a great deal of peace of mind. As a result, Kiesa needed to drag the carseat all the way through the airport to the gate.) As we were getting off the elevator in the terminal, the elevator stopped half an inch below the floor, so Kiesa had to push the somewhat-unwieldy suitcase/carseat/stroller contraption over a tiny bump, which proved too much for the retractable handle of the suitcase. Both tubes comprising the handle buckled and quickly broke, rendering the entire apparatus unusable and stranding us in the elevator lobby with two large suitcases, a toddler carseat strapped snugly to a suitcase with a broken handle, and a toddler strapped into the carseat, still dazed from the car ride and his new surroundings.

The first order of business was to find somewhere to sit and evaluate the situation. I left Kiesa in charge of the suitcases and picked up the carseat/suitcase contraption, with Calvin still strapped in the carseat, and limped around the corner to an alcove were I expected to find a bank of airport-grade chairs. My instincts served me well and afforded an excellent view of the Southwest bag check queue. (I saw a variety of small children attached to a variety of restraint apparatuses, including at least one toddler strapped into a toddler carseat strapped to a carry-on-sized rolling suitcase. I also recognized the distinctive hard plastic case carrying a hospital-grade breast pump in a stroller pushed by the mother of twins.) Kiesa headed off in search of options, our least-bad option being to acquire a suitable piece of replacement luggage and send the broken one home with me. I watched Calvin; he recovered from his car-ride-induced daze after fifteen minutes and started toddling around, eventually requiring me to restrain him with the leash Kiesa bought expressly for this purpose.

Kiesa found a suitable piece of luggage to replace the broken suitcase at the luggage store helpfully located inside the main terminal, moved her stuff to the new suitcase, and left me with the old one. I rolled the checked suitcases to bag check and took them to security, where Kiesa thought she'd be ok on her own. (Kiesa injured her arm late last week and thought she'd need my help through security, but this morning she thought she'd be ok. We now know that we need to ask the airline for a Demonstrated Need Pass to get me through security without a boarding pass.)

With my major objective of the day complete, I headed into Boulder for some Christmas shopping, pho chay for lunch, and my own luggage shopping. My luggage collection has a gap between the small carry-on suitcase I usually use (with a capacity of approximately 3000 cubic inches) and the large suitcase Kiesa took to Walla Walla this morning (with a capacity of approximately 6500 cubic inches). I can get myself on most normal weekend or week-long solo trips with just my small suitcase, but when traveling with Calvin (or traveling around gift-giving holidays) I may need a bit of extra space. I visited a dedicated baggage store at the missing-hyphen mall, taking a few notes but remaining generally uninspired. I headed down the mall to the department store I first knew as May D&F (circa 1991), then Foleys, now Macy's, to look at their selection. Their entire luggage department, tucked away in a corner of the lower level, was larger than the dedicated baggage store, and I gravitated to the no-frills soft-shell Samsonite suitcases. (My luggage requirements are fairly low-key; I do not need complicated inner packing systems or built-in shoe boxes in my suitcase. I can appreciate the benefits of such systems, and I can conceive of scenarios in which I might actually take advantage of them, but they're not currently on my list of priorities, and they'd actually get in the way.) I was a little worried that I didn't have my notes handy to remind me exactly what size of suitcase I currently had, but seeing the full sets in front of me convinced me that I was missing the middle size, so I picked up a black 25" Samsonite DkX Expandable Rolling Upright, with an approximate capacity of 4500 cubic inches, right in the middle of my luggage gap.

I haven't yet decided which of my trips I'll be taking my new suitcase on, but it'll be ready whenever I need it.