Monday, July 27, 2009

Home Sweet Home

After logging over 2,240 miles on our rental car in 9 days and flying roughly 3,100 miles round trip, we are finally home! I'll be posting this week some of our 1,311 pictures we took and maybe some more of Tobey's famous Nat Geo work. For starters you can click here to see pictures and a few video clips from Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument and Sylvan Lake. I have also added a permanent link on the right side of the blog under 'slideshows'.

I'll start our trip from the beginning....

We left the house at 3:30 a.m. on the 18th and drove to the Tampa airport, arriving the required two hours before our 6:00 a.m. flight. It was a shame that the ticket counter wasn't open at that time so I do not understand the requirement to arrive so early.

While unloading our luggage from Shrek, Tobey's suitcase handle broke. You already know his propensity to man-handle things and he will deny it but he man-handled his suitcase and it broke. We were stuck with this huge suitcase with no rolly capability for the next two days.

When the ticket counter finally opened and we checked in with our luggage said broken bag was 4 pounds overweight. Our other large bag was 3 pounds under. The nice ticket lady informed us that the 4 pound overage would cost us $39 in addition to the $15 per bag we had already paid. Needless to say, we opened that bag right there and stuffed various articles into our carry on luggage.

Our flights were fine and we landed in Minneapolis around 10 a.m. and went straight to the car rental counter. Working for the City, I get a discount if we use Avis and the last few times we have nothing but problems with them. When we arrived at the Avis counter one person was running both the Budget and the Avis counters and there was a small line. The family ahead of us had requested a car seat for their infant who was snoozing in her stroller. The ticket counter man informed them they had the car seat but no straps for it. The poor mother informed him that they needed the straps to yanno, strap the child in and that they would wait for another car seat to be delivered.

Then it was our turn. Finally. The ticket counter person, who was wearing a name tag, took the time to introduce himself to us and let us know he would be assisting us with our rental. Even though his name was Muhammad we will call him Bob for the sake of this blog. Bob goes over our reservation and then checks his computer to see if he can give us a discount. I informed him I already had a government discount and he said he saw that and then wanted to know what airline we flew in on. We told him Air Tran and he found that they had a special Air Tran discount today. Sure they did.

Bob informed us that for flying on Air Tran we were eligible for a
Lamborghini upgrade for only $23. I thought this was wonderful until I asked if that was for the entire 9 day rental period or was that $23 a day. Bob responded that it was a daily rate but that it would seat 5 and handle all of our luggage. We declined and said we wanted the car we reserved which I am sure was a 1973 pintomobile. Bob then checks his computer again and says he can get us in a Porsche for only $5 a day. Again I ask if that is a weekly rate or daily. Bob replied daily. We declined this upgrade and all of the insurance upgrades too.

At this point I was becoming frustrated with Bob. I didn't want fries with my shake. I didn't want to biggie size. I wanted what I had already scoured the 'net for the best price on and reserved. Bob then comments that we must like our compact cars. I had to walk away before pummeling Bob with the Avis brochures he had on the counter. Aren't you proud of me, I didn't even yell at Bob. I think I am learning that thing my Mom always said I needed: patience.

When I returned 10 minutes later to the counter, Tobey was finishing up with Bob and we were on our way to search for our car in their rental car garage. While there were Avis workers on site, not a one offered to help us find our car or help us with our baggage with the broken handle. Tobey then tells me Bob tried to continue to sell him insurance after I left offering a policy just in case the car gets a flat tire. News flash Bob: if a rental gets a flat or blows a gasket, you are coming and replacing it for free. Any who....

The moral of this part of our vacation is 1. Don't use Avis and 2. If they give you a Ford Focus, just say, "No thanks." It was the worst and loudest sounding car I have ever been in. The Ford decal should have been the first sign things would not go well.

We drove from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, South Dakota hoping to see my old friend Rosie. Rosie's mother is in the hospital there and her family is taking shifts to be with her. Unfortunately Rosie wouldn't be in Sioux Falls until the next day so we visited with her on the trip back.

We continued on to Rapid City and checked into our hotel room around 10:30 that night but that post is for tomorrow.



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