I'm home after a long trip to Roanoke, VA and back. It was quite an experience overall. The 1-3/4 hour drive to SMF was punctuated by the puppy screaming and howling in the crate behind me in the van. She messed the newspapers once and I stopped and changed them. Once I got to the airport, I put her into the carry-on Sherpa Bag and she was much happier.
After riding the shuttle from the parking lot, I arrived at the terminal about 1½ hours before my scheduled departure time. After waiting in line at the very long United/Lufthansa counter at SMF for about ten minutes, the people around me told me I could do curbside check-in if it was a domestic flight (much shorter line). After waiting through that line to be checked-in, the Sky Cap informed me I had been "randomly selected by the computer" for special inspection and would have to go back to the inside line!
I did so, then spied my two acquaintances half way up and asked them if they'd mind if I went back to my original place beside them and they had no problems, so I moved up, but the line was still so long, I was worrying about the time factor. After another twenty minutes or so, the Sky Cap came and rescued me and brought me up to a new window just opening. There I was directed to a special area where they would search my checked bag and stamp it before I could receive my boarding pass. I received my boarding pass at the same time my two "friends" were receiving theirs.
I next joined the long line up the stairs to the x-ray machines. They had blocked off the escalators in order to have people form one line up the stairs. This took at least another twenty minutes. I placed my purse on the conveyor belt and was told to take the puppy out of the carrier, place the carrier through the machine and carry the puppy through. No problem. I arrived at my gate about ten minutes before take off and presented my boarding pass. Oops! I was specially coded so had to go to a man who completely searched my purse, asking me to turn on my cell phone (to ensure it was indeed a cell phone), "wanded" my body for metal, then finally allowed me to return to the door, just as it closed and locked in front of me. An airline employee opened it and as I ran down the ramp I could hear them closing the airplane door, so I called out to wait for me. The flight attendant sternly informed me that "you just made it", to which I replied that I'd been there, honest!
The flight itself was fine. I had a window seat; there was thankfully a dog lover in the aisle seat, with no one between us. So, after take off, the puppy carrier rode in the middle seat, with the puppy either on my lap, or in the carrier with her head sticking up looking around. The puppy learned about "people food" on this trip, sampling some of my omelet, and my seatmate gave her water in a cup.
After landing at Washington/Dulles, I informed the airline personnel at the check-in to that I was specially "coded for inspection" and didn't want to miss my flight because of it. They were very sympathetic to my tale and I boarded the next flight with plenty time to spare. However, this flight was a very small plane and I was assigned a single seat on the left, with no room for a puppy carrier under the seat in front of me. I placed the puppy under the seat to my right across the aisle, and a young woman offered to trade seats with me, which made everything much better.
The puppy was quite tired by now and slept the entire flight, even though several people petted her. Upon arrival in Roanoke, I was greeted by the puppy buyers, Lois and Anne, who immediately fell in love with her. I had a nice visit with them in their beautiful home, including going for a short jog Saturday morning, only to "run into" a 10k race, which I "joined" for a short time.
The fall colors are absolutely beautiful, the air cool and fresh, but the hills almost killed me. The people in the race encouraged me to continue on with them, but as I haven't run a 10k in years, I turned around at the huge "cemetery hill" heading into the tiny village of Fincastle (est. 1772), ending up with my planned 3 mile-run. Spent the rest of Saturday hanging out, playing with puppy, etc. Had a good seafood dinner that evening, then got up "at the crack of dawn" Sunday to be sure to arrive at the airport early (in case I was still specially coded).
Luckily, the computer did not send up any red flags on the return flight, so I just had to endure the long hours getting home.
To my travel agent, Dana, and my dog sitter, Marlene: Thanks for all your hard work!