ACFW Conference 2018: Travel Day

This is my first time going to the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. This year it is being held in Nashville. So yesterday, after I got off work, I headed to the airport, but my travel story doesn’t really begin there.

The night before I dropped my phone. It was a fall that shouldn’t have done damage, but my screen went black and was unresponsive. This had happened before recently and I had gotten the screen fixed. Fortunately, they had a 90 day guarantee on their work. Unfortunately, I needed my phone for travel, and I had no time to get it fixed. My husband didn’t want me traveling without my phone though, and so he took time off work, took my phone back to the repair shop only to find they didn’t have any more screens for my phone, but the other mall on the other side of town did. So he drove over there got it fixed, and brought it home just before I needed to leave. Something that they did while fixing it reset everything to factory settings which meant that all day yesterday my phone was uploading every single app I had on my phone, draining my battery. Thankfully, I had just purchased a portable battery charger and that helped greatly. But all my apps are now asking for passwords again (and can I remember them? Of course not!) and my contacts are all missing. Still I  have my phone, and it works so I shouldn’t complain too much.

When I got to the airport security, I had to take out my three make-up/toiletries bags, my laptop, my Kindle, shoes off – the works. When I got to the other side, I realized that they were taking a long time with my backpack. Something was off. Sure enough they pull my bag aside for a more thorough search. Turns out the suspicious items were my spiral bound notebook to take notes at the conference, and my folder with my itinerary and workshop handouts. After TSA assured themselves that these were just papers and there was nothing in them, we were free to go. (My mom is traveling with me. She got TSA pre-check, but I’m not bitter.)

Once we got to the gate, they announced complimentary baggage check to free up overhead space, so I took my bag up only to have second thoughts as it left my hand. What if they lost my bag? What will I wear to the conference? Too late now. I prayed it would make it to Nashville.

As we were boarding, I handed the lady my boarding pass only to have it flash red and say that I had already boarded the plane. She said they may have double booked my seat and asked me to stand to the side until the end. My mom went on to get her things all settled, but was wondering if I was going to get on or not. Finally everyone had boarded, and there was no one else in my seat. They escorted me on, and said that they had probably double swiped my boarding pass and they apologized for the inconvenience and thanked me for my understanding and patience.

When we landed in Dallas, we found our connecting flight had been delayed an hour. On the one hand, this would give us more time to get to our terminal and give us a chance to eat dinner. On the other hand, it meant we’d get into Nashville even later, and we already had a late arrival.

Boarding in Dallas went smoothly, and (Praise the Lord!) my bag arrived in Nashville! Now it was time to find our rental car. Joel booked me through National which is the company he uses when he travels for work. There we can pick any car on the lot and go – supposedly. Neither mom nor I are great decision makers so wandering around a picked over lot at midnight wasn’t ideal. I finally decided I didn’t want a minivan or a truck (and there were plenty of both left). I asked mom if she had a preference. Walking in the muggy Tennessee air caused my mom to reply, “I just want air conditioning.” So we found a nearby Kia Optima and grabbed that. We joined the cars in line to exit only to sit there for a long time before the first car even moved. Another booth was opened, and the man who opened it went to each car in the line barking, “Do you have your written contract? No? Then stay there? Written contract? Move over here!” I did not have a written contract so I stayed put and eventually reached the front of the line. There I was asked again for a written contract to which I replied that I had an email and that was all. He cut me off and muttered something more about a written contract before asking for my license and credit card. After doing something in his computer, he gave me my things back, and opened the gate – no written contract necessary.

Then of course, Google Maps always has trouble finding where you are in an airport or parking garage so while it was thinking I missed my turn and had to circle the airport once more. We did manage to find our hotel eventually. When I went to check in and told her my last name, she answered, “Ah, Miss Courtney! I’ve been waiting for you!” We were given our keys and went to our room – only to find our keys didn’t work. Mom stayed with the luggage while I went down to the desk. She reswiped the keys and came up with me. This time they worked and our room was nice and cool. Exhausted from traveling and realizing that it was now after 1 AM in Nashville we went to bed.

Today is the official first day of the conference. We have the whole morning to figure things out or go sightseeing as I don’t have to be there until 2 PM. Pray for me. Things like this make me nervous. I’m very much an introvert and meeting new people causes me to feel stress and anxiety.

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