Friday, February 22, 2013

FLORIDA: THE LITTLE WHITE HOUSE AND A LONG JOURNEY HOME

Our last significant stop in Florida was "The Little White House," a large home in Key West where Harry Truman spent his vacations.  We have enjoyed previous visits to several Presidential libraries, and this site, although not a Presidential library, was a similar look into some interesting American history.
We were there on the day of the Presidential Inauguration, and the staff of the Little White House was getting ready for an inauguration party.  Note the sign on the tree below:

We got there shortly before the last tour of the day began, and much to our amazement we were the only people on the tour.
Scan of the tourist brochure given to us at the site
No photography was allowed inside the house, but I found this picture of Harry's poker table on the internet.   Bess didn't like others to know about her husband's poker games, so she had a top made for the table that completely covered up all signs of fun and games. That's it leaning against the windows.
Photo from here
Harry and Bess had separate bedrooms.  I think this one is Harry's.  It doesn't really look like a Presidential suite, does it?
Photo from here
There was a little museum area with great information on Truman's Presidency:



There were also a few exhibits that encompassed other Presidencies, including this catalog of White House Christmas cards and another one of the annual White House Christmas ornaments:
I was excited to find the one that hangs on our own Christmas tree every year.  Andrew brought it home to me from his sixth grade trip to Washington, D.C.:
Florida may have voted for George Bush, but it is clear that Key West is all about Barack Obama:

Our wonderful trip to Florida ended with a less than wonderful trip home. We were scheduled to fly out of Miami on American Airlines on a Monday at 3:30 p.m.  We boarded the plane on time, left the gate on time, started our taxi down the runway on time, and then, just after the plane's nose came up, it went back down and the brakes were applied.  We taxied back to the gate, and after some time, we were told the flight speed indicator had not come on.  We sat on the plane for 2 1/2 hours before they finally told us we could get off for a stretch, but to come back in an hour. (Just as we were leaving the plane, we heard an announcement that everyone they had to get off because somehow the plane's passenger list had been erased and they would have to check everyone back in.) We checked back in an hour, then in another hour, then in another . . .

Eventually American brought in another plane and changed our gate, but by then the flight attendants had walked out in what the lady at the desk announced was a "contract dispute." I think that's a euphemism for "Hey, dummies, we aren't going to stay here all night like the rest of you."  At 11:00 p.m., 7 1/2 hours after we had started down the runway, we were finally told that our flight had been rescheduled for 6:00 a.m.  They sent us on a trek to the other side of the airport to get in line at the American Airlines Booking Center.  There were lots of people who had to rebook connecting flights, and since we had a direct flight to Los Angeles and didn't need to do that, we didn't push to get at the front of the line.
The airline was offering hotel accommodations, but they only had ONE LINE for over 400 passengers, and so it moved at a snail's pace. By the time we got to the front of the line, it was 1:30 a.m.  By the time we would have gotten to the hotel, we would have had only an hour or two before we would need to return. It seemed pointless, so we opted for alternative accommodations:
In their defense, American Airlines did one thing (kind of) right: They gave us one of their super lightweight blankets. It was really cold in the airport, and we had no access to our luggage. In addition, everything was shut down, so there was so way to get anything to eat. It was a pretty miserable night.

People began to report to the gate at 5:00 a.m., and boarding was complete by 5:45. Then we sat.  At 6:15, a flight attendant came on the intercom to tell us the pilots had not yet arrived. They finally showed up, and then we waited some more.  A disembodied voice finally told us that the routine safety check before take off showed that the plane had a leak.

SERIOUSLY?

Finally, after having sat on the plane for three hours, we began the journey home.  Our last meal had been at 6:00 the previous night, and nothing in the airport had opened before we boarded the plane at 5:15.  We were hungry, and the flight attendants were generous with what they had--sodas and dry granola bars.  About three hours into the flight, Bob asked if there wasn't something else on board to eat, and they comped him a pretty bad ham and cheese croissant that would have normally cost $9.  They had a very limited number of those and were only giving them out when someone asked for food.  We couldn't believe that they hadn't loaded extra food on the plane for the hungry passengers who couldn't possibly have found anything to eat before boarding the early flight.

We made it to Los Angeles at about 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday (4:00 p.m. Florida time; no wonder we were starving), 19 1/2 hours late.  I had to cancel a day's worth of classes, and Bob had to cancel several appointments.  In return, American gave each of us a $150 travel voucher and some frequent flyer miles.  We weren't impressed.

We do love to travel, but I think we'll be avoiding American Airlines--that is, after we use up our vouchers and free miles.

5 comments:

  1. I once flew from London to Atlanta to Las Vegas to Salt Lake by myself. My flight to Atlanta was delayed which made me miss my flight to Las Vegas and I had to spend the night in the Atlanta airport. I had then missed my connection to Salt Lake and the first flight they could get me on wasn't until that night. I got bumped from the Las Vegas to Salt Lake flight and then spent the night in the Las Vegas airport. It was a lonely few days and this was long before smart phones and I was a poor college student so there wasn't much to do. I now avoid connections at all costs.

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  2. That definitely tops our story. Wow. Did you get some travel vouchers out of all of that?

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  3. What a horrible end to the trip! It's amazing the airlines don't do more to make disgruntled customers happy. You think they'd at least give you pillows in the airport and chocolate on the plane!

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  4. American Airlines also has a horrible system going through scanning, one long, long, line - another reason to opt for staying in the airport versus going to a hotel for 2 hours of sleep. Key West was very fun, as was Florida in general.

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  5. Flying just isn't fun anymore, which is too bad. It used to be part of the excitement of the trip, but now, it's just something to be endured to get to the rest of the trip.

    The Little White House sounds like a cool thing to see--lots of history there!

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