It all started with the United web check-in. I went to print boarding passes the night before- mine was fine, but my wife's said "See a United Ticket Agent" where the "Check in" button should be. So, I called United customer service and got Patel in India... He couldn't help us, and doesn't know what the problem is, we have to see a United ticket agent at the airport. Flash forward to 5am at PDX- where we're praying the "self check in" will work. Nope. Anyone who's flown United knows what their morning check-in lines look like (why is that?). We never check bags just to avoid it, but we stood in line for a good 45 minutes. The ticket agent checked us in with no problems, but still no explanation as to what happened. Grr.
Next, the rental car. I'm a die-hard Enterprise customer- they've taken fantastic care of me for the last 12 years. Alas, LAX Enterprise was booked solid. No problem- I'd made a reservation at an off-airport Enterprise that was about 2 miles from the airport. Quick 'n cheap cab ride, right? Wrong. That's a $25 cab ride in LA- a $17.50 minimum applies to all fares from LAX, plus a $2.50 LAX surcharge on top, plus tip (no sense in stiffing the cabbie- just makes them mean). Yow. Oh well- off-airport car rental was half the price of the airport price anyway, and we'd only planned to rent for one day to drive to Magic Mountain and back. Oh, except the off-airport rental place is only open 9-6, which totally screwed up the next day's plans. They're also not open Sundays, so we couldn't return it the morning we came back. Oy. So we just extended the reservation through the weekend and set up an LAX dropoff (additional $40 fee). So that's $10 a day hotel parking and $35 a day rental for the car to just sit in the lot.
I upgraded to a V6 Nissan Altima- I wanted a bit more merging power for psycho LA freeway driving than the little Kia they were offering. Later, I realized the one we got had been in a wreck and repaired very poorly- the whole left side was bondo (more on that later). The OEM tires had also been replaced (likely after the wreck) with really bad Contintental tires- it peeled out with the slightest throttle input.
To Magic Mountain. Ahh, Magic Mountain- the best birthday present west of the Mississippi for a rollercoaster fanatic... We hit it on a Thursday morning, so the lines were pretty short. My wife was nervous- she's not a big fan of heights but bravely promised she'd ride with me. Long story short, I ruined my riding partner by taking her on the freakiest ride first (The "X", starting off with a 215-foot facing-the-ground drop at ~80mph). She was none too thrilled. So I was riding the rest of the day alone- much less fun.
After lunch, I rode Tatsu. It rocked. Then, while loading up on DejaVu, I noticed my left pocket was unzipped (shorts with zipper pockets are a must for roller-coastering- if you remember to keep the pockets zipped). Momentary panic, furious pocket-patting, followed by the realization that my wallet was gone. Tatsu has you riding horizontally in a flying motion, unenclosed. It also flips you around a lot- very fun, but also great at sending projectiles hurtling from your pockets at high speed. I'm surprised all I lost was my wallet- I had my phone, cash clip and iPod in the same pocket. Rode it again, trying to look straight down and see my wallet, but Tatsu covers 1/3 of the park, weaves between other rides and over a number of grassy areas and walkways. Oh yeah, and half the time you're being twisted around the track, making it tough to look down. Filled out the lost article paperwork at guest services (behind 5 other people who lost stuff on the same ride- they say it's 10x worse for losses than the next closest) and continued with the day, a little less exuberant at the prospect of replacing my wallet's contents. Waited around for the end-of-day "trackwalk" where employees look for lost stuff, but they didn't find it. Oh yeah, did I mention all this happened on my birthday?
Later that evening, I started calling the credit card companies to shut off the cards, just in case they happened to be in someone's possession. The set of unique cards between my wife's wallet and my own was one- her First Tech VISA that she had when we got married (which I later got a copy of, but still under her account). So we figured we'd just cancel all the others and use that one... I called the First Tech lost card line (a service bureau after hours- all they can do is cancel cards). I gave them my name and address. Tappity tap tap... "I see a debit card and a VISA- you lost them both?"
"OK sir, I've canceled your VISA ending in 1234".
1234? "Wait, no, that's the one card that we didn't lose- that shouldn't be under my name"
"Sorry sir, once the card's been canceled, I can't reactivate it"
Now we have no working credit cards- luckily we had cash or we would've been scamming our friends all weekend. Still don't know what we're going to do about the hotel bill and car rental- we don't have THAT much cash. I also realize that I'll need an ID to get on the plane Sunday morning...
Will the Knott's Berry Farm hotel goons break the Davis family's legs when they can't pay the bill? Will Matt get on the plane? Will they make it home? Stay tuned for the next exciting installment.