- Leave Pullman at 1 PM PDT, arriving at Spokane International Airport at 2:30.
- Get on a plane, fly to Seattle International Airport at 4:30, arriving at 5:30
- Get on a plane, fly to London Heathrow Airport at 7:15 (PDT), arriving at 12:30 PM (BST)
- Get on a plane, fly to Glasgow International Airport at 4:15 PM, arriving at 5:35 PM.
- Get in a Taxi, go to Dumbarton Central train station.
- Get on a train at Dumbarton Central at 6:48 PM, arriving in Oban around 8:30 PM.
All told, it’s about 14 hours of travel, 8 hours of sitting around, and 8 hours of time shifts. I knew the taxi would be a tight one, which is why I took the train starting from Dumbarton rather than Glasgow. The two stations are about equidistant from the Airport, but Dumbarton is about 25 minutes “down the line”, so it gave me a larger window.
What I didn’t count on was the Airbus going tech 3 minutes before we boarded. Instead of a 4:15 departure, we were looking at 5 PM. At best.
Still, I didn’t have a choice. It’s not like I could stay in Heathrow. I’d either make it, or I’d make do.
The plane took off at 5. It landed at 6:15. By 6:30, I was in the taxi and moving north. At 6:51, I arrived.
Too late. The train had gone.
No big deal. I’ll buy a new ticket for the morning, request a refund from ScotRail that I may or may not get back, and find a place to stay. There’s a cheap-but-good hotel a mile from the station. Easy walk. It’s filled with runners and dog walkers, so I’m not uncomfortable dragging a bag behind me as I go.
Finally, at 7:30 PM, I arrive at the Premier inn just north of Dumbarton, tired, sweaty, and slightly cranky. “What’s your reservation?” asked the desk clerk. “I don’t have one, I just need a room.” I replied.
It was here that my slight crankiness turned to dread. “Oh. We don’t have any rooms, and nobody else does either.” Fuck.
I’m directed to the restaurant next door to borrow the wifi so I can start to search for my room. I have no phone, and the wifi isn’t working. Fuck.
A man sees me visually worried. I explain the situation. He starts to use his phone to see what he can find. No luck. The wifi drops out for him too. We migrate back to the lobby of the Premier Inn. I ask the clerk if he could search other properties again. No luck.
But the wifi works. Yes! I bring up hostelworld.com. No available beds. I bring up hotels.com, which redirects to hotels.co.uk. There’s rooms. 2 of them. In Glasgow. For £250-£500 per night. Fuck!
And it is here that the fear really starts to work on me. I’m visualizing a night in the street. I think to myself “I didn’t pack for living in the fucking street!” And it is at this point that I am rescued. The man that had been trying to help me asks the clerk a simple question. “Hey, I’ve got an unused bed in my room. Can he use that?” “… Yes, of course.” replied the clerk.
The man is David, a rail engineer working for a small Cardiff based firm and is up in Scotland on a Ministry of Defense contract. He was helpful, friendly, and rescued me in my hour of need. For that I will be forever grateful.