Parachute Festival 2013 (Pt. 1) | The Travel

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In December, near the end of our #SEASONStour, my wife got an email from Parachute Festival, offering Levi The Poet the opportunity to be a part of their 2013 artist lineup. I think our friends in Listener were originally the ones booked for the slot, but they weren't able to go. For the Kiwi's sake, I'm sad for that, because Dan-and-the-Double-Chris's are some of the kindest folk we know, and I'm sure they'd have been welcomed warmly down under. By they way, is "down under" only an Australian thing? Because it would suck to try to be culturally relevant by ignorantly using some phrase only applicable to a neighboring country. Anyway, I hope that, next time, both of us can come over and say words into peoples' ears. 

Saying "yes" in December meant that Brandi and I had just under one month to organize travel before the festival in January. I had been attending a theological training school for seven months at the time, and was scheduled to be in Seattle for class the week prior to leaving. On top of that, my friend bought Brandi and me tickets to Underoath's farewell tour in Dallas, TX a day prior to leaving. On top of that, I was booked for a festival two days following Parachute, back in Albuquerque. Basically, I flew to Seattle, had class for a week, flew back to Albuquerque, picked up Brandi, drove to Dallas, went to the show, drove to the airport, flew to Denver, to San Francisco, to Auckland, enjoyed almost four days in New Zealand, flew to Sydney, to Los Angeles, to Albuquerque, slept, performed the following day at Tricklock's Annual Revolutions Festival, and spent the following week writing a thirty page paper on Counseling In Community. Brandi started showing sever flu / cold symptoms in the middle of the Underoath show and was ill the entire time. 

Inhale.

The real fun started when we got to Dallas - Ft. Worth International, where the ticket lady let us know that our bags would be checked to San Francisco, where we would then pick them up, recheck them, and board our international flight to Auckland... in under an hour. The conversation went something like this:

  • HER: Your bags will be checked to San Francisco.
  • ME: But I'm flying to Auckland, New Zealand.
  • HER: Well our airline isn't flying to Auckland, New Zealand
  • ME: So you're telling me that I have to take two connecting flights to San Francisco, deboard, go to baggage claim, walk to an international terminal that I've never been to before, check in, pay for and recheck my baggage, go back through security, and make it to my gate, in under one hour, if my connecting flight is even on time?
  • HER: Well our airline isn't flying to Auckland, New Zealand. 
  • ME: But our ticket agency told us that our bags would be checked all the way to our final destination.
  • HER: Who did you use to purchase your tickets?
  • ME: Cheaptickets.com
  • HER: Sounds about right. Here are your claim stubs for San Francisco. Hope it works out.

So I spent the first two hours at Dallas International on the phone, talking to anyone who would talk to me, begging for help. Lo and Behold! Ticket-Counter-Lady comes walking through the door with new claim stubs. 

Inhale.

We fly to Denver. We fly to San Francisco. Our connecting flight is late, and we have thirty-five minutes to get to the international terminal before our flight leaves. It literally takes us fifteen minutes to find the start of that enormous terminal, and by then, we are running. I'm talking the kind of running the McAllister family does in Home Alone because everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. We can't find the Air New Zealand ticket counter, and everyone that we ask says, "that way," with this sort of directionless nod to an arbitrary nowhere. We are literally hearing our gate announcing last-call for remaining passengers whilst slamming into people trying to figure out where to check in. 

For whatever reason, my itinerary says United, even though we're not flying United, and we know it. We go to United, and there is literally no one - not one, single soul - at their counter. Brandi and I are furiously scanning and rescanning our passports at the self-help kiosks, repeatedly getting this message that says, "We're sorry, your information cannot be found."

At this point, I am completely worthless, shutting down, having something to the extent of a full-blown panic attack, yelling cusswords at a computer screen, and fairly surrendered to the idea that, as a matter of fact, no, we will not be seeing Hobbit-land, as the automated airport voice announces last-call. Brandi's fever is only getting worse, she is losing color, and near collapsed half-dead in the middle of the floor. 

Brandi yells at someone who has already not been helpful for help, and he motions behind us to the Air New Zealand ticket counter - that sole, lonesome counter tucked away where no one can see it. 

Inhale.

Check in. Run, and run into more people. Get to the gate as - literally - they are closing it, and close it behind us, the last couple to board.

Exhale.

Hilarious as this story is to me now, I sat utterly convinced that Satan did not want us to go to New Zealand that day, and new that our upcoming experience would have had to be a good one to have risked a heart attack making it happen. Keep up with the blog for Part 2, where I'll share a bit about the best festival that Brandi and I have ever been to, and why it was worth getting there.