The first flight, between Wichita and Denver must of been more or less uneventful as I have no clear memories of anything of note that happened.
The "holy crap this is how to kiss your ass goodbye if the aircraft malfunctions or is highjacked" talk at the start did not make me feel good.
The thing that cracked me up was the bit about how, if incase of a water landing, the seat could be used as a floatation device. What? Okay, I was really bad at learning the states and how to find things on or use a map... But... As far as I remembered, there were no large bodies of water anywhere at all between Wichita and Denver.
Besides that, if I ever did crashland in some huge body of water, the sea let's say. My seat doesn't seem like much of a comfort. There I'd be clinging to a seat full of other people's farts, and I'd look like a snacky snack to any passing sharks. Shark: "Oh look yummy human on a cruton." Chomp chomp Me: Aaaaah! glub glub glub..."
The thing that worried me was all that vast land that wouldn't be very forgiving if an aircraft plowed into it at a high rate of speed.
Thankfully everything went off without a hitch and I landed in Denver without a scratch.
I had brought my stick. For only two reasons. 1. I didn't know how the guide dogs people or the ground help that was meant to help me make my connecting flight would know who I was otherwise. Oh I guess my walking really slowly squinting at everything and looking dazed and confused might of tipped of the guide dogs people. The ground help would most likely figure I had one too many of those little bottles of liqure. Or maybe too much preflight parties or maybe they wouldn't give a tinker's damn.
The second reason I brought it was to wack any odd people who might be in a cult that worshiped something really strange like rooster toenails, Father jimmy joe bob roy. or something like the People's Temple. They had good intentions, but that Jim Jones fella was just way mental. I wonder if the term "Jonesin'" has anything to do with Jim Jones? Well anyway I planned on using the stick to wack anyone who wanted me to have a smudgy tract about finding "Thee One True Way!" or anyone else that stood between me and my getting to guide dog school.
The ground help, some man who had an accent came up bringing a fold up wheel chair with him.
"I don't need that sir." I said, pointing at the chair.
"It is a rule you have to use it." He said.
"Well, I don't need it. If we have to use it, here you can put my bag into it."
We ended up not using the chair.
I made it onto the second and longer flight of my trip. I felt a little better because I knew the next stop, hopefully, would be the San Francisco airport... And then it was all four on the floor, no more flying for the next four weeks.
I don't know why I did, still do this. I guess to scare myself half to death or get a head's up on impending doom, but I listened to the ATC traffic for a while. Then I fell asleep. Bad move on my part.
My hair was braded and put up in a bun. It stuck out off the back of my head a bit. It was not comfortable to sleep on and I got a crick in my neck.
Finally hours later, which turned out to be hours earlier, damn time zones. We landed.
I must of floated off that ramp thing. Partly from excitement and partly from all the butterflies in my stomach.
"O god we're here. O God o God o God... Please let my stuff made it with me. Please let these guide dog people be nice. Please let my classmates be nice and not in a gang or be totally demented... Some blinks I knew were like that... Demented, not in a gang. A street gang made up of blinks? Wow. That would be a sight to see. Er ummm... my mind wanders into some pretty strange terratory when I'm nervous, as I was then.
Where is the guide dogs person? O my God. They left me and have gone to the school.
I felt like huddling into a ball under the baggage check shaking and sobbing until, having noticed they were one student short, the guide dogs would of sent someone to get me...
But this never became an issue as the guide dogs person, one of my trainers was right there when I got off the aircraft.
She introduced herself and I followed her to baggage claim. My bags both of them showed up. And I started to think this was going to be alright.
The trainer explained that she had to get other students and I was the first to turn up. She took me to the big bus thing and gave me a bag lunch.
Ugh bag lunches from large places are not most of the time, very good. A soggy name this meat sandwich, some wilted former fruit or a bag of stale chips and some discount soda I expected...
I was right. It was a sandwich. But it wasn't soggy or dripping with mayo or mustard or anything and turned out to be really good. There were some chips. Cheetos? Maybe? They were good. I knew I had come to the right place when I unearthed my soda to find it was Coke Classic. Yessssssss!
The bus was huge. It was about the size of the para-transit vans back home. There were side facing seats at the front behind the driver, like on a city bus, and then several rows of forward facing seats. In the back off to one side was. Gasp! a johnny on the spot thing. "Oh no!" Dunt dunt dunn!
The bag lunch was good but I knew, having heard horror stories from people that portable toilets were gross and stinky and just all around bad news.
Me being the nosey parker that I am figured I'd go have a look at this porthole to oder hell. I carefully opened the door, in the hopes I wouldn't unleash horrid smelling toilet breath out all over everything. Mentally my mind added the sound of a squeaking door hendge as spookey music started up...
but. to my happy shock, there was no oosing slopy port-a-john beltching up heaps of nasty evil toilet breath. In fact. There wasn't much of a smell at all It even looked like it had been cleaned recently. I was happy and knew if I ever did have to use that toilet, It wouldn't be so bad.
The seats. Let me tell you about these seats. They weren't the crap molded plastic seats you get on a city bus. They were fancy fancy, all cushey and everything. And if I remember correctly, they had seatbelts. Not too bad. Not bad at all.
I sat back down to wait on... Whatever happened next.
What happened next was some guard came to stick his head in the bus to tell me the bus had to be moved.
Damn! I thought. This guy must be blind his own self or something... The bus had in huge letters on the side "Guide Dogs for the Blind" on it. I could even read that. Sure there were no guide dogs in evedence but I was part of "the blind".
I told the guy that I was sure someone who could drive the bus would be along... Soon... He then went away.
I was right. Shortly after the guard or whoever he was came along I heard the snick scratch snick of a cane and people talking. Oh goody! A student! please be nice, please be nice, please be nice...
It was a lady. She sat across from me in the other sideways seat and introduced herself.
Turns out she had had a guide dog from another school who didn't work out at all. She said when it was good it was very very good and when it was bad it was bad bad bad.
Oh. I thought, I'm glad I didn't go to where ever this lady had gone. Out of the hand full of guide dogs I had met over the past few years, the GDB dogs were the best acting out of all of them. That's not to say the other schools' dogs were like Cujo or something, they were good. But there was just something about the GDB dogs that set them apart.
Over the next couple of hours other students joined us on the bus. Some of them were coming for a second dog but had not been to GDB before. Some had been but wanted to be in the four week non-retrain longer class. A few, like me were first timers all around and everybody seemed to be nice and not in a gang nor demented as far as I could tell.
This isn't to say we didn't run into some demented folks while we were on class, we did... Starting with Mr. Clueless guard person. But none of us were demented.
Mr. Clueless guard came back several times telling us that the bus had to be moved. We kept telling him we could not drive the bus and didn't know exactly where the people who could were at the moment or when they'd be back.
I finally got fed up with Mr. Clueless and on his forth or fifth trip by I said, "Sir? I don't mean to be rude but you've come by here several times. We've told you several times we can't drive the bus. Oh we could if we had the keys or hotwired it or something, but trust me. You don't want to go there. Really. We'd wind up knocking over the whole airport or something. See the sign on the side of this bus? If you can't make it out I'll tell you what it says. "Guide Dogs for the Blind." We..." I gestured to everyone sitting in the bus. "Are the blind part of this whole thing. So trust me. We will be sure and tellwhoever it is that drives this thing that it needs to be moved." I tried to be nice about it but he must of took it wrong as he walked away sounding cross. Oh well...
Finally some instructors or welcome staff or somebody from the school came and stayed with us. Thank God! As Mr. Clueless came back yet again. I sware he must of had a thing for this bus. I didn't understand what the big old problem was. We weren't bothering or blocking up anything... When I did tell the trainer/welcome person this guy had been by several times she said not to worry about it.
When he poked his head in on his most recent visit to our happy and quickly filling up bus I thought Oh good let somebody else deal with this guy.
I don't remember what the trainer slash welcome person said but Mr. Clueless did not return. Yea!
After what seemed like a thousand years everyone was present and accounted for, bags were stashed away and we were on our way baby!
I gopped at the cars, the multi colored hotel buses and giant purple mountans. At least that is what I thought they were. "Hey, what's up with those Mountans?" I asked. I was quickly told those were in fact hills. They were the biggest damn hills I had ever seen...
And then. We drove onto the golden gate bridge.
Wow! That was awesome! It looked just like how it looked on TV only way bigger. It was very very cool.
Finally finally finally we turned into the drive at the school. I heard many many many barking dogs. I got tickled thinking maybe one of those barks belonged to my dog. But I thought perhaps not. The dogs we'd get were class ready clearly and guide dogs aren't suposed to bark. My Laws how wet behind the ears I was.
We got off the bus and went into something called the loading lounge. That was a very very odd room. It had these really long booth kinda bench seats all around the edges of the room, stopping every so often to make way for the doors outside and the hall. We were to get to know this roomlet quite well over the time we were in class.
After a bit, after everyone had introduced themselves, we were shown to our rooms. My room 6A was directly round the corner of the loading lounge, first door on the right, straight, or nearly so, from the trainer's office. Ah hah, I'm the youngest one here. I bet they put me here so they could keep an eye on me. Or maybe it was just the luck of the draw.
A nice lady showed me around my room. The closet, the built into the wall dresser thing, the phone, the shelf with a light under it and a clock and talking book slash radio thing bolted to the top. What? Did they think we were going to take things? We found the bed, then the spot where the dog would be sleeping. The dog run. And the sinks, the people sink and the doggie floor sink. It all was very cool.My roommate wasn't hostile or a gang member o r demented. She was an instructor in training doing her 10 days under blindfold.
After a bit, when everyone unpacked and decompressed we met in the loading lounge again. We had the welcome to class lecture. I laughed to myself when they said no having sex while on class. Why does every blinky place have this rule? They must of heard about what goes on at yearly conventions of the blind. Or something. I laughed because I had been told there was a bloody lot of walking about and long days. Oh how little I knew how right that was to be. By the end of the first week I thought that no sex rule was rather useless as most people after going through a training day would be too clapped out to be in the mood for anything more rousing than say, falling into bed, sleeping through lectures or staggering about the releif circle for the dog's last outting.
After this they explained about the breeds of dogs and how people who wound up with labs would get one kind of grooming tool and if anyone got a golden. Me... Please? There were two that were class ready for our class, they'd get a slightly different one.
Then the bells started toleing time to eat.
I didn't dwell too much on the food but let me tell you this. The food at GDB both times I went was sooooooooooo gooooooooood.
We then had the rest of the evening off and would start class that next morning.