Posts Tagged ‘Fort Lauderdale’

Flying Out of Columbus is Affordable Again

June 14, 2009

I’ve started flying out of the Columbus again.  Like just about everyone else, I stopped doing it because the cost was just too prohibitive.  It was a lot cheaper to take the Groome shuttle.  That has changed, according to Carolyn Marlow, who handles communications for  Columbus Metropolitan Airport.  The airport commission has negotiated a benchmarking deal with Delta  that means you can’t be charged  more than $100 – Delta likes to keep it at about $79 – to Atlanta to connect with a Delta flight.  It can cost less, but not more.

Atlantic Southeast - Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Atlantic Southeast - Delta Connection jet at Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

“Flying out of Columbus now is a no-brainer,” she says.

My experience a few weeks ago validates what she said, at least to me.

 I prefer 20 minutes in the air to an hour-and-a- half in a van or a car,   and I don’t like going through the time consuming security hoops at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.   That’s why I went on line and was happy to learn I could fly from Columbus to Fort Lauderdale for just a little more than if I used Groome.  Nothing wrong with Groome, by the way. They do a good job for a reasonable price. A Groome roundtrip from Columbus to Atlanta is less  than Delta;  how much less depends on the rate for an individual flight .  I figured my roundtrip flight from Columbus to Ft. Lauderdale cost me about $60 more than if I had used Groome. 

Passengers waiting to board a Atlantic Southeast jet to Atlanta, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

Passengers waiting to board a Atlantic Southeast jet to Atlanta, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Columbus, GA

And I found that a lot of people were doing it, mostly Fort Benning soldiers and their relatives.  The Atlantic Southeast Airlines jet was almost full on my flight out on a Saturday and my return flight on Thursday.  Boarding in Columbus was a snap.  It took about five minutes to go through the security check, even with everyone taking off their shoes.  The security guards were vigilant, but polite and efficient. You can wait in line in Atlanta for up to  45 minutes sometimes. 

When we got to Atlanta to change planes, it was just a matter of getting off one plane and getting on another one – o.k. my Delta flight to Fort Lauderdale  was at the other end of the sprawling Atlanta airport.  But, I needed the exercise.  I usually walk two miles a day anyway.

Business is picking up at Columbus Metropolitan.  45,000 travelers flew out of Columbus in 2007, and 48,057 in 2008.  Still, it needs to pick up a lot more for the Columbus airport to attract more airlines and add more destinations.  Studies show that 90 percent of folks in our area ,who are flying out of Atlanta, take a ground shuttle or go by car.

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It’s Headed for the Dock!

June 8, 2009

The graduation of my grand-nephew from Nova Southeastern University’s medical college was also special for a reason other than his impressive achievement.  I got to drive a 55-foot yacht!  That alone was worth the flight – a very pleasant one, by the way, which I’ll tell you about in a future post –  to Fort Lauderdale .

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The Inn Sanity

Me steering the Inn Sanity, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Me steering the Inn Sanity, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

This was made possible by my niece Janet Sue Gray,  graduate  Gibson’s mom,   who is famous in our family for coming up with unique experiences.  Instead of settling for a hotel,  she went  online and found a beautiful Florida home with five bedrooms and 4 baths, which she rented for a week.  Turns out, though not cheap,  it was cheaper per person than a first-rate hotel would have been.

Music room in Ft. Lauderdale vacation house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Mitch Tunkel

Music room in Ft. Lauderdale vacation house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Mitch Tunkel

 

Janet Sue, Gordon, Gibson Gray, Tunkel vacation home pool

Janet Sue, Gordon, Gibson Gray, Tunkel vacation home pool

A highlight of the home was its tropical backyard with a hot tub and swimming pool that features underwater lights that segue from blue to purple to green to red, a waterfall,  and enough tables and chairs to seat 15 people for dinner.  (One night I fixed my incomparable spaghetti and meat balls. Smash hit with the family –  at least, that’s what they said –  especially since Taylor, Gibson’s brother, a gourmand cook,  prepared a super salad.)

Taylor Gray's salad

Taylor Gray's salad

And,  the theatrically tropical  backyard is backdropped with the 55-foot yacht.  Mitch   and his wife own both the yacht and the house.  Part of the deal  is that you get an afternoon and evening tour on the intracoastal waterway which winds its way through downtown Fort Lauderdale, which has a magic charm to it at night.  In our case, since we were celebrating Gibson’s graduation,  Mitch took the boat to the famous 15th Street Seafood Restaurant  where we docked and had a great dinner.

Janet Sue Gray, Dick McMichael, Gordon Gray, Catherine Gray, Gibson Gray

Janet Sue Gray, Dick McMichael, Gordon Gray, Catherine Gray, Gibson Gray, Ft Lauderdale, FL

The highlight for me, though, was on the way to the restaurant, since Mitch offered to let his passengers drive the boat.  Now that was a kick, especially going under a draw bridge.  I did it for a while and then offered someone else time at the wheel, and  Taylor  took over until we reached the restaurant’s dock.  For some reason, maybe to protect his hundreds-of- thousands-of- dollars investment – the boat, new, runs about $1.6 million – Mitch took over.  As any boats-man knows, docking, like landing an airplane,  is the hardest part.  Just imagine ramming a 55-foot yatch into a docking pier.  

 That worried me a bit after we left the restaurant for the sensational night tour.  When I went to the top bridge – there are two, one enclosed for inclement weather, and one on top, the flybridge,  in the open – after we pulled away from the dock, Mitch said, “Take over. I need to take care of some things. Just aim it for that drawbridge.”  Then he quickly showed me how the gears and throttle controls worked and climbed down the ladder to the lower bridge.
Drawbridge opens for Inn Sanity, Mitch Tunkel's 55-foot Yatch, Fort Lauderdale

Drawbridge opens for Inn Sanity, Mitch Tunkel's 55-foot Yacht, Fort Lauderdale

Yipes!  I was all alone on the flybridge, driving this big, expensive boat at night and really didn’t quite understand what he was talking about when he explained the controls.  At one time I had a small run-about which I used for taking my family and friends water-skiing, but it only had one combined gear and throttle control.  Anyway, my delight quickly morphed into  anxiety as I tried to steer toward the drawbridge.  

I turned the wheel to the left – I guess I should say to the port for boating purists – and it started heading that way, but not for long.  It started drifting to the right – okay, starboard – back toward the dock.  What?  I turned the wheel the right way but the big boat is turning the other way.

I started monkeying with the controls, getting the gears mixed up with the throttles. Finally I pushed the right gear control forward and the Inn Sanity – really, that’ what Mitch named his yatch because when he bought it he owned and operated a hotel – started turning the way I wanted it to, to the left, uh, port,  but by thst time I started yelling for Mitch to get back to the top bridge.  I could just see me destroying a side of his yacht and a portion of the docking pier.  He finally came sauntering back up the ladder, totally unconcerned, and took over again.  “It was no problem. I was watching what was going on all the time.”

“When I turned the wheel, it wouldn’t respond.” 

“That’s because you were in neutral.”

“Oh.”