There’s lonely…and then there’s the pacing-around-the-terminals-of-San-Francisco-International-Airport-at-2-in-the-morning kind of lonely.
I find myself in the latter of situations, trying to pass the time as I wait to pick up my rental car at 5 a.m., at which point I will drive it four hours directly to South Lake Tahoe to catch a hockey game I hear is happening over there.
Indeed, I am in town for the weekend — on behalf of Colorado Hockey Now, and you, our loyal subscribers — covering the NHL’s latest outdoor spectacle, featuring the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights, live from the 18th fairway of the famed Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, mere feet away from the shoreline of one of America’s largest lakes. I have yet to see it with my own two eyes, but by all accounts, the setting looks absolutely breathtaking.
While it may lack the pomp-and-circumstance and all of the fanfare that usually comes with any NHL outdoor event, there’s something to romanticize about this one being just the boys, playing hockey, out in the wilderness — just as our ancestors intended it.
We’ll get to the hockey game later, but back to this airport for a moment. Allow me to set the scene real quick.
I find myself nestled somewhere between Terminals 1 and 2, maybe 3(?) — I couldn’t tell you, honestly. Rumor has it there are a few couches somewhere at or around Terminal 2, and the gameplan upon landing was to find this hidden ottoman oasis in hopes of catching at least a couple hours of shut-eye before departing to Tahoe.
As I write this, those odds are looking increasingly slimmer, as is the likelihood I’ll get much sleep at all, if any. Oh well. I’ve pulled all-nighters before — what’s one more, right? REM cycle be damned! I’m young; I’ll recover.
My cheap Frontier flight out of Denver International left at 10:04 p.m. on Friday — late, I know. That’s most likely the reason why it was only a $100 round-trip…and that’s also the reason I find myself landing in San Francisco and not the decidedly much more proximal Reno-Tahoe International Airport. What can I say, I like to keep things cheap.
So cheap, in fact, that I took it upon myself to slum it in the San Fran airport for a few hours, rather than renting a hotel room for the night. There really was no point in renting a room for another $50-$100 just to stay there for just a couple of hours. So, now here I am, facing the music.
Seriously, where are those damn couches?
I can’t say I’ve ever been in an airport this late, or rather, early, I suppose. To say it’s lonely might be putting it a little lightly. As I walk from gate to gate and make the rounds, human interaction is few and far between, and the only signs of life are the few weary travelers attempting sleep like contortionists in the seats at their gates. I think I’ve now become friends with the janitorial staff, who make the rounds every half hour or so. We exchange affectionate, understanding head nods, suggesting we both hate the present situations we currently find ourselves in. Misery loves company, after all.
Nothing is open, and the pre-flight beers have now dried my throat and cottoned my mouth — I would give anything for a bottle of water right now.
OK, I’ve walk the perimeter of this airport at least three times now…I’m starting to think these couches don’t exist.
Whatever, who needs couches anyway. I think I’ve found my residence for the remainder of my stay at Hotel SFO Airport — it comes in the form of an abandoned food court. Here, I’ve found a couple of rotund, half-moon cushioned booths. It’s a decidedly better option than than the dusty linoleum airport floor. I’ll take it.
Now it’s time to fashion my backpack into some semblance of a pillow to lay my weary head. I pull my mask over my eyes like a MacGyvered-sleepmask to protect me from the horrific, blinding airport LEDs overhead, blatantly ignoring the automated PA announcer’s wish to “Please cover your nose and mouth while in the airport,” a command that goes off loudly like clockwork every 10 or so minutes — something that I’m sure won’t help my hopes of catching any sleep tonight. Seriously, can we turn it down just a touch? This isn’t a nightclub.
Well here goes nothing. Here’s to hoping for an hour or two of shut-eye.
See you at Lake Tahoe for the, you know, game.
As always, any Colorado Hockey Now subscribers who want to chip in to the Avalanche Travel Tip Jar, we won’t stop you. 95 cents of every dollar goes to fund travel to Avs games, and 5 cents goes to donations to the Thornton Food Bank. Link here.