Last week I flew to Utah and back to DC again in a trip that was like no other. I wanted to share about the trip with both words and pictures over the next few entries and hope that you enjoy my adventure as much as I did.

On my photography blog, I use the phrase “Have Camera, Will Travel” because that is at my heart, what I am. I have a bit of wanderlust in me and I blame that on the gypsy that I have become in my adult life. I grew up in the same house for 13 years, the same town for 16, yet over the course of the last 16 years I have lived in 12 homes and two different dorm rooms. Those residences span four states and six towns and a grand total of three different time zones. (OK, so one of those states/towns happens to live in two time zones over the course of the year!)

Often I travel for a reason. Last year I flew to Arizona for a wedding of a friend as a the official photographer. Earlier this year I accompanied my husband on a business trip.

This trip, however, was mostly pleasure though I did take the opportunity to do quite a bit of photography. Well, are you really surprised? This is me we are talking about! And I went to someplace absolutely begging to be photographed!

What I did not expect, however, was record lows. Yikes! And me, without my long johns! What’s a girl to do? Well, I’d traveled some 2,000 miles and held in my hand a much coveted ticket to a concert that went so far beyond “sold out” I don’t even know how to describe it. The cold and the snow was not going to keep me down!

And so my adventure begins.

I should probably preface this story with how I was able to take such a miraculous trip.

It started in August when my husband took a business trip to California. He decided to fly out of the dreaded Dulles because of the ability to get a non-stop flight, drastically cutting down his travel time. Only the airline overbooked the flight. To change his flight, United offered him a free ticket to be used in the next 12 months anywhere on CONUS. We originally planned that I would use this ticket to take a trip with him to Northern California in the future, only that was the last month he was really traveling. By last month, it looked as though we’d be lucky if he’d travel before the ticket expired.

Enter Facebook. I saw the announcement of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s annual Christmas Concert and nearly died instantly. Natalie Cole and David McCullough? Are you KIDDING me? Maybe it’s the many years of dance, I don’t know. I happen to love Nat King Cole as well as his daughter Natalie Cole. In my eyes, they are royalty in the music biz. As for David McCullough, his Pulitzer Prize speaks for itself. You combine that with America’s Choir and you have set yourself up for one heck of a show.

The only downfall is that Salt Lake City is a rather far haul and tickets were going like hotcakes. So many requests for tickets flooded in that a lottery system was put into place to award tickets. I wasn’t even fool enough to try, living out in DC.

I did, however, send an email to a friend, mostly because I was insanely jealous of her proximity to said concert among other things. And miracle of miracles? A ticket magically appeared for me. I’m not questioning it, I’m only saying a big huge thank you to the generosity of her and her husband. And her family.

My husband told me to use the free airline ticket we had, since this was such an amazing opportunity and the California idea seriously did not look like a viable possibility.

And then I found out… I could see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir not once, but twice! My friends also had a ticket for the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, held the first Sunday of December.

My knees went weak. The closest I’ve ever been to Utah was when I went to the Grand Canyon – Arizona Side. I’ve never actually seen a member of the First Presidency live and in person. I know that President Thomas S Monson is the Prophet of God with ever fiber of my being, and I couldn’t believe I was about to be in the same room with him. (Breathing his air!!! HAHA, I love you Elder Bednar! Sorry, that was just screaming at me to be said after last General Conference!)

I packed my bags, I hugged my family, and I boarded my airplane. And tragedy hit. I would have thought the early snow storm the day before might hamper us, but no, the tarmac was clear as could be. The plane taxied out to the runway, and then we stopped. Turns out some paperwork for maintenance performed prior to our boarding had not been properly filed. So we had to wait. And wait. And wait. For an hour we sat on the tarmac at National for our paperwork.

Here’s a photo of my plane just before we boarded it.
I love to fly!

Many on the airplane had tight connections in Chicago, our destination. I was one of them. There were two flights that passengers were concerned about before mine. We didn’t make it in time. The flight taking off five minutes before mine as well as my flight to SLC were in another Terminal from our landing gate. Thankfully, passengers without the tight clock let us deplane first and I took off running with my heavy bags.

I ran from the middle of the B concourse on Terminal 1 around a couple of turns and all the way to the end of Terminal 2 to Gate F12. Bad lungs, bad knee, heavy bags, and I dodged people left and right. I made it in 10 minutes, lungs burning and unable to breathe. I arrived at 11:59 for a 12:05 flight. They’d shut the doors to the jetway just four minutes before I got there. They could do nothing for me and so I was forced to watch my flight to SLC taxi away while being informed that they’d gone ahead and rescheduled me on a 5:45 flight to SLC.

A 5:45 Central Time flight due in at 8:15 Mountain Time was not going to aid me in getting to an event starting at 6:00 Mountain. I wanted to cry, only I couldn’t even breathe.

The gate attendant told me to try customer service to see if I could fly any earlier so I trudged all the way back to the other end of Terminal 2 where I was greeted by the rudest person I have had the displeasure of conversing with while traveling. She acted as though I was not only inconveniencing her, but as though it were my fault I missed my flight. She then couldn’t seem to understand why the 5:45 flight wasn’t good enough and I might not *enjoy* an almost 6 hour layover at their wonderful not-so-little airport. She also informed me there was absolutely nothing she could do. 5:45 it was.

Hey, Mr United Breaks Guitars? I’m with you. United + Chicago = Bad.

Even more fun, Chicago is a major hub but not on the free Google wi-fi for the holidays. So mostly I texted everyone I knew updating them on my tragic tale. Thankfully I have loads of friends who found ways to cheer me up. To all my friends – I love you. Thanks for being there to entertain me and get me through the long wait!

As a funny side note, apparently there was a great lay-over story told at the Devotional. Rather ironic, right? Thank goodness I’d had the foresight to set it to record in case my family flaked on when it aired. (Which they did.) So I have it ready to watch. I didn’t have to *really* miss it.

And really? I don’t need to be in the same room with him to know… Thomas S. Monson is the leader of our Church, a great man, and super inspirational. I love him with all my heart and hope that some day I can grow up to be even half the person he is.

But still – here’s a photo of my ticket to the awesome Christmas Devotional I did not get to attend:

My 5:45 flight wasn’t without its little dramas, either. Oh no. We changed gates, had issues getting gate personnel, so on and so forth. Boarding did not even start until 5:45! I know, if only that had been the earlier flight, right? Oh well. We got on and took off and made great time. I arrived in Salt Lake City to bitter cold temperatures, snow, and great friends at the airport who filled me in on the Devotional.

I even got to see Temple Square from the highway. Not quite as good as being there, but still pretty awesome! And, they gave me my ticket for my scrapbook so I can always remember the time I *almost* got to go to the Devotional.

Because really, I love General Conference, but my heart is always with Christmas. I love Christmas and the Christmas Devotional is my favourite event of the year. It really sets off the season for me, just like watching Santa come in at the end of the Macy’s Parade.

Stay tuned to hear more about my trip!

–Lady O