Only problem was, the week I was due to go, the USA went broke. Well the Federal Government went broke. What that meant effectively was that the budget for the next year had not been agreed. US financial years start in October and if the numbers are not agreed, all non essential services are put on hold. Money is found for defence, health care, emergencies, but anything else the staff are told to go home, do not answer emails, do not do any work. This is punishing for people in research or development who may have ongoing projects which straddle financial years, and it has knock on effects for those who work for them… such as me. I had signed my contract and had got my plane tickets and now was told I had to sit it out till the budget problems at Capitol Hill had been sorted out.
The shutdown lasted a couple of weeks, past the time I was due to travel , but eventually the problem was solved and a very helpful lady at American Airlines managed to find a way of switching my ticket with minimal penalty. Unfortunately it meant travelling all the way down to Dallas before coming north again, but as long as I was on my way I was happy.
I had hoped to enjoy a balmy fall in Sioux Falls but the delay meant I was coming up towards the Halloween holiday and the weather was starting to turn nasty in the northern states. I arrived late at night in the small airport terminal with snow falling on the ground. After some 18 hours of travel and a six hour time difference, I was already pretty shattered. I’d arranged to rent a car from the airport and thankfully that process was very quick, and I was able to walk under cover to the car park and get myself to my motel. I was staying in the Candlewood Suites for a week, right next to I29 and it was all I could do to stay awake and on the icy road to reach the motel. Check in was US efficient – kinda friendly but not really sincere. But it was so nice to have a business trip where the arrangements fell in to place and I got what I was expecting. So different from so many trips to Africa, Asia or the Caribbean.
My rooms were well appointed; I emptied out my suitcase as I always do if I stay more than a couple of nights and flumped into bed, knowing with the time difference I was likely to be awake again in a couple of hours. However, it was actually about 5 am when I woke up and I was able to watch several iterations of the early morning news on the TV before I needed to get up and head out to the office.