Is This Heaven?

Misty - not heaven, but makes a great photo

Misty – not heaven, but makes a great photo

What does a famous quote (or should I say, 1/2 of the quote) from “Field of Dreams” have to do with photography?  Well, my friends, my first blog entry will explain that to you.  Be forewarned, it will show me to be a rather bumbling hick when it comes to traveling, not very careful in reviewing airplane itineraries, and rather dull in catching on to “red flags” when they are presented to me.

In late July, I found myself in an airplane, heading for Canada to be part of a mentoring session with Illona Haus, the owner of Scruffy Dog Photography.  To those of us in the pet photography genre, she is the be-all, the quintessential photographer of our chosen field.  She takes fabulous photos of her client’s dogs, catching their personalities, whether they are static or running like the wind.  She does not do workshops with 8-15 eager neophyte photographers in attendance.  She prefers one-on-one mentoring, where she gives you her full, undivided attention.  In January, I bit the bullet and filled in the mentor application on the Scruffy Dog website.  Several days later, I got an email that said I was approved and to call soon to set up the dates – which I did.  We both agreed that the last week-end in July would be the dates for me.  Had to then apply for a passport and, after receiving it in April, I made plane reservations.

From then on, I was counting down the days until I was to take off for Canada.  I was both nervous and excited.  The day finally came.  Since it was to be a very early flight out of Pensacola, Florida (and I live one hour away), I stayed at the hotel next to the airport the night before and then, at 6am, was shuttled to the airport to start my journey.  I had several airports to fly thru after leaving Pensacola, namely, Atlanta, Chicago and then, Canada.  I finally landed at my destination and was amazed at how small the terminal was.  I know that the location where I was going in Canada – the twin cities of Kitchener/Waterloo – was small, but, I told myself, this is really small.  I got my luggage and looked around to see if Illona was there.  Nope, no one.  So I went outside to wait.  I soon received a call from Illona, “Where are you?” she asked.  “I’m here,” I said.  I endeavored to explain where I was in the airport, but she couldn’t find me.  She said she would look around and call me back.

Meanwhile, I decided to go back into the terminal to ask around.  Primarily, where customs was since I didn’t see anything indicating where to go.  The terminal was empty, except for a few American Airlines agents.  “Where is customs?” I asked.  The girl looked at me, shook her head and said, “There’s no customs here – this is Iowa.”

Waterloo Iowa Regional Airport

Yes, friends.  Yours truly had made reservations – thru Expedia – to Waterloo, Iowa, thinking it was Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

(Pause while everyone tries to stifle a laugh)

Needless to say, I was a bit stunned and started to defend myself by saying that the itinerary I received when I booked was for Canada.  I whipped out what Expedia had emailed to me, and showed it to them.  “That’s our airport designation,” she said.  I looked and, well, it also said Waterloo, IA.  In my defense, every subsequent mailing I received from Expedia didn’t even have “IA”.

LESSON 1:  Review your travel itinerary as soon as  you get it.

I’m sure in hopes of making me feel better, the airline attendant said that, oddly enough, someone came to the Waterloo, Iowa terminal about 6 weeks before with the same problem  Oh, great!  I’m not the only stupid person in the world.  Oddly, I wasn’t upset, just a bit stunned.  I immediately called Illona and greeted her with “Guess where I am?”  Fortunately, since it was a mentoring session just between she and I, she was able to adjust her schedule for me.  Long story short, my itinerary for the rest of the trip was changed at that point, in addition to forking out more money.  I had to stay in lovely downtown Waterloo for one day before I could leave for the trek to Canada.  But the airlines was great.  They arranged for me to stay at the Ramada Inn, where their crew stays, at their low rates.  They also arranged for the hotel’s airport shuttle to come and get me.

As I reviewed the day, I remembered that when I checked in at the Pensacola Airport at 6am, the attendant said, “Heading for Iowa.”  I thought she was joking and remembered saying “No, Canada.”  She obviously did not hear me.

LESSON 2:  Listen very carefully to what others say and make sure you and they understand.

That’s part 1 of my story of getting to Canada for my mentoring days with Scruffy Dog  Photography.  I will follow-up soon with part 2, the actual mentoring experience in Canada with Illona.  It didn’t have the drama of actually getting to Canada, but it was worth everything I went through.

Oh, regarding the quote I mentioned in the title.  The full quote is, “Is this Heaven?” asks the baseball player.    “No,” says Kevin Costner, “it’s Iowa.”

See you at Part 2.


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