McDonald’s Trifecta

How do you judge a rough travel day?

There are many ways. Number of hours spent sitting in an airport terminal. Number of hours spent on the tarmac. Hours it takes to reclaim lost luggage.

We counted ours by the number of times we ate McDonald’s in a day.

It was three.

Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner.

Yeah, it was that rough.

I’m generally a healthy eater and tend to rail against fast food, so I feel like I need to explain myself.

First off, we actually planned on a Micky D’s breakfast. We left the house at 5:45am and figured a couple Egg McMuffins would be the best route at such an early hour. And really, aside from the sodium, it’s pretty much the same breakfast sandwich you’d make at home. So, totally justified.

But when our 8:30am flight from Chicago to LA was delayed 4.5 hours because of bad weather in Hartford, we watched the breakfast hour turn into the lunch hour.

With a four-hour flight ahead of us, we grabbed the cheapest thing we could find in an airport terminal. McDonald’s. We nibbled on fries and grilled chicken sandwiches. We watched other planes to LA depart. I regretted not getting a hot fudge sundae.

We finally landed in LA at 3pm Pacific Time. But LAX is like a city within a city. So by the time we shuttled halfway across town to Hertz and communicated with our remote service rep via this wacky video/phone kiosk thingy and found our car, it was 4:15pm.

Holding my driver’s license up to the camera so remote agent Kia could enter my info from… wherever.

We had 315 miles to drive.

By 5:15pm, we had gone 10 miles.

LA traffic. Total drag.

We wouldn’t make it to our destination, Mammoth Lakes, until 11pm. We had a tight schedule the next day of renting backpacking gear and hiking ten miles up the side of a mountain, so we didn’t have time to spare for real food. There was nowhere else to stop anyway. So we ate dinner at McDonald’s. I could hear Morgan Spurlock tsking us.

At least the architecture was different. Old-west, gold-rushy. Creepy old lady mannequin in the window. Same reliable food. Not delicious, but fast.

So there it is. The new measure of travel woes. A badge of honor, or a symbol of shame, depending on how you look at it.  But it got us to the top of the mountain.