Back in May Hanson announced what ended up being their last shows of the year in Escanaba/Harris, MI in the upper peninsula.  We bought tickets and booked our flights. The airport there is tiny and there are only 2 flights in and out each day. Delta couldn’t get their act together and here’s what happened from the emails I saved (and who knows if I actually saved all of them)

May 17:
Hartford (9:35am) Detroit (11:29am)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24:
Hartford (6:00am) Detroit (8:54am) Minneapolis (1:45pm)  
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

May 24: (I made this change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (1:55pm)
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

July 3:
Hartford (9:42am) Detroit (2:37pm) 
Escanaba (4:00pm) Minneapolis (7:55pm)

August 28:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:25am) 
Escanaba (1:31pm) Minneapolis (8:00pm) 

September 23:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (10:01am) 
Escanaba (1:08pm) Minneapolis (8:20pm) 

September 30:
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (11:52am) Minneapolis (12:47pm) Atlanta (9:40pm)

September 30: (I made the change to not have so many flights)
Hartford (6:00am) Minneapolis (8:50am)
Escanaba (6:01pm) Detroit (9:55pm) 

In the end, that September 30th email & update stuck, but I did get a couple more emails from Delta confirming it with what appears to be all the same info. (Maybe flight numbers changed?)  Of course, I bought a ticket to see David Cook the night before when I thought I had a 9am flight, but a 6am flight meant I had to miss out on the show.  Fortunately I was able to sell my ticket and meet and greet to a woman who really seemed to appreciate me helping her out, so that helped lessen the blow a bit. (She sent me her M&G photo with a “thanks so much!” message the next day and it melted my cold, dark heart.)

Based on the August changes,  I had been totally willing to wait the 8 hours in MSP if I needed to (I have friends there, they could have taken me and brought me back later!) but Delta was treating it as if it was 2 separate flights and not connected and I wasn’t sure what kind of issues that might cause or if it really would be as simple as just checking in 2 different times.  When I contacted them via the chat they told me that it was either the extra Atlanta layover (please, no!) or going to Detroit instead.  As we were trying to get that all settled… Pet Assistance joined the conversation? They asked if I’d be traveling with a dog, cat or bird.  Just get me to Escanaba and back, I’m not bringing a pet!

When I left my house there was dew/frost on the ground. I also almost hit a buck on the parkway on the way to the airport.  That’s one way to wake you up at 2:45am!  When I got to the airport, I added the plane tickets to my Google Wallet.  Then somehow it became a ticket from MSP to ESC (what I needed) and another one from MSP to LAS VEGAS?  Delta, what are you DOING?  Fortunately my app had the correct tickets in there and I made it to MSP without any issues.  I had about an hour layover in MSP on the way there and made it to the connection despite having to go through nearly all the gates to get there. I had a cart get me to the end of A but had to walk the last 9 gates myself.  I found my 3 friends waiting for me at the gate and then we needed to get defrosted before taking off.  Our luggage didn’t fit in the overhead bins and there were about 10 people on the flight so the flight attendant ended up just strapping it into the seat across the aisle from me.  Our casino shuttle driver was waiting for us when we got there and took us to the casino.  We couldn’t check in until 12:30 so we hung in the lobby, got our rooms and went to check things out and eat. Then we waited for 2 more friends to show up on the later flight. We had a free night and just hung out and explored the hotel.  I ended up doing a pull tab card from the gift shop that cost $1 and won $5. That was all the gambling I did all weekend.   I also apparently offended a local when I said “there IS stuff to do here!” when spotting the kiosk of local brochures. She said “of course there is, you’re not in the middle of nowhere”  except once I grabbed a few brochures that interested me, they were 2, 2.5 and 3 hours away.  I’m not sure that counts as “here” and yes, we are in the middle of nowhere.
The next day, 2 more friends were coming.  We had discussed getting pasties which is a hand pie that is commonly found in the upper peninsula.  I had checked Door Dash and Uber Eats but there was not ONE restaurant on there. (Not just pasty places, nothing at all!) And to uber from the casino back to Escanaba was $22 one way.  Fortunately one of our friends mentioned it to the shuttle driver and he took a detour to Gram’s (which is supposed to be one of the best spots) and she was able to pick some up for us to try.  I got a beef with potato and even a while after they were purchased they were still warm and perfect for lunch!  For dinner we did a nice outing to the steak house that was on the top floor of the casino.  At some point, I got an email from Delta wishing me a happy birthday and offering me a $25 eCredit.  Delta, what is going on over there? My birthday was in July!
Then it was time for show #1!  I had fully expected that we’d end up getting some combination of the 35 songs that they just had done at Disney and for this setlist, I was mostly right.  My friends however were not happy with me because they had said they didn’t want to hear “I’ve Got Soul” and I had said since it was done at Disney it was bound to happen and they ended up opening the set with it, which made me laugh. But hey, let’s get it out of the way early! This setlist was pretty typical and what I was expecting.  What I was not expecting was for security to just be done doing their job during MMMBop and allowing everyone to rush the stage.  They had taken my walker away and I was happily sitting in my chair so I opted to not have my friends help me get up there because walking with just the cane while a sea of people were coming at me didn’t seem safe.  Turns out sitting in the chair wasn’t too safe either. I ended up with 3 men standing on top of me (actually ON TOP OF my feet) and then almost got run over by a wheelchair who decided to back up right on top of me.  I kind of expected this might have happened at the encore, but I missed out on the last 3 songs of the set *and* the encore.

After the show we hung out in the hotel since the 8 of us wouldn’t fit comfortably in either of our hotel rooms. We did a snack run to the gift shop in the hotel, which somehow was incredibly cheap and had some pickle flavored chips and “Yooper Bars” which were just chocolate bars with the upper peninsula on them. (I stuck with my baked lays and cream and dr pepper soda)

The next morning we had a late breakfast and just hung around doing more nothing. My friend did contact the GM of the theater and was told I could keep the walker with me for the 2nd show so I was already feeling a bit better about how it would go since I’d be able to have a bit of a barricade around myself.  Isaac had posted on instagram they’d be mixing the setlist up, which we did figure would happen to some extent – and we thought they might go all out being the last show of the year, but also didn’t want to get our hopes up.  When we finished eating a late lunch/early dinner we heard Hanson doing soundcheck of With a Little Help From My Friends and we hoped they weren’t just teasing us.  Some other fans nearby informed us that World Goes Around was sound checked earlier and the day before.  Then they went into Give a Little and I Don’t Want To Go Home but we still weren’t sure if they had plans to put all those songs in the setlist or not.

When they started the show, they mixed it up by starting with Fired Up but then did 2 repeats – A Minute Without You and Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ so I wasn’t really sure where we were headed. But from there things went off the rails, in the best way possible. Instead of an acoustic set we got a solo from each brother and all the sound checked songs made the cut.  In the end we had 44 songs over 2 nights and 39 of them were unique – and I had thought they’d be pulling from 35 that were rehearsed!  Except now that we know they are capable of doing such a massive shake up and not at a members only event, the bar has been raised!

After the show we got a boozy ice cream drink and hung out for the time change. On top of the daylight saving time confusion, the casino was situated right smack in the middle of the Eastern and Central time zones. The airport was in Eastern and the hotel operates in Eastern so I had forced my phone to not auto update. For some who didn’t make that change, depending on where they were in the casino, the time would change back and forth. We made it to 2nd 1am but didn’t last much longer than that – and the delirious giggles had hit most of us at one point or another.

Sunday all my friends were on the MSP flight and I was alone on the DTW flight so I stayed in the room as long as I could before check out, took myself to breakfast at the restaurant in the casino and then hung out in the lobby watching videos until my 3:30 shuttle.

The Escanaba airport was so tiny, yet has 5 TSA agents for our flight. We ended up having to board the plane using the stairs which did not go very well for me (I’m ok, just a skinned knee) but it was smooth sailing and no flight issues. If Delta wants to just keep up with the drama before the actual travel days, I’ll take it!

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