As part of the process of reacquainting myself to Saint Louis, I went to the zoo today. I did this after first bicycling around Forest Park, which contains the zoo. I’m trying to maximize my outdoor time, because after today the forecast is for over a week of rain. Anyway, back to the zoo. I arrived just after noon. The zoo was crowded. Most of the kids there are due back to school this week. Anne is prepping for her class as I write. It was already hot when I arrived and some of the aforementioned children were already beginning to meltdown in the heat. It being late summer now, I was able to recapture one of my favorite photos. In late summer the water in the flamingo’s pond turns a perfectly contrasting shade of green, making for a striking image. 

Meet Me In St. Louis

We attended the Muny last night. Meet Me in St. Louis was playing. We’ve seen this show many times before. It is almost a perennial hit around here. We went to the show primarily because it was the last show of the season and this being the Muny’s centennial season and all. Tonight is the season finale, but we went last night, just incase a rain check would be needed. The motto for this season is a line borrowed from this musical, “Right here in Saint Louis.”

For those of you not familiar with this show, it is set in the year leading up to the 1904 Saint Louis World’s Fair, the four Smith daughters learn lessons of life and love, even as they prepare for a reluctant move to NYC. Part of the reason that Meet Me is always a favorite is its strong repertoire of musical numbers. There is the title song of course, but there is also the Trolley Song. Saint Louis is about to get its first real trolley in decades, Clang, clang, clang went the trolley. The story climaxes to the heart string twanging tune of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. By this point in the musical the actors are performing in turn-of-the-century winter garb, outdoors in Saint Louis’s sweltering heat, but the show must go on. Actually, it was pretty nice last night.

Meet Me is full of reprises. In addition to the explicit reprises of Meet Me, Have Yourself, The Boy Next Door and Boys and Girls Like You and Me, there was a de facto reprise added to this production. The first act has, Under the Bamboo Tree. This is followed in the second act with Under the Anheuser Bush.

Today, during our bicycle ride, we swung by the History Museum, which has an exhibit celebrating the Muny’s hundred years. Most of this exhibit is dedicated to the Wizard of Oz, which by looking at the catalog of performances in the back of the program is one of the most popular and frequently performed musicals. I think that nowadays they do this show as the annual children’s show, so that all the flying monkeys can scare the bejesus out of the little tikes.

We’ve been going to the Muny now, for a third of its run. When we first moved to Saint Louis, we snickered at the blue haired old ladies who probably had been coming to the Muny since its inception. Honest, the light from the theater’s spots made their hair glow blue. We had season tickets for years. For part of that run, we dragged the boys to the shows. Dave’s first show was South Pacific. After the show Anne asked him what was his favorite part. “When the airplanes flew over”, he answered. That would have been during the Star Spangled Banner, which precedes every performance. When Anne started teaching, we started to spend less time in Saint Louis, at least during the summer. Now that I’m retired, we’re hardly here at all, but it was good to celebrate the Muny. 

Ow Airlines

Sapphire Pool, Yellowstone – Another land of hot springs

Well, I won’t be going to Iceland after all. Say what, Iceland? Yep, that’s right, I was all set to jet off to Reykjavík. It was to be all part of my new persona as an international man of mystery. Cue it boys: Travel agent man, travel agent man, you’ve given me a booking, but then taken away the plane. The old adage comes to mind, if it is too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.

Wow Airlines, a no frills Icelandic airlines started service to Saint Louis this summer. I booked a round-trip from Saint Louis to Reykjavík for $284. Yes, that’s right $284. Later, I decided that I would really need to bring a change of clothes or two, anyway more stuff then could be expected to fit into my one free personal item, so I added a carry-on bag for $36, no frills, remember.

Originally, I booked for this month, but then decided to move the reservation to next month. The change fee was $98, but still $408 seemed pretty cheap. I messed up and ended up with a booking from Reykjavík to Saint Louis in August and a return flight, Saint Louis to Reykjavík in September. Besides the obvious spatial problems, I had only wanted a trip duration of just a few nights. Then their website locked me out and referred me to customer service.

At this point I had gotten cold feet on the idea of going to Iceland. When I called customer service, I asked for a refund. I was still well within the 24 hours that the DOT mandates consumer protections and major carriers offer full refunds. Initially, I was told that I would get my requested refund and I received an email confirming this promise. Subsequently, I was told that a refund wasn’t possible. I persisted. They then offered to refund just the taxes, less than $100. I persisted some more. Then they stopped responding to me.

Several days passed. During which, I did what I should have done before. I went on-line and looked to see if other people also had complaints with Wow. I found what appeared to be a veritable cottage complaint industry. Some of the stories made me feel that being out $400 wasn’t the worse that could have happened.

I spoke with my credit card company and told them this long sad story. They said that I could ask for a charge back, but I would have to wait until their charges converted from pending to actual charges. Days ticked by and one-by-one the three charges converted. I was all set to initiate the charge back process, when from out of the blue I received an email from them reaffirming their original promise of a full refund. Over the next week, again one-by-one credits for the original charges appeared on my card.

My Mother would have been proud of me. She was always a fighter and would have relished this battle. Wow Airlines eventually did right by me, but I do not plan on doing business with them again.