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Doug's Diggings: Trip to Florida resulted in free ticket

Sometimes a person gets lucky - even on Friday the 13th.

Last week my wife and I went to Florida to visit her sister and husband, Sandy and Tom Wells of New Richmond. Actually, I shouldn't say New Richmond, they are now Florida residents, living in Fort Myers. When they come to what we consider home, they live in New Richmond.

Sometimes a person has good fortune - that happened to us on our way to Florida on Friday, March 13. To start at the beginning, I booked these airline tickets in August 2008. That's when gas prices were about $4 a gallon. I booked the tickets into Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because they were quite a bit cheaper than tickets into Fort Myers.

Always looking for ways to save money, I figured we could fly into Fort Lauderdale, rent a car, and drive to Fort Myers and save a couple of hundred dollars on each ticket. I'm not sure that held true as fuel prices declined during the fall and winter months - but it was the plan I had and we took off March 13, headed to Fort Lauderdale.

We had a layover in Atlanta, but when it came time to get on the plane to Fort Lauderdale, they were offering vouchers for people willing to take a bump. In fact, the plane was so oversold that they were offering two free tickets each and a free motel in Atlanta for people willing to take a plane to fort Lauderdale Saturday noon.

I had tickets for a Twins spring training game Saturday, so I didn't want to wait to fly into Florida Saturday noon, but I went to the ticket counter and made this proposal: I'll take the bump, but instead of flying me to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, fly me somewhere else -- Fort Myers for instance -- Friday night.

At first I didn't think they would do it because I had checked luggage. The lady called a supervisor and he said "do it -- we'll find the luggage and get it on a plane to Fort Myers." Because they flew me out on Friday, however, they would only give us one free ticket each for the bump. But, it was a turn of good fortune in more than one way. We got to go straight to Fort Myers and didn't have to rent a car, and my wife and I each got a free ticket to fly anywhere within the next year.

My brother-in-law picked us up at the airport, and it worked out great. His daughter and son-in-law, Meagan and Derek Widner of River Falls, were coming to Fort Myers that same night, and we arrived about a half hour before they did. Our week of fun in the sun was ready to begin.

I mentioned the Twins game - actually I attended two games during the week. I always enjoy that spring training atmosphere. We went to the game Saturday, March 14, and again Monday, March 16. The Twins lost to the Florida Marlins and defeated the Baltimore Orioles.

My brother-in-law's house is actually on Fort Myers Beach, just a stone's throw from the Gulf of Mexico. My wife and I did a lot of walking on the beach - close to five miles each day. And we spent a lot of time near the ocean or in my brother-in-law's pool.

In addition to the baseball games, we attended the Broadway musical "Wicked" at the Barbara Mann Theater in Fort Myers. The title sounds a bit strange, but it's really a takeoff of "The Wizard of Oz," going into the life of the Wicked Witch, who wasn't so bad after all.

We also rented a pontoon boat one afternoon and had a beautiful day on the backwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. We also attended a couple of movies - something we don't do very often at home. We saw "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Duplicity."

The week came to an end all too soon and now we had to endure the tough part of the trip. Our flight home was still scheduled out of Fort Lauderdale so we had to make the drive across the state in the middle of the night to catch an early-morning flight. But, it was a great week.