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THE ZEN OF AIRPLANE TRAVEL
8 August 2012
I remember when airplane travel used to be fun. You'd get all dressed up to get on a plane. Your friends and family would walk you to the gate and stand there waving as your plane backed out of its slot and headed off to the runway. You would sit in comfortable seats with room for your legs. The stewardesses (they were always young, pretty women dressed in spiffy uniforms) would bring you meals with real plates and real silverware. The aisles were wide enough that you could get up and walk around and visit with other passengers.
Those times seem as far away as the Victorian era.
I now just plan for travel days to be terrible and try to get into some sort of a zen-like state about it, so that nothing really bothers me. If things go well, I'm pleased. If they don't, I just keep reading my book and hope that it will all eventually turn out all right.
Our day started early. Walt and Jeri took Lester out for her walk while I finished packing. Walt wanted to go to the airport by public transport, but I did not. Jeri couldn't drive us because she had class. Walt didn't want to take a cab because he was worried that one might not show up. So we compromised with Jeri driving us to a stop near her house where there are always cabs. We went to the airport very early, but our driver was great and got us there in record time, for slightly less money than Jeri had guesstimated.
It was about 9:30 when we arrived, for our 2 p.m. flight. We stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for a snack, then went and sat in the airport rockers for awhile, watching the planes come and go and listening to a salesman in the rocker to my left making cold calls to his customers.
After awhile, the wooden seats got to be very hard on my butt, so we moved to our gate, to the soft seats, where we only had 2 hours to wait for our plane. I took advantage of the time to buy some Boston postcards, since I now collect postcards from everywhere to send off to all those hundreds of post-card collectors I encounter around the world!
With all the stuff we had done this weekend, we forgot to check in on-line to Southwest, which has open seating and you board the plane by the number you are assigned at check-in. People with the A numbers (1-60) board first followed by the B people and then the C people. You don't want to be a C person. Those are the unhappy looking people in the middle seats.
Unfortunately, we were C people and I was resigned to making people in the aisle and window seats angry because they had to deal with my bulk. However, I managed to find a great window seat next to a Chinese family who had the world's best baby. That little 11 month old girl slept in her father's arms for nearly 5 hours. She was awake about an hour and just smiled and looked around, ate a little, drank her bottle and went back to sleep.
Walt, on the other hand, was stuck in a middle seat next to a guy who was 6'2" and didn't fit in the tiny Southwest seats so kind of slopped over into Walt's area.
The first leg of our flight was to Phoenix, about 5 hours. It was 110 degrees when we arrived and once again I was happy I didn't live in Phoenix.
We had two hours before our connecting flight to Sacramento, so we stopped at one of the airport restaurants, Barrio Sky Cafe, for dinner. I had fabulous tacos de camarones (shrimp tacos)
And then it was time for the last leg. We were in the B group this time, so anticipated getting the seats we wanted, which we did...both aisle seats across the aisle from each other. The plane was loaded and we settled in for the takeoff when an announcement came that there was a part malfunction and that they hoped that it could be fixed within 20 minutes. Twenty minutes passed, during which time I was happy that I had my fan from China with me. The a/c was on, but 110 is a hard temp to cool down when you can't run your big motors.
Finally after about 25 minutes we were told that they would have to unload the plane and get a new one. We all groaned. I envisioned a huge mess getting back on the plane again and was resigned to losing our good seats, but I have to hand it to Southwest. The re-board went uneventfully and we got the same seats (with different seat mates this time)
The flight home was uneventful, even though we arrived half an hour later than anticipated. As we were leaving the Sacramento airport I discovered....rocking chairs. Apparently our new building also comes with rocking chairs. I guess that's the new "in" thing for airports.
Our dog sitter had apparently not received my text about feeding the dogs dinner, so they were THRILLED to see us when we got home at 11, and so happy they even inhaled a bowl of kibble without cottage cheese added. I was so tired I couldn't even think about writing this entry and was going to settle into my recliner, but the dogs would have none of it, so I went to the couch, was asleep in seconds and slept through until 5 a.m. this morning. I think I have finally shaken off any residual jet lag from Europe!