I’m getting into my trip mode now. I leave Sunday for Texas (a reverent pause) for a 26 day visit that I make every summer. I’ve been making this pilgrimage every summer since 1980 come hale or high water. I get to see my father, mother, brother and sister and all their numerous family members. It’s hard to be so close to one’s family and yet live so far away.
For some reason I usually get a bit stressed out before leaving. There are always last minute things to do, and so I make a list and check it off. I always catch the shuttle, buying a round trip ticket and catching it at a nearby hotel. The problem this time I’ll be getting home at 2 am and the shuttle leaves at 4 am. The plane leaves at 6 am. I don’t like cutting it that close, but I had no choice this time. If traffic is light I should reach the airport about 5 am which should give me enough time to go through security. I usually get there way too early and end up sitting around a long time. In fact that is usually my habit for all appointments–get there in plenty of time.
After I check in, I usually become less tense. The stress comes from just getting there, and the flight is always a breeze. I have decided to never check luggage any more, which makes things much more convenient and faster. Of course it also involves taking only a small carry-on piece. This time I have a small duffel bag and a small pack.
Usually my cameras are what take up the most room, but I am keeping the camera equipment to a minimum also. I always try to get a window seat and keep my nose plastered up against the window, watching every detail of the passing landscape below. I simply can’t imagine how people travel and have no desire to look out the window. I see them sitting by the window reading or sleeping, paying no attention to the amazing view. Even traveling in a bus or car, I must be staring out the window taking it all in. Sometimes when I leave at odd hours I can hardly keep my eyes open, but I force myself to do so. However, when it’s cloudy and I can’t see the ground, I welcome the chance to grab a bit of shut-eye.
There is one thing about flying that really, really irritates me. Most companies have in-flight movies, which is ok with me, although I never spend the five bucks or so to see them (i.e. rent the earphones to listen to them since nobody has a choice about seeing them since the screens drop down in front of everybody). What really galls me is when the stewardesses (wait, some are male, what is the male term-steward?) come by and tell me to lower the window shade. I always indignantly refuse to do this since flying along in semi-darkness looking at soundless movies doesn’t appeal to me, and their assumption that I would like to do this strikes me as curiously inconsiderate.
I always want to know where I am when flying. Usually I can look outside and tell about where we are; sometimes I can tell exactly by certain landmarks. The flight into Dallas parallels Hwy 287 and passes over my father’s birthplace, my birthplace, the towns where my father and mother lived while growing up, and the towns where my grandparents lived, and where I visited them numerous times. There have been many times when I could look down and tell which towns are which even to the point of finding a swimming pool in this one town that I went to as a kid. Certain landmarks are always easy to find in the other states also, and I always look for them.
Once on a return flight which tends to swing further west and south after take off, we passed over an area of Texas that I absolutely could not recognize. It was like a different part of the world. I was totally disoriented and confused, and to this day I have no idea where we were.