Archive for July, 2011

Air traffic control

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

As I write this I am sitting in the Upper Crust lounge at Pearson Terminal One, eating a wedge of dubiously damp white bread (advertising as “Ciabatta” to the consternation of bakers everywhere).  There’s some pressed turkey, a slice of romaine and something engineered to look like a tomato.  There a lot of beige happening on my plate right now.  I am waiting for my flight to LA.  I checked to make sure the flight was on time this morning and I checked in on line yesterday.  My tickets, passport and money are all in order.  I made swimmingly good time getting here having called for the taxi to arrive an hour in advance as I was concerned the Indy race taking place south of my apartment may snarl traffic.  It did not.  I made it from the front door on my condo to the departure area in 30 minutes.  All very efficient. If only Air Canada could get their planes to arrive with the same accuracy everything would be fine.

The flight is delayed by an hour (so far).  It wasn’t delayed when I checked this morning, and it wasn’t delayed on the departure board until about 5 minutes ago.  I was supposed to board at noon and it is now 11:45.  The first hint that something was amiss was I discovered the corridor to my gate was locked.  It was explained to me that all the people I could see swimming around behind the glass were domestic departures.  Then I heard an announcement that a flight to Edmonton was leaving from my gate 5 minutes prior to my own. That would be a nifty trick.  So now I wait for them to switch my gate several times and to announce what I can only anticipate my increasingly tardy take off.  Hence the consumption of my unappealing lunch.  At least here I have WiFi and a place to sit.

I am weary of travel.  Do not interpret this as the idea that I am tired of seeing new places and things because I cannot imagine that ever happening.  I am just tired of getting there.  The cross country drive was different – it was an adventure in its own right.  This molded plastic chair purgatory is another matter altogether.  I tire of dough sandwiches and incomprehensible PA announcements.  Of strapping myself to a chair to watch an endless parade of Sandra Bullock Rom-Coms with a stranger’s head in my lap and a flight long battle against overweight seat mate armrest ooze. Sticky floored bathrooms and usurious fees for nuts and bad pizza have lost their lustre.   I just want to be there.  I would happily volunteer to test a teleporter.  I know there can be some pretty unpleasant results if the Jeff Goldblum experience in the 1986 version of “The Fly” can be trusted, but I can only assume that scientists (the real ones) have made some progress since then. Frankly the fact that the piped in music is currently playing “Help Me Rhonda” which I know will burrow its way into the deepest recesses of my psyche and will commence an endless loop in my brain for the next week or so makes a few persistent body hairs, compound eye lenses and a rather unpleasant digestive process worth weighing as possible negative effects of teleportation over common air travel.

The Goddessey

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

I am a pretty lucky person.  Not in obvious ways – my inability to get a single number selected in any lottery is now verging on the statistically impossible – but in life choices I have been largely fortunate.  Such luck was reflected in my recent cross continental dash from Los Angeles to Toronto.  There were mishaps, oh yes there were, but considering what COULD have happened I emerged relatively unscathed.

The first lucky choice was my travel companion.  Laura St. Amour flew down to spend a few days in LA and to accompany me as I drove my tiny Miata home.  Laura is a trooper.  Smart, funny, entertaining, calm in a crisis and it was a true pleasure to have her not scream at me when I ran out of gas in Texas (and I would completely have  understood if she did).

This is Laura in a picture I lifted from her Facebook page.  Laura rocks.  Without a good traveling companion this kind of journey would have been torture.

As I mentioned, there was some trouble.  But considering how bad the trouble COULD have been we emerged relatively unscathed.


#1 – A blown tire in New Mexico – BAD

A blow tire in New Mexico on the very populated interstate, shortly after leaving a mountain pass where there would have been no passersby for hours – NOT SO BAD

A blown tire in 76 degree heat when it could have been 116 degrees – NOT SO BAD

A very kindly trucker who pulled over to change the tire and refused any kind of payment – NOT SO BAD

#2 – A blown spare tire in a New Mexican town called Tecumcari which was largely shut down at noon on a Saturday with one inhabitant who looked EXACTLY like the weird tiny lady from “Poltergeist” who seemed obsessed with abducting Laura – BAD

A blown spare tire in a New Mexican town called Tecumcari that happens to be populated by very kind and helpful people AND is home to a tow truck depot who agree to tow you across state lines to Texas to get your tire fixed – NOT SO BAD

3.  Discovering that the Discount Tire in Amarillo that everyone has assured you is open until 9:00 is, in fact, firmly closed – BAD

Discovering a Sears Automotive across the highway who stay open to fix your tire even after you arrive three minutes (after driving the wrong way along an off ramp) before they close for the weekend  – NOT SO BAD

4.  Running out of gas just outside of Groom, Texas at 12:30 at night – BAD

Pulling in to a rest stop on fumes and having the headlights pass over a sign that reads “Warning:  Rattlesnakes.  Beware of rocks and tall grasses” only to realize that the landscaping of said area is exclusively rocks and tall grasses – EXTREMELY BAD

Discovering the rest stop not only is staffed, but by a lovely woman whose brother is the deputy sheriff who shows up with a gas can of enough fuel to carry you to the next town AND refuses to take money for it – NOT SO BAD

5.  Discovering that the rim of the tire that has been replaced is cracked and the tire cannot stay inflated – BAD

Discovering that the rim  is cracked almost as a fluke when stopping for tea in Oklahoma City and not on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere – NOT SO BAD

Finding a helpful staff member at the WalMart Automotive who applies some liquid steel to the rim so that the car can be driven into downtown Oklahoma City for a proper dinner and rest (and a Schwartzeneggar movie on TV) – NOT SO BAD

Finding a Hibdon Tire that can locate a replacement rim for a tiny Japanese convertible in the middle of truck country – NOT SO BAD

6.  Having to circumnavigate Indianapolis instead of cutting right through and adding an hour to the trip – BAD

Following an instinct and pulling off the highway at the last possible moment only to realize you have just missed a major accident on the highway overpass that would have resulted in hours trapped on a gridlocked bridge, unable to move – NOT SO BAD

7.  Getting 24 hours behind in a journey due to various mishaps and having to skip the booked spa treatments and night in a luxury Chicago Hotel – BAD

Making it home safe an sound and delivering patient co-pilot home in time for work – NOT SO BAD

So there you have it.  Eventful, survivable and with plenty of tales to tell.  There’s plenty more – this is the Readers Digest version.  Buy Laura or I a tea and we can tell you all the gory details.

For now, I am feeling pretty fortunate.  Not lucky enough to put any faith in the 6/49 ticket in my wallet, mind you, but maybe I am building up to it.