austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Along the edge of this airfield the old prop-shaft airlines stand

My brother, the one in Boston, married his girlfriend, the one he'd become a parent with, back around Mother's Day. We don't know why they decided to then as opposed to any other time, like, one that anybody had warning for. But they figured to hold a family celebration sometime over the summer. They picked Saturday, the 8th of August. So this is why we flew through Philadelphia last month.

We had been planning to do a New England Amusement Parks trip this year. There's a bunch of parks in these states, some of them small family outfits that could conceivably vanish any off-season. In an ideal world, one with no other obligations, we'd have gone in June or early July, for better weather and lighter crowds. But June would have conflicted with the trip to France and England. Even booking the hotel rooms and planning the itinerary would have been one stress point too many for bunny_hugger at the end of the term and preparing her paper and presentation for the conference that led off the trip. And a family get-together in August meant that going out in July would be absurd. We'd have to, at minimum, go out twice.

Given the multiple constraints, bunny_hugger worked out a not-bad schedule that would let us take in a bunch of amusement parks, and my family on that Saturday, and have us end up in New Jersey where I could stay at work for a week. They hadn't seen me in a year, and by making this a work trip they would likely cover the cost of my airfare. (They did.) A complicating factor: the more she looked the more parks she found. The trip could easily have been twice as long, at some greater hotel cost and anxiety about leaving the house empty. Also at missing pinball league nights, since by August both Lansing and Grand Rapids had started. June would have had no pinball commitments.

And it started off almost snakebitten. bunny_hugger had a slipped disc a couple years ago, and it slipped again right before this trip. (The day after we went to Holland, actually.) So she was in pain that could be relieved by two things, my rubbing her shoulder and her using her neck-traction device. This would just barely fit in her carry-on luggage. It was also apparently the most terrifyingly scary thing Detroit's airport security people have ever seen because they insisted on examining it to the point of breaking it. When they found that her medically necessary traction device was in fact a medically necessary traction device, they took out their frustrations by swabbing and scanning everything else she had. And told her it was her fault for foolishly having rolled up the cuffs of her blue jeans, which allegedly causes ``anomalies'' in the system. I still think we should let WXYZ know the Transportation Security Theater Agency buys screening equipment allegedly incapable of handling ``rolled jeans''.

The path that made the most sense had us fly from Detroit, through Philadelphia, into Portland. We were scared of Philadelphia's airport, given Flightmare (Parts one, two, and three, and by the way the friends treating us terribly back then have continued to do so, even after we made several attempts at reconciling). But we could be tolerably sure that snow wouldn't disrupt this flight. Summer storms might, and I got worried as our flight was delayed and delayed again because our plane hadn't yet arrived, and our crew hadn't arrived yet from Baltimore. At one point the crew had technically arrived, but their plane was stuck waiting for a gate to unload to because apparently there's a shortage of gates at Philadelphia's airport. I was worried the crew would time out and we'd be stuck in Philadelphia overnight and our whole itinerary would collapse before it had even started.

But it didn't. They arrived in time. We found vegetarian burritos that were pretty good for dinner, and since it was some kind of anniversary for the chain they even gave us coupons for a free meal (that would be useless since we never heard of the chain before and we wouldn't go back through that airport, although we didn't think of that at the time), and if the worst that happened was we arrived in Portland International Jetport an hour and a half later than we expected, well, so what, except for how that would force us to either lose time or lose sleep for the busy day the next day?

Also, Portland's airport is known as Portland International Jetport and it looks exactly like the name implies. We loved it. We would see the bathrooms, the hallway to baggage claim, and the poorly-signed path outside to the car rental place. Barring a second New England Parks Tour under similar constraints, that's all we'll ever see of Portland International Jetport, I suppose.

We made our ways through Maine's very many, very twisty roads to the Motel 6 we'd be staying at for the night. Here we discovered we were short one toothbrush, something the hotel desk did not have any spares of. Also it turns out Motel 6 doesn't provide shampoo and we'd failed to bring any travel bottles of the stuff, so the next day would start off with hair in less than ideal condition. And their Internet was sold on a per-device cost, so the code we got ended up being useful only for my laptop and not at all for bunny_hugger, who was trying to look up operating hours and travel times and such.

Oh, also. One of the parks we hoped to get to, Lake Compounce in Connecticut? One of their two roller coasters, Boulder Dash, was closed indefinitely following a lightning strike. We've had trips begin better.

Trivia: Aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont dubbed his first airplane 14-bis, ``little 14'' or ``14 encore'', as he had intended to launch its first trials from his Number 14 non-rigid airship. Source: Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Atiquity through the First World War, Richard P Hallion.

Currently Reading: Austerity Britain, 1945 - 1951, David Kynaston.

Tags: new england parks tour

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