austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Till we reach the stars, finally get to Mars

Visiting bunny_hugger began early in the morning a week ago Saturday, owing to the natural law which dictates that the most practical plane flight will not be at a convenient time. Well, there were more convenient times if we define them as leaving Newark Airport later in the day; the problem was in getting them to arrive in Detroit or Lansing early enough in the day, the sooner the better. I would have expected there to be a great number of direct flights between the cities, what with both being reasonable-sized airport locations, but by sticking to my preferred airline it turned out everything took at least two legs, in accord with aviation policy that you can never just fly to a place but must rather fly somewhere else first. The least ridiculous way was to fly through Chicago, which I was immediately wary of --- see earlier comments about spending more time at O'Hare waiting to take off for Newark than actually flying from O'Hare to newark --- but accepted on the grounds that if I got home late would I be all that frustrated? Plus alternative routes would send me through Boston, Washington, or somehow Denver.

But this did give me a flight starting at 8:30 am on a Saturday. From Singapore experience, where I could not get a starting flight except at 7 am or 9 am heading out to Asia, I figured I'd be able to handle this well even though it implied getting up around 5 am. My mother was confident enough in this to ask that I make sure I get her up in time for her need to shower and snack before getting driving. (She wanted to drop me off, preempting my father's traditional role.) And as surely as you might expect, I slept through my alarm, waking just in time to be getting out of bed as my mother knocked on the door to see if I might be awake yet. I showered quickly, weighed myself on the WiiFit to find my body mass index still disappointingly near 31, and we set off.

We did stop at the Starbucks along the way, my mother for coffee, me for green tea, and she talked me into buying the 'protein breakfast' set. This contained an apple slice, some grapes, a couple bits of melon, slices of cheese, and a miniature bagel, which I don't traditionally think of as a protein food. Included as a topping for the bagel was a squeeze pack of peanut butter, which is not a food I traditionally think of as a squeeze pack item. It was also a touch reluctant to open quite as smoothly as I might have liked, but it did and I realize that weight-loss goals or none I should eat more real bagels.

Our arrival at the airport was well-timed; I'd have been rushed had I not checked in online and printed out my boarding pass on the new wireless printer that I got at Circuit City's big shutdown sale a few months back, which I've been meaning to write about but never have quite got around to. And with just two pieces of luggage, both carry-on, I was able to stride nearly unimpaired right up to the gate and notice around all the signs warning about carrying unauthorized bottles of fluid past Security Theater that I did have in my bookbag a bottle of Liquid Skin for no reason other than a couple months back I had a really nasty paper cut that needed repeat treatments.

Flying to Chicago was not all that different except it reminded me how I do miss flying, even if long-haul flights are so wearying. It helped that I had the three-seat row to myself and that given my new slenderer sizes I was able to fit completely in a single seat even with the armrests down and my wallet in my pocket. The change in planes, meanwhile, required that I get from my arrival gate in Concourse 'B' to the departing gate in Concourse 'F', which is located in Indianapolis. But I also had an hour and change in layover time, which was actually generous for this. My gate for departing was actually this little niche an escalator flight down from the main gate, and on the level of the tarmac, with other flights going to big cities like Rochester, New York, or Peoria, Illinois.

The Chicago-to-Detroit leg, though, was on a commuter jet which was a lot smaller and it turned out that my real carry-on, the one with a week's worth of clothes inside, would be too big to fit in the overhead bin. They had me check it at the gate, and gave me a little green slip, in a procedure I'd never gone through before. I've never had to check something while actually walking out to the plane before, and I wondered where I would go to pick up my bag afterwards. Assuming this information was announced, I missed it altogether.

This second leg was even shorter --- they barely were able to squeeze in two episodes of Some Sitcom Thing I Didn't Bother Listening To --- and it arrived a comfortable 25 minutes ahead of schedule, to my delight. But I still didn't hear anything about where my bag would be. My best guess was that it would be at the baggage carousel, so I strode out to that and waited until the luggage began popping up out of the central island. Only a few pieces came up, a phenomenon I didn't know whether to attribute to the inexplicable pauses that baggage return suffers or because almost nobody had checked luggage. The few bags rotated around and around but more never appeared, and I thought of how good it was we arrived early, so I would not miss my meeting point with bunny_hugger.

I was beginning to get anxious when bunny_hugger appeared.

After warm greetings and my explanation of the baggage problem we agreed it would be wise to find someone to ask about where my bag might be hidden. In fact, the 'Oversized Baggage' return people seemed like a good place to look, as more sensible people than me might have realized a quarter-hour before. If I had, then I would have seen that my bag had been waiting there quite possibly for the entire time I was waiting thirty paces away and facing the other direction. We thanked the two people standing around in an impersonation of guarding the baggage return (they didn't even look at my ticket-ette except to verify that it existed), and we went together to find her car, and to drive home.

Trivia: Baltimore's Friendship Airport, opened in 1950, had a boarding pier longer than its main terminal was. Source: Naked Airport, Alastair Gordon.

Currently Reading: Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, Dana Thomas.


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