1:10PM, Somewhere in Oregon, Altitude 31,000 feet.
I love traveling, but I really hate airports. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because airports hate me. Since 9/11 I've never been able to make it through airport security in any less than 20 minutes. They always pull me aside, rummage through my stuff, make me pull out my computer and take off my shoes. When I was traveling to Japan, guess who got pulled aside? Yep. Yours truly. This, after I had a long blog entry denouncing the policies of homeland security and our screwed up President. Coincidence?
Since my midterms are over, and I've had a most hellish week at work, I decided to take a little vacation. I'm actually on the plane now, on my way to Seattle before switching flights. I hurriedly packed my bags this morning in an hour, and I'm positive I forgot something, which always happens.
I'm in Seattle now. In the airport. Doing what I hate the most. Waiting. I tell you, airports hate me. My flight's departure was delayed. The reason given was servicing. I hope it's nothing serious. Outside, I see a bunch of twin-prop airplanes sitting on the runway. I wonder if one of them is the one I will be taking to complete my air travel for the day. I've never flown on a twin-prop before. The smallest plane I've ever flown in are those DC-10s and MD80s.
Surprisingly, my cell phone works fabulously here. 5 bars.
I worry about the weather, and if I've packed enough cold-weather clothes. I'm sitting under an AC vent and the AC is turned up way too high, as I freeze in my California clothes.
They have those red-LED signs here flashing messages in Japanese, Chinese and English. The signs are all labeled in Japanese too. I feel as if I'm in Tokyo Airport again. They hand out free coffee before noon, the little Horizon Air - Starbucks coffee counter says. With the counter sitting right under an AC vent, I have to wonder how warm the coffee is.
On a whim, I try to see if they have wireless here, and they do, but you have to pay. 6.95 a day. That's a bit much, especially when I'll only be here for another 10 minutes. They have a flight to Walla Walla, and I am at a loss to where that is.
4:39PM, Enroute to Edmonton, Altitude 31,000 ft.
The floor of the plane is cold. My backpack has been sitting there for the last hour, and my laptop case felt like a carton of ice cream when I picked it up. I will remember the next time I fly to use warmer socks on the day I fly.
We finally took off about 3 quarters past 3, and it was a good thing I didn't buy the internet connection, since they had the boarding call about 30 seconds after. I've slept most of this part of the journey -- we're flying way above the clouds, and only in certain areas can one view any landscape below. I think we're flying over the rockies right now, but I can't be sure. It's a lot of mountains, as far as I can see.
I'm on-board a CRJ 700, which I believe is the Canadian version of a DC-10. Instead of 5 people per aisle though, there's only 4, and the seats are wrapped in leather (or leather-like vinyl), so imagine what an airplane would look like if it was all first-class seats, and that's pretty much what it looks and feels like... although the 4 seat seating arrangement is very non-spacious, and one still feels cramped. The plane is a dual engine jet, much to my disappointment. I had hoped to fly in those twin prop planes, but I guess now that I think about it, those planes wouldn't have had the range or the speed to take me however many miles it is from seattle to Edmonton.
The sun is still bright outside, which is a marked change from the overcast skies of Seattle. I remember hearing once upon a time, that the further north or south one goes from the equator, the longer the days (or nights) become. I've always wondered what it must be like to live in one of those places.
I wish I knew the geography a bit better -- I might be able to identify some of the landscape features -- it's just a huge lake, with lots of farmland surrounding it.
We must be getting close to landing now, as the plane feels like it's dropping in altitude, and the land seems closer.
I arrived in Edmonton with fairly little trouble. The airport feels so far away from the city. We landed, and I had thought I had landed in farmland. The city was far off into the distance, the the skyscrapers creating the unique cityscape. I rented a car (a white Chevy Monte Carlo) and drove to the hotel. Driving to the hotel from the airport on Canadian Highways is an interesting experience for the California driver. The first thing is that everything is metric -- the speedometer is km/h and the unit of length is km. 110 km/h is only about 50 mi/h so it feels slow to me in getting to places, just because the speed limit is so much lower here. The second thing is that Highways appear to be unidirectional -- instead of a center divider with the opposite traffic immediately on the other side of the divider, the city block is the divider. Third, I can't believe that no one has had a City of Edmonton race track on any car video simulation games -- the city seems full of interesting twists and turns and little steel grid bridges. It was pretty exciting to drive.
I got to the hotel and was assigned a room, but I found out the hotel had wireless access, but only in certain rooms. I asked them if it was possible to change rooms, and the concierge was very kind and moved me. I was on the 6th floor. Now I'm on the 18th. The view out my window is pretty breathtaking at night, just miles and miles of lights.