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Posts Tagged ‘flight’

A short day’s journey into night

July 5th, 2009 Comments off

We are in Antwerp. Daughter and Boyfriend fed us breakfast — bacon, eggs, juice, and croissants with soft cheese. It was our second morning, and our second breakfast, of the day.

It started with a dear coworker, Emily, taking us to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Eleven hours of air travel later, plus a stop at Dulles, we were touching down in Brussels, 7:20 a.m. Sunday, Belgium time, 10:20 p.m. July 4th based on our Las Vegas clock.

Even before the start of our flight, Jeanne got into the shopping mood, finding an open gift store that had just the pendant she had been looking for, a charm of a Bichon.

Loading was delayed because the Airbus 320 had been cooking in the morning desert sun like some Dutch oven prior to our loading as its first trip of the day. The back of the plane was a sauna.

One of the flight attendants joined her colleagues at the front of the plane while the final passengers were taking their seats, and I could easily overhear her complaining: “I’m dripping sweat! I’ve already poured three cups of water out of the bag of ice and it’s only going to get worse. We got three extra bags of ice put on board but we’ll be lucky to end up with half of it.

“And the pilots? They’re up there with their own air conditioning. We shouldn’t be taking this! They shouldn’t have loaded the plane until we said it was cool enough. It’s still too hot back there!  And the pilots, they’re going to want some cold drinks? Oh, I think they can forget that!”

One of the flight attendants didn’t seem to be doing much work. I asked another attendant what was up. “He’s not feeling well,” he said. “The plane was real hot when we got in, and it got to him.”

As soon as the flight was in the air, one of the attendants sat down in a passenger seat and pointed two air funnels at his head.

The plane slowly cooled and the flight was uneventful.

At Dulles I happened across a duty-free shop. Bingo! Two bottles of Scotch and one of Drambuie. I’d be set for our vacation, and then some.  Jeanne thought it was appropriate, each of us scoring before we even got to Europe. “My pooch and your hooch,” she said.

We transferred to a Boeing 777. Among the passengers were dozens of retirees — including a handful of Las Vegans — headed  to Antwerp for a 16-day riverboat cruise. It sounded like fun, if a bit tame. Maybe in three weeks we would wish for tame.

We never experienced complete nightfall.  To the north, the horizon remained a ribbon of soft red, from sunset until sunrise.

Neither Jeanne nor I could sleep. I was mesmerized by the video screen’s display of flight data: flying at 37,000 feet, 560 mph, outside temperature 59 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.

We’re not in Vegas any more.

The storm before the calm

July 2nd, 2009 Comments off

We’ve been planning our RV trip through Europe for a few months and the realization that we leave in just two days is hard to grasp. We’ve prided ourselves on being calm, thoughtful, focused, paying attention to the important details.

For instance, we remembered to contact AAA in Canada a couple of weeks ago to get an international camping card, so we don’t have to give the campground manager our passports to make sure we don’t skip out without paying. That would be a nuisance because we wouldn’t have our passports with us when we take the buses into town. We leave the camping card instead. Somehow it vouches for us.

The other to-do’s on the checklist are almost all done, too. I got myself a great camera-carrying backpack, and my money belt, and the other day we bought a pair of duffel bags because they’ll be easier to handle than suitcases in the mobi. Jeanne has picked up the items that Daughter and Boyfriend want us to mule over to them. We even remembered to print up business cards to leave behind so people we befriend will know how to contact us. Last night we walked the house sitter through our home. The dogs will be groomed before we leave. In other words, just about everything is done.

But wait, no, it’s not.

We’ve got to call the credit card companies and tell them not to cancel our cards when they see strange charges in Europe. We’ve got to scan our important documents – passports, drivers’ licenses, credit cards, insurance policies and the like – so we can e-mail them to our kids, and to print out copies for ourselves, in case we lose the originals and need backups for proof. We’ve got to shift money around in our bank accounts so we’ve got enough cash in our debit account. I’ve got to download a ton of albums into my MP3 player and make sure all my electronic toys are charged and we have all the recharging cables and USB cables and batteries. We need to do one more load of wash. We need to clean the house and open up the suitcases and see if everything fits.

And when we walk out the door early Saturday morning, we need to make sure the toilet isn’t running and the iron is off. Well, no we don’t. The iron is never on.

Our flight leaves Las Vegas at 8 a.m.  We land in Brussels 12 1/2 hours later – 7:30 a.m. local time the next morning. We’ll have a day of calm. We pick up mobi Monday afternoon.

And then we’ll have some real stories to tell.

Gorman road trip!

April 24th, 2009 Comments off

I have always looked forward to our trips as a family. It’s the planning I dread.

So while the idea of going on a vacation is exciting, the fact is I just don’t like leaving home. I love my home.

Therefore, closing up shop for a trip becomes a stressful event for me: Deciding what clothes to take, based on what is clean versus what must be washed; making sure there are snacks for the ride; leaving instructions for the house sitter on my way of managing household tasks and caring for the pets, and praying the house doesn’t burn down or the washer hose doesn’t break, all those sorts of things. It makes me a nervous wreck.

In the earlier days I would need to pack for four. And I had to stay true to my mother’s rule: always divide the underwear and necessities into two suitcases in case one gets lost. It could get confusing. When we began road tripping with the kids the problem was getting everything jammed into the vehicle. Now that is just the old man and me it should be easier…..

For this vacation, our daughter’s boyfriend suggested we rent an RV for traveling around Europe instead of hotelling it. This vacation had the making of a perfect storm: packing for three weeks in Europe, an uncomfortable nine-hour plane trip just to fly from Las Vegas to Brussels before we even begin, and then sharing an RV with our daughter and her boyfriend. But at least once we’re on the road, I’d have my own toilet.

We used to love yelling the phrase, “Gorman road trip!” We really like to spend time together as a family. This time our son gets to stay home with his wife. Don’t get me wrong: traveling with our daughter can be a pleasure. Unlike earlier times when her suitcases would explode every night in the hotel room and require search and rescue missions each morning to find her stuff, she has turned into a very tidy young woman. It fact, it is a bit dismaying because after years of being a neatnik myself, my effort s have eroded against the onslaughts of my husband’s love of clutter. Now I am a bit of a slob. The three of us in the RV? This time it’ll be our mess that she will have to contend with.

But daughter takes good care of me when we travel. She looks after me and guides me and feeds me and nags me and prevents me from buying useless souvenirs. And yet we do have fun in spite of that.

And Tom is so great at planning things. In fact he’ll plan so many different possibilities of what to do and where to go and what to see that I want to strangle him. But if I complain, daughter gets upset with me and defends her daddy — and then they both punish me by looking at me and saying, “Well what would YOU like to do?” Uh, I don’t know.

Did I mention I really look forward to trips with my family??