Friday, February 17, 2012

every journey begins …

 Every good writing course begins with several rules.  Near the top is: “Don’t use clichés; they are old hat.”

But I don’t recall anything about covert clichés.

This particular journey began with one big sit -- rather than a step.  Even before we left for the airport, we knew our flight had been delayed.  Roy predicted a “rolling delay.” 

You know how it goes.  The airline knows the flight will be delayed for hours.  But they dribble it out in 15 minute increments.

Roy was correct.  But we decided to take our airway water boarding torture in style.  After checking in and getting our seat assignments, we retired to the Delta Sky Club for a few hours of free food, comfortable chairs, and free internet access.

But all good things must end.  And we knew the 11 hour flight to Beijing would offer somewhat more limited accommodations.

I do not have to tell anyone who has been in the coach section of an airplane in the past few years that it is something to be endured.  Triple that factor with overseas flights.

But we were both lucky.  We had chosen aisle seats in the 4-seat abreast center aisle of our 747.  And no one sat in the seats next to each of us.  Without that extra space, the seat would have been too tight to drag out anything from my small backpack under the seat in front of me.

And when the woman in front of me reclined her seat, I could not use the seat back table to use my 13” computer.  The space was too tight to open it.  So, I used it in the seat next to mine.

To avoid boredom on flights, I pack snacks.  In this case, a packet of jerky, some salt water taffy, a bag of sliced pepperoni, and some sliced sharp cheddar Tillamook cheese.  Fulfilling my sodium intake for about a month.

That may help to explain why I did not particularly enjoy the two Air China in-flight meals.  They were no worse than any other airplane food.  I ate the fresh fruit.  Picked at the rice.  Ate my steamed vegetables.

What I did not do was sleep --– something I cannot do on an airplane.  (My brain is usually too busy trying to fly the aircraft.)  In this case I am glad I was not asleep when we started our flight over mainland China.

Every city we flew over looked as if it was under a shock and awe air strike.  There were repeated bright flashes everywhere.  I wondered if everyone in China was outside pointing their camera flashes into the air.

I was close.  It was the last night of Chinese New Year -- the Spring Festival.  And those flashes were fireworks.  Big fireworks.  Thousands of them.  And they went off continually until midnight.

Even when we drove through Beijing to our hotel, fireworks were fired off within feet of our bus.  It was almost like being home in Mexico.  But I suspect fewer spectators were burned by errant bits of fire.

Our journey may have begun late, but that first step certainly put us in China at an auspicious moment.


Tafreeburn said...

you lucked out on the seats. steve always tries for the emergency exits since there is more leg room there. looking forward to your next installment. have a nice weekend!

teresa in nagoya

teresa in nagoya

Felipe Zapata said...

An 11-hour flight would keep me from ever going to Red China unless someone bought first-class tickets for me, and who would do that?

Congrats on the plane's safe landing.

Dianecp said...

Salty foods are the worst thing to eat in flight... you retain water during flights.  Next time think boring old water!!  Enjoy the trip!

John Calypso said...

The fireworks would have made me feel right at home - here in our part of Mexico they light off fireworks to celebrate the one that just went off.

I stopped flying about 10 years ago - just because I felt like I had done it enough and perhaps was pushing the odds. I do not miss it. If I cannot get there by ground transportation - not going.

Rick said...

John, your driving in Mexico is statistically about 1000 times more dangerous than flying. 

When you fly in Mexico there is zero chance of getting killed by an out of control truck or a decrepit pickup full of drunks. Steve is obviously well aware of this.Rick (always flies)

John Calypso said...

Rick - have never had a problem keeping on the ground - the flying issue is more my personal statistics than anything ;-)

Steve Cotton said...

 An aisle seat with empty space beside me.  About as good as it gets these days of flying coach.

Steve Cotton said...

 For some reason, the flight to China seemed to take longer tan the return trip.  But I have no idea why.  I do not sleep on airplanes.  That makes the 11 hour trip a bit tedious.

Steve Cotton said...

 This trip was well worth the investment of the flight time.

Steve Cotton said...

I agree, Rick.  If safety was the deciding factor on going places, I would abandon my car.  Having said that, I get a lot of adventure out of my drives in Mexico.  Brings back my Air Force days.

Steve Cotton said...

Salt is my choice for snacks while flying for two reasons. The first is that my bladder loves attracting attention. I tend to make hourly trips to the toilet if I drink water. The second is simple: taste. Water is boring. Jerky is good.

Don Cuevas said...

Nowadays, Continental and other airlines charge extra for the exit row seats.

When we flew Volaris last summer, I upgraded us to extra legroom for a very modest sum. I like Volaris.

Saludos,Don Cuevas 

Steve Cotton said...

And some airlines are charging extra for aisle seats. But all of that comes from consumers demanding low prices for a service that needs to make a profit through add-ons. Personally, I favor charging for carry-on items. I swear a woman on my flight north to San Francisco was carrying a kitchen sink in her carry-on bag.

Babsofsanmiguel said...

Lucky you to have the extra space.  As "they" say, it's not the destination, it's the journey.  Can't wait to hear it ALL.

Steve Cotton said...

 And I have a lot to tell.  Destination and journey.

Kim G said...

It's fun to watch fireworks from an airliner.  I've flown back from Mexico many a time on July 4th, or back from San Francisco on New Year's eve, and often seen fireworks shows coast-to-coast.

It must have been especially exciting to see them in the land of their origin.

I look forward to the rest of your trip.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where John Calypso's line about lighting fireworks to celebrate the one that just went off made us chuckle.

Steve Cotton said...

I have seen fireworks from the air. But never over such a broad area and for such a long time.

And I fully agree with you on John's comment. It has gone in my "later to be plagiarized" file. I call it the Biden Bucket.