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Random Travel Notes 4 November 9, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Up and Away.
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Last week occasioned a trip to San Francisco, ostensibly to visit my parents (who happened to be in town) and take care of some financial matters (like I said: my parents were in town!). Off to the west coast and back again, it’s time for another round of random travel notes!

Dress Rehearsal. For all intents and purposes, this trip ended up being a dry run for my great December getaway, when classes end and I head home for the holidays. I began the day at the University, caught a train back into the city, dropped by my apartment for all of fifteen minutes to pick up my luggage, and thereafter took the subway off to JFK. Come Christmas I’ll have to go through practically the same routine all over again, by which time I’m certain I won’t even break a sweat.

In-Fight Entertainment (or lack thereof). Naturally, I saw the prospect of a cross country flight as a golden opportunity to add yet another entry to my ongoing In-Flight Entertainment missives. I knew, however, that I’d probably get to catch only one film given the length of the flight (six hours) and the fact that I was taking the red-eye on the return trip. Nevertheless I remained hopeful…only to learn that the movie showing on the way to San Francisco would be Nancy Drew. Much as I tried to psych myself up to watch it, I eventually came to my senses (Nancy Drew?!) and decided to entertain myself by takingThe Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for a long overdue spin on my Nintendo DS instead. Somehow, I’m sure I came out on top in the exchange. (For the record, I ended up finishing the game right before I had to board the return flight to New York. It’s funny how these things work out.)

Passenger Reader, M.D. A lot of people use their travel time on flights to catch up on reading. I know I do. I’ve observed, however, that it’s almost impossible to be on a flight and not find someone reading some “do-it-yourself” tutorial type of book. Of course, a lot of books fit this description, from the latest business bestseller chronicling new management strategies or any one of the numerous titles in the Dummies series of books. On the way to San Francisco, however, I noticed that the fellow seated across from me — presumably a doctor — was wholly engrossed in “The Complete Handbook of Kidney Transplantation”. This got me thinking: ’tis a strange world we live in when one man’s DIY guide may very well just be another’s medical journal.

Sometimes, you get lucky. Interestingly, the flight to San Francisco was hardly full. The window seat next to me ended up empty, so I had just that much more space to myself for the six-hour trip. More, because there were so few people on the flight, no passenger had to occupy the dreaded “middle seat”. Fancy that.

Earthquake! Some twenty minutes before our scheduled landing, the captain went on the intercom to inform us that our arrival would be delayed because an earthquake struck the Bay Area a few hours earlier. As a result, many of the San Francisco-bound had been in a holding pattern as ground crews were busy checking the runways (and also perhaps for everyone to wait and see if the worst of it had already passed). Later I would learn from my parents that the quake was really quite something. The entire experience got me thinking, why is it these interesting things happen when I’m not around? Then again, I have to hand it to San Francisco: the city was so happy to have me over that the ground shook!

Has New York Spoiled Me? On more than one occasion my parents and I went out to dinner, and almost as many times we’d be on the receiving end of sub-par service. At least that’s how I felt. On one dinner in particular, I noticed I was getting very impatient waiting for the food to come as my parents were chatting away with some friends who’d joined us. That got me thinking: has New York and its fast pace of life spoiled me? While my parents concur that the service at many of our usual haunts in the Bay Area isn’t what it used to be, I can’t help but wonder.

[Prior Random Travel Notes: 0, 1, 2, 3]

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