Now, when I say, "because I know my way around an airport", what I mean is that I've dropped people off and picked them at our airport on a few occasions. Also, my wife and I have traveled out of and returned to that airport, a grand total of 3 times. So probably by everyone else's standards, I know absolutely nothing about airports. I've never had to do a transfer or a layover at some major congested hub, where they have moving sidewalks, en route to my final destination. I've never arrived at my destination to discover my luggage has jetted off in a different direction. I've never had to make an emergency landing due to some major mechanical failure and had to use that inflatable, bouncy castle, slide thingy. I've never flown through a storm. I've never been sniffed by a security dog, tossed into a dimly lit room and body cavity searched by a creepy guy with giant hands.
Maybe that's why I still love the airport and flying so much. Because each time I go there, it's on a new adventure and I'm filled with excitement and wonder and the knowledge that when I arrive, I'll be in a destination that my wife and I have chosen to see. I suppose having to travel on work related trips and inevitably experiencing at least some of those negative airline issues, on occasion, might eventually turn you off on the experience.
But that hasn't happened to me yet.
I was pretty old when I flew on a large plane for the first time. Like about 7 years ago, old. I had flown in small planes before. My dad used to own a small plane, but I was too young to remember much of that. I've been betrayed by my stomach on numerous occasions. Once, I got moderately ill on a flight tour of the Grand Canyon. I get sick looking out the side window of a bus, or if I go fishing in a boat, and the water is anything other than calm, I'm not going to do so well. So the very first flying, holiday trip that I ever went on, my biggest concern was that I was going to be the guy chucking his guts into numerous wax baggies, the entire flight.
It was cold the very first time I flew on a big plane. -40 degrees. I don't need to do the conversion on that, because that's the point on the thermometer that Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same. Freeze your ass off in 15 seconds is universal in any measurement of temperature. The thermometer built into my truck stops at -40 degrees and the entire drive to the airport, it didn't rise above that number. It was so cold that when I approached an intersection and pressed the clutch to change gears, the truck stopped moving. But generally, we'll get temperatures like that almost every winter. So it's nothing unexpected. In fact, I've found that the excitement one gets in looking forward to leaving on a tropical vacation, is heightened exponentially to the number of degrees that the mercury dips in the thermometer. If you really want to feel giddy, you can even toss wind chill into the equation.
We arrived at the airport, parked, checked our luggage, and got through customs with relative ease. Except, of course for the excitement of doing something completely new to us. Good excitement. We found our gate, then checked the board that lists the times of flights coming and going, and the entire thing was red with delayed flights. All red except for one green strip that lists a single flight leaving on schedule. Our flight.
Apparently, wing de-icer fluid stops working and turns to ice itself at someplace around -37, so no planes could be de-iced. Yet ours was still scheduled to leave. That can be a bit of a confusing mix of emotions. You're happy that yours is the only plane leaving the airport, but also a little worried that your flight crew might be the ones that graduated at the bottom of their class and missed the lesson on cold weather take-offs, because they were out behind the school smoking weed or something.
Either way, we got on the plane, found our seats,stowed our carry-ons, and strapped in. I looked out the window at the row of planes from every different airline, stranded by the cold weather, too cold to de-ice and depart. Then I noticed the guy with the giant step ladder and the broom, cleaning the wing of our plane, and I think I tightened my seat belt a bit.
Millions of dollars in technology to get a metal tube filled with 200 or so people into the air and send them safely to a destination on a completely different part of the globe, and our lives are in the hands of broom guy. Nice.
Anyways. we all get buckled in, and the plane shudders as the engines begin to speed up, and nothing happens. It's too cold for the wheels to turn so they bring in a fat little tractor with bald tires to tow us away. Except it's icy and he has no traction and just sits there spinning his wheels. So a sanding truck comes and does it's thing, the fat little tractor tows us out, and after sitting there, buckled in for the better part of an hour, we flew away.
Where we were going was a 5 hour flight. About a half hour in, the discovery was made that one of the toilets was frozen up, and rendered full and useless. Which left the entire rest of the trip with a line up to use the other remaining toilet. Luckily I was able to hold it until we arrived. Actually, I didn't use an airplane bathroom until our 3rd trip. And that was more due to curiosity that necessity.
We arrived at our destination a few hours late. A few days later bumped into some people whose plane had been on that delayed list the morning we left. They had lost an entire day of their vacation sitting in the airport waiting to get de-iced. They should have called the broom guy?
In the whole excitement of the event, I had forgotten to take the Gravol pill that I had in the bottom of my pocket until we were well on our way. Turns out that the thing that had me more worried than anything, ended up not bothering me at all.
Sometimes, my wife and I talk about going on a cruise vacation. I think I might really like it, but I'd hate to be the guy, spending the entire trip chucking his guts into numerous wax baggies.