The travel bug is incurable. Once it's in you, any daily routine that doesn't involve leaving the house early and exploring new surroundings just doesn't cut it. So after 3 weeks of trying to find something new in the city of my birth, I jumped at the chance to cash in some air miles and head for the airport again.
My favourite daughter Robyn is heading off to VidCon, the annual YouTube conference in Anaheim, California. Her friend and travel companion couldn't afford the trip this year but Robyn was determined to go. She's not really comfortable travelling alone however, so I'm going as a roommate and Chief Transportation Officer. My main role as CTO is convincing her to walk around Anaheim even though it's 30C+ every day.
Because I booked my flight two days before leaving, I couldn't get the same flight as Robyn. Not the same airline either. Or even the same connecting city. So while Robyn flew to Los Angeles via Calgary, I took the longer route and headed east to Minneapolis. I had the opportunity to go to the airport at 4AM to catch my flight too. Take my word for it, Regina sure is lovely and peaceful at 4AM.
I still can't get over the difference in how people dress in North America vs. Europe. My frumpy shirt and baggy pants make me the well dressed one here! The plane to Minneapolis was full of ball caps, t-shirts (not always covering bellies) and shorts. There was one guy in his 50's wearing pale khaki short shorts with a black Motley Crüe t-shirt stretched over his belly. At 4AM! But at least he has a black leather bag.
I got caught up listening to 4 younger folks talking before we boarded. Two are off to Detroit to watch 3 baseball games in 2 1/2 days. Another man (in a suit, by the way) was off to Calgary, while a woman was going to her second house in Phoenix. She was 45 at most. She and her husband sold the house and now they were putting the furniture in storage while they looked for a different house. Flip and grow, I guess. I seem to have chosen a different path. Ah well.
I can't deal with either fashion / lifestyle extreme, to be honest. The race for stuff and houses to put them in, or the general "I Work On The Rigs" look. I know I'm being an anti prairie-ist, but there were very few people on the plane with whom I felt comfortable striking up a conversation. Maybe I was just tired and missing my partner in travel.
In Spain, everyone dressed like an architect or an industrial designer. They couldn't all be architects, but still. I'd much rather talk to someone who is well dressed than hope against hope that the Gold's gym gorilla boarding behind me sits down before my row.
The thing is though, I really love travelling. I even love airports, so long as I have a lot of time. I love wandering around the shopping area, buying an incredibly expensive coffee, and people watching. And you're not going to find a more diverse and eclectic group of people than at a major hub airport in the USA.
Harried mothers with a bevy of young babes in tow, all eating a messy chocolate donut and then rolling on the ground.
People of every nationality with fashion proportional to the distance from Minneapolis (the further away, the nicer the clothes.)
Young sales types, looking dashing and serious and trying to exude success, walking with their middle aged mentors, who still have the dress but have softened significantly around the edges.
And everyone, I mean everyone, either sleeping, "doing business" on the phone or gazing, deep and unblinking, into the blue glow of their smartphones. If, heaven forbid, one is too poor or too forgetful to bring a phone, all the seats at the gate have tablets for some last minute deep gazing before boarding.
I had a three hour layover in Minneapolis, but when I booked my flights Cindy noticed that the connection home is very tight. I'll have 30 minutes to get from the LA plane to my plane home to Regina and Minneapolis is very large indeed. So I checked arrivals and departures board to get the lay of the land. If the gates are consistent (and these are daily flights so I bet they are) it's going to be a challenge to make my connection. We're talking two opposing wings of the airport.
Having time to kill, I did a dry run and timed myself from gate to gate. Through a combination of one flight of stairs, moving sidewalks, a tram and speed walking, I made it gate to gate in just over 9 minutes. So if I can get off the plane in 10 minutes, then run like hell with an empty bladder, I should make it before they close the gate with a minute to spare. To be safe, I tried to upgrade my return ticket to sit near the front, but it's not allowed on my Air Miles redemption. I shall have to try over the phone.I blame my overly polite Canadian-ness for a mistake I made on the second leg of my flight. The flight was full, and the overhead bins were going to be over stuffed, so the gate attendants asked for people to volunteer to check their bags. Since I had two hours to kill at LAX waiting for Robyn's flight to arrive, I volunteered.
The problem came when I went to collect my bag before finding a place for lunch. Once I arrived at the baggage carousel I realized that I had passed out of the secure area. The secure area was also the area with all the restaurants. A slice of Banana Bread from Starbucks was my lunch and early supper until I hiked across the airport to find Robyn's terminal, she landed, we found a shuttle bus and made our way to our hotel in Anaheim. I made it, but will be packing an apple with me for the rest of the week.
Oh, and just in case I was feeling too cozy as the new Hemingway of the travel scene, ready to run with the bulls or get into the ring to wrestle Mickey Mouse, the young lady at the Starbucks called me sweetie. I don't think my hunky action hero appearance is working here.