A quick foreword: I've been on vacation this past week, in Northern California, mostly in my hometown of Santa Rosa, CA but other places as well. This particular post was actually written on my Nintendo DS. If there are any typos, sorry. I'll try to catch some manually, but I don't mess with spellcheck. I started writing it on the plane, I think, but it got written over a 2-3 day period.
Unlike a lot of people, I love to fly. The takeoff which scares many, as well as the landing, I find exhilirating. The change in altitude and pressure does not bother me in the least. I don't even mind turbulence.
I used to associate air travel with sadness. In fact the last time I left Raleigh-Durham International, it was the first time I had to say goodbye to Jennifer; even though it was the first time we told one another out loud that we loved each other, it was also the end to perhaps the best week of my life.
So anyway, my story of the hectic day of the 18th of November 2007 started a few hours before the day itself, on Sarurday. I woke up around 10pm, having slept all day. I'd tried to stay up until 3:30, when Jen would get home from work, but by 2:15 I was pretty dizzy with exhaustion, having been up since Friday around 1pm. (Of course, at this point, times are all Eastern.)
As you might imagine, neither of us had packed. Oh, we had been planning. I made the checklist, got the USB flash drive set up, and was/had burning/ed a bunch of data discs with stuff like our digital photo collection. (3 DVD+R discs for 3.5 years of pictures and video - minus the naughty stuff of course.
So we packed. Boring stuff, you know. I found it interesting that we took an hour long break to watch Law & Order SVU. Mom even called near the end - I told her I'd call her right back... I never do that! Funny thing, these crime dramas. Even though it's about a guy with MPD who rapes 11-year old girls who remind him of his sister, who he watched get gangraped when she was that age. Stuff like that really pisses me off, but hell, I can't look away from a crime drama if I'm watching it.
Jen's sister and her boyfriend get there around 3am. We're both showered, cleaned up and fed, and we were... mostly packed. We got our asses in gear and got stuff done in about 15 minutes. We get about 4 miles away - almost to NC Hwy. 33 - when I realized I'd forgotten the itinirary, which has confirmation codes we later realized we needed as both the airline and the car rental place would have just needed our names and drivers' license. But we went back and got it.
Besides stopping for gas, coffee, and Benadryl (I could not stop sneezing), the trip to RDU was mostly uneventful. We arrived after only asking for directions once (and all three of us, including Jen's sister, went to the bathroom in the mens' room in less time than Jen spent in the ladies' room).
They dropped us off at the Delta terminal and took off. We got our tickets printed there (yay for Yahoo! Travel) and were on our way. Airport security was tighter than ever. We had to take off our shoes in addition to thee usual stuff, and on top of that had to dig tthrough our suitcase and check for explosives (drugs too?) because the X-ray detected ceramics (gifts we had, like a coffee cup). But I don't complain. I arrive 90 minutes to 2 hours early when I fly.
Before we boarded the first flight, to Salt Lake City (SLC), I called my brother-in-law to see how things were going. They were lost! Raleigh is infamous for bad signage and getting folks lost. If RDU weren't the closest international airport by far... but it is. Anyway, they were just getting right when I called.
The long flight was just that. But it was OK. Jen watched the in-flight movie, Transformers (2007). Well, slept through most of it. I just played a whole lotta Castlevania on my DS (Portrait of Ruin and Dawn of Sorrow are two of the DS's best games and I brought both). They served two snacks, the first being a snack pack including raisins, rosemary crackers, a kinnd of garlic cream cheese spread, and a shortbread cookie. We both chose water to drink with both snacks, a cute little Daisani bottle, all of 8.5 ounces. The second snack was these ginger/maple cookies that were just awesome.
The shorter flight however, SLC to SFO, got delayed; apparently they had a faulty generator. So we had to taxi back to the gate while they put another one in. An hour or so later, we took off. I remember a woman behind us hadd this to say about the plane: "First there was the Wright brothers, then there's this plane." At least it was a jet. I've flown in a propeller-driven plane, if you want to talk about "roughing it".
We arrived at SFO late, good thing nobody was waiting for us. We took a few turns,, went up an elevator, across a bridge over the road and up another elevator to a train station, which we took to the car rental place. Long story short we drove off in a fully insured 2008 Nissan Versa hatchback. It's a gutless 4-banger, but it drives nice and I bet it gets good gas mileage.
So we're out, in a new car, in South San Francisco, which is NOT San Francisco, as I found out when 19th Street wasn't the one CA 280 from San Jose becomes - and we were lost. But hey, I was back in California and loving it. I found the Golden Gate Bridge and we were good to go.
In Petaluma (about halfway home), we stopped so I could show Jen where I worked when we first started talking on the phone. I knew they had changed their name, but the building wasn't even theirs now! The shipping company DHL is there now. Well, we continued north.
I cannot put into words what I felt driving through my old hometown. I was only gone 26 months but so much had changed. And yet a lot was the same. It was good to be back but still no longer my home. Mom had gotten two pizzas, and we visited for a couple hours when we decided to go see Dan, my youngest brother. He works as a bouncer at a club downtown. Talked to him for a few, then left for a drive around town.
We got back, blew up the inflatable mattress, and went to sleep.