|Looked Even More Impressive from the Air!|
However, though being of advanced years (well 59 ain't too old I guess), I still am very much in touch with my "inner child". If you're thinking that sometimes I act like a two year old, go to the head of the class! The party was awesome, the kids (and myself) had a great time. Though it was over far too soon, it already has a place in my favorite memories.
Even though the airlines and the weather conspired to make the weekend a miserable experience. Ah, yes. The weather and (ahem) the airlines. I'm sure theirs is a difficult job, with few rewards and lots of stress. And I must admit, I added just a tad to one poor individual's stress. T'weren't his fault really, he was just a target of opportunity. Sometimes I tend to strike out at things with all the logic and clear vision of a pissed off rhinoceros.
|That's Me Without my Glasses and My Navy Ballcap|
Friday, the day I was outward bound, dawned clear and glorious. Got myself to the aeroporto with time to spare, a leisurely check-in was expected.
"Sir your flight has been delayed approximately 13 minutes."
"Well, you'll only have about 30 minutes to catch your next flight out of Reagan."
"Well... Oh, whatever. What you got for me?"
And so it went. I would leave 30 minutes later and fly into Philadelphia rather than Reagan. And there should be plenty of time to catch my next flight out of Philly. Sure. You can sense what's coming, can't you?
Aircraft rolled down the runway, lifted into the air, gear came rumbling up, all sorts of whines, thumps and bangs occurred in their proper sequence, we were flaps up, headed for altitude.
Going due west...
Now I'm no Vasco da Gama, but I do know that Virginia lies south of Rhode Island. It appeared our aircrew had a different destination in mind. We were headed west, and were still headed west some 20 minutes after take off. Hhhmmm? Perhaps there is nasty weather out there? Perhaps we're just swinging around it?
As I pondered this, the pilot banked to port. I mean really banked to port. I was sitting on the left side of the aerospace vehicle and I swear I was looking straight down. Mind you, I like that kind of thing. Heck if he started doing barrel rolls and hammerhead stalls I would'a been tickled pink. (As long as the wings stayed on and we stayed airborne that is.)
Now, as I studied the terrain and the position of the sun, I realized two things: we were now southbound and I had no idea where the hell we were. (Not that I really needed to know, but I'm funny that way. I always like knowing where I am on the face of the Earth. No need for a precise navigational fix, just a kinda sorta "hey, we're over Connecticut" position will do.)
To make a longish story short, we got to Philly. Not with an hour to my next flight but 15 minutes. That's 15 minutes to take off, not 15 minutes until boarding time. I guess the aircraft's wandering journey westward caused the flight to take a tad longer than normal. (Well, quite a bit more than a tad but there it is.)
There's the Old AF Sarge "sprinting" through the airport in Philly, the PA announcement telling me "This is the final boarding call for Flight 1234 at Gate such-and-such." Damn! That's my flight!
"Warp Seven Mr Data..."
"Warp seven, aye!" (I probably wasn't running all that fast, while quick on my feet, I'm no speedster!)
I arrived at the gate just as they were wrapping things up. Made the flight, made it to Virginia Beach at the originally planned time.
Whew. Well, I guess if the trip down was screwed up, I guess the trip back North will be smooth. Right?
Remember the picture up there at the top? Oh yeah, that's what you call "foreshadowing".
Now as I mentioned, Little Bit's birthday party was a lot of fun. It was at the Virginia Zoo. The zoo folks brought out "farmyard animals" for to show the children. That bit was in quotes because we're not talking about your normal farmyard animals. No, no indeed.
The first creature was a hissing cockroach (what farm did they pick this guy up at?) And it actually hissed, therefore it had an element of "coolness".
Next was a corn snake. (The Missus, exit stage right, looking rather green around the gills. My better half has no love at all for serpents.)
Next was your standard domesticated rabbit. (Enter the Missus, stage right.) The kids loved the bunny, it was soft and all peaceful looking.
Finally was a chicken. But not your garden variety chicken. I forget what type of chicken it was, but it had a real interesting pompadour. Feathers were extraordinarily soft.
Oh yeah, the kids all got to touch the various animals under the supervision of the zoo lady. I proudly can say that I did touch them all. Just to show off for the kids no doubt.
One young fellow, son of Googer (a Naval Aviator of course, that's his call sign), when they brought the snake out, announced to all and sundry, "I am NOT touching that!"
After the show and tell, we had pizza and cake. Lots of pizza and cake. When that was over, the zoo people told us that we had free run of the zoo for the rest of the day. Awesome!
But it was also hot that day. Surface of the sun hot.
We strolled over to the tiger enclosure. Saw two tigers, both lying in the shade and looking at us as if to say, "No wonder you humans are easy to catch and eat. You're not very bright are you? Standing out there in the hot sun."
What to do, what to do? It was really screaming hot. One of the WSOs friends suggested that we ride the train, we could see the whole zoo from the little train. Sure why not?
Turns out that Little Bit, who loves most forms of conveyance, does not particularly care for trains. After we'd paid our money and taken our seats, she commences to screaming bloody murder. I mean my granddaughter has a loud voice, a good strong command voice, and the other people on the train looked as if any minute their ear drums were going to burst.
Well, after the train started moving, Little Bit calmed down. Guess trains aren't so bad after all. But I think she was rather bored with the whole thing. The train was slow, really slow, and Little Bit likes to go fast (after all, Daddy flies the Super Hornet and Mommy is a Super Hornet WSO) and that train obviously had no need of a Mach meter.
Also, you could NOT see the whole zoo from the train. In fact, one sees very little of the zoo from the train. A couple of monkeys and a sun bear, that's about it. And the train ride lasts all of 15 minutes! So much for that idea.
"So should we visit the rest of the zoo on foot?"
"No, no way!"
"Hot, it's too hot!"
"Shut up Dad."
Bottom line, we jumped in the car and headed home, to air conditioning and cable TV. Yeah, that's the ticket!
Sunday dawned, clear and hot. Very hot. I checked the weather on line and there appeared to be no problems, at least none that Sunday morning. But there were little patches of rain bubbling up around the region and to the north.
Let me see, very hot, humid air and a cold front moving this way. This is not looking promising.
Got to the airport, flight has been delayed. Again I'm not going through Reagan, but through Philly. No problem, plenty of time to make my connecting flight.
I get to Philly, fortunately my flight landed at Terminal F, connecting flight was to leave from Terminal F. Like two gates away. Finally, finally, something seems to be going well in the air travel business.
Not gonna happen.
"Uh, what happened to the flight to Providence?"
"Go to the Customer Service desk, they'll have to re-book you."
Slowly I turn towards the Customer Service desk. And see a line of what has to be 400 people. No seriously, 400 if there was one.
I get in line, pissed like you would not believe. And here comes a young fellow in the livery of the airline handing out little cards with a phone number on them.
"Here sir, call this number and they'll book you on another flight..."
"TO WHERE, TO ANOTHER DAMN CANCELLED FLIGHT? YOUR AIRLINE SUCKS!!!"
Dude kind of drifted away, handing out his little cards. Hoping the myopic pissed off rhino is not following. I felt bad about it later, but hey I was in Philadelphia. No flight, no clue.
Alright, I call the number on the little card and actually get someone who knows what they're doing. I'm booked on a later flight. Like 5 hours later. Geez.
Originally I should've been home around 7 in the evening on Sunday. Plenty of time to grab some chow, get some sleep and arise at oh-dark-thirty to head North. North to the banks of the Merrimack River. Nope, I rolled into the driveway at Chez Sarge a little after midnight. Reset the alarm to 0500 and pressed on.
But it was an interesting flight, again we took off and flew due west. And there I was, doing my best Vasco da Gama again. But this time I could see the storm. OMG. Huge cell, nearly continuous lightning. And well aft as we headed west.
After a while we did a hard right (hey, I'm looking straight down again!) and assumed a northerly track. The entire way I was able to see that storm (well to our south now) and it looked really awesome from the air. Even when we began our descent into Providence, I could still see the flashes of lightning on the horizon.
It was lovely. But again, commercial flying has left me wanting.
But on the whole, I would rather NOT be in Philadelphia.