Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Eight Days Before We Leave!

The first sign of life is the algae.

Now, I mention this because when Loraine and I fly back from Europe, I like to sit in the window seat and, in an attempt to kill the nine hours we’re in the air, stare out the window. When you leave France, you have about 45 minutes to look out the window and see land; England and Ireland, to be specific. Then for four, four and a half hours...nothing. You can look down and see the north Atlantic. Sometimes you might see icebergs, sometime you might see waves so big that, at 35,000 feet, they appear as little white dots, but mostly you see nothing but water.

Until, that is, you hit Canada.

When you enter Canadian airspace, you first fly over the Labrador Peninsula, which is nothing but desolate, barren rock. For half an hour, you stare down at a vast landscape of nothing-ness; if you were an alien being exploring the planet for the first time, you’d probably assume that the planet was devoid of life.

And then you see the green.

The first few times I flew back from Europe, I was intrigued when I noticed that, about half an hour after crossing over land, the ponds and lakes sitting on top of the Labrador rocks looked a little green around the edges. Then I figured out what it was--it was algae building up around the shores, much like algae builds up on lakes around here.

After over 5 hours of seeing nothing, it’s the first sign that there’s still life on the planet.

A few minutes later, some of the rocks appear green, as well, indicating either moss or algae has started to cling to the rocks. The green increases over time, until you see something you thought you might never see again--

A road.

As with the algae, I had no idea where the roads led during my first few flights. Then on the last few flights, I began to notice the roads leading to complexes, complexes that I’m guessing are mines, or research facilities, or military facilities. Soon, the roads begin to branch off into other roads, and along those roads you soon notice more green.

The roads are cutting through grass. And soon, the roads begin to cut through trees. And then a small town or two. And before you know it, you see more roads, more trees, more towns, and then the pilot says you’re crossing over Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and entering the U.S.

All a mere 8 or so hours after leaving France, and just an hour and a half after you thought you’d never see a sign of life again.

If you’ve ever wondered how you kill those 9 hours on a plane, that’s one of the ways I do it.


Of course, I also have a lot of things with me to keep my feeble mind occupied. I have my iPod, a couple of books, and this time I’m hoping that the flight has wireless for my laptop; that way, I can get some blogging and/or picture editing and/or web surfing done. A couple of days ago I checked the American Airlines website to see if there were any new regulations about using this equipment, and that’s when I can across this interesting fact--

Did you know that if you want to bring a musical instrument larger than a carry-on on board the flight with you, you have to buy a seat for it? can do that, although the instrument MUST be sitting in the window seat (to look at the algae, I’m guessing), and can not be in certain seats. Furthermore, you have to be sitting next to your instrument. Oh, and you can’t do this with a string bass. It’s just too big.

Who knew?

I also discovered that you can have a javelin in your checked baggage, but not a pole vaulting pole. You can also have a dis-assembled hang glider, but not a kayak. And you can also have deer antlers in your checked baggage as long as they’re, and I quote, “free of residue’.


So now you know, and you’re ready the next time you and your cello decide to go on a combination hunting/track and field trip somewhere.