“Please turn off all cell phones and electronic devices as we prepare for take off…” as I hurriedly send off three more texts, one email and an update to facebook, “…and for your safety it is Alaska’s policy that you keep your seat belt fastened at all times while seated during the flight…” Really? I thought, well, at least I somehow scored the exit row window seat. Double bonus after mom told me she could only get me a middle seat. What a whirlwind of a last week, not that I worked much, or packed much, or really did anything of any consequence…where did the time go? I guess the real important chores and errands were accomplished, many dear friends were hugged and fare welled, my house was rented and the animals taken care of so really it boils down to one fact. I’m ready and sitting here at some number of feet up above the clouds counting my blessings.
One: I get to hold Addy Kay tonight. She is now 2 weeks old :D
Two: I get to be at the bottom of a niece and nephew dog pile tomorrow morning, one of my favorite parts of the homecoming ritual.
Three: The second best part of the homecoming is my sister’s amazing cooking…oh yes, leaving one amazing chef for another, sorry Suha.
Four: The sun is burning hot in my portal and reminding me that I will be transported to Hawaii in three days…
Five: KARA IS GOING WITH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Six: I’m going to miss my boyfriend (yes, that is a blessing, cause he is some kind of AMAZING!)
Seven: I am going to get yet another amazing fun filled, “butt” tiring, work filled summer with my folks.
Eight: Buddy gets to be by my side 24/7
Nine: I found a roommate that will pay half the rent, keep my cat loved and settled at home and transform my back yard into a more AMAZING garden!!
Ten: I’m Jen, a crazy Alaskan woman, and if feels good to be me.
So I can’t remember the last time my knees weren’t scrunched up so tight my hips hurt on a commercial airline. I think I was 16, flying home from Africa…so many flights, so many stories, so many faces. I feel really lucky to have seen the places I’ve seen and met the people I’ve met. Last flight to Alaska I sat next to a very nervous, very talkative, Portlander who barely took a breath between sentences the entire flight. We are now facebook friends. I remember the business woman I met on my way to Africa on Continental airlines back when they served really yummy food. They Areoflot flight where there were water stains on the seat cushions and the seat back and belt were broken…. I remember tying Yolanda’s hair into tiny braids on the 12 hour flight from Moscow to New York. She was taller than me and her hair was a good 12 inches past her waist! I remember the red-faced, sweaty fat man who asked to be moved away from me as I cried for the amazing friends I had just said goodbye to in the New York terminal, promising to write and never dreaming someday facebook would reconnect us all in such an amazing way. I remember the audible sigh and applause that erupted two summers ago on this very flight to Alaska as a plane full of Portlanders broke through the clouds to see the full on bright sun for the first time in 7 seasons!! I was green with envy for the pilot and crew and for a split second I started plotting my need for a career change so I could see the sun more often too. The poor woman last summer who was on her way to Juneau to catch the middle of a cruise. She had sent her kids with a friend on the cruise because she had left her and her husband’s passports on the night stand back home and couldn’t board the ship. There was the drunk man who just got off the slope. The little baby who played hide and go seek with me over the seats. The grandpa that had a heart attack so we made a unplanned stop-over in Las Vegas on our way to Houston, TX. The thunder and lightning storm that kept our plane circling Chicago for 2 hours before landing safely on the ground. I am a pro at running the terminal relay: red faced and sweating, 30 minute lay-over, two trains and three terminals later, carrying 100 lbs of “necessities”, navigating across airports I’ve never been to only to find I dropped my boarding pass at the last jet way and can’t leave my stuff (security hazard, in case I miss the flight) to run back and forth, and no we won’t keep the plane waiting for you…
As I walked though security this time I noticed a sign that stated, “If you were born before 1937 you don’t have to remove your coat or shoes.” NANA!! GRANDMA!! THAT’S YOU!!! Seriously?? Think about how much has changed in the transportation world since those two were born!! The technology that goes into that jacket and shoes let along planes, trains, and automobiles. I mean, sure, cars were already in mass production but horses were still commonly used. The Navy was what made the nation state a super power and the Airborne Division was a part of the Army! The concepts we are facing now are between oil based fuels verses alternative fuels, armies made of drones instead of people…can you imagine that one could become obsolete someday, maybe even in our lifetime? Or be available for a pretty price, only to the true, die hard hobbyist?
I was looking down as we took off. I had the PERFECT view of down town!! Navy ships making their way up the wide river ready to rally for the Rose Festival…Talk about some history!! Mrs. Pittock!! Look what you started!! All the graceful bridges, Pill Hill, Fox Tower. I could pick out my neighborhood and almost found Cindy’s house when I realized I was looking down on Saint Johns. A thought struck me in the middle of all this contemplation mentioned above, somewhere down there my Great Granddad’s Parents had a grocery store…and somewhere down there he met my Great Grand Nana at Oaks park…and they depended on the use of horses...and their sturdy pair of legs to get them here and there…I strained to try and see how far Oaks Park was from Saint Johns as the plane dipped North and took them both out of my line of sight. Ahhh, History, Sunshine, Memories, A promising summer…so much to ponder, when I’m actually supposed to be invoicing my last two weeks of work.
…lets procrastinate a little more. My battery is still over half full and I am just full of feelings and thoughts…
I LOVE AIRPLANES. As often as I got sick in dad’s growing up I still LOVE THEM. I love how shiny clean they are. I love how you can eat off the floor of most airplane hangars. I love the sound of them overhead. I love the feel of them bobbing between air gusts. I love the Portland Airport, taxiing by the hangars filled with the F-16’s and the little carts pulling luggage to and fro and the box van that lift up to restock food I refuse to buy. The sprawling terminal that some Architect had way too much fun and funds to design. The planes of all sizes that share the vast impervious gray space, full of excited people with places to go, things to do, people to see. As we lift off, little cars full of people doing the same thing disappear into grids of town that follow the lay of the land, intersecting each other at odd angles, up up until the river is just a shiny line cutting its way through the green valley only to be cut off by the spitting static of vapors, aaannnddd its all gone white…oh! No…still white….now we are in heaven Puffy clouds, eternal sunshine, I really should have been a pilot.
…I hope Buddy is doing alright in his cozy little kennel down below…I didn’t get his “I’m on board and everything is alright, Mom!” note…wow, I’ve NEVER hit the stewardess button before! (flight attendant??)
Whew! He’s on Board! I was kind of late getting on so things were rushed for them and me…yeah…I was 2.5 hours early too, just took my time, eating, talking to Emma, getting in line at security when my flight started boarding and like any responsible seat mate who has a window or middle seat and knows she is going to drink coffee and water AND already knows she is late, STILL used the restroom before boarding…in my defense there were THREE people who got on after me…seriously!! I wasn’t last…yes I have been before…yes they re-opened the jet way for me once…and, yes, I have missed two flights in my life time…which by the way is nearing 35! (in one week)
Funny airport moments:
“Miss, is that a frozen salmon in your carry-on?” Why yes it is. “Just checking.”
“We’ve lost your luggage, when we find it we will deliver it to your dorm room.” (sure the ONE time I haul frozen moose, caribou and salmon in newspaper and NOT in plastic bags! It showed up a week later, all of my clothes ruined.
Upon being woken up by a flight attendant, “is this your flight?” Oh right! Gotta love red eye flights from Anchorage, once the plane boards the terminal is EMPTY, why are you still here??
On the topic of red eye flights, showing up to the counter and being told, “um, Miss, your flight was yesterday.” Huh? Not again…
I love watching luggage carousels as much as I love watching people. What is that weird hollow, spherical shaped…I can’t describe it better, but it’s a set of caribou antlers. Snowboard bags that burst open and underwear litter the floor around it. Dogs!! Lots of dogs, big beautiful husky mutts galore. Coolers, duct taped shut and bound one on top of the other…”dude its ONE BAG, don’t charge me for TWO!” Or the time my friend flew carrying a three tiered wedding cake…it rode co-pilot the whole way from Freemont, CA to Eugene, OR! At least I didn’t get caught carrying spare bullets in my luggage…HA!
Alaska truly is a special place with special people and special circumstances…we get away with stuff no other Airline terminal would EVER dream of letting slide. I love my home state, I’m very excited to be going back. To satisfy that quirky rugged nature inside me that starves a little while I feed the green city slicker in me during the winter months.
So enough rambling for one post…it is the beginning of the summer and as usual I am bound and determined to keep up this year!!
Here’s looking toward another great summer!
Alaska, here I come!!!
2 days ago