It’s currently about 0705 this wonderful Monday morning, and we are high in the air somewhere over Oregon, heading south to LA.
The morning began awfully early, mainly because the evening ended far later than we had planned, but it all worked out. I opted to leave my CPAP in the other bag, in the vehicle, because it’s been a long time since I’ve snored all night long, and Diane was missing it. So, I was able to adequately keep both of us awake for a good portion of the night.
When we arrived at the hotel I conferred with Diane as to whether or not we should have a wake up call and she thought 0330 would be a good time to ensure we made the 0400 shuttle to the airport for our 0530 flight. Once in the room, however, she had a change of heart after rediscovering that our flight didn’t leave until 0640. With this new information in hand we agreed that we could push our wake up call all the way out to 0430 for the 0500 shuttle. I called the front desk and made the necessary changes.
It turns out that not all of the people who work at the hotel are on speaking terms because because we received a wake up call at 0330 and again at 0430. The second one was unnecessary because we stayed up after the first one. Consequently, we were more than ready to leave.
The guy behind us on the shuttle who’s accent pegged him as someone from Boston, New York, or New Jersey area, apparently spends his time flying from golf course to golf course, and he hasn’t had time to expand his vocabulary to deliver descriptive narrative without the use of some pretty base vulgarities. It was an educational trip.
At the airport we participated in two different lines that, combined, represented a very large portion of the greater Portland/Vancouver area. The first line was to check our food bag. It weighed in at 52.8 pounds which qualified it for a larger fee than the $20 Diane had already paid for. I was prepared to toss out a few cans of soup, but the attendant said, “that’s OK, I’ll let it go.” I think she allowed it because I didn’t argue with her. Sweet.
The second line was for security, a much larger line, but it moved quickly, which pleasantly surprised both of us. After getting all our clothing back on we went directly to the Starbucks which was directly ahead of us. Neither of us had had our morning coffee so we were in dire need.
Diane went to secure us a table while I inserted myself in the Starbucks line. Directly in front of me was a very attractive, well endowed young lady who was not the least bit afraid of displaying the talents God had provided for her. Over her shoulder hung a large pink bag attached to which was a very large, sparkly pin that spelled out “Victoria’s Secrets”. Since I was breathing, and blood coursed through my not yet constricted arteries, I was obviously interested in her story. So, I asked her if the bag indicated a vocation, or if it was simply a really neat bag. She flashed me a brilliant smile and said, “no, I just came home to get my ‘rain fix’, and I’m heading back to San Diego.” She’s from Vancouver and is attending the University of San Diego. Nice girl. I didn’t get a chance to ask her what she intended to be when she grew up, but it just didn’t seem necessary to ask at the time.
For coffee, I got my normal Venti WCMNW and Diane got a Venti CM. The attendant mistook the NW addendum to include both drinks, but that’s OK because you always get a little bit more that way. I also got a banana nut muffin which we shared. It was all very good.
We proceeded to gate C-4 and took a seat until almost everyone had boarded. We were destined for seats 9-A & B. A young man named Colin was sitting in seat C, the isle seat. He was reading a real book, not an electronic one, which initially got my interest, then he put the book away and started drawing very detailed depictions of those sitting around him. His choice of medium was a ballpoint pen and a lined steno pad. It was totally incredible so I, of course, commented, suggesting that he must have many of those filled notebooks stashed in storage someplace. He conceded this was true, and we struck up a conversation. Turns our he’s a graphic artist who works for Nike and he designs logos for T-Shirts. As sure as I’m sitting here, I’m willing to bet that many of you, who wear Nike products, have something he designed. Interesting. I told him that Phil should have sprung for First Class for him and his other workers and he said, “he does for international flights.” This time they were just going to various cities around the US to visit clients. A really nice guy.
Now, here’s the ‘small world’ part of this story. Turns out that Colin used to work for puppet maker name Michael Curry when his business was located in … wait for it … St. Helens, Oregon! Go Figure. Colin opted for a new job when Michael moved his business to Scappoose, 8 miles closer to Portland, and landed with Nike. One of his friends at Nike is the young lady who dreamed up the wings you see on the Oregon Ducks uniforms and logo shirts. He didn’t have any samples, so I had to leave that relationship shirtless. Still, it was a very nice visit.
In LA, Diane and I stopped at Ruby’s Cafe for a bite to eat, then on to gate 68-A to await our connecting flight to Mazatlan. Again, we waited until the line whittled down a ways before standing to join the crowd.
For traveling, I wore the T-shirt Diane got me that says “I’m Retired and this is as dressed up as I get”. It always seems to be a topic of conversation, a good icebreaker. While boarding the plane, the plane Captain and XO were standing by to greet folks and the CO commented about how he couldn’t wait until he could wear a shirt like mine. I offered to trade him shirts, but he declined stating that I wouldn’t want his because it was 4-days old. I told him that wasn’t a problem, but he still wouldn’t go for it. For just the briefest of moments I had visions of flying the plane.
On this leg we had seats 15-C&D which are both isle seats. We planned to sit there and hold hands across the isle for the entire flight, going to the bathroom when we pleased, without having to stumble over another passenger. That didn’t work out, however, because the older (than me) gentleman sitting in seat E, next to Diane, offered to trade me seats so we could sit together. How could we refuse? So, I wound up in seat D, and Diane moved to E. As fortune would have it, when they closed the door to the plane, a clear indication that no one else was going to be allowed aboard, seat F was still empty. So, I moved to F, the window seat. I hardly ever get the window seat, so I was thrilled.
That left seat D empty. After a bit of coaxing, the lady in row 14, seat D, convinced her friend to move up from the back and sit behind her. When she arrived she said that she hoped we didn’t mind if she joined us. I requested a vote, but was denied, so told her I didn’t mind as long as she and her friend didn’t talk all the way to Mexico. She said, “no chance. We’re just a couple of jabber boxes.” Turns our, however, that she’s a nice lady from Santa Barbara who also lives in Mazatlan. Her name is Romi and she owns the El Roots Cafe in our destination city. I learned all of this before we took off.
We were pushed away from the terminal on time, and headed for our place in line for takeoff. It was a bumpy ride to the end of the runway, but by the time we got there all the checks and balances had been performed so we were good to go. We turned on to the runway and immediately accelerated for takeoff. There was no delay, whatsoever. Just turn, and go.
Down the runway we raced, going faster and faster, and I could tell the nose wheel was almost ready to leave the runway. I believe this is called the ‘rotate’ point. Instead of doing that, however, the engines were reversed, and the brakes were tested to their fullest, giving every one on board a real exciting time, wondering what the heck had happened. We never came to a full stop, but slowed enough to get off the main runway, then the CO explained what happened. He said that about a 10 feet into our takeoff run he saw this goose in the middle of the runway and yearned for it to move. When it did, however, it took flight and made a suicidal run through our left engine which caused the pilot a great deal of concern. I’m sure the air controllers got a little excited, too. Probably woke a couple of them up. I suspect the “Check Engine” light probably came on in the cockpit, too.
We went back to the terminal and sat there for an hour while various people checked the engines and could find nothing wrong with either of them. There was a rumor from the back of the plane that the goose made a last minute dodge, missing the engine, but hitting the wing. He was found laying, entirely whole, on the runway. We were not allowed to leave until appropriate services were made and next of kin notified. It was sad, but a much better mental picture than one of shredded goose all over the place. Romi’s El Roots cafe serves sushi dishes so I asked her, if the goose had gone through the engine, could it be classified as Canadian Sushi. She agreed that it was probably appropriate.
Now we’re nearing the bottom end of The Gulf of California, and I an tell we’re losing altitude slowly. So, before the waitress yells at me again, I’m going to terminate this and be a good boy. I’ll add more, of course, once we get to our room at the resort.
The landing, though an hour later than planned, was uneventful. Even so, everyone on the play clapped and cheered, just as they did when we successfully departed the runway in LA. It was a cheerful bunch on that plane. Then we had to transit through customs and, as luck would have it, with Mexico’s random selection process, activated by pushing a large red button, Diane got the red light meaning we both had to participate in a strip search of everything we had. I as OK with it because I don’t mind if strangers touch me. Wherever they want to. Actually, they only wanted to dig through the luggage, which they did, then sent us on our merry way.
Thankfully, the resort shuttle driver knew about the delay and didn’t strand us. That would have been bad because there were 12 of us needing the ride. That trip, too, was uneventful, and we arrived just fine. Checked into our room, and removed all the sweaty clothes and had a PB&J sandwich.
Now we’re just cruising around looking at stuff.