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Caspar 28 June 2016


1482 : 998

Home Again, Home Again, Jigetty-Jig

Our internal clocks are catty-wampus. We awoke this morning before sunrise in Montréal, wide-eyed and as rested as we were going to get. The hotel offered breakfast starting at 5, so why not go see? It was lamentable, as expected, and our flight promised breakfast, but by then we'd be four hours into our travel day. Everyone staying at the hotel, it seemed, wanted to go to the airport on the 6am shuttle, but (not surprisingly) we were the first on board. We are motivated.

Looking back to where we were yesterday, it's more than a little shocking, where we started this morning ...and where we'll start tomorrow morning! This international jetting about has just got to stop, and let our heads and our hearts catch up.

After a miscue about where we should be – “Oh, you're at gate 1, domestic Air Canada. You want gate 9, US Air Canada” – we got ourselves through Canadian Security (not as ugly as French) and US pre-clearance (much uglier) and to the departure gates, where we found, once again, that the Air Canada lounge was at the opposite end from our gate. “Well,” says Rochelle, “I won't feel guilty about sitting for five hours; I've had my walk.”


1483 : 988
<p>On the way up over Quebec</p>

On the way up over Quebec

Finally, I have received a revelation about what is erroneously called “business class.” The bit that I have always found repellent is the “class” part. I now realize the way one is treated on an airplane is much more like tickets to the opera or a sporting event. It you're content with the nose-bleed seats, there will be a lot of you, and the ushers will treat you impersonally and as a herd. If, on the other hand, you want a seat just behind the dugout, or in the orchestra, you're a relatively rarer bird, as well as a major money-maker for your employer, and so you get excellent treatment. In the uncomfortable, constrained world of long-distance transportation, where one's body is to be moved through several time zones and across thousands of miles, the extra expense for the better seats, especially if you are old, is worth it. 

1484 : 980

This morning while others stood in a long line to check in, we breezed through. Everyone suffers the indignity of a border crossing: that in itself is an enormous argument in favor of the European Union. But then, while the cheap seats peops crowd into the waiting area by the gate and are bombarded with announcements, we get comfortable chairs in a quiet lounge with big windows on the doings of the airport, and a selection of comforts – fewer in Montreal, surprisingly, than in Paris, for the Air Canada elite. And then we board first. Our chairs are bigger, our food is better, and we can have as many glasses of water (or whatever) as we want. How much more did it cost? I can't remember! Priceless!

1485 : 978
<p>We’re over the Great Basin...

We’re over the Great Basin right now, the biggest stretch of ground on the planet that no longer has drainage to an ocean. From up here, it’s sere and uninteresting looking, but we know better. This flying over business is fine for swift transition from two places, but it ignores all the wonderful granularity in between. The Rockies are behind us, and SFO is about an hour ahead. This part of the trip I have made many times, and it's lovely making it with the sun still in the east.

1486 : 966

California

<p>Upper left, Boundary Peak and...

Upper left, Boundary Peak and the eastern Sierras with their calligraphy of snow from a dry winter. Yosemite upper right, Half Dome barely in the foreground, Vernal and Nevada Falls in the back. Eastern and western edges of the Great Valley below.

The number of remaining hours of this trip of a lifetime can now be counted on our fingers. I yearn for my cat, my house, my view, my bed. At the end, it always feels as if one’s been swimming a mile underwater or doing some other preposterously difficult and protracted thing. But already, Rochelle and I are speculating: what, after this, could we possibly do?

1487 : 958
<p>Coming in from the east, the planes...

Coming in from the east, the planes glide down over the south end of San Francisco Bay, where there are unearthly colored pools of salt drying. Then you pass thousands of houses built out over the Bay so they can enjoy a "water lifestyle." Very California. They filled in so much of the Bay that now SFO can't expand its too-close-together runways without jeopardizing the ecosystem, meaning it's a busy, congested airport.

1488 : 948

The Santa Rosa Express fetches us, and before we know it, we're through the "front door" -- the Golden Gate Bridge -- and onto the freeway home. This does not look at ALL like a French autoroute! Glad I'm not driving...


1489 : 943

Not long thereafter, Sienna picks us up. Dinner/Lunch at Catelli's in Geyserville – it was picture-worthy but we were too eager and spaced out and realized too late that we'd forgotten to take the picture. We'll just have to go back.

 

Finally, feet up and content at home. "Where do you want to go next?" I ask Rochelle. "I don't know. Let's just stay home for awhile," she replies.

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