One must have a certain clarity of purpose when leaving one’s home without a key. Such clarity of purpose can be hard to come by on less than three hours of sleep, especially after not getting much sleep the previous night. Not surprisingly, I started off today pretty tired. Fortunately, apart from getting dressed and making sure I had my pack with me when I closed the door to my house to get on the shuttle to the airport to catch my flight to San Diego, there was nothing I had to do that required any mental effort until I got to the airport.
I was rather nonplussed to find that the airline did not have the plastic luggage bags they told me they would on the phone, so apart from my pack cover (which only covers one side of the pack), my pack was not well-protected from the dangers of airport mechanization. Some zip ties provided by the staff at the check-in counter secured parts of my pack that were a little more likely to flop around and cause problems, but I could only hope that my pack would survive baggage handling relatively unscathed.
I treated myself to an upgrade to first-class. I was going to have to pay the airline anyway to check a bag, and the cost of the first-class upgrade (which included a free checked bag) was not so large as to make it not worth the splurge. It turned out to be worth every penny, giving me a literal front-row seat on the plane.
Boarding nearly first gave me a view of almost everyone else boarding the plane, and we had quite an interesting collection of passengers, including two people with service dogs and one person who had a pet rabbit.
Not realizing that the first-class upgrade would include food, I got a breakfast sandwich from the McDonalds across the hall from my flight’s gate. The McDonalds wasn’t open yet when I arrived, so I sat down in the gate’s seating area to watch them finish preparing to open. Fully expecting to be first in line for breakfast (because who lines up for McDonalds at 4:55 am?), I wound up fifth, as a group of four strolled up and formed a line in front of me.
The food on the airplane was not bad, and probably substantially contributed to me being only slightly hungry upon arrival in San Diego, rather than being ravenously hungry.
Being in the front row offered another benefit: it was much quieter than where I’ve sat on pretty much every flight I’ve been on in the last ten years: behind the wings. (In case you hadn’t noticed, engines are rather quite loud.) There was, of course, the noise of the wind rushing past the plane, but without the noise from the engines, it was almost enjoyable, like riding in a somewhat noisy car.
On the plane, I watched last year’s Justice League movie. It wasn’t that great of a movie, and I actually fell asleep during the movie’s final battle because the movie was so unengaging. (Granted, it didn’t help that I was tired going in, but the movie was so unengaging that I didn’t feel compelled to even try to stay awake.)
After landing (a few minutes early), I was the first out of the airplane. I’m not sure if it was due to the design of the airport or just luck of which gate my plane was at, but the time it took me to go from the gate to baggage claim, get my pack, and get outside, was easily the shortest amount of time I’ve ever spent in an airport.
My friend Mike was supposed to pick me up from the airport, but due to the sooner-than-expected birth of his first child, he was understandably busy, and his parents, Steve and Lee, graciously put me up in their guest room instead.
After Steve picked me up from the airport and we returned to their home for “lunch” from a nearby deli (How exactly does one label meals when jet lagged? Also: corned beef sandwich — yum!), Steve and I went on an errands run (him, to pick up cat food and some items won at an auction; me to pick up fuel at REI). After a scenic ride back their home along a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway, and a much-needed mid-afternoon nap, I spent much of the day talking with Mike’s parents about a wide variety of topics, trail-related and otherwise.
Tomorrow: hang out with Mike for part of the day. And, less than 36 hours from now, I should be on the trail!