Tuesday, July 26, 2011

internal travelogue

When you only travel for work interesting exotic destinations are really just looming deadlines.
Check in, check out, passport control, the opening act is security theatre. At least in New Zealand security theatre you get to keep your belt and shoes on. For now.
Duty free outbound - an hour to buy three top shelf tax free bargains. The a/c in the departure area is hyperactive. Get nuts, chips, beer. Salt. Protein. Muscle relaxant. I'm not expecting a matter transference beam but you never know - be prepared. I think the same biochemical preparations would be appropriate for interstellar teleportation or a terrestrial air transportation crash landing. I know where my towel is. Douglas Adams has given me permanent brain damage.
OK - the Rico thing, that is a national disgrace. Not on a par with our bodypainted flight crew. Bring Back Buck Naked. In flight viewing... Spoiler alert: Exit through the gift shop. Piquant with that have-i-just-been-fucked? mockumentary aftertaste. Still, you buy the ticket, you take the ride.
Space Battleship Yamato - apocalyptic meandering anime derivative. Battlestar Galatica meets Akira meets Dr Stangelove meets Starship Troopers meets my high school Japanese class. I like how Japan think they are the only survivors eking out a living on the post-apocalyptic earth. And looking for a 'cure' for 'radioactivity' - that's genius. Radioactivity - so hot right now.
In flight drinks. Bourbon. Beer. Pinot Noir. Bourbon me again. Washed down with antihistamines and antiinflammatories. I don't remember the third inflight movie - was it 2001? Something less esoteric? It was a classic.
Also what the fuck gives with these seat assignments? I don't believe there is a smaller one on the plane - my feet are jammed sideways under the one in front, my knees are grooved lengthways with the steel frame inside.
Earplugs in. Facemask on. Donut pillow donutting around neck. Blackout.
Wake up fuckers, it's 6 hours later in your pressurised cabin artificial dawn. Sleep well? It's nearly lunchtime earlier the same day, so here's breakfast.
Vancouver - looks nice from the air.
The International Connection walkway is 20 feet up, so I have not set foot in Canada yet. Connecting flight is in like 30 minutes. Flag down the United greeter - we are special needs travellers from a far away land called noo zulland. Skip the queue. Go right to the next queue. It is long and there is serious business going on - there will be no skipping here. US customs and border protection - no cellular phones in this queue either. Reminded by the well armed functionary - promptly forgot - lucky not to get a second reminder.
20 metres across the tarmac, I have now touched the ground in Canada, but technically I already passed through US customs... So am I in the USA?
The Canadian alpine ski team are on board, heading for Seattle.
Their gear isn't coming.
They're not best pleased.
Sleepy in Seattle.
Run the waterfront.
The Lenora Street bridge.
Take the A99 viaduct or the I5 expressway - depends if you are heading into town or heading out.
Against the traffic in the morning I take the I5.
Against the traffic in the evening I take the A99.
If this was Northern California "the I5" and "the A99" would be the wrong dialect. You would sound foreign. You should just say "I5" and "A99". The more you know...
Driving to Tukwila (na na na na na na na na).
I sing that song every time I see the Tukwila sign. I could be an annoying person to travel with.
The fishing pier.
The pool is two stories up, but lies in the shadow of the Lenora Street bridge. Goes from inside to outside. Outside it is raining, hailing, sleeting. Homeless people freezing on the Lenora Street bridge look down on me floating in the pool. When I get cold, I float to the inside bit.
It is raining.
Seafood chowder.
King crab. Dungeness crab. Bourbon chowder.
Chocolate shake and double quarter pounder.
Queue full of teenagers - one keeps trying to get a confederate to go in on the chicken nugget meal deal with him. Too good a deal to pass up, too much food/$ for one person.
I didn't order the combo but I got one anyway. Fries here are different. Skins on. Chewier. Flourier. Maybe seasonal, maybe different potato species? First encountered this a couple of years ago at an In-n-out Burger in South San Fran, assumed it was an In-n-out thing. Turns out maybe it is an American thing. The FRIES are different. Who would have thought? "The little differences". Thanks, Vincent Vega.
I only wanted a shake, told myself that given the opportunity I would give the food parcel to the next homeless dude... But when I got the opportunity it was a homeless dude running up to the door of the car, and I was having enough trouble driving on the wrong side of the road, so he was out of luck.
Run. Through the centre of town, up every hill.
Find the landmarks.
Find the lake.
Find the hill (Queen Anne).
They go up and up (and up and up).
Last night bourbon and coke with Dan Dan revolution.
He still hasn't emailed me or friended me on facebook.
I have several times observed the standby flyers clamouring at United Airline gates. It is a different market than New Zealand. Cut throat. Opportunistic. How I pitied them, from my Star Alliance Frequent Flyer confirmed-a-month-ago seat.
So I missed my flight (stupid 6am flight to denver. As if. Who flies then?)
Arrived airport at 0700. Standby for flight at 1100. Instantly prepared to slit the throat of every would be sob story spring break and furlough soldier trying to get home to their family - that seat is mine. Nervously strayed as far from the gate as the next door breakfast bar. One eye on the gate from 0730-1100.
In the end it's a free upgrade happy ending. These frequent flyer boots, baby, they were made for walking.
Denver. Dude, I think this whole town is high.
Run. Altitude training.
Didn't feel it.
Except for the dehydration, cracked lips.
A drive in the rockies with a high school friend. Mountains, brewery, casino, snow.
Work. Ride alongs. Bullet proof vests. Lights and sirens. Rubber gloves. Season opener for the Rockies.
A morning routine. Starbucks. Banana muscle milk (fine print: does not contain milk). Need singles for the valet, quarters for the washer dryer. Why is there a valet? My car is right there...
A fortnight later.
Drive to the airport. The long trip home starts as a short road too long.
Turn on the radio to wake up, distract self and passenger from the fact that i don't know where i was for the last few seconds. How to describe the way the road fades out and fades in. Luckily the road is three lanes wide and straight. Not all of them are. But the road home is, and I am on it.