Big Trip: Part 1 (Hawaii)

CONTEXTUAL NOTE: My big trip this month took me first from Arcata to Portland, then from Portland to the island of Hawaii, and then back to Portland for a week of apartment-hunting. I typed up some notes at various times and later combined them into several blog posts.

Thursday, May 8
3:30 PM

I’m in the San Francisco Airport on a layover. Travelers from Arcata sometimes have to take a roundabout path to get to their destinations—today’s destination, for me, being Portland. This is the first time I have traveled with a laptop computer. I assumed that during my many layovers I would have access to free Wi-Fi so I could while away the hours with Web-surfing; however, I am not connected at the moment. There’s a network that I could pay ten dollars to get on, and there’s a free network for which I’m not getting a signal. I must be in the less-fancy terminal.

The plane from Arcata smelled like urine, but it was very uncrowded, so I guess the overall trip was rather neutral. Thinking there might still be whales off the Humboldt County coast, I stared intently at the surface of the ocean but saw only whitecaps and small, puffy clouds. I watched as we flew above the mouth of the Mattole River (or was it the Eel?) and then turned my attention to a magazine until the coastline of San Francisco came into view. I marveled at how the water seemed two-dimensional, like a broad sheet of textured vinyl.

Today’s layover is mercifully short, not that I am bothered much by having to wait. I love traveling and being in the airports of different cities. As we were taxiing into the terminal of SFO I saw a huge double-decker Air China jet and thought about how remarkably connected we are (or can be) to every other part of the world. There are places I strongly want to visit and places that I’ve hardly thought twice about visiting; the possibilities are exciting.

I’m not sure when I was last in this airport. I was probably here within the last year or so, waiting for a connecting flight to Sacramento for some family gathering or another. But my fondest memory of being here is from January 2006, when my parents and I were on our way to Europe. We left our car at a South San Francisco hotel and boarded a flight to Munich by way of Toronto. That flight was my first chance to look out over the American West. I think I had just finished a course in geomorphology and I was happy to be able to interpret many of the landforms I was seeing from the air, which I had learned to recognize from topographic maps and photo slides. I like topographic maps. Or maybe they just make me feel sorta smart because I know how to read them.

I’ll be boarding in about ten minutes.

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  1. Bucket list | Cascade Wallflower

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