It all started with a wild and sickly raccoon wandering out from behind the check-in terminal. You might think that this is just a joke about coming to Podcamp from the sprawling farmlands of Kalamazoo County, Michigan, but no. . . the joke is that in Kalamazoo sickly raccoons sometimes invade the airport. I tried to capture a video, but my Sony Bloggie failed me and all I ended up with was the blurry still photo that I had taken before starting the video. In it you can see something raccoon shaped, being chased by something human shaped, near something desk shaped. . . It’s okay though, I’m sure you’ll take my word for it.
I hadn’t been on an airplane since ’97 or ’98 so the trip was, in almost every way, an entirely new experience for me. The security check point where men with blue gloves dug through luggage, the x-ray machines that must be giving the employees of the airlines cancer, taking off my shoes like a kindergarten child, and the look of suspicion forced onto every one of the airline employees faces when, you can tell, deep down they don’t think it’s all quite that necessary. All of that was new. However, I do remember looking down at the clouds on my first trip and that. . . that was still fantastic.
My trip was broken into two pieces. First a small plane took me to O’Hare in Chicago, the flight was smooth and the clouds scattered just enough to keep the view below broken in interesting ways. Touchdown was light and we came to a gentle stop on the tarmac.
I had expected to go through security a second time and imagined the hassle would be even greater at a larger airport. I was happily proven wrong. I learned that for connections I’d get to stay on the already secure side of the TSA lines and could spend my time in the mall that is the airport. After about three hours (my layover in Chicago was pretty long) I made my way to gate K11 and boarded the larger plane now ready to take me to Boston.
The man to my left had the window seat and kept the shade drawn the entire time. I wondered why he’d choose a window seat and never look out at the clouds and landscape as we flew over them. I would have chosen a window seat, because looking down at the clouds has lost none of the whimsical value for me, but when I bought my tickets all of the window seats were already taken. Later my friend and employer, Chris, explained to me that the window seat is sought out even by people not interested in the view, since it protects one from the crowding of the middle seat and the elbow jostling of the aisle seat. I suppose that’s a legitimate reason. I perhaps should have asked the man to trade places with me. Ah well, maybe another flight.
As we approached Boston for landing, the man next to me had to open the shade at the request of the flight attendant. Watching the tarmac speed towards us was frightening and exhilerating. The plane pulled slightly to the right as it touched down and later I’d notice this same thing happen on my return trip. I wonder if that’s a common thing in that particular model of plane. I haven’t flown enough to know, but maybe someday I’ll have a very good idea.
Cell phone lights lit up all over the cabin as soon as the crew announced that they could be turned back on. There were bits of conversations with relatives, coworkers, and bosses in the air mingled with the soft beeping of texts being tapped out. People could not wait to connect with those that they were meeting as well as those left behind.
In the airport I followed a set of signs that lead me to a taxi stand. Soon I was on my way to the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. The cabbie on this trip was not too chatty – a bit of a disappointment considering that this was my first cab ride on my first trip to Boston. However, he did navigate the roads of Boston with skill, force, and I’m pretty sure some measure of insanity. Soon, we pulled up to the Sonesta, I paid and tipped him and he was gone with a new fare almost before my bags were out of the trunk. I was ready to escape the fast pace of the city in my hotel room.
Now it was time to clean the sweat and grime of the trip from my body, let family and friends know I had arrived safely, order some room service, watch the History channel (ah documentaries), and take some time to breath.
Podcamp Boston, pcb5, would not start until the next day.