Flying last week reminded me how much I hate flying.
There’s something about defying the laws of gravity that feels…I don’t know, cocky, for lack of a better word. I’m no engineer, but I do understand the mechanics of flight. Lift and weight and thrust and drag. Pitch, roll, and yaw. Rudders and elevators and ailerons, oh my! These factors aside, I just don’t get how it’s possible to slip the surly bonds of earth and cheat gravity.
Is it clear that I’m a nervous flyer? Not for the whole flight, of course! Just the part between taking off and landing. The only way I would enjoy flying would be to take to the skies myself, like an eagle. Or Superman. Definitely not Icarus, though. Remember him?
According to Greek mythology, Daedalus, a craftsman who was imprisoned on the island of Crete with his son, Icarus, for aiding and abetting the enemy of King Minos, decided that he’d had enough of the joint and hatched a brilliant escape plan. He built two pairs of wings from wax and feathers and, before taking to the skies, said, “Boy, make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened and your seat back and tray table are in their full upright positions.”
Icarus was understandably confused. When pressed for clarification, daddy said, “Never mind. Just don’t fly too close to the sun.”
Once airborne, Icarus was so thrilled to be flying, he got a little carried away. “Look at me, look at meeeee!!” he exclaimed gleefully, soaring ever higher and higher. Ignoring his father’s warning, he flew too close to the sun, melting the wax from his wings and sending him plunging to his death in the Icarian Sea far below. This is okay if you’re gung-ho over having an ocean named after you, but otherwise pretty much sucks.
Legend has it Daedalus grumbled, “You had one job to do” while watching his boy plummet to earth.
Gravity: 1. Man: 0.
These are the things I think about when I’m strapped into my seat and we’re sitting on the tarmac before taking off. Inherent danger aside, the whole airline travel experience just bites. For starters, when Tara booked our flights, she didn’t realize we weren’t even seated together. Apparently you have to pay extra for the privilege of sitting next to your significant other. When did that become standard?! I guess some couples might enjoy a break from one another, but I happen to like my wife. Having a hand to hold onto when turbulence hits is nice, and oddly enough, reaching for a stranger’s hand is frowned upon.
I hate the way the airlines nickel-and-dime you. Fuel surcharges, extra baggage fees, yadda yadda. I was looking forward to an in-flight Bloody Mary to calm my nerves, but at $9 a pop for a mini bottle of vodka, I passed. Sure, the mix itself is free, but that’s just glorified tomato juice.
And security checkpoints are ridiculous. I get sending your carry-on bag (that you have probably paid a fortune to bring aboard) through the x-ray machine, and okay, removing your shoes has been a requirement for years. But I was asked to take off my belt, too. Under different circumstances this might be exciting, but not when the order comes from a burly TSA agent with three days’ worth of stubble and hands the size of a catcher’s mitt. And I don’t understand why they make you empty everything from your pockets—”even a scrap of paper,” we were warned. At least I wasn’t subjected to a pat-down like the poor guy in Reno on our way back. He looked extremely pissed (and violated). I don’t blame him.
I’ll take driving over flying any day! We’d talked about doing that this trip, but I only had a couple of PTO days and booking a couple of months in advance, we had no idea what the weather would be like. Traversing the Rocky Mountains in winter can be dicey. So we departed Rapid City Monday evening and arrived in Reno at midnight, after a two-hour layover in Denver. I can’t believe how big that airport is. It took us 20 minutes to walk from one gate to our next. At least we were able to grab a couple of drinks at a bar while waiting for our connecting flight. By the time we got checked into our motel across from the airport, it was after 1:00 a.m.
We were up super early Tuesday morning for the five-hour drive to Ely. It’s a good thing, too; half an hour into our drive, Tara got a text from Cynthia asking if we would be there by 2:00 for the wedding ceremony. Now, we’d been under the assumption that Tara’s dad and Cynthia had already gotten married, so this was a surprise! But we made it there with an hour to spare and were able to catch the 10-minute ceremony in a local church. Afterward, my father-in-law treated us to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We spent the remainder of the evening at his house, but I was exhausted by this point, so Tara ended up driving me to our motel. The clock struck midnight while we were in the car, which was weird because there was no big countdown and New Year’s kiss or toast. We didn’t even realize it was 2020 until we got to the parking lot at 12:02 a.m. Talk about an inauspicious and anti-climactic beginning to a new decade!
New Year’s Day was spent at Tara’s uncle’s ranch house in town. There were 40-50 people there celebrating Randy and Cynthia’s nuptials, and all kinds of good food. A veritable feast that included turkey, ham, shrimp, chili verde, various meats and cheeses and veggies and dips, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, black-eyed peas for good luck, and a lot more. Quite the delicious spread and nobody went home hungry.
Thursday was a long-ass day. After meeting a couple of Tara’s friends for breakfast, we bid adieu to her family and hit the road for the drive back to Reno, followed by a flight to Denver that was SUPER bumpy, and another to Rapid City. Once again, we arrived around midnight, and had to turn around and go to work the next day.
All in all, it was a good trip, and I’m glad we went. But I’m not going to lie: I am very happy to be home. And Sydney was thrilled to see us. She’s been our shadow ever since, following us everywhere, curling up on our laps, sleeping between us.
I told Tara I like my cats how I like my women, extra clingy, so it’s all good.