One of the things I was very fortunate to do whilst on my blogging break was take an actual vacation, not just a vacation from the blog. My wife and I went to Las Vegas for a week, and stayed with her cousin. It was quite an experience, and I may share some pictures of it at some point, but today is not that day. Instead, I want to talk a little about air travel.
To get to Las Vegas, we had to take two flights. We flew from Albany at about 6am to Charlotte, where we met my brother-in-law (he was heading out there as well, and was the impetus for the trip). From there, we flew to Vegas. The magic of air travel is that you can leave Albany at six in the morning, spend something like ten hours in transit (we had a three hour layover in Charlotte) yet still arrive at Las Vegas at one in the afternoon. Wait, I guess that's not the magic of air travel as much as it's the magic of time zones.
I'm still new enough to air travel that I find the whole thing incredible. I mean, think of it: you're in a metal tube with 150 of your closest friends, and you're 35,000 feet in the air. Thirty-five thousand. It still boggles the mind. I understand the principles of flight well enough to understand how it happens, but it's still kind of magical when I get right down to it. And I love the perspective of looking down on towns and houses and cities, on forests and mountains and, in the west, canyons and deserts. A window seat is pretty much required for me; I don't know what I would have done on the five-hour flight if I hadn't been sitting by the window, because the sad thing is, the reality of air travel doesn't really match with the promise. Once you get off the ground and reach cruising altitude (35,000 feet!), the trip itself becomes kind of dull (on the flight out there, we ran into cloud cover from just west of the Appalachians to western Arizona. It opened up for the last forty-minutes or so of our flight, which did provide us some pretty good views). Seats are too cramped, the plane is really, really noisy, and those windows? Kind of small. I guess they have to be, but I would prefer a window that I didn't have to break my neck to see out of.
The thing that might be most amazing about air travel, though, is all the other stuff that had to be invented to support it. Baggage carts and carousels. The jet bridge. The pushback tug. Radar stations. To quote Sheriff Bart (Blazing Saddles):