I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

6:00 to YUMA

It was such an early start this morning, I didn't bother going to bed last night. My dear friend, Fran, was picking me up at 2:30 AM to drive me to the airport. We got there in good time as we tried a way I hadn't ever gone before but someone at work had suggested. Basically we took the exact same route I take to work, turned right instead of left on Marine Way and drove all the way to Arthur Lange Bridge. I think we made it in well under an hour - helped by the fact that there's no traffic at that time of night.

We hung out for a bit at the airport Starbucks and soon it was time for me to head through security. I went to the one I am used to going through, International, just to find that I was at the wrong one - there's a totally different area for those traveling from Canada to the States. I haven't ever flown from Canada to the States before...I always go from just over the border in either Bellingham or down in Seattle. I cleared without any issues. I did set off the metal detector and I wasn't wearing any metal but for two rings and I have been through with those before and didn't set anything off. She waved the wand over me and my lower legs set the wand off. Huh? She patted my legs down but there was nothing there but me. I said that it must be my magnetic personality but she didn't bat an eye at the joke. Humourless lot, those guys are. I took a look back as my carry on was going through the Xray and could clearly see all of my vitamins laid out in a layer between my clothing. I didn't use the pill caddies after all as they just took up far too much space. I put each serving (serving? I can't think of the word) into tiny zip lock bags and then put the whole lot into one huge one.

I had a moment there where I thought the woman was going to pull me over for drug dealing but, after pointing at the screen and consulting with a colleague, and a look back at me, they clearly saw my need for vitamins and other assorted drugs and let me leave unmolested, as it were.

My first flight left on time and all was good. I sat at the window beside a lovely young woman who was flying to Hawaii for the first time since she was a small girl, and her husband's very first trip there. I felt badly that they couldn't sit together but he had an isle seat and I really didn't want to give up my window seat. I have found that I get bumped a lot by the attendants going by with their cart when I sit in the aisle, which I used to do all of the time so I could stretch out my bad knee. It keeps me from sleeping and I ended up sleeping most of the way.

When I got off in the San Francisco airport, I asked at the desk where my next flight was boarding. The lady told me and then asked if I wanted to take an earlier flight. I said I would. I had been worried about only having an hour between flights at LAX so this would give me more time. She said that the flight I was booked on was way overbooked so it would help them out. She said it cost $50 to bump to an earlier flight and then looked at me expectantly. I wasn't about to pay that so I said it was okay, I'd take my scheduled flight. She then said that, as it was helping them out, she would waive it. I then told her how it was helping me and she looked at me, surprised. "Why did you have to take three flights to get to Yuma?" I told her that my flight to LAX from Vancouver had been canceled. "Oh well, then you get the earlier flight for no charge anyway." She handed me a new boarding pass and then indicated that I should walk back down the ramp I had just come up and get back on the same plane. So I ended up sitting exactly two rows back from the seat I had just vacated. As there's no food served on any of the flights I was taking, it would give me some time to get lunch in LAX.

A Nice Lunch at Wolfgang Puck's


When I went to board the third plane, we actually had to walk across the tarmac like in the olden days or like you do if you are in a tiny Caribbean nation.

I actually took this picture after we landed in Yuma

The plane was small inside and I felt like I had traveled back in time.

It was ancient; an EMB 120 Brasilia (that's for you, Kim). Sitting in my seat I looked out of the window and the wing and engine put me in mind of the plane Carole Lombard perished in when it slammed into a Nevada mountain.

And when the entire capsule shuddered and the engines screamed as the pilot pushed his foot to the floor (or whatever it is they do) in what was starting to feel like a feeble attempt to gain enough speed to get us airborne, I felt sure I was about to follow Ms Lombard's fate. You know the sound seaplanes make over Coal Harbour (for all of my local readers)? Well it sounded just like that only about 1,000 times louder. I felt the vibrations of the strain on the plane down to the very marrow of my bones. After that experience, the much dreaded dentist drill tomorrow will seem, at least I hope, like a whisper and a tickle.

I ended up sleeping, as I had for the first two flights, for most of the way. I woke with a start when we experienced a bit of turbulence and looked down to see the land divided by a river; all dry scrub and desert on one side, and fertile farm fields on the other. The incongruous juxtaposition of the two was vivid.

There was also a cool mountain or big hill that was very rugged except for a portion right in the center that looked like it had giant stairs carved into it. I marvelled at it, so much so I forgot to take a photo, and wondered if the stairs were man made or natural.

After a rather bumpy descent and somewhat rough landing, we were safe on the ground once again, only now in the glorious blazing sunshine of the Arizona desert.

I hopped in a cab for the short ride to the Howard Johnson Inn I was booked into and thought to ask the driver how far it is from the Inn to the border at Los Algodones. She told me it is about 15 miles. I asked how much a cab would cost to there and was startled when she said $30. "Each way?" I gasped. "Yes." Ouch. She said there were places closer to the border and so when I checked in I told the receptionist that I would only be staying one night and explained why. As I walked to my room I found the place to be somewhat shabby but when I got inside, was pleasantly surprised to see it had been recently refurbished. A quick look around, however, turned up some rather shoddy housekeeping. The tub looks like it needs a good Vimming, and the taps are crusted with old soap and stains that would be rather easy to remove with some elbow grease and more Vim. I am happy to be staying just the one night.

I found a similar deal to the one I have here at the Best Western Yuma Mall Inn Suites. The place looks lovely in the photos and the pool area looks great. And their pool is heated; I found out shortly after I arrived that the one here isn't. And it is too cold to use. Anyway I am booked into that place for the rest of my stay and, they have free shuttle from the airport so I am taking a cab back to the airport tomorrow morning and then calling the shuttle instead of the, what would have been, expensive cab ride out to the BW Inn.

Back in the Land of PALM TREES!!!

Poolside With My Plane-Ride-Swollen Feet

Dinner at Applebee's, Just Across the Road
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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