Last Wednesday, I left the confines of Ohio and flew to a corner of the United States. I landed in Bellingham, Washington that afternoon and this is the story of that trip:
There isn't a lot of lead up to this trip. Through our secret means* I found that my dear friend, Emma had a cello recital on May 31st and wanted to go; It was the morning of May 19th. I had really wanted to visit her and to a lesser extent see the Northwest and to a lesser extent than that get further away from Columbus that I had ever been before. In my head, this recital became a pretense to do all of those things, so I started looking for a plane tickets.
In recent months, it hasn't been entirely uncommon for me to look for plane tickets. I have been bitten by the wanderlust bug recently, so I sometimes would just look. However, I usually had little intention of actually booking anything. I don't think I started out that morning with the intention of actually booking; it was just an idea. It definitely was the sort of thing that you should run by the person you're going to visit first.
However, in a fit of spontaneity (or insanity), I saw a fare that was quite reasonable and booked myself for the trip. Shortly after that I reserved a hotel room in Bellingham. So, in an instant months of "save now. travel later" rational was out the window, but I was excited and not really remorseful about the spending. In fact my main worry was that I was being an inconsiderate asshole to suddenly just drop in on Emma. I told myself that I would think it over and decided whether or not to just cancel it.
The next day, I woke up and I was still excited. I didn't have the buyer's remorse. In fact I had come up with a new rationalization to justify the spending: I've gotten through two years of college and am about to get an Associates Degree and haven't taken on any debt, so taking on a little debt for this trip is alright. So, I was planning on going through with it unless I got a, "no" from Emma, which she didn't give.
When, I first booked the trip I must confess my plan was to show up as a surprise at the recital. However, as I considered that more I realized how bad of an idea it was. One, That would probably cross a serious line in terms of appropriate interaction with an internet friend. Secondly, it is probably more creepy than sweet. Finally, in not giving someone fair warning you're kind of making a douchy/passive-aggressive move by basically forcing the person to either drop his or her plans or neglect you.
So, fast forward past all the planning stuff** and jump to May 30th, which was my departure date. I'd packed the night before, but I was certain I had forgotten something and there were things that couldn't be packed the night before (namely Deodorant.) I woke up at 5:00 am and packed the stuff that still needed packing and checked over and over to make certain I wasn't forgetting something important.
So, the thing about leaving on May 30th is that it is my Mom's birthday. So, as she drove me to the airport I wished her a happy birthday repeatedly. I felt bad ditching her on that day***. Still, I was so excited where I was going and who was going to be there and how I was going somewhere far away on my own.
I really went to security in Columbus as a novice. I'd only flown once before. I knew about the shoe thing. I knew about the empty pockets thing. I knew that I should bother with a belt. I knew no liquids. So, I wasn't completely hopeless, but still I made a few flubs. The TSA lady reminded me to take off my jacket. Then, had to take the laptop out of the case to go under the scanner. I didn't get a full body scan instead they directed me through a metal detector.
So, getting through security went smoothly and before long I had my shoes back on, my shit back in my pockets, and the laptop back in the case. I grabbed my bags and headed to the gate. It was about 6:45 when I got to the gate. The plane didn't leave until 7:40, so I had to kill a little time before boarding, which I mostly did by looking out the window of the airport. There wasn't much to see except the plane I was about to get into.
Ok, now I'm going to introduce a visual aid:
This my trip to Bellingham in a neat(ish) format. Of course planes don't fly in straight lines; they tend to kind of arc to the north in the northern hemisphere, because for some weird math reason that is less distance on a sphere. Anyway, still I think it does its job.
So, the plane took off pretty close to on time at 7:40 EDT. The flight to Chicago is as I remember from when I took it the one time before. It's really quick. As, I looked out the window it never really looked like I left Central Ohio until we flew over Lake Michigan. So, the plane landed at about 7:40 CDT; I just find it so interesting that I traveled 277 miles, but didn't travel through time.
By the time I got to the gate I needed to be at in O'Hare I had about 90 minutes left in the layover. I tried reading, but I just confirmed that I am way too much of a people-watcher to have any luck reading in public, because I can't concentrate when there are people moving around me and can be looked at. So, I just put my iPod on and creeped on strangers walking past until boarding time.
On this plane, I unfortunately had the middle seat. On the aisle side of me was a rather large gentlemen and on the window side was a person I can only assume was named, "Douchebag McGee." Anyway, Douchebag was trying his best to hide his annoying cellphone conversation from the flight attendants after he was supposed to have put it away.
Anyway, I had planned to use the laptop on this flight since the plane had wi-fi, but there wasn't really room and getting the wi-fi required buying a movie or some shit. So, I just read. The book I chose to take with me was "Paper Towns" for a reread. I didn't really want to start something new given the nature of this trip. I read for quite a while until I saw mountains out the window. It was the first time I had seen mountains with snow on top of them, because the mountains in the east are pretty lame. I watched out the window until things turned to just flat desert and then got back to reading. We landed in Las Vegas pretty soon after the land turned to desert.
I learned something after spending a little time in Las Vegas. I had assumed that Vegas was in the Mountain Timezone, but it isn't; It is Pacific. It didn't make much a difference in terms of catching flights, but it did explain why 11:30 there didn't quite feel like 1:30 EDT. Also, why I was so damn hungry. The terminal in Vegas is filled with slot-machines. I wasn't interested in playing them though. If there had been a Poker or Blackjack table I probably would've played, but that isn't exactly reasonable to have in an airport.
It took me a bit until I found a screen to figure out which gate I needed to get to. Once I did, it was time to do something about my not having eaten a meal in 18 hours. I started walking to towards the gate and settled on a Chili's-to-go. I got mozzarella sticks and they were delicious. Then I went to sit by my gate to wait for boarding.
I took the risk of connecting to an unsecured wi-fi network to check news and sure up some details for arrival in Bellingham. I made sure not to use any passwords though and hoped I wasn't killing the laptop. Anyway, I didn't stay connected for too long. I put the lap top away and watched as people got off a plane from Seattle****.
An old lady from Bellingham talked to me, because she was confused as to which gate the flight was going to be at exactly as all the announcements were being made from the gate next to ours. She asked whether or not I was from Bellingham and I told her I wasn't and was from Columbus, Ohio and she stopped talking to me and then wandered off in a few minutes.
This flight probably took the longest to board, but it was without question the best flight of the trip. The plane had a pretty decent amount of legroom and the seat next to me was empty. Also, one of the flight attendants was really pretty, which helps. Oh, and I got a snack. I tried to sleep on this flight and almost made it before the pilot made an announcement that startled me awake. He was just telling us where to look to see the 3 Sisters. I looked out the window for a while and then it clouded over. I read for a bit before we began our descent.
On the decent, my right ear didn't pop. It hurt badly. I was chewing gum and just hoped it would pop as the plane got lower and lower. It never did happen though. It stopped hurting so badly once we were on the ground, but I couldn't hear very well out of it.
When we reached the terminal at Bellingham International Airport, we got off the plane and on to the tarmac, which I didn't really think was allowed anymore, but apparently it is. I walked out of the terminal and then outside of the airport and realized a serious mistake in my plan to get to my hotel. While I knew there was a bus stop around the airport I hadn't really figured out which direction I needed to go get to said bus stop. I tried one direction and it wasn't right. Also, my plane was early and the bus I needed to be on wouldn't be around for a hour (presuming it was on time.) So I walked back to where there were walk-up taxis in front of the airport.
The taxi I got into was a Prius driven by a good-looking woman. I had to give my, "I'm from Columbus and I'm visiting a friend" story to the driver. Although, I was sort of guessing at what she was asking because I couldn't hear very well given the state of my right ear. I got to the hotel and paid her with a generous tip and checked in.
So, I'm splitting this into parts, because this is already quite long. I apologize for the boring nature of this post*****.
tl;dr I went to visit Emma. I recommend Alaska Airlines.
Thanks for reading
**Like how I was going to get around once I got there and stuff.
***Not too bad because I did have to pick her up from the airport on my Birthday and turnabout is fair play xD
****Which I must say seemed to have had a who can show the most cleavage contest on-board. It sounds more pleasant than it actually was.
*****Not that the other parts will be much more exciting.