Monday, April 21, 2008

Travelin' man

Oh, I'm a travelin' man

Yes, I'm a travelin' man

Oh, I'm a travelin' man

Mmmmm....

Those are some of the lyrics to “I’m a Travelin’ Man” by Rick Nelson, used without permission, I’d like to add. I found the last line to be songwriting at its best. "Mmmmm...."

Now just why am I leading off my blog with lyrics to a song that many people have not heard and those who have probably wish they hadn’t? I don’t know, I guess it is because that describes my life over the last year. I’ll get to the very non-juicy details shortly.

But first, I must lead you down the short path, otherwise known as padding the length of the blog to make it seem like the content is better.

Over the years, I have pretty much made Heavener the center of my universe. I haven’t traveled much, other than a few short trips to here and there. I use the term “here and there” because I don’t want to spend too much time describing the few places I have been, although I just did in explaining the term.

Anyway, I did go to Las Vegas once in 1995 and then spent a week in St. Cloud, Minnesota. First trip was pleasure, second on business. Nothing all that memorable, eh? The last trip was in 1997 and I had not flown since then, not that it bothered me.

But in the last year, in addition to putting over 20,000 miles on the old Equinox driving the narrow, windy, two-lane roads in western Arkansas, I have flown three times.

Yes, three! Egosh! (that’s the internet version of my gosh!) Here’s the lineup: Last June, Bellingham, Washington (the state, not the District of Columbia). Then, I have flown to Louisville (as in Kentucky) twice, the first time in November, the second in January.

All three trips were work related and thankfully paid by my employers, yes, that is plural. Future blog, eh?

Let’s discuss the Washington trip first, since it occurred before the Kentucky journeys. It was early in June last year, right as the temperatures were soaring here in the Heavtown. We left early on a Sunday morning out of Fort Smith with the first stop at Memphis.

I had not flown in the last decade, which was before the serious inspections at the airport. Thus, I had my dangerous body spray seized and confiscated. Hmm, they were obviously more worried about my sneaking a bomb onto the plane instead of body odor issues.

But then, it was on to Seattle. Pull out your old map, shall ye? As you can see, to go from Seattle to Memphis is quite the trip. A four-hour trip, a four-hour trip (sorry, I borrowed that from Gilligan’s Island). Northwest Airlines, baby, a soon-to-be thorn in my side and other body extremities, would furnish the airplane.

So, you might be wondering, how was I entertained during this long trip? Movie? Grub? Not so fast. Two cans of pop, no food unless I wanted to pluck down a five spot for a can of Pringles that would last about two minutes, give or take the turbulence level. Movie? I don’t think so.

Instead, I tried to stare out the window. Most of the trip, I saw a lot of clouds and squares. After getting closer to the northwest, I did get to see a lot of snow-covered mountains, then more clouds. After getting close to Seattle, we got to see all the big mountains like Hood and Baker, the snow-covered tops peaking through the clouds.

We landed in Seattle and took a bus, no, that’s right, I did say a BUS for the hour and a half trip to Bellingham. Scenery was beautiful. Did I say anything earlier about clouds? Well, it was cloudy, cool and it rained, an annoying little drizzle that seemed to happen every day, most of the day.

I have never seen anything so green. We saw the ocean, the bay, a lot of people riding bikes, as in the pedal kind, along with many people who needed a haircut.

Bellingham was a nice place, although kind of dreary. Most people didn’t seem to notice their yard needed mowed. I visited the bay which was the highlight of the trip and is the picture at the top of the blog, but didn’t see any whales. Somehow, it failed to drizzle during that trip. But did you happen to notice it is cloudy in the picture?

I believe the highest the temperature ever got was in the mid-50s. In June! I decided then these people probably had some clogged-up sweat glands. I also discovered quickly that the price index for that region was at a higher level.

Nine bucks for a burg! Outrageous! But they did have this thing called Jo’s, which is what they called their French fries. I think they are actually just steak fries, but they were served pretty much everywhere and were good.

Anyway, I did survive the week. As we were leaving and driving back to Seattle on a BUS, one of my classmates got a call and was told that our business had pretty much shut down for the rest of the year. Strange, nobody bothered to tell us at company headquarters that our ability to make money was basically shut down. Hmmm. Must have been an oversight, eh?

When I stepped off the plane in Memphis, it felt like I was going into a sauna. That’s when I knew I was close to home.

Next up, the unfriendly skies.

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