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Driving, Waiting, Flying, Riding

October 20, 2011

I started my day with Jackie’s specialty—homemade biscuits and gravy. I double-checked my luggage for everything I thought I might need. Everything seems to be in place. I only forgot my Euros which means a few dollars in exchange fees. No big deal.

Mat, Jackie, and I drive to Yeager Airport in Charleston, WV. I check in for my flight while Mat and Jackie park the car.

I step outside to meet them so we can visit more before I leave. I see urgency and fear on their face. I ask what’s wrong, but they barely stop to tell me.

Mat lost his wallet!

I went to security. Mat checked the bathroom. Jackie checked the airport.

No sign of the wallet anywhere.

This is not the way to begin a trip. What if he was left in Ohio with no money, no ID, no debit card? At least he would be at his parents.

Mat went outside to look for his wallet. And he found it.

One less thing to worry about.

We sit and chat. We say our goodbyes. And I wait for the plane.

The first flight to Detroit is relatively short at about one hour, but it reminds me of why I love flying.

As the plane lifts from the ground, I see the mountains grow smaller beneath me. Some of the trees are turning, but most are still green. The hills show more depth than I normally see flying from Atlanta. Then the mountains merge into the the patchwork of the rivers and farms in Ohio.

View from the Sky

As we near approximately 5,000 feet, we break into the clouds. I am surrounded by soft cotton balls and a mid-day sun. The clouds look soft. I always daydream about jumping into the clouds and laying in their softness.

After the landscape becomes nothing but clouds below, I flip through Sky Magazine. Halfway through the flight, my neighbor introduces herself. They are flying home from a week-long family reunion in Charleston, WV. I tell her about my travel plans. She tells me about her childhood pen pal from Scotland.

While the plane descends, I notice the houses and trees growing beneath me. I can’t help but feel that they are model trees used to create a miniature scene for a movie or by a hobbyist.

As I prepare to exit the plane, I meet the rest of her traveling party. They ask about my travel plans too. One of them just can’t seem to place Belgium in the US. He jokingly asks if it’s closer to Washington, DC or Seattle. I tell him it’s closer to DC, just over a big pond.

My flight to AMS is an easy flight. The Airbus 330 has the nicest business class I have flown in, which means reasonably comfortable seats and a personal television.

My flying mate was a German man returning home after four weeks in Detroit. He seemed to enjoy every vice. He placed his cigarettes in his suitcase before ordering a few beers. Of course, he started the day with coffee, which was surprisingly not black. He told me he had only spent 60 days at home for the year, including his holidays. This was actually an improvement from the 40 days it had been the year before. As a service technician, he spends a lot of time in the US, China, and Thailand.

My steak and risotto are OK, but I believe the crab cake starter and vegetable soup are the best parts of my evening meal. I manage to watch Bridesmaids before getting a record four hours of sleep on the plane. A warm, damp cloth is refreshing after a rough night’s sleep. Breakfast is simple fruit, a bagel, and orange juice. I know I must dash through the airport to catch my next flight.

I make it through Schipol, the Amsterdam airport without issue and even have 15 minutes before boarding begins. So far the journey has been smooth. I only hope I have enough sleep for my Edinburgh plans.

Windmills Below

Another light breakfast is served on the flight to Edinburgh. I decide to take advantage of this meal so I can take a later lunch after seeing a few sights. The flight is short, but I enjoy viewing the country from the sky. I see fifty windmills in the northern Atlantic Ocean above the English Channel. It is a truly amazing view.

As we fly over Edinburgh, I see Arthur’s Seat. I expected it to be high, but it seems to be a small mountain! I only hope I will have the energy to climb it after landing.

After my flight lands, I am able to quickly collect my luggage and catch the next bus into town. The bus ride took about 30 minutes. It was a nice change to be in a city where affordable, efficient transportation is available.

I walked to the Edinburgh Backpackers Hostel, change shoes, and ask them to hold my luggage.

I am ready to tour Edinburgh on foot.

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