Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mountain Author Prepares Flight Plan to the City

By Cal Orey

Whew! I'm exhausted. Putting together a flight plan when you live in the mountains and crave going to a city in another country takes work, patience, and a strong stomach! Hitchhiking to Canada was fun--not as challenging. Worse, I haven't even left yet and I'm in need of some rest and relaxation. Here, take a peek at my grueling plans for a vacation-business trek...
Hitchhiking to Montreal with a dog was fun!

First Flight Plan: Customer rep (like a travel agent)  is friendly on the phone and gets to know me: The once adventuresome hippie chick who traveled with a knapsack, sleeping bag and dog who now has a mixed bag of phobias and fears, including flying in small aircraft surrounded by lots of strangers. So, what does the flight guru do? I am put on an economy flight for several hours and left at an Airport Terminal Hotel upon arrival. Yikes! "Twilight Zone" material. Why in world would I want to sleep in a room (if I got there after too many layovers and bumpy flights), and wake up to a view of airplanes? Not my fantasy.
Worse, I scrutinized the small jet (I am now plane size savvy thanks to the Internet) going home via Chicago. Uh, um...isn't that a windy city and a big airport known for not so smooth landings? Why would I want to awake before dawn to do that? True, maybe the wind doesn't kick up till afternoon like our Tahoe thunderstorms but still--I don't like small planes. 
Mountain woman with SF roots fantasizing about Montreal's
architecture, bistros, sights, underground metro

Flight Plan 2: All big planes, first class (so I can put the warm and fuzzy blanket over my head, sip ginger ale or chamomile tea, and listen to Bob Marley to chill). The downside is what I've noted in my last blog post: 1 31 minute tight flight connection from Salt Lake City to MN. If and if I miss this plane (Airbus320) due to fate (MIA pilot to getting lost from Gate B to C) I will be bumped to a little aircraft, demoted to an economy cabin and spend the night somewhere in Minnesota. Minnesota!
If the flight gods allow me to make the flight connection in SLC to MN, I get to take a CRJ900 2 1/2 hours into the dark night. Not my fantasy but they serve a meal so maybe it will be doable without a shake-up? And arriving in Montreal before midnight, praying that my checked bag will be there to pick up and not follow days later...enter my downtown hotel by dawn if the cab driver I choose understands my broken French. 
One more thing: I learned I would be paying for the ghost who would be enjoying the city lights in my paid room. Another glitch... If and when I arrive I was told that my hotel room had been downgraded to no city view for the last three days of my journey...So like what will I see? An alley? Parking Lot? This is not my vision! I am flying 6000 miles, fur kids kenneled, a bizarre trek to be put in a room with nothing to see? No, tell me it's not true!... It's not. 

Change of Plans. Due to two gracious managers of the downtown upscale hotel I selected, today I was blessed to get a room with a city view for my entire stay in Montreal--if and when I arrive. I'm feeling swimming pool, room service for breakfast, hot coffee, steamy bubble baths, a room with a European decor, and French accents all around me in and out... Once rested it's off to explore the foreign province (once again like I did decades ago). While I can see me there to experience...getting back home days later is another traveling adventure that makes me feel like the doomed character in Mr. Bill, the SNL skit of yesteryear.

Up at 4 a.m. (curly hair day) to be at the Montreal airport and grab the Boeing757 to Atlanta (isn't pre-fall hurricane/tropical storm season?). Then, it's back to SLC International via Airbus320 for four hours--a four hour layover. There's a spa...for $40 I can take a shower and pretend I'm home safe and sound in my controlled, cozy home in the sierras. Or, perhaps if I'm not too sleep deprived go to a fancy mall (buy my boys treats) folks rave about. It's back to Reno on another Airbus320 and a three hour wait (gamble while dozing off?) till the shuttle shuttles me home before midnight. Did I say I'm tired? I will have my blue-eyed  Zen kitty waiting for me (how will I sleep each night without my creature comforts, my loving trio?)...my beloved senior Brittany (provided he passes the titer tests to waiver shots) and young Aussie (never has been left without me for a night) will be picked up the following day. (Another hardship to be away from my boys.)
Zen kitty

So, what I've learned is that when you live in the mountains and want to go to the city out of the country, you have limited options of flight plans and a long haul. Will I still do it? For now, it looks like I might inhale and go for it. It's my vision to go back to Montreal. 
But to be honest, hitchhiking with a dog seemed a lot easier than this planned trip. Thoughts of staying home and buying a stainless steel fridge or rustic hot tub are starting to look better every day. I already miss my demanding fur kids. And I haven't the heart to break the news about mom's "vacation"... I will never leave home again if I survive this trip.

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