Part V – Riding the Double Decker

From the Business Travel Log

Part V – Riding the Double Decker

My plane makes a long downwind track past the Whitestone bridge before making a longer arc to face the runway. I think about a long journey I took in 1995 from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow.

The plane from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, to Moscow was not a puddle jumper. It was a huge double decker Russian airliner. It was not the most modern of airliners but it was modern enough. My translator, Sergey, and I rode in first class.

“Jerry, how are you feeling”, asked Sergey.

“This toothache is killing me”, I replied.

“When we get to Moscow we can get some good medicine for you”, said Sergey.

“Zdravstvujtye, chto-nibud’ vypit “, said the handsome lady elegantly dressed in the blue, and white uniform with the long purple velvety scarf draped around her neck.

“I know what she said Sergey. What’s on that cart she’s pushing? I see vodka. Wait, what’s in that tall brown bottle?”

Sergey looks at the cart. “That’s Cognac.”

“French?”, I respond.

“Okay, Jerry, it’s Brandy.

The young lady pops the top of the Brandy after Sergey asks for it. My toothache is pounding.

“Nyet”, I tell her, “just give me the bottle”, I say.

She understood. Her eyes met my grimace. She winced.

Her language quickly switched to English, “Sir, I hope you feel better soon.”

“Spasiba Bolshoi”, I responded.

“Pozhaluysta”, she replied, smiling.

Hearing the wheels of my aircraft lock down awakens me from my daydream of memories.

“We are on our final approach to LaGuardia, please put your seats in the upright position with seatbelts buckled and your tray tables stowed” boomed the flight attendant over the intercom.

I comply. I look out my aircraft window at beauty, I marvel at nature, my heart is thankful, my mind is at peace, my hands are steady, my feet are grounded , my emotions contemplate joy. We touch down. Spasiba Bolshoi, we arrive.

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Part IV – Another Puddle Jumper

From the Business Travel Log

Part IV – Another Puddle Jumper

I slept right through takeoff. I raise my window flap and peep out at the clouds. This little regional jet is flying at a rather high altitude. I squirm and I grunt. Single seats are mounted along the left side of the craft. I have the benefit of both an aisle and a window at the same time but this seat is tight. I squeezed myself into it when I sat down.

I’m reminded of a flight I took from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York to the Bangor Airport in Bangor, Maine.

I was beat that evening in early December, 1993. I’d been traveling all over the northeast corridor between Boston and New York. After check-in I was looking forward to taking a nap on the plane. It was another puddle jumper. Worse, it was a prop job. Far worse, my seat was right over the tire well. Not only did it seem like my knees were up to my chin but there was a constant rumble. The tires rumbled and shook while it taxied to the runway and the tires rumbled and shook while we were in the air.

I turned to my left, laid my head against the window, closed my eyes and after snoozing for 2 or 3 minutes my eyes popped wide open. I turned to my right, tried to sleep again but the same thing happened again.

I sat up, pulled a folder, a writing tablet and a pen out of my backpack. I started working. There was a lot of work to do. An hour and a half later I was still working. We landed.

My hotel was on the airport grounds and it was connected to the terminal. I just grabbed my bags from baggage claim, took an escalator upstairs and walked across the sky bridge to my hotel.

“Welcome back Mr. Johnson”, said the hotel manager as he greeted, “would you like your usual pot of coffee?”

“Tonight will be a long night”, I said, “may I have two pots?”

“Certainly”, said the manager smiling.

My mind returns to the current moment. That was some memory, I say to myself. I look out my window . The clouds look so still from the window of just another puddle jumper.

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Puddle Jumping Again

Part III – puddle jumping again

From The Business Travel Log

From my vantage point, the top of the airplane looked fine. Can you just picture me standing at the doorway of the small regional jet, taller than the door, my head jutting above the door and the top of the airplane. Stop laughing. I’m puddle jumping again. Haha, if you are laughing that’s great and I’m happy that I made you laugh.

The flight attendant greets me as I bend way down to walk through the door. I am six feet, four inches tall. Small aircraft, AKA puddle jumpers, weren’t built for me. Nonetheless, I have been riding them most of my adult life. Passengers stare as I walk bent down from the entrance to my seat. It’s a long walk to row twenty on a twenty-five row airplane. Smiles glow from row to row.

I put my coat away, I’d left my roller bag at gate check baggage, then I squeeze into my narrow seat. Hmm, i need to get back to the gym, I think.

As I fasten my seatbelt, I think about a few of the puddle jumpers from past years. My first looked like a gooney bird: Columbia, South Carolina to Charlotte, North Carolina — a ninety mile ride. The big propellers are what scared me the most.

My girlfriend, who dropped me off at the airport, asked “Is your insurance all paid up?”

“Health or life”, I asked her.

“Both”, she replied.

Back to my current moment, I smile as I think about the gooney bird. I raise my window flap. I stare at the terminal. My mind moves towards another memory.

“Good Morning passengers welcome to USAmer flight 49 to Pittsburgh. The aircraft door is closed. Please put away all laptops and transmitting devices and put your smartphones in airplane mode.”

The flight attendant’s announcement pulls me back to my current moment. I’ll think about the other memory later, I say to myself. I leave the window flap open and wait for lift off.

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Part II – Don’t Eavesdrop

From the Business Travel Log

Part II – Don’t Eavesdrop

I dropped off my rental, boarded a bus and rode to the terminal. I printed my boarding pass and started my prep for security.

First, I removed suspenders, watch, wallet, keys, change, bills, glasses, phone and threw all in my backpack. Next, I breezed right through security check. After restoring suspenders, wallet, watch, etc., to their proper place it was time to find a coffee shop.

Now I sit at my gate, sipping my coffee and i read. Two young adults dressed in business attire sit in the two seats to my left.

“What time do we meet with the senator?”, the young lady asks her colleague.

I tell myself, Don’t eavesdrop.

“Eleven-Thirty”, her colleague responds.

I tell myself, It doesn’t matter how loud they talk. Don’t eavesdrop.

“We really need support”, the young lady continued.

I tell myself, Okay, eavesdrop.

“We need the funding”, the young man remarks.

My ears swell.

“What are you guys taking about”, says a gentleman, closer to my age, who just walked up to where we were seated. “I could hear you halfway down the concourse.”

Now I wanted to turn my head and see how blush both of their faces were. Nonetheless, I kept looking at my phone. The chatter ended.

“Good morning passengers, Flight Ninety-Four to Reagan-National D.C. is ready to start boarding…” boomed over the intercom. Disappointed, I put away my phone, grabbed my roller bag and fell in line, right behind the two chatter boxes and their older colleague. The whispering begins.

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Part I – Conditioning

From The Business Travel Log

Part I – Conditioning

The large, gray, four-legged creature darted out of the shadows into the wash of the street light. Fortunately I was obeying the 15 mile per hour speed limit at my apartment complex. Deer love to walk through my complex at all hours of the night.

I take it easy on the main road. More deer may be roaming. At 4:30AM I can count on one hand the number of cars traveling down Mill Plain Road. The highways will be different.

Interstate 84 runs right through Danbury. It’s congested. It connects travelers to Highway 684. Highway 684 runs between Brewster, New York and White Plains, New York. It’s congested. The Hutchinson Parkway, often referred to as ‘The Hutch’, runs through Westchester County . It’s congested and it’s barely 5:00AM.

“It must be a lot of fun traveling like you do.”

“I wish I had a travel job like yours.”

I think about comments like these when I am competing with cars and trucks while speeding down the highway in dark predawn hours. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy traveling but I am conditioned to the hardship of road travel. Fatigue and weariness sets in at week two of continuous business travel. You wake up and your mind says I’m tired of this yet because you are conditioned, you find yourself getting dressed (after bathing of course) grabbing your luggage and heading to the airport.

Blinking lights of white and blue mounted upon the high cables of the Whitestone Bridge signal our exit from the Bronx into Flushing Queens. Off in the distance more lights outline the shape of the Throgs Neck Bridge. My weariness changes to exhilaration. My exhaustion turns into adrenaline. Conditioning and experience kick in.

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Prologue – Up and Out

From The Business Travel Log

Prologue – Up and Out

All the lights in the house were out except one: the light streaming from the 32 inch flatscreen television that sat on top of the tall wide dresser.

One of the many crime investigative shows that crowd today’s broadcast airways was playing. It was 3:00AM. My eyes popped wide open again just as they did at 1:00AM and again at 2:00AM. My alarm was set to go off at 3:30AM. At this point I said forget it, flung the bed covers off my body and sat up on the edge of the bed.

Forty-five minutes later I was showered, dressed, drinking coffee and zipping up my carry-on luggage. It was 26 degrees Fahrenheit in Danbury, Connecticut. White smoke rose from the exhaust of my rental car as it warmed up. Most times It’s cheaper to rent a car at a corporate rate and drop it off at the airport than it is to park your own.

With my luggage snuggly packed in the back of the car I backed out, put the car in drive and was on my way.

Welcome to my post from my business travel log. There will be more to come. I hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned

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Charlotte to New York – Epilogue

Charlotte to New York – Epilogue

Last call for food and drink in the dining car was made in Trenton, New Jersey. A few of us are well past 12 hours of train riding. I’m still in the dining car. I’m still typing with my thumbs. The EarPods replaced my over the ear headphones. My battery ran out. They’re still charging. My battery for writing is running out as well. There are still a few people left in the dining car, all typing on something. Some typing on smartphones like me. Some typing on laptops. It’s peaceful, quiet and the space is half empty giving us typists plenty elbow room to type whatever we want to type.

I wonder what the others are typing about. I know, none of my business. Just curious. I know, curiosity kills cats, no matter how cool they think they are. Okay, I will leave it alone. In any case, this is a nice way to end today’s trip. We have left Newark, Jersey and soon we will pass the meadowlands. It will be too dark to see them tonight. I can imagine them.

I keep listening to “Get Down. The live version, Ohh Yeah, Yeah. Soon I will be staring at the Empire State Building as I make my way from Penn Station to Grand Central. I’ll just go straight up 34th, turn left at Park. My bags are light and the entire trip is just a one mile journey. Because I read and blogged the entire trip, the ride seemed much less than 14 hours. I enjoyed it all. Ohh Yeah. Ohh Yeah. Ohh Yeah. Ohh Yeah.

Charlotte to New York – Part VI

Charlotte to New York – Part VI

travel log for a travel blog

Philly again.

I wrote a poem titled “Train” once while seated on a train in Philly. It was accepted for publication a week later. Therefore, I have an affinity with Philly. On that day I was only traveling from New York to Washington DC. I listened to Miles that day. Today is different. A longer ride, Charlotte to New York. Today I started with Stanley’s “Lopsy Lu” at sunrise, continuously looped with “Get Down” by Eric during the day. Now that the sun has gone down I’m staying with Eric and “Slipping into Darkness”.

I’m still in the dining car. I peep at a young man ordering a soda and chips. He’s wearing 3 different watches on his right arm.

The dining car manager asks, “which of these is a designer watch?”

“The middle one”, replies the young man, “the one with the red face and gold hands; to match my kicks”. He stood at about five feet donned in a sleek, satin black gym suit wearing red high top sneakers with gold colored shoelaces. Indeed the middle watch was red and gold matching his kicks. The other two watches he wore were of a mere silver bracelet and leather band respectively.

“Young man, you look like you got a lot of time on your hand”, said the conductor to the young man as she walked through the dining car, “Hi Mary”, she greeted the dining car manager.

Hack, choke and wheeze went the guy who was trying to drink his beer but just happened to be within earshot of the conductor when she made her comment about the watches.

“You alright?” asked the dining car manager.

“Yeah, she caught me off guard” said the man readjusting his baseball cap. Laughter from everyone, including the young man ensued.

“That was a good one”, I added, “glad I wasn’t mid-sip when you said that.”

The friendly laughter continued as our train pulled into 30th Street Station.

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