Truthbutter

Time Traveling

 

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In most travel blogs, the actual flight to a destination is probably allotted a sentence or two. Perhaps a whole paragraph if the guy sitting next to you drooled on your shoulder while he slept.

Not here, my friends. No, you get an entire blog post devoted to my flights, with all the gory (boring?) details. Getting there is half the fun, right? I mean, you aren’t just flying (which is pretty amazing in itself); you’re time traveling.

Time Hop #1: 3 hours into the past

Until today, I had flown perhaps 4 or 5 times in my life, always to Connecticut; not exactly extensive flying experience. My flight this morning from RDU to LAX was my first flight alone, and my first foray into another time zone.

Waiting to check in

Waiting to check in

Obviously I was excited for my trip, but I was actually excited about the flight itself too, because it was still such a novel experience. So it caught me off guard when I started getting crazy nervous after boarding the plane, before take off. My heart was pounding, I was getting a little lightheaded and queasy (dang sympathetic nervous system), and I was sipping water and nibbling crystalized ginger like a maniac. (Water + ginger is my go-to for a nervous stomach. Highly recommend.) I was also jamming to Ice Ice Baby on repeat, which is apparently another one of my strange coping mechanisms. (Trying to follow all the words is a good distraction, because there are a lot of them.) This was all very unexpected, because I’m not usually afraid of flying. I guess it was probably just the anticipation getting to me.

Requisite airplane selfie

Requisite airplane selfie

It didn’t help that the engine used to start the other engines wasn’t working, AND the backup starter wasn’t working. Technical difficulties involving airplanes never give you a good feeling. But once we were finally racing down the runway, my body decided that this was a much less threatening situation than sitting in a quiet, stationary object, and calmed down enough that I could actually enjoy the roller-coaster feeling of takeoff.

All in all, my first flight was rather underwhelming. The plane was far older and uglier than I was expecting, and the flight itself ended up being extremely turbulent. It also didn’t help that I had to work, instead of relaxing and being excited about my trip.

But there was one part of the flight that was incredible. After a really jarring bout of turbulence, we suddenly broke through the clouds, and I could see the ground really well. I realized that I had never seen this part of the country before, and it was quite a bizarre feeling. It’s one thing to travel to a new, unfamiliar country (Australia, let’s say) and feel awed at seeing a place you’ve never seen before. But it’s another to live in a country your entire life, memorize its geography about 3 different times, learn the state’s names in alphabetical order, and just generally feel acquainted with it; and then  look down all of a sudden and see part of that country, IN PERSON, that you’ve never seen before.

The desert was my favorite part; I think we were flying over Arizona

The desert was my favorite part; I think we were flying over Arizona. Pictures don’t nearly do it justice!

I don’t really know why that seemed so significant to me, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been the same if I were driving across the states. Something about seeing it from above made it feel as if I had somehow dove into a map of the US Magic School Bus style, and then it came to life and I was actually there.

Anyway, enough of that. Here are more mediocre airplane pictures (I took way too many because it was so beautiful in person!), and then on to my second flight!

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I really wish I knew which part of the country this was.

 

This was soon before landing in LA.

This was soon before landing in LA.

It's always neat to look out the window when the plane is banking towards your side!

It’s always neat to look out the window when the plane is banking towards your side!

 

Time Hop #2: A day into the future

After being more than ready to get off my first flight after a couple hours, I was dreading my 15-hour overnight flight. But let me tell you: it was amazing. I actually wrote this next part while on the plane (I had 15 hours to kill, after all), so…cue tense change!

This plane is huge. It doesn’t even seem like it should be able to get airborne, really. We also just passed a couple double decker planes while moving to the runway, and those seem even less like they should be able to fly.

The plane!

The plane!

Anyway, this plane has a map that shows where we are on our route, which is so cool. I wish my last flight had that! There’s nobody in the seat next to me, and there’s a really nice older Australian man in the aisle seat of my row of 3 (I have the window).

Taken by the nice Australian man

Taken by the nice Australian man. Too bad he didn’t get my neon checkered pajama pants in the picture.

When I got on the plane, the cabin was lit up with purplish-blue lights, and they were playing smooth jazz. SMOOTH JAZZ, people. It felt so luxurious and swanky. And did I mention the plane is HUGE?

The massive purply-blue airplane cabin

The massive purply-blue airplane cabin

Also, the flight attendants and everyone over the intercom have Australian accents, so I can’t help but smile every time the announce something. They also had an awesomely cheesy animated safety video with MORE Australian accents. Boom.

Me, the sleepy airplane zombie.

Me, the sleepy airplane zombie.

I can feel myself becoming incoherent since I’ve been awake for almost 24 hours now, and if I stay up any longer I think I’ll probably just start putting “boom” after every sentence. So I think I’m going to fill out my incoming passenger card and then go to sleep.

Boom.

Well, it’s about 12 hours later, and I actually slept! Thankfully the red-eye gods were smiling down on me, and the seat next to me stayed empty, so I could sort of stretch out/curl up on the seats and fall asleep. I think I actually slept for 8-9 hours, and although I woke up a bunch of times, I feel pretty good! I’m definitely going to be sore today, though.

Even though this flight is more than twice as long as my first one, it’s still a billion times better, mostly because the plane is awesome and the people are Australian. They also have this “free entertainment” screen thingy where you can watch movies or listen to music, and they had Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Night. Made.

I’d been wanting to watch that again ever since I watched it the first time in the theatre. So I finished watching that, and now I’m just hanging out for the last couple hours of the flight! I wish I could see out the window better. The stars are really pretty, but since it’s somewhat light in the cabin I can’t see them very well.

They just finished serving breakfast, and they actually had something tasty I could eat, which was a nice surprise! Scrambled eggs, potatoes, chicken sausage, a tomato, orange juice, and some fruit – not bad for airplane food! And easy to avoid gluten by just not eating the muffin.

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Now we’re closer, and I wish a picture could capture how beautiful the view is, but it can’t, so I’ll just have to use words. The horizon line is pitch black and stretches flat around us as far as I can see, and most of the sky above it is still muddy and dark. But directly outside my window, the sky above the horizon is bright red. The red fades into all the colors of the rainbow – orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue – and then the rest of the sky is still dark and I can see the stars. This view definitely makes up for the lack of a bed last night.

We’re finally flying over the city, and I think this view is even better than before. I’m glad I was looking out the window, because it’s like the ocean suddenly ended and the stars began, except this time the stars were on the ground instead of in the sky, and they were rainbow-colored instead of, well, star-colored. I know that sounds overly poetic, but seriously – the view is amazing. I tried to take some pictures, but there’s almost no point. You’ll just have to fly over a coastal city (preferably Sydney) at night sometime to get the full effect 😉

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We’re about to land now, and they’re showing us a video with instructions on what to do once we land. First, they gave us “Handy Tips.” Now, they’re giving us “Handy Hints.” I think I’ve seen Australians use the word “handy” more times during my trip-planning and this flight than I’ve seen Americans use in my entire life.

I love Australia.

 

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