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8/4/2012 - My Summer Trip

I just returned from a 17-day trip to sunny California.  Not the California that we easterners envision (the gleaming cities of San Diego, LA, and San Francisco) but the rugged northern areas around Redding and Yosemite National Park.  The vistas at Yosemite are mind-boggling, and the air is REALLY thin up in the Toulumne Meadows!  As I climbed the rugged stairs leading to the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls (not in the Meadows but in the lower...but still high...elevations of the Yosemite Valley), gasping for breath, I looked out over the majestic valley in total awe.  What wonders!

My trip home from California was unbelievable as well.  I flew a major airline (it starts with a "U") and I cannot understand how they stay in business.  The delays (not the layovers) amounted to an excess of 6 hours.  And, I was a lucky passenger!  At first I was mildly irritated.  Then, angry.  But, let me tell you what I discovered that made the "wasted" hours worthwhile.  People.  I found friendly, interesting people.  I talked with an elderly couple from Washington DC.  She was a former music teacher; he, a retired military band member.  Their son was a professional French horn player in a metropolitan orchestra.  They were friendly, interesting, kind, thoughtful, and open.  Then, as I waited, seemingly with no end, I chatted with a young lady whose dad was in counter-terrorism.  She was energetic, enthusiastic, and excited about what was ahead for her.  Refreshing when you're waiting for the noon flight to leave at 1:30 PM.  (It never left until 3 PM.  I was to have flown out of Dulles at 8:30 AM but missed that flight as the SF to DC flight was 2 hours late.)  Finally, on my little jaunt to State College, I sat next to a 6- or 7-year-old boy, AJ,  from Miami.  His mom and sisters where in a different row, and she coaxed him to talk to me at first.  And, boy, did he talk.  But, I'll tell you, it was the best flight.  He was a real breath of fresh air for this weary traveller.  He told of Miami, his interests, and his grandpap's barn, cornfield, and chain saw.  We were on the ground and I was a wee bit sad the flight had ended. 

I don't fly much, and the last time I did, I chatted with my seatmates.  But, this year on the trip out we were all to busy with our iPods, iPads, laptops, in-flight movies, or books to talk.  Thankfully the messed-up flights afforded me the opportunity to discover a wonder even greater than the majestic granite of Yosemite...  people.  Of all the wonders of creation the greatest still has to be people.   

(By the way, kudos to the gentleman at the Customer Service desk in San Francisco.  He was positive, competent, and courteous.  Thanks.)