Girl Meets West #1: What a Difference a Plane Makes

IMG_0037Some of you are familiar with my series of posts from last summer’s road trip entitled We Went Off. You can go here to start the series and find out a bit about our personal story and why that trip out West was somewhat of a BIG DEAL if you’d like, but the slightly shorter version is that due to work constraints, the classic all-American summer vacation had eluded us until last summer. Naturally, then, we were thrilled when the stars aligned and allowed for another road trip this summer.

In last year’s series, I wrote about my pre-trip hopes of “coming back new.” This year, however, I left for our trip with no expectations, mainly just because I’d been too busy to formulate any. But I was hopeful about our transportation changes; this time around, we were heading to the Southwest via plane and traveling from there via an RV and a rental car, thus cutting down on travel time and ensuring that any possible transmission problems, should they recur, would mainly be the rental agency’s problems.

I do what I can to avoid actually being personally responsible for anything that has the potential to cause inconvenience or long stays on the side of the road.

Anyway, we’d scheduled an evening flight to Phoenix, where we’d reserved an RV for the following morning. This was the first time all five of us had flown together, so everyone was excited when we arrived at the airport that evening. Baby-Girl even wore her pink cowgirl hat, the one acquired on last year’s trip, in anticipation of our journey westward. And at first, the check-in process went smoothly. LCB and the formerly small people made it through everything without incident. I was bringing up the rear, however, and as I passed through security, I noticed my shoes being pulled out, first for closer inspection and then for a swabbing. A moment later, someone pulled me aside and asked me to stand on a mat off to one side. Apparently, my orthotics that provide arch support also offer the added service of doubling as custom-made red flags for airport security. And in a great stroke of luck, further examination had revealed fertilizer on my shoes.

So now they needed to check “the rest of me.”

Y’all, in our pre-offspring days, I flew regularly, but since then, it’s been once every few years. And yet there I was, the only person I could see who was about to get the good old pat down.

Lovely odds, mine are.

While I waited on the mat, LCB made exasperated faces at me, not knowing much of what had transpired. A TSA agent came over and asked if she could do the pat down right there. Personally, I thought this was kind of creepy, especially given that the formerly small people along with, I don’t know, a large roomful of people with functioning eyes in their heads, were all sitting nearby, so I asked for a private area. While we walked over to the sectioned-off area and waited for another female agent to arrive, the agent and I had an interesting conversation. She told me a couple of fascinatingly terrible stories about bawdy passengers and explained that she was taking classes so that she wouldn’t spend the rest of her life doing this.

Believe me, if you’d heard the stories, you’d understand why.

As another female agent approached, she concluded our informative exchange (by exchange, I mean she talked and I gaped at key narrative moments) by thanking me for being a small person and for being, generally speaking, hygienic. Less square footage to search and less stench, I guess.

I do what I can for those working to keep the skies friendly.

After I passed inspection, LCB looked puzzled as I approached him smiling. I grinned up at him and said, “We haven’t even left yet, and I’ve already got myself a little story to tell.” Technically, I now had three stories to tell if you count the two I heard while waiting to be “inspected,” but this isn’t really that kind of blog.

Sorry and you’re welcome.

Minutes later, we boarded the plane, and I have to tell you that I couldn’t create a take-off any better than this one was. The plane taxied down the runway and took off just as the sun was beginning to set, sending a shimmer of gold, orange, and pink hues over the land and the water beneath us. And so we rose higher in the air, westward bound, headed toward all that colored brilliance, right into the sunset like characters always do in any good Western.

Up Next: The RV, Our German Friends, and Why I Refuse To Shop with LCB Again (Bless His Heart)

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