That said, I hadn't flown since January 2008, and things have changed a bit--not in the actual flying part, but rather the getting-into-the-airport part. I knew this, in theory, but in practice, holy cow.
I stood in a horrendously long check-in line for a few minutes before remembering that I had already checked in via my iPhone and could print a boarding pass at a handy kiosk just inside the doors. Of course, the first kiosk, after taking my information, promptly told me, "Oh, it's my lunch break, sorry hon," sending me into a near-panic. The next machine, fortunately, spit out a boarding pass for me, and I was able to start pushing and shoving my way through hoards of people...including one very inconveniently-placed news crew in short sleeves reporting how holiday travel really sucked today because of the storms on the East Coast. I nearly tripped on their camera and it would have served them right to have it knocked over.
I made it upstairs to the security checkpoint, and here's where things get crazy. I'm seasoned enough to know that the shoes come off, everything gets put through the scanner, no change in your pockets, watch the belt buckles, etc. I had my Mizunos off, in a tray with my purse, and my backpack and suitcase all lined up and ready, then nervously stood in line and watched the body scanner--which I'd never seen before--doing its thing to a woman with her hands up.
I'm fully aware, most of the time, that being a white woman affords me a hefty amount of privilege in life, but when that TSA guy waved me out of the line for the scanner and let me walk through, I wasn't complaining.
I managed to trip on a few people to get back to the conveyor where my luggage (and shoes...necessary) waited for me. Apparently nothing caused any problems going through, so I grabbed everything before anyone could stop me and hustled off to a nearby bench to put my shoes back on.
The whole security thing left me a wee bit stressed, as did the hoards of people. I don't know why I hadn't thought that the day after New Year's, and the day after the Rose Bowl, to boot, would be a stupidly busy travel day. Add those storms back East, and you've got absolute chaos.
|Watching planes taxi in, taxi out, take off and land.|
|iPhones and Kindles...how did we survive before them?|
|So. Many. People.|
|The one on the left is my plane.|
|Plane coming in...|
By now, I knew my own flight was delayed. It was originally scheduled to depart at 3:45, but now I was getting 4:15 on my cell phone alerts...and then it was 4:50. I was early to the airport anyway, figuring getting through security might be a bear, but I sailed right through that to find myself in a very crowded terminal, desperately needing some Starbuck's or something.
I got a Frappuccino and found a quiet seat near my gate. I sat there a while, then got up and moved around a bit. Sat down somewhere else. Got up and moved around after a bit. I repeated this pattern a few times to keep from going insane, playing around on my Kindle and trying to keep my iPhone battery alive while still texting updates to Dad and taking the odd picture here and there. Eventually, I found a seat near my gate, where a sign told me we'd leave about 5:00 (our original scheduled arrival time in Sacramento), and I stayed there until the flight from Salt Lake City pulled in.
I might have even muttered, "Hallelujah!" to myself as I got up and inched closer to the line-up area for boarding.
I'll say one thing for the Southwest folks at LAX--they were on top of everything, as far as redirecting standby passengers on other flights and helping people get where they needed to go. When it was time for my flight to board, they hustled us along, but they were very friendly about it. They knew we all just wanted to get home.
I managed to find a place on the aisle in row 10, we took off at 5:21, and we landed just under and hour later. My SoCal adventure was done, and I was back in Northern California--home.
Dad picked me up at the airport and drove me back to Lincoln, where Millie let me know in no uncertain terms that it's not okay when I don't ask her permission to travel.
I had a fantastic time this week--I always enjoy my adventures with Summer, and it was great to see so many parts of California I hadn't seen before. But there is truly no place like home, and I slept beautifully in my own bed that night.