After several smooth trips, including notice that for the first time I’ve flown enough miles to earn frequent flier status on two airlines, Texas has proven my downfall.
After flying commercial into San Angelo for our meeting there, we took a chartered Net Jet to Abilene, which is usually an awesome way to fly (no security lines, plane leaves on your schedule, cool rectangular bottles of Fiji water). But strange winds blew into Texas the previous evening.
I’m fairly numb to turbulence and getting bounced around in the air so I didn’t take much notice of it or get too freaked when our fearless beancounter started getting a bleached white look about her.
As we passed over a windmill farm somewhere between San Angelo and Abilene, I was amazed by how incredible it looked from 20,000 feet in the air, sprawling for miles across the West Texas emptiness.
I pulled out my camera to take a photo, and that’s when I realized how bad the winds were. I couldn’t hold the camera steady enough to click the shutter as the plane bounced around. It was hard just keeping the camera pointed out the window, and I gave up after several turbulent attempts.
After a landing that can only be described as jarring, we got off the plane. The gusts were blowing me around, almost knocking me off my feet at one point.
Our fearless beancounter clearly was ill, and the thought of flying in this again later in the day from Abilene to Wichita Falls had her rattled. After a little coaxing, we convinced her that it would be better to rent a car and drive it. Whatever doubt remained about the decision was blown away when we heard reports that 18 wheelers had been blown over in Wichita Falls.
But the beancounter’s conditioned worsened as the Abilene meeting dragged on, and after it went longer than we’d planned, we decided to stay the night, get up early and drive to Wichita Falls the next morning. The fallen beancounter would fly straight home, skipping the drive and next meeting.
But the travel gods struck again, this time in a particularly hateful manner. We found out one of our execs in Wichita Falls had died the night before after a battle against cancer. Clearly this was no time for a budget meeting, so we changed plans again and pointed the honking big Dodge Durango SUV we’d rented toward Dallas, where we’d rebooked our flights to get out earlier. I was hoping to get to San Diego (my next stop) early, work out in the fitness center at the hotel, get room service and catch up on some work.
But it wasn’t to be. This time, the plane had mechanical problems, forcing a three-hour delay while they tracked down a new plane. And when they finally loaded us on board, they realized the food carts wouldn’t fit because this was a “differently configured” jet. So we delayed for another 30 minutes while they moved the food and drinks to new carts and loaded them on board.
And now … now we’re flying west toward San Diego, into an incredible sunset and orange wisps of cloud. Truly sublime. But I’m sitting here trying to enjoy the view and wondering what deus ex machina will emerge tomorrow to thwart my attempt to get home … If only the next misadventure would blow me to the island of the lotus eaters.