Remember waiting at the gate to pick up someone or see them off at the airport? Flying somewhere used to be an adventure, a journey I looked forward to, but those days are long gone. So much has changed in the way we travel. Unless you have a ticket to fly somewhere, for example, you aren’t allowed past the security checkpoints. Now we must say our goodbyes to friends and family before they go through the screening stations two hours prior to their departures. Forget watching the plane back away from the gate and waving your final goodbye from the terminal windows as you watch the plane take off and fly out of sight.
Airports have always been a great place for people watching. That hasn’t changed. When cell phones first came out, it seemed that everyone was talking on one. These days, heads are turned down, silently focusing on smart phones, texting or surfing the web. At least, it’s quieter than before. Of course, there’s still that one person shouting on their phone in the waiting area. Gadgets are everywhere. The airports even have charging stations now for all those phones, tablets, and computers.
Two days ago, I traveled from Washington state back to Colorado. Four airports, three planes, and nine hours later, I arrived in Durango. I had woken up that morning at 5am, made sure I had everything packed for my trip, and put everything else away in storage. I arrived at the Bellingham airport almost two and a half hours before my scheduled flight. By the time the plane had landed – after layovers and delays – it was about 1am the next morning. I had been awake for nearly twenty hours.
The next day, I slept in until 9am, then took a two-hour nap that afternoon. I rarely nap, so I knew my body was rebelling against the abuse I had put it through the day before. Exhaustion refused to leave me, so I called it a day at 8pm and went to bed. Keep in mind that I lost an hour from traveling, so it was really only 7pm according to my body. I haven’t gone to bed that early since I was a kid.
Today, I woke up a little earlier and was in the shower by 8am. The warm water eased my aching muscles. Sprinting across two major airports for a collective 77 or so gates between flights was quite the workout. I can still see those smarter travelers whizzing by me with their clever wheeled suitcases while my heavy backpack tugged on my shoulders and slowed me down despite the moving sidewalks that hurried me along. Next time, I’ll be smarter than those other travelers – I’ll check all of my luggage and carry just my laptop and a purse.
After my shower, I enjoyed a hot cup of coffee outdoors. The familiar whistle of the Durango-Silverton steam locomotive as it pulled out of the station brought a smile to my face. I imagined the tourists who would enjoy their ride on the vintage train. The amazing view of Ponderosa pines surrounding the porch was breathtaking, so I remained outside until the thunderstorm began.
While it’s not my beloved rainforests of Washington state and the skies do lack the distinctive squawking seagulls so dear to my heart, Durango does have a certain charm.
Photo: Airport scene from the movie, Sleepless In Seattle