My travel home is an adventure in and of itself. The overview is a bus, three airport shuttles, two taxis, 6 different airplanes, 7 airports and a road trip covering 700 miles. All this over the course of 4 days. Throw in a little jet lag just for good measure.
The following is a step by step guide on how to get ditched by your friends in Spain:
The last several days have been a whirlwind of activity. I arrived in Paris Friday evening at 10:30. I had originally planned to take public transportation, but after looking at the transit app and determining I would need to take a bus and 3 different metro lines consuming nearly an hour, I opted for the quicker, albeit more expensive alternative of a cab.
Fortunately the cab wasn’t nearly expensive as I had feared, and within 25 minutes I was at my hotel. I used some of Brian’s Marriott miles to book the Marriott Opera Ambassador hotel. Considering hotels in Paris are expensive to begin with, and then throw in the fact the hotel was 2 blocks from the Paris Opera House, the accumulated rewards points were well spent.
Today I departed for my next adventure; hiking the Camino de Santiago. The trip somewhat snuck up on me. We hosted our season opening pool partyover the weekend. Between prep and clean up, the last week has flown by.
Today I finished up many loose ends. I paid a few bills in advance so they wouldn’t be bothersome during my trip. With my Project Manager Keith, we finished up a few repairs and maintenance around the house. One of which, was having a large hole in the side of the garage repaired. More on this later.
All and all it was a good day. The mood around the house wasn’t particularly melancholy, more just the realization I am going to be gone for the next 45 days. Brian arrived home from work a bit early, and the three of us went to dinner. We carried on the usual banter back and forth, all somewhat avoiding the thought I would be departing in a few hours.
We finished up dinner and headed home. I decide I am going to take a shower before my flight since it will be a good 20 hours before I set foot in a full bathroom. I lolligag around, put away a few things, check my email and sit down on the couch to charge my phone.
I’m in no hurry since I still have three and a half hours until my flight. We are all chatting when I get a text message from British Airways. It’s content I find rather peculiar as it is a text questionaire inquiring about my satisfaction level while at the airport. I think to myself, “Odd it’s coming through now, I’m not at the airport yet.”
I ponder it for a moment, and then think, “Let me check my flight time again, for the umpteenth time just to be safe.”
I pull out my ticket and much to my horror the flight leaves at 8:35 PM. Not 10:35 PM that I have thought all along. I look at the time, 7:10. Out loud I exclaim, “Oh shit, we have to go.”
With confused looks both Brian and Austin look at me quizzically . I head for the bedroom to change into the clothes I intended to wear on the plane, all the while shouting, “My flights at 8:35!”
I quickly change and do a quick double check to make sure I have everything and we head to the car. We live about 20 minutes from the airport if traffic is cooperative. Generally traffic is dying down by 7, but with Southern California, there are no guarantees.
My heart is racing and Brian manuevers through very light traffic. The worst bottleneck is generally on the 163 south heading into downtown. As we merge on, there is virtually no traffic. We arrive at the airport with 1 hour to spare. I say a quick goodbye to the two of them. Not really the goodbye I had in mind, but it did remove the potential for tears, as I was more panicked than sad.
I rush up to the curb side check in for british air where I receive a look for disapproval. She asks if Im going to London, I confirm, with my final destination of Paris. She informs me I made the checked bag cut off by 5 minutes. She hands me my boarding pass and says the flight boards in 10 minutes. We all know airport security can take as along as a pregnancy term so I’m definitely not out of the weeds just yet.
I run into the terminal and look over to security. Only 4 people in line…. and they are in the process of getting disrobed to go through our most thorough of screening processes (note sarcasm). I make it through security and arrive at the gate 5 minutes before boarding. Success!
The gate area is somewhat crowded and people are milling about. We all board the flight over the next 30 minutes. I find my seat aisle seat in row 34. I wait and wait. All the rows around me fill up completely. I begin to think, “Wow, I might luck out and get this whole row to myself.”
In somewhat disbelief, I keep waiting for someone to barrel down the aisle at the last monment. A few stragglers make it on at the last moment and I figure Im doomed to be sitting next to them. Contraire! They sit in middle seats. As we pushed back from the gate I ask the flight attendent if I have the whole row. She looks at me and says, “barring someone’s TV breaking, it’s all yours!”
At this point I have been texting back and forth with Molli over my near miss of the flight. I have regaled the story of light traffic, barely making the luggage cutoff, making it through security, and then finally getting my own row! She says, “You’re on a streak! Hopefully you bought lotto tickets today.”
As luck would have it, I did buy lotto tickets today! Wouldn’t that be a spectacular cherry on top of an already fortunate day!
Generally speaking, I don’t pay a lot of attention to “luck”. I have found, the more prepared I am for whatever task I am undertaking, the “luckier” I have been. This has been true in every facet of my life. So I have never thought luck was much of a factor. Today, I was indeed lucky, in spite of my apparent lack of comprehension of a simple flight time.
Im off to Paris! Im excited!
In 14 days, I leave to embark on my latest adventure, hiking the Camino de Santiago. The preparation for this hike has taken on a vastly different form than the PCT. By vastly different, other than travel arrangements to and transfers within Europe, I have done little preparation other than packing my backpack.
I purchased “A Pilgrims Guide to the Camino De Santiago”, by John Brierly, but have barely opened. I covered the first chapter or so, but have been otherwise preoccupied and have not been able to dedicate the painstaking hours I spent reading and planning for the PCT. For good reason, this hike is nothing like the PCT.
Unlike the PCT, this hike takes one through many villages a day. Resupply strategies and carrying every single thing you will need to survive is unneccessary. It almost feels I will be slack packing across France and Spain. My base weight for the PCT was close to 23 pounds. For the camino I will be just over single digits, if not, I will be just a touch over 10 pounds. There is no need to carry more than a snack or a meal, and enough water for a few hours.
No this journey proves to be different. This journey feels almost whimsical as I hadn’t planned to be doing it. I plan to carry on through this hike in a similar manner.
In talking with Tony, one of the individuals I am accompanying on this journey, he asked me, “Did you ever get to a point on the PCT where you were able to let go, and just be? Were you able to move outside of time tables and plans and be in the moment for extended periods?”
I did not. I can remember a few instances in which I let go of the past, and stopped thinking about the future. This instances were rare and fleeting. In the back on my mind, I always had the “schedule” in which I had to make it to Kennedy meadows by the end of April. I was to attend a skills class in the Sierra.
This was a valuable lesson for me. For this hike, my only requirement is to return on July 11th. What happens between May 28th and July 11th will be that of letting go and experiencing the moment. To be present in each step.
This will prove to be challenging. I’m a planner by nature.