Sunday, January 1, 2012

Flying, Food, and Getting Home in Time for Christmas

What a busy two weeks. So much for taking it easy over Winter break. I had two trips I had to make beginning the Friday following final exams. I left early from work in order to pack everything, but by the time I got home, there was precious little time to get everything in order before hurrying off to the airport. I forced one stack of clothes and toiletries into my bag and one on my side of the bed, ready for the next trip. The spousal unit was already packed and ready to go, but did not remember to pull my load of clothes from the dryer, so of course everything I wanted to wear was nice and rumpled.
Finally on our way to the airport, I hoped to catch a few minutes sleep, so I decided not to drive. Our flight was a little less than two hours away and it takes an hour to get there. Honey decided we would take our time getting there. Good Grief. I should have driven. I kept my mouth shut so not to make waves, but oh how I wanted to scream. We were going 59 miles per hour – in the fast lane…on cruise control. I had visions of us running through the airport like an old OJ Simpson commercial, only to be tackled by airport security as we hurdled the X-ray machine. Thank goodness traffic prevailed and we got to the airport on time. I did not even have to expose myself to an X-ray or a pat down.
I really needed some downtime and I was not disappointed.  I knew if I stayed home, there would be no rest. There were too many to-dos that would call my name if I stayed at home. It was so good to see my Arizona buddies again. My friends were all in good spirits and missed us too. I did not care that it was just as overcast in Phoenix as it was in Western Washington. It even rained! It didn’t matter. I was there for the company, not the weather.
Michele had us convinced she was preparing for the end of the world. There were cookies everywhere. We found about a dozen or so gallon size bags of them in the garage, in the cabinets, and on the counters. On Saturday, we were going visiting our friends in Mesa and then to a holiday party, so she packed up containers of cookies to take with us and still did not make much of a dent in her cache.
We did not want to leave our buddies in Mesa. We were tempted to spend the night there and blow off the party in Scottsdale. It was so long since we had hung out together. When we left, someone conveniently forgot his LSU cap, so we where able to meet up with them the next day for tacos, drinks and football.
The party was well on its way by the time we arrived. All the Christmas lights and half the partygoers were pretty well lit up. It was kind of like New Orleans, but kind of not. Even though there was lots of drinks and laughter, there was also a bit of agenda going on in the minds of the drunk. It was so entertaining watching one, then another go on about their connections, each trying to one up the next. I was thoroughly interested in the whole dynamics of it to say the least. One couple in particular caught my attention. He thought he was an expert with money and wanted to impress his date by going on about how stocks work. She appeared fifty-something going on twenty-two. At least she dressed her clothes and hair that way. She even had the perky breasts of the young woman she longed to be, but they did not move in quite the same way. I think every host should invite a couple such as this to their soirées.
Monday came too soon and we had to catch our flight back home. We couldn’t stay forever. We had to take a connecting flight in Albuquerque, but all we did was depart, fly a dozen or so circles, then return to Phoenix. New Mexico was in the middle of a heavy snowstorm and the whiteout conditions would not allow us to land. I had to get home, switch clothes, grab my laptop and head for Nashville early the next morning. To say I was stressing was an understatement. I said a prayer and it calmed me a bit to leave it in God’s hands. I was not disappointed.
We all sat in our seats as directed when we arrived at the gate with the promise the flight would return to the air once they had refueled. I was trying to figure the math in my head what time we would have to land in order to meet the connection when a voice from heaven came over the loudspeaker: “There are three people who’s final destination is Seattle, Washington. We need to gather your belongings and deplane at this time”.
Love Southwest. They realized we would not arrive in time to get home that night and booked us on a direct flight, which would get us home only a couple hours later than we originally planned. We arrived home at 1:30am and I had to leave the house by 5:00am, but I was good with that. I landed in Nashville right on time.
I had never been to Nashville before. The folks are friendly and the food is great. I had shrimp and grits at Puckett’s on the first night, and a small taste of all the dishes they serve Grandma’s table style at Monell’s for lunch the next day. I found out one of the more tasty sides was corn pudding. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is not some crazy dessert. It is more like a combination of a casserole and stuffing. The shrimp and grits had a creole flavor without the hot spice to it, but there was something a little different to it as well. It tasted familiar, but never with shrimp. I couldn’t put my finger on it. When I asked, I found out it was fennel. It was really good. Then again, everything was.
My last night there I decided to take a walk and step into the first place that caught my attention for dinner. It was Margaritaville. The food was average, but pretty entertaining for the lone traveler. A cowboy with a sweet voice crooned country songs and twanged up a few classic Jimmy Buffet songs. A pirate on stilts offered balloon creations to guests and television screens showing concert highlights prevented the awkward lonely stare into space when there is no one to talk to. I went to leave when there to my wondering eyes did appear, but a five foot six Elvis with a red and green flashing necklace and a gold manbag in the shape of a guitar. Whoa. I must come back to this town for pleasure next time.
The next day my flights home went on time and without a hitch. I made it home in time for Christmas with the family. Thank you, Elvis. Thank you very much.

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