Sleep eventually comes. Caleb gets up at 6:00 am when the hotel alarm, that he set, goes off. I wait in the comfort of the sheets until 6:30 when mine goes off. Caleb has the bags repacked and in the car. I get dressed, grab the keys, and we are out the door. I feel it start to sprinkle so we don’t put the top down. We drop the car off, grab our bags that seem heavier now weighted down with salt and coral, get on the trolley, and make our way to Terminal H.
It’s after 8:00 when we see that there is no one to check in with at our gate yet. As we were getting tickets we were asked if we wanted to volunteer our seats – we do not. We go on the search for breakfast. We end up with sandwiches from Nathan’s and a free sample of a gingerbread latte from Starbucks. Now we wait while the seats near our gate fill up.
We are sitting next to a group of mothers following their kids to regionals for high school lawyer students and listening to them talk about how laundry is done in their house – with and without their husbands and kids and whether they leave their clothes inside out or have whites or wash their own. Ah, the simple pleasures of being a housewife and following your kids around versus my version of no kids, just dogs.
Boarding for us is quick, we are in row 12 and soon enough joined by a quiet girl about our age who will claim the window seat. Caleb sleeps and I read, but the buzzing sound that he tells me will go away in the air – doesn’t. I put in ear plugs and get some aspirin from the attendant. I might have a headache and ringing in my ears for hours after the flight, but at least I won’t have a migraine.
There are a lot of sleeping faces on the plane and I hope that in our three-hour layover Caleb will be able to get some more sleep at the airport. I will call our neighbor before we leave to let him know we are on our way. We were going to invite him to dinner, but he doesn’t like pizza which Caleb has craved since we reached the island. Perhaps we can get him some lasagna, chocolate cake, and peanut M&M’s.
There are fall colors through the window as we make our descent into Atlanta – traveling is a beautiful thing. There are plenty of fried food smells filling the air when we step off the plane. We try to make our way to the USO, past the Zimbabwe Art Exhibit, but the stairs say Exit Only and we don’t want to have to go back through security. We return to Terminal A where we will find our way to P.F. Chang’s – the only one in an airport – so far.
We order some Californian beers – Stone from San Diego and Anchor Steam from San Francisco along with lettuce wraps, veggie rice, and sweet and sour chicken. I get half of mine to-go and we wait by the gate. We get in line when our zone is called and are quickly on board. I get offered to sit next to an old man – wishful thinking, by a father whom I talked with him and his young son, and by a young sailor before reaching row 40.
The young son has rideable luggage which the dad said is great. He can attach it to his bag and pull the kid and his stuff, but they haven’t mastered cornering yet. They are flying from Ohio to visit family in San Diego. I linger in the view of the clouds for a while and appreciate that this plane has no irritating sounds, only a few cries from the baby in the front. The attendants do the official cart service an hour into the trip and then bring around more drinks and snacks for anyone with the time they have left.
I suppose it has been a while since I’ve been on a flight that long since I’m used to only getting served once. On their international flight they offer complimentary booze. I get a lot of reading done while taking time to stare at the mountains and take pictures through a polarized lens and window that covers the photo in rainbows. As we are nearing San Diego my camera still stays it’s 8:00pm which seems more proper for a sunset than 5:00 pm.
Off the plane and we have to wait to grab the fourth sea-bag at baggage claim as we forget we are back in a large military city. Others were smart to write their names in Sharpie or put stickers around the strap. Ours is the one with the long pink ribbon that the catamaran used to mark our bag for loading. Dan picks us up and gives us food when we get home. We feed the dogs and then go to sleep – early.