More times than most, you get on a flight and everything goes according to plan. You get to the airport with plenty of time to spare, the flight boards and takes off right on schedule and you don’t have to rush to make your connection at the fly through destination. This was one of those flights. My trip took me from Indianapolis to San Francisco via Phoenix with no trouble whatsoever. Of course, it does kind of make for a boring story when you’re writing a blog about airports, but I’ll never complain when things go right. I did manage to be seated next to someone with questionable hygiene but other than that, all went well.
No fault of the airlines or even the flying universe in general, but when jumping multiple time zones like I did during this trip, I am left constantly hungry. I always eat a good breakfast regardless of where I’m going, but for the west coast jumps I can never seem to get satisfied. Because of the short turnaround time for my connection, I was not able to grab more than a yogurt parfait in Phoenix. That was enough for the second leg of the trip, but as soon as I landed in San Francisco I was starving. I learned on this trip that the morning commute north into SF is not too bad which is surprising. This allowed me to get breakfast at one of my favorite go-to’s, the Brioche Bakery & Cafe on the corner of Kearny and Columbus. It’s a small place but good food and great coffee. It’s outdoor seating also lets me pretend to be back in Paris so that’s a plus.
The nice thing about west bound flying is the lack of time it takes away from your day. Since I had a few hours to kill after landing, I wandered around the city which is a favorite activity of mine even in places I’ve been multiple times.
From the financial district, I looked west and saw the Coit tower, a historical landmark I had not yet visited. A quick Google search led me to the Greenwich Steps that take you directly from Embarcadero to the tower. It was a nice, breezy day so I figured a few stairs would not be an issue. Like many times before, I was wrong. Although walking through the wild flower lined staircase that passed many beautiful residences was charming, doing it in a suit while carrying a shoulder bag is not recommended. Four hundred steps later I was at the top. I was a sweaty mess but the views and the sense of accomplishment was worth it. I had plenty of time to cool off before my first meeting but I would advise avoiding this activity for the business travelers who come after me.
Northern California, especially the Bay Area, is a fascinating place. The many different areas to explore, the cultural diversity and the abundance of different food options makes it a great place to visit. On this particular trip, it was the amazing temperature differences around the Bay and in subsequent cities that I found interesting. In SF it was 70 and breezy with cool winds coming off the ocean. In San Jose and the East Bay it was hotter but still tolerable since they do not suffer from the humidity we have back in the Midwest. In Sacramento and Davis, it was scorching and felt like I was Clark Griswold walking through the desert in search of a gas station! The amazing differences that just an hour in any direction makes is beyond what us in-landers experience. That’s just another one of the things that I love about this area and will keep me coming back.
I ate at my first Cambodian restaurant near my hotel in downtown Oakland. Basically it’s just Thai food that is a little less spicy. They did have a good amount of vegetarian options that I try to eat more of when traveling. In the restaurant, there were a group of six or seven twenty-somethings at the table behind me. People watching is my thing but people listening can be just as fun. With this group (and the size of the place) made it impossible to not eaves drop on their conversation. The word conversation should be used loosely because it was essentially one guy and six audience members. I didn’t catch it all but according this self-titled renaissance man, in college he stopped a multi-million dollar text book company from illegally operating in the Berkeley dorms, he caused Trader Joe’s to have to change a product name because they weren’t technically “potato chips”, he has been on NPR, in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other publications for his hobby of photographing post offices, and he enjoys playing some game called “sticky pants” which I left before learning the full scope of the rules. Anyway, I’ve heard my fair share of bull-shit and bull-shitters over the years, but this guy tops the charts. He looked to be about 15 years old but had his friends in awe with his never-ending stories.
The trip overall went great. I was able to spend time with a new friend and one of the two people on the planet who have ever read my dissertation. I also got to ride the BART system for the first time which is another dorky habit I enjoy exploring. My journey ended on a Friday evening red-eye back to Indianapolis which is given that name for a good reason. It departed at 12:30am and was full. The flight was great with the exception of arguably one of the world’s biggest douche-bags sitting in the window seat of my aisle. He was friendly enough but listening to techno music that bleeds out of your over-sized headphones, wearing sunglasses on a midnight flight and having to use the restroom four times from San Fran to Dallas places you in the category of douche-baggery. I’m pretty sure he was using the lavatory as a make shift pharmacy but I couldn’t prove it nor did I care. At least when he got up he would start by saying, “dudes, you’re going to hate me but…”; I guess that’s better than nothing.
The second leg out of Dallas was a little more interesting seeing that we had to wait on the tarmac for an hour while a thunderstorm went through. I slept mostly but because of our wonderful jet stream, heading east after a large storm moves pass means that you have to fly through it eventually. In the first half hour into the flight we experienced some significant turbulence which doesn’t usually phase me but something (I still don’t know what) popped in the cabin which jolted me instantly awake. Again, I don’t get shaken by much but afterwards the smell of smoke engulfed the cabin sending some people into a panic. The poor woman in the exit row was losing it and trying to get the attention of the flight attendants making everyone else around her more uneasy. There never was any announcement from the cockpit and I’m here writing this today so apparently it wasn’t anything big. Either way, I was wide awake afterwards and ready to get home quickly and safely.
Thanks to the Bay area for another wonderful time. You continue to prove why it costs so much to live there! Until we meet again…DPW.