a hard day’s night

I normally spend the week of the fourth of July with friends at their home on San Juan Island in Washington. Times for flights seem to have become increasingly worse, while the fares have gone up quite a bit. There are fewer nonstop flights, and there are rather too many red-eye return flights to boston.

Finally, I managed a pair of nonstop one-way flights: JetBlue westbound leaving at 6:10pm, and Alaska airline returning at 8am or so, a week later. And perhaps not surprisingly, when I actually bought these, the price was $125 less than the same fares were the day before. But never as low as they used to be.

Generally, it was a day of delays, made more pleasant by IMing with various friends – my thanks to Nik, Adam, Andrew, Nathan ( special thanks for the youtube video of the 7 hour plane delay), Ondra, Karl Otto, Lars Ivar and perhaps others.

I left work early to make sure I had enough time – finding a taxi is rarely easy, and one never knows about the lines in security.

Somewhat to my surprise, I found a taxi quickly and it was a short, 10 minute ride to the airport. I’d checked in online (after having received an email reminder from JetBlue) and had my boarding pass, so went immediately to the ‘Bag drop only’ line… where I waited for 20 minutes.

My bag was taken, and the agent noted that my 6:10 departure had been delayed to 8:23, boarding was at 7:50, have nice flight, and Next In Line, Please.

The terminal was mere moments away, and security was quick for me and my giant camera bag. I guess they’ve figured out what lenses look like. Some passengers had a rather thorough patting down, which I didn’t quite understand, but presumably a buzzer buzzed and that was adequate reason.

Much to my surprise there were a plethora of outlets, and as I plugged in with my back to a sunny day, I was happy I’d gotten a matte screen on my macbook pro … I could actually see! Another fellow sat down next to me, waited an inordinate amount of time for his laptop to start up (mac starts up immediately, from sleep), and then spent several minutes adjusting his position and that of the screen, but gave up and moved to less sunny spot.

I wandered off to find my gate in anticipation of boarding at 7:10, and after wading through a sea of youngsters tossing around small beach balls provided by the staff, I was welcomed to the “youth volleyball entertainment area” by a smiling JetBlue agent. Bad weather across the country had made quite a mess of travel, and they were doing what they could to keep the kids happy.

Turns out, however, that the plane for Seattle had not yet left New York, but had left the terminal there, and *might* be arriving in Boston in time for boarding at 8:30. Gates were changed and stories of delay exchanged between weary travelers as we waited, and then eventually boarded at 9:10.

Around 9:30, we taxied out… and then taxied back to a gate. The pilot explained that the lavatory sensors indicted full, even though they’d been apparently emptied. We left again – with no further explanation – around 10, and were finally airborne by 10:15 or so, with an expected 5 hours 45 minutes in the air.

The flight was uneventful except for some minor turbulence. I managed to consume a reasonable amount of water; the older couple seated next to me instead managed some gin and vodka.

Arrived at 1:30am and met up with my friend John – a roommate a MIT years ago, and we waited for my bag, which arrived without significant delay. Then it was off to Bellevue (near Seattle), where the first order of business was to ensure wifi access. John has a pair of wireless routers since one is inadequate for complete coverage in the house and uses a MAC address filter for security. My macbook worked after the first router was setup, but stopped after the second was set up. we blamed firmware, and called it night.

I ended up in the room of the four-year old – pale blue, and surrounded by stuffed trains and the like.

Then the next morning it was time to go shopping and head up to San Juan Island.

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