Traveling by air at any age can be an exercise in patience. But as an old lady with a pacemaker, titanium knee and long-standing fear of flying, I found, on a recent trip, that it requires more than patience.
I don’t know if it’s my birth sign, Capricorn, that makes me uncomfortable when my feet leave Mother Earth, or a harrowing experience circling LAX in a thunderstorm many years ago, but I’m not fond of flying. I’ve avoided small turbo-prop aircraft in particular, as I’d heard passengers have to put up with more turbulence in them than in larger planes.
So when I learned that my granddaughter, who married a British young man last year, was coming to this country to introduce him to friends and family at a reception in Portland, Oregon, I knew I’d have to face my fear or miss the event.
On past trips by air I’ve driven 4 hours to Sacramento, but I wanted to save driving time by leaving from a small regional airport, and I found a direct flight at a convenient time to Portland and back. The only planes to fly out of Santa Rosa Airport are, you guessed it, turbo-props.
I decided to “reframe” the experience from scary to exciting. It would be a new adventure, I told myself. I visualized winging my way north like Snoopy in his Sopworth Camel complete with a red scarf trailing behind. Crazy as it sounds, that helped.
Once at the airport, I knew I’d have to undergo the indignity of being pulled aside for a pat-down, as Santa Rosa doesn’t have sophisticated screening devices. The idea that an 84 year-old, 100 pound female is a threat to the safety of anyone is ludicrous, but I submitted to the ordeal and soon was on my way.
When I arrived in Portland I called my son to pick me up outside the Alaska terminal. I waited and waited. Finally a baggage handler who’d seen me pacing the sidewalk asked, “Do you know there’s another level? This is the upper level. There’s another one down the escalator.” Oh!
I found the busy down-escalator without difficulty, but I was pulling a bag with wheels and carrying another smaller one. Hmmm. With both hands full, I stepped onto the moving stairs where the wheels on my bag immediately caught, and down I went. Fellow passengers ignored me. I was able to grab my bags and get to my feet before the escalator reached the lower level where my dependable son and daughter-in-law were there to meet me. Dirk loaded my bags and me into his car, and we were off for a delightful 3 days. ‘Tis said that “All’s well that end’s well.” And so it was.