Viable Paradise: Day -1

Things don’t officially start until tomorrow, but travel can be draining, and I figured it would be a much better idea to arrive a day before to make sure any travel funk doesn’t mess with my experience. The travel was blessedly lighter than I estimated (read: 99% problem free)… and those few pesky issues? They arrived from lack of experience with venues… here’s what I mean.

I live in Eastern North Carolina. Amazingly enough, the timing for booking my flights was early enough that the rates were not ridiculously high (point of note: the usual go-to airport for most of our flights has been RDU, just because the cost, even with gas and usually hotel [for free park & fly] runs less overall than flying out of the local). As I was saying, this time the flight out of “local” was only mildly higher than from RDU. I was thrilled, but it also meant the path to Martha’s Vineyard would be three legs instead of two, with about an hour and a half layover on each leg.

Meh. Not too bad in the big picture.

But life can be full of interesting moments, especially with a (now, today!) seven-month old. Throw in a few social commitments and time shrinks to scarce, so there were a couple of nights I had to be strategic about projects. Compiling most of the HBA over the weekend. Pre-pack clothes on Wednesday. One last weather check and official pack (with adjusted selections, plus coat) last night. I can thankfully say that knowing how I roll, and making decent clothing decisions, I was able to get away with just a carry-on (luggage) and a back pack (“personal bag”).

Now, back to airports. The local was a relative breeze: rolled in at shortly after 6am, dropped off by MC, by 6:30 I was through security and waiting for boarding. By 7am we were prepping for take-off. The problem with some plans is that even “carry-on” luggage needs to be checked, just because the overhead bins are just that small. I was expecting it, so was able to prep the bag accordingly.

The down-side here, was that I hadn’t really eaten anything, so by the time the first leg ended less than an hour later, my stomach was getting twitchy, issuing strike orders if it didn’t get something soon. A long hobble through the terminal and I snagged a BK breakfast combo before pressing on to the gate for my next flight.

Hobble? Yes, an issue that has been going on for almost two weeks that MC thinks may be gout in a big toe.

But between the BK and the gate, I stopped off to get an overpriced bottle of water at one of the shops. (Remember this… this will come back in a minute.)

So, I made it from one end of one concourse to the far end of another one, through the Charlotte airport. If you’ve never been there, it’s mostly a spoke style with concourses radiating from a central area, but once you’re through security you’re golden, everything is connected. (Remember this, too.)

I was lucky enough to be tagged a zone “2” for the flight from Charlotte to Boston, so I was able to board early. The flight was mostly full, so I was able to get on early enough to get my suitcase into an overhead bin. By the time they got to Zone 5, carry-ons had to be checked.

Again, this time the flight was still smooth. I played a little with my gadgets along the way since the flight was actually long enough to make the effort worthwhile, but mostly I read and watched the world go by.

\Then I got to Boston. This is where that lack of experience comes in. I’ve flown in to Boston a couple of times, but only as an end destination, never having to change flights. I landed in Concourse B which is predominately US Air. The last leg of the flight was through Cape Air*. Concourse C.

Remember how Charlotte is like a spoked wheel? Boston’s Logan airport is like a fort, with each concourse it’s own turreted tower. The only way to go between them is to exit one tower, travel through the courtyard then into the next tower. No battlement catwalk as a shortcut or train in the basement. Leave the concourse, hop a bus, then go in and repeat the security screen.

Remember that bottle of water? Hadn’t touched it. I had gotten it so I would have something to help with filling the void before getting to the hotel. I had also planned to recycle the bottle and use it for most of the week for carrying water with me. So, after I checked in for my flight (which included bag weighing and being asked for my weight) and had my boarding pass, I stopped long enough to prep myself for the bag and body scanning that was to come. Which meant chugging the bottle.

After a quick lunch I hung out by a mostly quiet gate waiting for the flight to be called. When it was called, all nine of us lined up against a wall and waited to be escorted to our plane. Nine? Yes, nine. Nine passengers.

For a 10-seater Cessna.

I’ve never flown in a Cessna before. Through most of the flight I thought about how I could relay the experience of the trip. Baggage? Packed mostly in the nose of the plane, with smaller bags stowed in holding areas over the wings. The flight?  A couple of other passengers commented there were SUV’s that were bigger.

The closest I can relate the experience… think of Mario Kart Wii although other racing games may be similar. While driving around the course, especially on the icy tracks, drifting happens pretty easily. Make a turn with the remote and you’re almost immediately turning the other way to compensate. For most of the first half of the flight, that’s how it felt. Like sliding across the ice to avoid the penguins and constantly shifting to stay straight. (The other analogy that came to mind, things hanging from a mobile, constantly shifting as is spins. Take your pick.) Also along the way, thanks to lower altitude, we hit air pockets with greater frequency which meant getting to have that wonderful fluttery stomach feeling at least three times in a thirty minute flight. And it’s propeller driven. It took me a good thirty minutes after landing for my ears to get back to normal.

From there, it was getting all about getting settled in. I met up with the welcoming committee (VP staffers Bart & Chris) that shuttled new arrivals back to the inn. Along the way? A stop at the grocery store!

The inn is designed as a vacation/extended(-ish) stay property (read: has full size fridge, microwave, two-burner stove, and dishes/cookware provided), with limited food opportunities in close range [beyond one restaurant on site, I was advised the closest might be about 15-20 minute walk]. Hence, the grocery run.

At home, I’m spoiled. We have at least five Food Lions, three Harris Teeter’s, a Lowe’s Foods and a Fresh Market within a pretty easy reach from the house. Not to mention a Wal-Mart super center. Bigger stores, wide aisles. The one on the island? Not so big. Aisles were maybe a cart-and-a-half wide (passing was tight, and with in-aisle displays tilted for better viewing…) so navigating was an interesting experience.

The other thing that made the grocery stop interesting was thinking in terms of the stay. Dinners are mostly provided, but breakfast and lunch are on our own (not to mention snacks), so I needed to get enough stuff that could conceivably get me through the week, but not so much that there would be a lot left over at the end of the week (and likely tossed). But I didn’t want to end up not getting enough and maybe have to come back later for more. (And I didn’t really want to get a whole lot of junk food, which would have been nice and tasty, but also a lot less sustaining.) And, it was suggested, to think about things that could be prepared pretty quickly.

And that was the trip. We got to the inn, I’ve gotten settled, groceries are away, and there’s an “unofficial” dinner thing tonight around 7. I’ve still got a few academic things to try and work on before then, so it’s back to the mines.


*Funny story. One of the books I had to read for my Genre Reading class – Final Jeopardy by Linda Fairstein.  The main characters actually take a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. They fly Cape Air. I was already a little prepared for my check-in with them thanks to that book.

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