A plane flew to California recently with me hanging on for the ride. Hanging on to an aisle seat is more my thing, but cheapskate.com sold me the ticket and a window seat had to do.
Effectively barred from leg-stretching, lavatory luxury for three hours plus, I focused on drinking in the view from 36,000 feet. I hadn’t flown this particular route (Texas to California via Denver) in nearly twenty years, and recalling the scenery, I blocked all dread of stiff knees and bulging kidneys from my mind.
I located the airline route map and realized I may have a rare chance to view the rational man’s Holy Grail, the San Andreas Fault. This baby, if nature stays its course, will eventually jettison the liberal coast of California, Hollywood, and Bambi H.Q. out to sea. Permanently. How could you fault something for that? I vote name change for old Andreas. Taking off, I grew excited.
Soon I studied lakes, forests and rock formations, imagining what may lurk below and dreaming of trophy book game, buried treasure, lost gold mines, Indian sites, and D.B Cooper.
And then came the Rockies and a breathtaking wilderness of somewhat stable wildlife, slightly polluted streams, and just enough meth labs to keep things adventurous. I salivated envisioning rogue wolves and grizzlies still kicking it down below. Airline napkins make lousy drool rags.
Just west we jetted over a Martian-like landscape I couldn’t place – a red terrain littered with massive stone towers, rock walls, and huge chimney formations jutting hundreds of feet in the air. I anticipated the all-knowing Captain’s voice at any moment.
It never fails. Fly over boring country and the Captain yaps on forever telling you everything about nothing. Fly over something out of this world and you can’t pry open his mouth with a crowbar. And if he does open his trap, why is it everything is on the other side of the plane? It’s a conspiracy, I’m convinced.
Finally, tiny paved roads and microscopic parking lots convinced me the whole thing was something important – Utah’s Canyonlands National Park if you believe the guy across the aisle. I felt less frustrated knowing I’d saved the entry fee. If NASA ever needs to fake a Mars landing, this is the place. Thanks for nothing Cappy.
Next up the Grand Canyon. Quite impressive, but not as intriguing as I’d seen it many times – big hole, rocks, scorpions, lots of snakes… I’d tell you more if 99% of it hadn’t been on the other side of the plane.
Then more rugged peaks, remote forests and raging rivers. How cool would it be to live 500 miles from nowhere? I pictured myself a mountain man, enjoying the simple life subsisting on trout jerky and eagle burgers and sending in the column by carrier pigeon. I searched for the perfect site below, though knowing my luck I’d find it, build the cabin and wake up three days later with a Starbucks next door.
I stared on until Cappy grumbled about seat backs and tray tables. Moments later I found myself at luggage claim consoling knees and kidneys, and savoring my flight. I did however regret not rubbing shoulders with old Andreas.
Note to self: bookmark cheapskate.com.
Tripp Holmgrain is an avid outdoorsman and squinting jet-setter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.