This morning I awoke with a start. Fumbling for the light, I was relieved to find that it was just 4 AM, eastern time. I had been in the middle of one of those frustrating and impossible dreams that, even while asleep, I had been working feverishly to find the OFF button. I know you know that particular dream feeling.

The dream started when I awoke to find that I had overslept and it was actually 6AM, and I knew my flight was leaving within minutes – in no way was I going to make it. This meant I wouldn’t get to Portland in time to shop pumpkins with the Maxine and Jake River. It proceeded into some sort of weird traverse across an unknown city, using buses that were unfamiliar and seeming to take far too long to get me to the airport where I might yet catch another flight home. At one point I was so disheartened I was crying or sobbing or some such mixture in an uncontrollable way, thinking I was going to miss even putting Jake to bed.

Er… perhaps 12 days is a bit long to be gone. My webcam and Skype help, with evening goodnight calls full of the day’s news , and spiced by Dexter the dog and Annie Brown the cat, all trying to fit into the frame, but my heart has grown fonder once again in this absence, and there is something to be said for that very gift, of course. I made the plane.

A crazy 12 days touring North Carolina with Dave Walters, a man of great energy with a fun project in Balsam Mountain Preserve, near Asheville: then up to Farmington with the usual full days, biking nights and the inaugural concert of the Casparini Organ at the Eastman School of Music; an unreal event of massive proportion in the world of Late Period Baroque Music and Organ Restoration(!), and a short talk on our role there to the conference attendees. Good stuff.

I’ve noticed something about flying. I really like the jetway approach to the plane. This is partly due to its implication that WE’LL SOON BE AIRBORN AND PERHAPS SOON AFTER ACTUALLY GETTING THERE. But I also like it because it is the only place in a day of airports and planes that you can snag some sorta fresh air. Right there before you step into the fuselage is always some leaks to the outside. And it’s cooler, or warmer, or just different than the faux air of O’Hare or the recycled air inside the Boeing 757. I even acknowledge that it’s a bit tainted with jet fuel exhaust at times. I’ll still take it.

Here’s a list of my flying and airport tips, informally:

  • Never believe the monitor; go to the gate anyway.
  • Always keep your phone and laptop charged, even if you think it’s just a short flight.
  • Don’t check bags if possible, or you can’t go stand by, you have to wait at baggage claim, and anyway, you probably have brought too much. Here’s the subtle adder: use soft-side carry-ons, as the typical wheeled affair doesn’t fit overhead in the regional jets, and you’ll be gate checking it, and waiting on the tarmac.
  • Have the airlines’ 800#s with you, so that while you’re in line at the service counter waiting to talk to someone about how you’re going to get to There since your plane just blew a gasket, you can call direct and get that last seat on the next available flight.
  • Have all your frequent flyer #’s as well. When you get shuffled over or have forgotten to register your flight, it’s best to do it right then.

And for the rental car and hotel, here’s a few:

  • Take the train downtown, and rent there. This might save your first night’s rent and parking, plus the airport recovery fee, it’s also eco, more fun, in big cities, less traffic.
  • Don’t park in the hotel if there’s street parking
  • NEVER buy the rental agency’s tank of gas. It can’t work financially.
  • Don’t buy their insurance either, but this one should be double checked for your own situation.: I use an AMEX platinum card, which says it covers, and many homeowner insurances cover as well.
  • Use Hotwire for hotels. It’s unbelievable, and the best of the hotel deal places. Do you really care which 4 star you stay at for the price of a Comfort Inn? (Don’t use it for flights – no miles and no final control.)