April 1, 2008
It took me 15 hours, door to door. Each way. Three flights: the Friday Harbor 9-seat puddle jumper to Seattle, the Very Large Two Aisle Flying Yacht to Atlanta, and then to Newport News, Virginia and all the wonderful musicians and notes that awaited: an extremely long, narrow, claustrophobic tube in which only people of shortness could stand up (that’s the politically correct term these days, I suppose). Yes, the trip and all its flying and between-flight grounding time, was worth it. Having never even heard a concert wind band perform before, much less composed for one, I got to hear my new piece played beautifully by the U.S. Army TRADOC Band. I’m told it went over very well with the players and the listeners, despite my fears of utter ineptitude, and perhaps, an orange jumpsuit in my future if I didn’t do a good job.
A view like this, above, makes any grueling travel worthwhile.
These are just some of the 740 islands that sprinkle the Salish Sea around San Juan Island and its neighbor, Orcas Island. A number of them don’t even have names. Feel free to suggest some, but please avoid Tiffany and Jason. Overdone in the 80’s.
The flights that take me off the island and put me back down on it are the big reward on each end of these long hauls. It’s as though after schlepping across the country all day, someone turns to me and says, “let’s go to an amusement park and ride the rollercoaster and the ferris wheel!”. Despite being exhausted and ill-fed, existing on a diet of peanuts and sugar cookies on the planes, and cheese pizzas in the terminals, I reply, “Okay, let’s!” With each of these airborne adventures I gain a better sense of the dimensions of our planet and of the magic within this particular archipelago. I also probably gain an extra gray hair or two, because much as I love these flights for the visuals, I’m not the biggest fan of being a couple of thousand feet up in something that seems about as aerodynamic as my toaster oven.
When you land on Orcas, which was a nice surprise stop on our way out, here’s what you see:
Thousands of busy travelers heading in and out of the glass and chrome international terminal are just out of frame.
But a few deer and raccoons are.
I’m happy to be back. And in eight days, I get to do the amusement park ride again, on my way to Los Angeles. Hooray for the jet age; it brings me closer to nature every time it takes me far away from it.