Spend five minutes peeking at Midlife Crisis Crossover and you’ll notice my wife and I do enjoy a bit of travel. We have our annual week-long road trips to other states and time zones, where we can discover new environments and attractions, such as the New Orleans establishment shown above. From time to time we head off to our sometimes annoying neighbor Illinois for geek conventions, and we’ve discussed expanding our scope in other directions. We like spending our respective birthdays visiting other parts of Indiana and seeing other Hoosiers like or unlike us. We may devote a lot of time to screens with entertainment on them, but we place a certain importance on getting out of the house and seeing the world beyond our front door.
However, our family, friends, and longtime MCC followers know our expeditions come with a limitation: we don’t fly. We’ve never bought a plane ticket, we’ve never soared in or above the clouds, we’ve never been across the oceans or even to California, even though we have friends living there we simply must meet before we all die of oldness. By our standards air travel is expensive; the boarding requirements are invasive; you miss all the interesting sights and stops between points A and B; and it doesn’t help that the news outlets love to tell us about all the crashes but they never celebrate the hundreds of successful non-crashing flights that I’m told are theoretically possible and maybe even real.
We’re well aware Superman loves to tell everyone who’ll listen that, statistically speaking, flying is the safest way to travel, but that’s easy to say when you’re so invulnerable that not even actual dying keeps you down for long. For all these reasons and more, we’ve never been in a position to give planes a chance.
In a historic first that will enable our own historic first, Anne’s employer has asked her to travel for business purposes. For a week in November, they’re flying her out to Colorado Springs to carry out work-related duties and do the company proud in an area that could use the help of awesome people like her. They’re covering her travel expenses and accommodations, as you’d hope a humane corporation would do when asking much from one of their own. This trip represents a new level of responsibility and opportunity for her, and I’m sure she’ll do them proud, because awesomeness.
However, traveling cross-country alone through daunting, unfamiliar means is, at this point in her life, not wholly appealing to her. So she asked nicely and her boss says I can tag along. I’ll have to pay for my own expenses to accompany her as a leisure companion (I may have to put in some extra overtime hours to cover my plane ticket, though it’s shockingly cheaper than I dreamed), but to me this represents a chance to put my remaining vacation days to interesting use. For years my normal autumn prerogative has been a one-man “staycation” comprising a week’s worth of TV and computer indulgence at home. I like the idea of switching it up and I really hope I don’t spend the whole week holed up in the hotel doing TV and computer while she’s out getting paid. That’s definitely not my Plan A.
Fun MCC historical note: we last visited Colorado on our 2012 road trip. We’d intended to spend more of Day 5 checking out Colorado Springs in depth, but mechanical issues in the Pikes Peak Cog Railway kept us there nearly all day and depleted our time and patience. This, then, is a second chance for us to do Colorado Springs right. Well, for me, anyway. I regret she’ll be working a bit, but I’m hoping to find ways for her to enjoy as much of the area as her schedule will permit.
All of this is assuming we arrive in Colorado alive, of course. They refuse to let her spend two days driving out there from Indianapolis. She asked. Flight it is, then.
We’re excited in some ways, not so much in others. Between the two of us, we know only what we’ve heard second-hand from other travelers, or from what we’ve seen on TV and in movies. As we understand it, flying works like so:
1. Arrive at the airport at least eight hours before takeoff, dressed only in a paper hospital gown and ankle socks made from Saran Wrap. Don’t bother tying the gown in back because you’ll slow down the crevice inspection process.
2. You can bring three items: one carry-on bag the size of a preteen’s purse with one favorite shirt vacuum-packed inside; your choice of either a toy laptop or an iPad Micro-Mini once they’ve been invented; and another traditional piece of luggage filled only with Goodwill clothing that you’re okay with the airline losing or burning for fuel.
3. Stated departure times are provided for entertainment purposes only. Flights are subject to random delays anywhere from ten minutes to a year. Fortunately every airport is a shopping-mall wonderland.
4. Airplane seats safely hold passengers up to four feet tall. All legs beyond this limit must be folded in half or detached.
5. Passengers with acrophobia or motion sickness issues may wish to bring along a bucket of sleeping pills or Dramamine. Or at least a bucket.
6. During takeoff, if the pilots see anyone running madly alongside the plane trying to confess their love to one of the passengers, the plane will come to an immediate, screeching halt. That’s why there are seat belts.
7. There is a “deal” with airline food. No one knows what it is, but American comedy scientists have spent three decades and thousands of man-hours contemplating this enigma. Sadly, Time-Life’s Mysteries of the Unknown series was discontinued before they could broach the subject.
8. Every flight carries at least one armed U.S. Marshal and up to three villains. Please avoid getting caught in any crossfire.
9. Airplane: the Movie was actually a found-footage documentary. Those who learn its lessons are the ones most likely to survive air travel.
10. Despite any or all indicators to the contrary: enjoy your flight!
…we hope we’re wrong about a few of these. Prayers and kind thoughts would be greatly appreciated during this potentially stressful, possibly life-altering adventure. The trip may validate every single fear we’ve ever had about flying, or we may like it so much that we become flight addicts and start revisiting impossible dreams such as European tourism or the San Diego Comic Con. Updates as they occur, right here on MCC.
For us, this November…
EVERYTHING. CHANGES. FOREVER!
(That proclamation might sound cooler if you imagine a stern orchestra and some explosions in the background.)
(Wait, whoa, scratch that. No explosions while we’re talking air travel. Please envision some joyful flying Disney critters instead.)