Plane Trip to Vermont

So, I get on the plane in Grand Rapids and everything went smoothly. Security was fast and painless and the wait wasn't too bad. I was seated by the guy who makes chocolate covered Carmel's, the kind with the gold foil (I have no idea). Not the Willy Wonka type, but a sweet story
Anyway, somehow the plane landed late in Cleveland, OH and I had seven minutes to get to the other side of the airport. I had no idea where I was going, and being a country kid I just assumed I could get there easily.
So, I did what anyone would do, I stopped at the restroom to deal with priorities. While I'm standing there staring at the wall enjoying the sound of rushing waters I hear my name on the loudspeakers. Who knew I was famous in Ohio. So, I finished the business at hand and hurried the length of the building, down the escalator, through the tunnel with those really cool moving sidewalks (I want to go back and do those again), and back up the escalators where some friendly ladies were calling for me. They're so helpful in Ohio. I didn't have any trouble finding the gate...I was ushered.
I boarded the plane and they closed the doors (kind of like Noah).
Well that flight went really well and I sat by one of the Beach Boys but he didn't want to talk.
When I arrived in Boston I pulled out my ticket to Lebanon (the city in Vermont not the country) and saw that the gate number was blank. If you've ever been to Boston you know that for this country kid this place is HUGE. So I did what any country kid would do....I took my blank ticket to the nearest gate and showed it to them (by the way, those are NOT gates! They're counters with foreign people who speak in tongues). The sweet Chinese girl pointed "that way" and said "nine" (I'm glad she clearly wasn't German). I got to nine and a Indian (dot not feather) person on the phone gave me the universal sign language for "wait a minute". So I waited...ten minutes. When he got off the phone I showed him my blank ticket. He motioned for me to hurriedly follow him. I'm wondering if he can't speak English how he knows what my ticket said. (I wonder if he knows that I'm famous in Ohio?). We went through some doors, down some stairs, and into the utility tunnels. At this point I'm wondering....either he thinks I'm one of the Beach Boys and need a secret escort or I'm in big trouble. I tried to ask which but he had no idea what I was asking and I had no idea what he was saying.
At this point, out of nowhere we were joined by the stewardesses from my last flight who were headed the same place I was. So I wasn't alone, and they actually knew who I was..."you're the guy who was late in Ohio". See, I AM famous! Together with these pretty girls were escorted through more utility tunnels to a series of security doors and finally outside the building. It was too noisy outside to speak because of some looming aircraft parked overhead, besides, who would understand anyway. We loaded into a rusty van and drove across the airport. (might have been faster to fly...that place is huge and apparently those huge aircraft get the right of way).
We arrived at another building and the whole scene replayed in reverse order....in the door, through a series of security doors, through tunnels with pipes, wires, and wet walls, finally to an elevator that emerged in an airport.
The Indian guide pointed and grunted....
Fortunately one of the pretty girls translated "27". We parted ways and I walked to the other end of Boston (okay, I was still indoors but how big can this city be? All they're famous for is tea)
I found 27 and an English speaking girl was at the counter (gate). I showed her my ticket and explained that I really didn't know if this is where I belonged. She proceed to rip up my ticket, took my bag, and asked me what I weigh. I explained that I was only asking if I was in the right place. Then she printed a new ticket with the right information. That was nice of her.
Now I'm sitting in a terminal waiting for a plane that might be running on rubber bands.
Its been interesting, and there is one more flight then a car ride with my wife...I can't wait!
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The flight from Boston to Lebanon was much like the earlier part of the day. I waited about two hours at the gate for my flight. Like any airport I could see "Lebanon. 8:15" on the monitor. Time passed quickly to about 7:55 when Lebanon vanished from the monitor. The way this day is going nothing could surprise me at this point. I made my way to the counter to ask and....waited in line....as the clock ticked by. By five after eight I got to the counter to ask why my flight vanished from the monitor. The girl at the counter just looked at me with this blank stare and picked up her walkie-talkie and called "we have a guy who wants to go to Lebanon, do we still have a plane?" Another lady stepped up behind me and expressed the same desire to get to Lebanon. There was some chatter on the radios and she asked us to stand "over there" and they would find a plane. After a few minutes she informed us that they were preparing a plane and would have a pilot shortly. What a relief that they "found a plane" or that they "found a pilot".
At last they took a total of six of us through the gate, down some stairs to the "emergency exit". I'm thinking with only six of us on the flight we should have lots of space and freedom on the flight....boy was I wrong. They opened the door and walked us past a couple small jets out to this Volkswagen with wings. This thing was a tiny post- world war II fighter plane converted to a people transporter. (okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea) This kid took our bags and opened the engine hood and shoved them inside. I laughed right out loud....he actually put my bag in the engine compartment. We climbed through the doggy door and found a seat.
If you've ever sat in the back seat of a VW beetle you'll know what I'm talking about. At this point I'm guessing there won't be cocktails served in-flight. The kid who took our bags climbed in after us and sat in the "drivers seat". I'm thinking he will keep us company until they find that pilot. In the co-pilot seat is a fifteen year old Chinese boy. These are our "Captain and crew".
They give us some instruction about seat belts and life jackets (that will be helpful as we fly over the mountains) and commence starting the engines. Again, the VW analogy seems appropriate. I've owned a number of those old buzzing, hard-starting, fun little cars...and this was no different. Crank, crank, crank....vroom......dead. Crank, crank, crank....vroom......dead. Crank, crank, crank....vroom......dead. Crank, crank, cank....vroom......vroom......vroom. Hey, it runs! I wondered if we needed to grab the propeller and give it a spin.
The child-pilot held the side window open while he taxied so he could see and to give hand signals to the ground crew. I remember stories in my family of a great uncle who had a plane and if he had too much weight they would tow the plane with a car to help him get enough speed to get off the ground. I was beginning to imagine that now. Six of us plus the two kids driving this thing, plus our bags in the trunk would be a lot for this little air-cooled bug.
It was rather intimidating to drive down the taxiway behind the real aircraft that we should have been on. Those planes are huge and noisy from down here. Finally it was our turn to fly. Amazingly we picked up speed, lifted off, and buzzed like a giant mosquito over the city of Boston. I had the privilege of sitting behind the pilot and watching with fascination as he adjusted all the knobs, levers, and gadgets. The little Chinese boy got to adjust the sliding levers in the middle that seemed to control the speed and angle of the plane. With his hand resting on the levers the boy-pilot placed his hand on the Chinese boy's hand to show him how to feel the movement of the plane. I have no doubt that the little Chinese boy could have flown this toy plane, but he obviously was still learning.
We approached a thunder storm ahead as we got near to the mountains. The boys up front discussed if it would be better to climb over the clouds and storm, or go under. The mountain tops reached throughout the storm clouds ahead but the top of the storm was higher than they wanted to go. So, the pilot began to expertly weave through the midst of the lightning and clouds. As our world turned black from the storm and the plane began to be tossed around the boy-pilot began searching out the windows for familiar landmarks. Then, seemingly not finding what he wanted to see, he reached under the seat and unfolded a map. This might happen every day in real airplanes, but the pilots are usually behind closed doors. This doesn't instill confidence in the passengers.
When Amy arrived at the airport, before my landing, she found a place right out of the Twilight Zone. The building was dark and empty. She walked through the doors and called out for anyone who might be around; she still wasn't sure she had the right place. After some time, a shuttle guy finally arrived from behind a wall someplace, he was headed out for a smoke before my flight arrived. As the plane approached, the terminal lights came on. I had texted her from my flight (I know... bad!) letting her know I could see the runway lights and I would be on the ground soon.
We emerged through the clouds, the plane settled back to normal flight and the boy adjusted the direction back to the predetermined flight path. The remainder of the flight and landing were pretty normal for a flying VW. The Lebanon airport is simply a small shack on the end of a row of lights but my wife was waiting for me with open arms. It was good to connect again and hold her after more than two weeks apart.

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