Parties in Kino

It was one of those Kino things.
The police Secretario, head of the western part of the state of Sonora, lives here at Islandia. Word came to me one day that I was invited to a party that night: Señor Secretario and his wife were celebrating forty years of marriage with shrimp and crab cakes, and Islandia was invited.
I tried in vain to find an anniversary card for them and ended up going to the event empty handed, but at least I was fashionably (and appropriately, in Mexico) late. The party was just beginning.
Grilled shrimp and grilled crab cakes. Barbacoa. Potatoes. A salad of papaya and jicama. Toasted bread, the Mexican kind, made of white flour and too much sugar. And Indio beer.
Just as we all dived into our food, Xavier arrived: musica romantica! He began with a standard love song, serenading la señora with a song that had a refrain about still being in love with my beautiful wife after all these years.
He strolled the area, strumming his guitar and singing of love, love love. There was even a song I’d heard before, about love, but set to the refrain of “Them Old Cotton Fields Back Home.” Great singing, but the party in the street provided some competition, with its oompa beat and accordion riffs.
Soon the honored couple was out on the dance floor (the grass). She snuggled close to him for a slow dance, her cell phone pressed to one ear. They were quickly joined by the French couple that lives in the park. Eventually almost everyone was dancing to a Mexican vision of “Hang on Sloopy” and more.
The Frenchman, probably about seventy, treated the crowd to some serious ass shaking and even a brief pole dance. Why is it a ma that age can pull this off but a woman of the same age can’t?
In the midst of all this, the cake arrived. “Felicidades!” it announced. Delicious, the frosting made with real cream, and the whole thing topped with strawberries.
I stayed a bit longer and then left with hugs and air kisses around. I was reminded by the Secretario that his house is my house, and he wished me safe travels tomorrow (I was headed north), assuring me he awaited my return in a few weeks.
This is the Mexico I love. Friendly, polite, generous. If I come here often enough and become known through the park, I will throw a party of my own. In my nine nights here, this was the third party I’ve been invited to. The first was hosted by a couple who threw a batch of flounder and shrimp on the grill. The second was held by the French couple who made pizzas from scratch and baked them in their wonderful little outdoor horno, or wood-fired oven. And then, the anniversary party.
If I stay here, I fear I’ll gain twenty pounds.

A Typical Kino Day

Here’s my typical Kino day.
Up at six to make my decaf coffee and get ready for a walk. At six-thirty, walk through town with a friend or two. Stop at La Ramada for coffee (in my case, chamomile tea – te de manzanilla). Depending on who comes in, the stop lasts from twenty to maybe thirty minutes.
Continue walking and pop into a little market to buy whatever I am lacking: limes (limones), potatoes (papas), or onion (cebolla). Finish the walk back to Islandia.
Now it’s time to have that second cup of wowie-zowie decaf and make some breakfast. Typically, that’s a toasted corn tortilla topped with beans, cheese, salsa, and avocado. Two of those guys!
Sweep the floor, wash the dishes, and settle down to a little Sudoku. Then it’s time to pull my chair into the shade of a palapa and spend some time with email and Facebook. Ay!!! Then it’s time for a break. I read or do something else relaxing.
Soon, I change into cooler clothes and walk the few blocks to the water place to get a gallon of water. On the way, though, I have to stop and kibitz with a group clustered in the shade, watching the day’s entertainment: a big truck is attempting to tow a HUGE trailer out of a tight spot. Several people are offering advice while the rest of us, the smart ones, merely watch, shake our heads, and stay out of the way.
Get the water, then head back. Stop in the office to see Marta, but she’s not there. The office is wide open, though, so I go in and browse the book shelves, nabbing a few mysteries to read later on.
Head back to the trailer. I see that the monster trailer has finally been jockeyed out of its space and is ready to move. Chairs, a barbecue grill, and a washing machine are piled into the back of a truck. I kindly offer to let them put the washer in my bodega. You know. Me trying to help. It would lighten their load. No go. Oh, well.
To the trailer. Drink some water. Time for a break!
After a bit, I head out to the patio in a vain attempt to draw a flower. I have found any number of things I cannot seem to draw. Back inside.
Out the door awhile later to take a photo of the waves, then it’s time to sit in the shade and read. Soon it’s too hot, so book and I move inside.
Car rumbles up. Company!! It’s the guy who is going to build the metal roof over the trailer, a little roof to shade it and keep it dry when it rains once a year. We talk, we measure, we take notes. He is going to do all he work for an absurdly small price, but there’s a catch: I have to get to Hermosillo, or at least Calle Doce and pick up the materials. AARGH! I will do it.
Oh, after all that thinking and planning, it’s time for a break.
Read, Sudoku, Scrabble. Then it’s time to make supper. Today I sautéed onion, garlic, chiles, tomato and hot salsa, then tossed in some shrimp. WOW!
Clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, time for a break.
Read, Sudoku, Scrabble. Out the door for some more wave photos. Then it’s time for evening cocktails with friends.
Evening cocktails come in several forms. Often, people gather in the patio area by someone’s trailer. We bring our own beer or wine or whatever, and often take snacks to share. Sometimes, someone has gone fishing and returned for enough fish for all, so a grill is fired up and we all get as much fresh fish as we can eat.
But for me, the best evening consists of tossing some beer into a cooler and heading out to the estuary. We park our chairs in the sand and sip cerveza while the sun slips behind a distant mountain island.

It is a hard life in Kino. Yesterday I had to interrupt a break to ride into Kino Nuevo with a friend. We visited another friend, saw his adorable little house and yard, then sat at Jorge’s drinking michiladas and watching for the ever elusive dolphins.
Yeah, it’s a hard life.

Fall is here!

Fall is here. Finally. She meandered in like a gooseneck stream, cutting back the other direction a few times.
Summer was long. Heat started early and stayed late. I checked my electric bill, and we were averaged four degrees warmer this September compared to last year. The rains started late, but they’ve stayed longer than usual. Our monsoons are usually gone by mid-September, but we’ve had spot storms here recently and more are due this week. This is not typical weather. Thankfully this is a fluke, because of course, of course! There is no such thing as climate change.
But finally, the heat is gone. Some hot may gooseneck back a bit, but comfortable is here, and cool is on the horizon.
Sunday’s rain was a shocker. We’d had two very brief sprinkles, and I thought that was all we’d get. Hopped into the shower to begin getting ready for a four-string concert I’d planned to see. Right when my hair was full of shampoo, a monstrous storm broke. Rain poured, lightning flashed, and thunder roared. Chloe the dog was whining and scratching on the bathroom door, terrified by it all.
I hurried my shower along, not wanting to linger in water during the storm. Suddenly the sound of the storm changed. I looked out the window to see hail bouncing off my car. That’s when I remembered the car windows were down.
The storm was letting up by the time I got out of the shower and had dried. We’d gotten .62” in under fifteen minutes.
My car was thoroughly soaked. No trip to town for the concert for me! I supposed I could have covered the seat with plastic bags and gone on, but I decided not to. I felt bad, but soon I felt worse. Sure enough, the hail had chipped the paint job on my car. Nothing major, but on the hood are maybe seven or eight tiny chips. They barely show, but they’ll rust for sure. I can’t see the roof, but I’ll bet there are another dozen or so there. With my $500 deductible, my guess is I’ll be stuck with the repair.
But, at least fall is here. Days are glorious, in the low 80s, with the next few days expected to be in the 70s. Nights are dipping into the upper 50s – perfect for leaving windows open and snuggling under a blanket.
Roadside grasses have gone the color of straw, their tasseled heads dancing in the wind. The ocotillo are pale green and yellow. Because of the late rains and lingering heat, they’ve held their leaves and some have even flowered a second time.
Mesquite beans have gone dry and have been gathered for grinding. Soon the giant cottonwoods along the San Pedro will change, and that stripe of shimmering gold will be visible from the foothills of the Mules.
I hope fall stretches on and on. Right through February would be fine with me.

Best Laid Plans

I had been warned. If ever there was a time for plans to go awry, this was it.
My plans were simple. I’d leave Tucson around 6:30, heading north, and take the road to bypass Phoenix. Cut over to Wickenburg, have a picnic in the park. North to I-40, zip a bit west past Kingman, then take the road to Vegas. I was off to have a visit with my 96-year-old godmother, and as a bonus would be able to see my oldest niece.
But awry came into the plans, all the while reminding me that I was not really the one in charge of my life.
I actually got out of Tucson at 6:30, but I missed the bypass and had the thrill of driving through Phoenix. Luckily it was early on a Sunday, or I might still be stuck in traffic.
Picnic in the park in Wickenburg? New highway interchanges had been added, and the park was lost on the other side. And I wasn’t hungry yet. So I amended the plan – a picnic in Wikieup, on the reservation. 
I drove through the Joshua trees and got to Wikieup, and there was no shade to be found. High noon casts few shadows. Besides, it was over 100. No picnic for me. Restaurant, here I come.
I bypassed the Wikieup Trading Post, opting for the only other restaurant in town, Luchita’s, which billboards promised would offer a wonderful meal.
Stepping inside, I saw Navajo rugs. And Hopi jewelry. And pottery from Mata Ortiz, in Mexico. What??? What reservation was this? My blonde waitress soon confirmed that Wikieup is not, in fact, on any reservation, nor even very close to one. 
For years, based on its name and the Trading Post, I’d figured Wikieup was the “big town” on some reservation. So much for figuring. Looks like “awry” has a way with all manner of things.
Since I wasn’t on the Rez, there was no Indian fry bread. But lunch was good. Then I braved the heat and wandered the garden. Mexican sunflowers and cosmos were sprinkled under mesquite, palms, and palo verde. And there was a huge free-formed pond, at least sixty feet across at its broadest point. I walked up the hill to the pond to sit on its side and gaze at the lilly pads, and right before I got there I saw this wave ripple across the pond, heading toward me. What??!?
It was a small herd of koi. A covey of koi? In any event, about twenty koi, and they clung to the edge of the pond, mouths agape. Begging. They left, frustrated, when I ignored them.
Back on the highway, then to I-40, where I drove less than two miles before traffic ground to a halt. Hundreds of cars baked in the 100+ degree sun, inching, inching ever so slowly west. The traffic finally cleared up, and right past Kingman I cut north on the last leg to Vegas.
Awry struck again! Within a few miles I was confronted with a huge flashing sign: overturned semi ahead – highway closed in 18 miles.
West to Laughlin, and finally, north to Vegas. The seven hour drive had turned into over ten hours. I arrived exhausted, but so glad to see my godmother. I settled in a bit and we decided to sit and have a glass of wine. Of course when I opened the wine, the cork broke . . . .

The Sewing Project

Humanitarian Border Solutions is involved in an exciting project in Naco, Sonora. We’re helping start a women’s sewing cooperative that will assist unemployed women – mostly women with children – to begin working and earning a living. We’re doing this with the local Naco, Sonora, government and the state of Sonora government, both of which have donated industrial machines or given funds for the machines.
We’d thought the two-month sewing training program would begin in January, but it’s been moved up to October. To receive the training, the women must pay $350 pesos (about $32) and purchase all of their own supplies – scissors, tape measure, pins, needles, and more.
We believe it’s important for people to make an investment in their training, but because these women are so poor, they simply do not have the money to pay for the entire training program and all of the supplies. So we need your help.
For $35, you can sponsor a woman, like Edit, whose picture is above. This will pay for half of her training (about $16.50) and most of her supplies. The women will pay for the other half of their training and the rest of their supplies. We have twenty women who need to be sponsored so they can begin their training in October.
Please, if you can, send us a check today and in the memo line, put “sponsorship.” If we receive more than enough to help these women begin training, with your permission, we’ll use any surplus to pay for utilities in the workshop (which they’re responsible for in addition to their training and supplies). The more we can assist, the more likely it is they’ll successfully complete the training and begin to earn a living.
Please, if you can, send a check today to Humanitarian Border Solutions and note that it is for sponsorship. Make your check to Humanitarian Border Solutions and send it to us at PO Box 1433, Bisbee AZ 85603. Remember, we are a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, so your donation is tax-deductible.
Thank you so much!

A Visit with the Border Patrol

It’s all Alison’s fault.
She shot a video a week or so ago that showed some border patrol agents who had just captured a migrant. She noticed it because there was a helicopter in the air, numerous agents on the ground, horses, and a few vehicles, all on her property.
She questioned, and rightly so I believe, what the cost was to the taxpayer for capturing that one man. She also questioned, and again I believe rightly so, why the captured man had a bloody nose.
She captured all this video and put it on youtube. That’s when the fun began.
There was a flurry of comments, mostly negative, and some even questioning her patriotism or threatening her. Let me say she was a bit sarcastic a few times, but she didn’t degrade the border patrol, the agents, or their work. In one small part, she merely questioned, briefly, the cost. And the bloody nose.
Well, the next day an agent appeared at her door and invited her for a tour of the station. She accepted the invitation and I tagged along.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve been at the station here. I used to have a very good working relationship with the man in charge and a number of the agents. But it has grown so much since I was there last.
The station, built in the 80’s to accommodate about 25 agents, is now surrounded by portable buildings, and the whole mess of buildings accommodates about 350 agents, and stores about a zillion vehicles (including ATVs), a dozen or so horses, and a few working dogs. It also has a mini-prison where migrants are detained until deportation. It is way overcrowded and must be terribly inefficient and difficult to run an operation that is spread out over so many buildings.
The agent, male, a senior agent at the station, was accompanied by a younger female agent, and together they toured us around the site, even driving us out to the horse stalls. Alison and I rode in the back of an official Blazer that was separated from the front by grillwork, just in case we wanted to reach forward and strangle them or something, which we didn’t. Didn’t do. Didn’t want to do. They were really nice folks.
Then, they took us on a border tour, down the border road heading west toward the river. For me this was a bittersweet trip. It was comfortable even though we were locked in the back of a Blazer like prisoners. We weren’t at all treated that way, but still, the feeling was odd.
The drive was bittersweet because I used to drive the border road regularly, all the way to the river, where I’d walk around and occasionally have a picnic. It’s a beautiful drive through Arizona/Sonora grasslands. Cattle grazing, quail dashing about attempting to run five directions at once, blue skies and gently waving grass. The river in the distance.
I can no longer drive that road because the border patrol has put up a secondary wall, about thirty feet north of the border wall, and there is no access to the border road except along a private road, usable only by agents.
So it was good to ride that road again. We passed places I used to stop, and cruised past the area where for years we had the bi-national fiesta: tables of food on both sides of the border; a stage where US folks simply hopped the low wall into Mexico to take their turns singing, dancing, or whatever; and the volleyball net, strung atop the barrier wall so we could play boisterous rounds of the game. Those days are gone now, because the low barricade has been replaced by a twelve-foot steel wall. And, of course, we can’t use the road.
The agents drove us all the way to the river – which was dry, by the way – and we all got out for a few minutes. I almost cried. It is such a beautiful spot, and it’s a place I can’t get to any more because we’re not allowed access to the road. I hadn’t been there in years.
During the tour and on the drive, I got in my three big gripes with the border patrol. First, of course, is the new wall which denies me access to the border road. Second, I got to complain about the helicopter that flies w-a-y too low and sometimes seems about to hit the ground. And third, I got to tell them how many of us were upset that agents drive so fast down residential streets, often blasting down the roads at 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. We were able to talk about each of these issues, and I think they sort of understand about my missing the border road and fears that I’ll have that a helicopter fall into my living room one day. They absolutely agreed about the agents who speed.
In all, I think it was a good tour. We heard them, they heard us. There is still a gulf. But communication is good. At the end of the tour, the agent told us he was at our service. So, smartass that I am, I said I’d like to be driven weekly to the river, and that he should pack a picnic.
He laughed and said I’d have to do with pizza.

Programmed for Paper

I’m programmed for paper.
Both my parents were avid readers, and they raised my sister and me to be the same way.
Our house was always full of books and magazines. As a child, I’d always buy five or more books each summer, read them, and then swap them around the neighborhood, anxious to get my hands on more. More books. More paper.
Also, my dad was in advertising, and one benefit of the job was he’d receive every magazine his ads were in. We probably got twenty-five or thirty magazines each month. I never knew the magazines came because of his job. I thought everyone got them, that houses came with magazines.
So, I grew up reading. I was never one to fold a page down to keep my place, but I’d often lay a book or magazine down, spread open to the page I was on. Occasionally I’d even use a bookmark.
At age sixty-four, I bought an iPad, and when preparing for a trip, I downloaded Kindle and got a few free books. I never read them, choosing instead to pack several books for the trip.
Then, a month later , I had to get my hands on a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s Small Wonder quickly to read in time for my next book group. I looked on line and found a used copy that would cost me only about four dollars, shipped. But it would take about a week for me to get, maybe longer if the shipper was slow. So I took a deep breath and did it: I bought the Kindle version for around $11.
Never thought I’d do it, but I have to say it was interesting. I really liked that I could turn the machine off, but when I went back to read again, it would open to the page where I’d left off. Too many times, with a paper book, I neglect to put the book down properly, and set it instead on its back cover, and it promptly closes, losing my spot. Kindle never forgot what page I was on.
I also liked that I could read at night without a light on! Fabulous. The Kindle is back lit, easy to read in the dark. When I wanted to stop, I’d simply close the cover on my iPad.
But a Kindle is not paper. I like the feel of a book in my hands. I like the smell of paper. I like turning pages, and I like bookmarks. I even like laying the book down, spread wide, holding my place for me.
I usually have a book or in the car, for in case I’m early arriving somewhere, stuck in traffic, or if I see a sweet park or shady rest area and feel the need to read for awhile. Carrying my iPad is just as easy, except I can’t leave it in a hot car for the afternoon as I can an old paperback. I have to always carry it with me if I want a book on hand.
I like that I can leave a book out on the front porch and no one will steal it. Can’t imagine leaving my iPad out for a day or two. And if it rains? Paper is reasonably forgiving, and although the pages may be warped and wavy, I can still read my book. My iPad would drown for sure.
One of the things I like best about paperbacks is finding them used. I can roam the thrift shop or stop at a yard sale, and often as not I leave with a book or two. Or three. And if I enjoy reading the book, I always know someone to pass it on to.
It is such a joy to find a good mystery for a quarter, or even better, for a dime. And it is a joy to pass a book on. E-books will sit on my iPad forever, or at least until I delete them, but I’ll never find one at a yard sale, and I’m not about to loan out my iPad for a week so a friend can read the book. I’ll never find an e-book for a dime.
I like the look of a bookshelf covered with books. I love to go into the home of a friend who is a book lover. I gravitate to the bookshelf, gazing at titles, pulling off interesting books, negotiating a loan. How do you do that with e-books? They sit on a tablet. They don’t line a shelf, leaning to the side or propped up with a brick or a vase or a pile of books stacked on their backs.
Something is lost with an e-book. True, you can carry a dozen or so books in one small tablet. Or a hundred if you so choose. But to touch a book, to finger the cover, to flip it over and read the back cover nurtures my soul. In a moment I can keep the book or put it back, based on holding it in my hand and seeing if it speaks to me. To pick up a book that someone else has read, see the worn pages and read notes someone else has written in the margin feeds me in a way the pages of an e-book never could.
I fear the day there are fewer of those dime and quarter books in the thrift store, fewer because people are buying e-books. I’m sure book publishers fear that, too.
I also fear our children will not learn to love books and magazines and newspapers. One of my earliest memories is of “helping” my dad read the paper by pointing out the few words I knew. I was three, and I would pick up his newspaper, scanning for “the” or “and” or “to.” I’m sure that can be done on a tablet, but part of reading a paper is folding it, arranging it so the story I want to read is centered in front of me.
I enjoyed Small Wonder. I found I could highlight sections of the e-book – and some mysterious popup would sometimes happen telling me that three others had highlighted the same section. That connected me, in a way, to other readers. But it’s still not the same. I want that book on my shelf. I want to loan it out and have it come back. I want to touch the paper, smell that delicious book smell, and lay it down spread open to save the page I’m on.

Mountain Driving

Oh give me a home
Where the buffalo roam
And the deer and the antelope play

My godson suggested that I not leave Taos by heading east, into Raton, NM. He said it would be easier, and faster, to get to Boulder by heading north from Taos and then cutting east. He pointed out that HWY 64was a narrow winding road that went way up into the mountains. Sounded great to me! I ignored his advice and took HWY 64.
Up, up, up. Then the sign: road narrows. My kind of sign; keeps out the riffraff.
Squirrels and chipmunks. Deer. Deer, playing. I lowered the windows so I could breathe in the delicious forest. Made a few stops to walk and simply take in the beauty.
Up in these mountains, signs of drought were everywhere. Grasses were tan, not green. There were streams, but they didn’t run down the mountain. They meandered. Way up, around 8500 feet, there was a beautiful lake. It was clear the water level was low. Then I saw the proof – a twenty foot dock that ran out from the shore and never touched water. 
Down out of the mountains into the high llano, the high, flat grasslands. I glanced to the left. Slammed on my brakes. Yep, those were buffalo!
I quickly parked and grabbed my camera. As I approached the little herd (they were on the other side of a fence), I noticed they all had ear tags. They were destined to be burgers one day. Unlike in the song, they weren’t roaming.
A large bull watched me approach. He and the other bulls began to move away from me, driving the females and calves away. Then the big guy turned his back on me, just as I was in position to get a good photo. That’s when I noticed what was actually happening. The bulls remained closest to the road and the females were farthest away. Between them were the oblivious calves who continued to romp and roll in the dust. However, they were safe, completely encircled by the adults.
I took a few shots (camera!) and then headed on down the road. Looked to the right and hit my brakes. Yep, it was an antelope. Not playing, as the song had suggested.
I slowly emerged from my car, camera ready, but this antelope was skittish and wouldn’t let me get close. He’d graze – or attempt to – while keeping watch and easing away from me. He kept trying to find something edible, pawing repeatedly at the dry grass in an attempt, I suppose, to uncover a more tender root. He was completely frustrated, unable to eat a thing. I had to leave before I became completely depressed.
East to I-25, then north. Massive mountains were to my west, and I realized how tall they were when I remembered I was already at about a 6300 foot elevation. Miles later I came over a hill, and there in front of me was Denver. More massive than the mountains, it spread for miles and miles.
even with five lanes, traffic slowed to 30-40 mph and I couldn’t wait to get past the city, off 25 and onto 36 up to Boulder. 
Finally! Onto 36, the last 12 or so miles ahead of me. And traffic came to a dead stop. Accident up ahead. I eventually got past it and into Boulder.
Whew! I was sure ready for dinners and a good night’s sleep. Got both. 

truth or Consequences

T or C
I am at one of my favorite places: the banks of the Rio Grande. And it is my favorite time of day, dawn.
Dawn comes later here than in Arizona this time of yer because Arizona, wisely, does not subscribe to the now pointless Daylight Savings Time ritual that drives the ret of the country  crazy twice a year. We have another lovely day while everyone else moves from room to room resetting digital clocks.
At Cochise College, where I worked before RETIREMENT, though, it was not so easy. The college decided to purchase wildly expensive clocks that were controlled by some master timekeeping machine in Colorado. Colorado, of course, follows Daylight Savings Time, so twice a year, can you guess what happened? Yep. Every clock on campus automatically changed time, and the maintenance guys would have to roam the buildings for days, resetting each clock.
But I digress. I am in downtown Truth or Consequences at Riverbend Hot Springs. The town has not yet come alive since it’s not even six o’clock. I have the river almost to myself. I share it only with a few early morning birds and one lonesome bullfrog.
I have been coming to this wonderful place for years and I love it a little more each time I visit. The owner of Riverbend has constructed a deck that hangs out over the river, so of course that is where I sit, rather than further back from the river on the flagstone patio. 
It is a delight to sit here in the morning chill after yesterday’s scorching 100 degree weather. Lacking cool weather clothes, I’ve had to wrap a towel around myself to keep warm. Soon the one of the tubs will be full and I can slide into the steamy water.
There are five pools here, plus three private ones. The private ones are pricey and I’ve never used them. The five public pools spill one into the next, each one about two degree cooler than the previous one, so there are a variety of soaking temperatures available. The last pool spills into the Rio Grande.
The only problem with this wonderful place is cost. It used to be Bisbee-esque, that is, a bit run down and funky. Each room was different, quirky. And it was affordable. 
Today, not so.  The rooms have been rehabbed. Most are painted the same colors, and all the bedspreads match. the plumbing is new. and the cost has gone up significantly. This means I’ll be an infrequent guest in the future.
Although there is a river, this area seems to be in almost as much drought as Arizona. I have never seen the river so low. It is still wide, but so shallow and moving at such a lazy speed I could probably get in and wade it.
People who cross this river further south often do so in inner tubes. When there is no drought, when there is a good summer of rain, the river runs fast and deep, and people struggle across it. Some die trying to cross into the US. But this year, since Texas, too, is in such drought, I imagine this great river isn’t much more than a trickle in some areas.
The sky is now pink. Time to get into that water!

I’ll Never Fly Again! (until next time)

Note to self: never board a plane without a toothbrush in my carry-on. And a comb. 

It wasn’t bad enough to spend all that time  checking my bag and getting through security in Raleigh. Then, of course, I had to sit and wait for the plane. And wait. Then they posted a gate change for the plane. It wasn’t announced, just posted. 

Up. Walk. Find new gate. It was past boarding time before they changed the departure time on the sign. Again, no announcement.

We eventually boarded about 45 minutes past the original boarding time, and I began to be nervous about connecting with my flight in Atlanta. 

The ride was beautiful! Huge cumulous clouds stacked higher than the 30,000 flight path. They looked thick land chunky, the kind you could surely jump into and have fun bouncing around in.

There was one huge wall of dark cloud. It must have been 600-700 feet tall, standing above the fluffy cumulous clouds. It looked like a movie set, not at all real.

About the time we passed the huge dark cloud, the pilot announced that there was a major storm in Atlanta and that landing would be delayed. This actually reassured me a bit because I figured my departing flight would also be delayed. However, we then had to sit on the tarmac for another 20 or 30 minutes.

Deplaning moved very slowly, but as soon as I was able, I zipped by the other passengers. I found that my connecting flight was at gate E 37. I was at B 9. It didn’t look hopeful.

Although I dashed through the terminal, rode the little train, and did some more dashing, the door to my plane was closed when I arrived at E 37. The woman told me it had already left, but it wasn’t gone. It was still at the gate. No matter how I begged, she made no attempt to notify the pilot that I (and now others) was there.

I was sent on a half-mile hike to a service desk where there were three agents working: one for the first class people (all three of them), one for the international people (two of them), and one harried woman for the thirty or more of us who were lowly general passengers. 

There was a phone bank with signs proclaiming they we help phones, but everyone who stood and spoke on the phone ended up in the long line of angry passengers awaiting service.

After about 45 minutes waiting, it was finally my turn. Since it was a weather-related problem, Delta wouldn’t put me on any other airline, so I had to spend the night in Atlanta. The agent told me the costs of the different motels (with the special Delta discount), and I just asked for the cheapest motel – Motel 6. $42 plus tax with the discount.

By the time I got to the motel shuttle and then to the motel, it was 9:15. There I found out the price I’d been quoted was wrong, by $13. I complained and decided to call Delta to get a room down the street at a $49 motel. Motel 6, it turned out, had no Internet and no breakfast, even at the higher price.

When I called the Delta help desk, a robot voice told me there would be about a 30 minute wait. I gave up and checked in at Motel 6.

Although I was exhausted, I was so wired I couldn’t sleep well. Lots of tossing and turning. And fuzzy teeth.

In the morning, I had my choice of McDonalds, a waffle place, or a 24 hour diner. I opted for the diner and had a passable meal. Then it was off to the airport. SO many people, but security was efficient, friendly, helpful, and entertaining. I didn’t even have to go through the body scanner! 

In all, the highlight of the whole trip was the Atlanta security and the cheerful, funny security guard that waved people through the metal detector. Amazing.