Spontaneous East Coast Trip: Part I

Sometimes, we just need to get away. Last Tuesday night, I faced an odd feeling of claustrophobia here in St. Louis. I had just come back from Lambert International Airport, visiting an airline pilot friend (my dear “sister” Delia!) before she ventured on a trip. Walking home from the Central West End metro station, which is a hike since our Grand metro stop is out of service, I was hot in the 102 degree heat and wearing pants. I was cranky for having a five day weekend and nowhere to go. And most importantly, I was hot. Snap-your-head-off-for-no-reason hot. As with any stressful situation I have, I tweeted and complained.

And I was heard.

A dear friend from the National Gay Pilot Association (and yes, there is such a thing, of which I am a member) responded to my tweet, inviting me to visit him and his partner in Connecticut for a long weekend. I sat down in my cool apartment and breathed a sigh of relief— but how in the world do I get there? I thought. By now, most of you know that I use buddy passes from my aforementioned sister, giving me access to the country for a much more affordable price. I fly Frontier, a very formidable low-cost carrier but limited in niche destinations such as Connecticut. The options of getting to the East coast were strenuous but doable: a flight from St. Louis to Denver, spending the night in Denver, and taking the first flight to New York’s LaGuardia airport— only then to take a bus northbound to New Haven, Connecticut. It seemed like a stretch on paper, but it looked like it would work out. 30 minutes later, the tickets were booked. I was East coast bound the next day.

Because I traveled on the 4th of July holiday, the fight out of St. Louis was spacious. 80 seats were open at the time of my booking; and when I got to the ticketing counter to check in, the agent gave me a seat right away. This never happens to nonrevvers. Almost always, we wait until the last minute for seat assignments. But in the unlikely event of 80 passengers booking a flight to Denver, the agent took a small leap of faith and uttered the words, “Would you like a window or aisle seat?” Window, please!

It had been almost a year since I had flown commercially— a renewing moment for my sometimes burnt out passion. But the second the thrust levers were thrown forward and we lifted into the sky, I took in a big breath of dry airplane air and relaxed completely. Awolnation’s “Sail” blasted on my iPhone, way before the use of approved electronic devices was allowed. But sue me. I’m a pilot.

Ten minutes early on a flight means so much to the airline system. It’s ten minutes of time that graces an  unexpected delay, yet it meant nothing to me but “Oh, good, 10 more minutes to add onto my 13 hours in Denver.” I deplaned, used the facilities, and strolled through the gate area, maybe expecting to see a flight to LGA. Lo and behold, there was! Five minutes from departing, I thought, “What the hell. I’ll try getting on and if not, no big deal. Maybe I can spend the night with a friend in New York.” 10 minutes later, we taxied for takeoff to New York.

“There’s no place like it in the world” my seat mate said to me as we descended into the metropolitan area. I concurred and smiled as the glow of the city shone through the oval window. Lightning in the distance matched that of the strobe while we dodged cells— right as we touched down, I contacted everyone I knew in New York to see if I could crash on a couch until my next day bus departure to Connecticut. Nope. Long story short, I slept in LaGuardia.

The best omelet I have ever had— Chelsea Market

My friend Julia, who is a high school friend of my dear yoga instructor, showed me around the city the next day— rare as it is for someone to have a car in New York, we meandered through the neighborhoods of Manhattan, traveling more than one possibly could on foot. Driving down the avenues, the isle stretches forever. And I don’t think that feeling will ever stray, the one of excitement when skyscrapers edge the lanes. In such a densely packed piece of ground, there is an endless sense of passion.

A few times this summer, he has told me not to come in, for he doesn’t “care if you work upside down in a hammock somewhere. Just get it done.” I killed a few hours at a Starbucks somewhere along 9th and 40th; while this was to be a mini vacation, my boss allowed me to “work remotely.” It just so happened that I was remotely working from New York City.

But the “meat and potatoes” of this trip comes from the New England portion. Stay tuned…

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