Friday, June 29, 2007

Flight from hell!

Yesterday morning I saw a piece on CNN about a "flight from hell" where passengers at JFK had to sit on a plane for 4 hours and a guy took a little camera and asked the pilot "what would you do in this situation" and then interviewed about how horrible it was.

To him I say: HA!

Why? Because I saw the piece at 6 am MST while I was in the Salt Lake City airport, where I spent the night on the floor after missing my connection...because I spent 11 hours on a plane. And only four of them flying.

Yup, in the amount of time it takes to fly to Australia, we got to Salt Lake City, where I missed my connection to California. We sat on the tarmac at PHL for 8 loooooong hours, finally jetting off at 12:30am, from our original 5:25pm departure time. We got to SLC at 3am MST and 5am EST.

So what happened? Well for starters, PHL airport always has delays. Always. The flight coming in couldn't get a gate and it sat on the tarmac for an hour, waiting for an open gate. So we got delayed in setting out...and there appeared to be about 20 planes in front of us. The Delta pilot was good at keeping us very informed and you could hear just a touch of exasperation in his voice when he talked about how air traffic has always been bad at PHL and its just gotten worse.

When we finally got clearance to fly after about three hours of sitting on the tarmac...we all started to clap and cheer!

...but then we didn't have enough fuel to make it. So we went back to the gate to refuel and to let off anyone who didn't feel like sticking it through. Here is what the pilot had to say about that:
"Well folks, you're welcome to get off the plane and try to rebook, but your chances are pretty slim as most of the flights are booked. If you stay with us, we'll get you there but we might have to sit here for awhile. If you're not flying with us...[pause]" at which point my friend and I filled in "you're flying against us!" it was a perfect opportunity.

Then it started to rain. Not just rain, POUR. So we sat and waited for that rain, then it stopped and we were going to go again, but by the time our turn came up, it started to rain AGAIN.

We finally took off at 12:30, though most people were asleep by then. and didn't cheer, we were just so weary. I almost didn't turn off my cell phone again, because I didn't realize we were actually taking off.

The rage in the plane should have been boiling over. I mean, 8 hours? And these are Philadelphians and New Jerseyians, they are not happy people. But the flight attendants were very nice and they kept handing out bottles of water, free snack boxes and cups of apple juice. The pilot would get on the overhead as soon as he knew something. So most of our basic needs were met: food, water, sleep and information. So no one got too angry. It was as ideal as being stuck on a plane for 8 hours could be.

By the time we got to SLC it was 3am local time and 5am by our internal clocks. We got in the long rebooking line, but I knew we were safe. While we were sitting on the tarmac, I called the rebooking line and got us seats on the first flight out the next morning. Others weren't so lucky and had to fly STANDBY after all of that. It was bad. But again no one was too angry. I think we were too tired. We grabbed a few blankets and pillows and set up camp in a terminal, but we couldn't escape the CNN morning show. I did see the sun rise over the Wasatch Mountains, which was a beautiful sight I missed. (My first internship was at the Salt Lake Tribune, so I spent a summer living in Salt Lake City. Beautiful place.)

We got on our plane just fine and were relieved to fly over the blighted-looking desert towards California.

Except the final indignity: THEY LOST OUR BAGGAGE. I don't know how it didn't make it on our flight, they had 5 hours in SLC to put it on board. I wasn't angry up until then and then I felt: look, I understood all the other delays, that wasn't anything Delta could have prevented (PHL people however...but that's another story). But losing our bags on top of spending 14 hours on a plane?? ridiculous. They handed us little toilet kits and our bags should be on the 12:51pm flight to Ontario, CA.

Long story short: Our bags made it, we went to Disneyland yesterday and rode Space Mountain TWICE. Can life be any better than Space Mountain? I think not. More on Disney for another time!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Left Coast

From sea to shining sea!

I'm getting all patriotic here because I am flying across our great nation to head to the Left Coast today. More specifically, to the Long Beach area of California. I'm heading there for a wedding that I am very excited to attend. I also will be staying with a college friend and going to Disneyland, a spa and hopefully Leno.

I've always read about how flights from the East Coast to the West Coast are the same as flying to Europe, but I've never experienced it. One of the advantages of living in Minnesota is that most everything is within a 3-hour flight of home. Though if its going to be longer than two hours, I would prefer a longer flight. Under two hours or over five. (2>x>5) Anything in between is hard to prepare for because I feel fidgety after two hours unless I have it in my head that its a long haul.

This will be fidgety flights for me because we have a stopover: In Salt Lake City! I have mixed emotions about this stopover, mostly that I am excited to be stopping in the city where I had my first internship and lots of friends but sad that its less than an hour on my way to California and just over an hour on my way home, which is not enough time to see anyone, even if they came to the airport. At least I know the fly over looks great: mountains, a compact, well-designed city and the wide expanse of salt flats.

I may not blog as much because I will be busy with activities, but I will store up my observations about how life differs on the coasts. Because either way its still different from good ol' MN!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Small town feel

I have learned the lesson that those from small towns learned years ago: Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Because you never know who knows each other.

Growing up in the Twin Cities and its suburbs meant that it was unlikely that people randomly knew each other, so you could vaguely describe them and be safe. If they did know each other, you usually knew it. But here, it seems that everyone knows each other. I was describing a person I didn't like to my service provider at the salon today and GUESS WHAT! This person is her husband's best friend's sibling. Luckily, she is not fond of this person either, but that could've been very dangerous. And these people were from two different towns that don't border one another or even share schools!

I'm usually safe because a)I don't dislike a lot of people and b)I don't talk about other people besides with my closest friends and other trusted people, but honestly, when a girl goes to a salon, its sort of a dish session with an anonymous person. I swear that aestheticians and manicurists and hair dressers have a class on "chatting up your client" or something, because somehow it is just drawn out of you.

BUT in other ways it is very nice. I love running into people and seeing people I know and being recognized myself. The place to run into people used to be the local Target in Shoreview, MN, but here I don't know as many people. However, last weekend when my friend was visiting, I did run into several different people in our travels around town. It was good timing because it made me look cool and popular and all those things I'm not, but it was also just nice to feel like I am finally getting to know people and getting to know this town and starting to fit in.

And, dare I say it, become a local? hmmmm.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hard day at the beach

Saturday I finally did the beach bum thing and spent 6 hours at the shore! It was a tough day of lying on a beach blanket, curled up under an umbrella while reading a book. (Or, if you are my lily-white friend, laid out flat on a beach blanket, roasting in the sun with your eyes covered.)

When we got too toasty, we went into the ocean to cool off. Well, or we just got excited by the fact that there is a giant beach and played in the water, splashing each other, giving each other boosts so you flew into the water and jumping waves. We walked out to the sand bar which is a cool feeling because you can't feel the bottom of the ocean and suddenly you can walk on water...or so it seems.

I went home at one point and brought back sandwiches so we could stay at the beach and not have to go home for lunch and brought back my goggles. With those, I saw tiny little sand crabs scooting along the bottom of the shore. I'm not going to deny that they were cool to see, but I wish I hadn't seen them because now I will be constantly conscious of the fact that there are palm-sized creature with pinchers just under my feet. Would they pinch me if I accidentally stepped on one? If I were them, I'd see my big toe as an enemy.

I applied sunscreen at regular intervals, determined a)to not get too dark and b)prevent skin cancer. Unfortunately, the bikiniied girls around me appeared to be applying something other than sunscreen out of their gold-brown bottles. I thought oil was so 1986? At least no one had one of those reflector things to hold under their neck!

At the end of the day we stumbled home and lay comatose on the couch. It is really hard lying on the beach all day! For reals, though, there is apparently some scienc-y thing (thats a technical term, you may not know it) about how being in the sun all day saps your energy. We mustered enough to grill some salmon (made with the sage and lemon thyme from my garden!), go see a movie (surprised we didn't fall asleep) and stop by a friends' house for a midnight margarita (okay, pina colada, but midnight margarita has a nice ring to it.)

I guess it could be worse.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Last night, I went to the bathroom right before I left work for the evening. No I'm not going to write an entire post about my bathroom experience, but I did notice something strange when I walked in: the mirror was completely fogged over, as if someone had taken an hour-long shower in there. Except there is no shower in the office bathroom, just a small crank-controlled, high, window over-looking the parking lot.

What you've probably already figured out is that it was HUMID outside. So Humid that the fog that shrouded the island blotted out every. single. light. from there, so instead of seeing a long string of lights as I came down off of the bridge, I saw inky blackness. It was scary--I could see how someone could not realize there was water there and wander off (withouth street lights, etc.)

When I got home, I took my mail out of the mailbox and it was damp from the humidity.

Needless to say, it stormed like crazy last night. A huge, thunder-rattling-the-windows, lightening-so-bright-you-see-it-with-your-eyes-closed, worried-the-street-is-flooding storm. The real point is I don't get to go to the beach today =( Even if this leftover drizzle wasn't there, the beach sand would probably be like mud.

Unusually, I feel like it only thunderstorms at night here. A few weeks back, when my friend was visiting, it was predicted to storm all week. Instead, it stormed every night, but each day was bright, clear and sunny.

Hey, I'm not complaining!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

waves crashing

So, I popped my ocean cherry, which is the totally inappropriate way of saying OMG I WENT IN THE OCEAN AND NOW I NEVER WANT TO COME OUT AGAIN.

I seriously had so much fun this morning, and we really didn't do anything. Katie and I grabbed boards and walked the two blocks from her house to the beach, paddled out, and sat on our boards for about 45 minutes. There were absolutely NO waves to be seen, besides the gentle swells that mark a calm sea.

Despite the water feeling like Lake Superior only two and a half weeks ago (seriously, we let the waves wash over our feet just once and they felt ice cold; twice brought on numbness), the water was warm. The perfect temperature, really. I didn't feel cold at all, even after an hour of bobbing in the waves. This is good cause I didn't feel like investing in a wetsuit.

We eventually ditched the boards and walked down to the swimming beach to try some body surfing. That didn't pan out too well, plus there were some creepy guys who thought a good opening line was "have you seen my swimsuit? I think I've lost it" while in the water.

Anyway, now that I know how wonderful the beach is, I'm going to go there every morning! My usual routine has been to make a big pot of chai and drink several cups of it while I sit on my front deck reading a book. I still can do this...but on the beach and with my chai in a thermos.

And now, 10 hours later, I can still sort of feel the the feeling of bobbing in the waves and having water crash over my head. Its surreal, but I love it.

Last note: the beach badger checkers cameth! What my made-up word means is that, as we were preparing to leave, someone actually came to check if we had beach badges. Since Katie's family has been in Beach Haven forever and since they all lifeguard, we were fine, but I guess I will be bringing my beach badge with me since its a myth that they DON'T actually check.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Surf City, U.S.A.

So technically Huntington Beach, Cali., has the trademarks on the name Surf City, U.S.A. (where, incidentally, I spent a lot of time as a kid because I had an uncle who lived there. Long Live Del Taco), but since my town's actual real name is Surf City, I feel I need to live up to it.

I stopped by a store yesterday and possibly found a new board to take home! I will decide by tomorrow...after I go surfing! Yes, that's right, tomorrow morning I will take my place back on top (hopefully) of a board, after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus. A former co-worker of mine, who still has a family home on the island, is down this week and suggested I try out a board very similar to the one I am looking at, to make sure I am making a sound investment.

Technically, I'll be honest: I can't afford to spend the money on a board right now. My finances are, frankly, tight, and I was unable to go to a good friend's wedding in Minnesota this past weekend because of it.
In my head I know I shouldn't spend the cash (well, credit) on this board, in terms of my long-term financial health (not that spending a few hundred dollars is going to send me into a tailspin of bad credit, but its a bad financial principal) but I am weighing it against the more anti-nihilistic argument of "I will never live this moment in my life again, ever. Carpe Diem!"
(ok, anti-nihilistic mixed with Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society)

Anyway, wish me luck on my first surfing adventure in 3 years! I'll let you know if I decide to buy the board.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

badge checkers cometh

Today is June 15. Its the day our beaches stop being free and open for us and start being a pay-to-play endeavor.

It seems so odd to me to pay for the pleasure of a beach. You know, a natural phenomenon. I think the reasoning is something about upkeep for the beach, but it just seems so strange in my head. It will be even stranger when I try to go to the beach and someone checks for my beach badge.

A beach badge is how municipalities keep track of who has paid and who is not. According to some of my co-workers (okay, one), I was a fool for paying for my beach badge, because apparently they rarely, if ever, check them. Maybe he was going to different beaches, I don't know.

The two little hunks of plastic I bought for $25 each are emblazoned with a little white surfer, a number and the year. I bought the badges before May 31 so they were cheaper; I think they are $35 for the season now. Day trippers can buy them for like $8 a day or $15 for the week. Some rentals come with beach badges included in the price for the place.

Anyway, the little lady selling beach badges at the Surf City Borough Hall was incredibly slow at getting the little buttons into a sandwich baggie for me, but also very nice! I liked how all the beach badges were laid out in rows, as if they were just waiting, like the rest of us, for summer to finally arrive.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Arrest Me

I've never had more of a hard time following stoplights as I have here. I actually ran a red light the other day. To top things off, it was the light on Central Ave right by the Surf City police station. Good thing all of them weren't sitting outside or something.

Really, turning the lights back on was the worst idea ever. The lights are so high up that I don't notice them because, frankly, I was never looking for them in the first place. I got used to breezing down Central Avenue without a care in the world...except for the speed limit, of course, which has also gone down and I'm sure I often inadvertently break it.

Part of the problem is that I don't use streets with lights very often. Since I am bayside, I use Barnegat Avenue to get to the causeway, and Barnegat Ave has no lights until the causeway, which was a light that is on year-round. So the occasions I use Long Beach Blvd or Central Ave in Surf City, I am not observant enough to notice stoplights.

Interestingly, lights have not yet been turned on in Harvey Cedars and Barnegat Light. Maybe because their season starts way later than Memorial Day, since its mostly residential up there? That is my guess.

In any case, if there are any Surf City/Ship Bottom officers reading this, please go easy on me when I run a red light. Its not that I am some jerk in a hurry, or someone who enjoys putting others' lives at risk, it's just that I really, really, really haven't gotten used to those darn lights being back on.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lazy summer days

The days really are flying by, I can't believe its June and I can't believe its been almost a week since I updated! I honestly felt like it wasn't that long ago. It looks like I've fallen into a weekly schedule of updating, despite having a mental backlog of posts.

I blame it on the lovely days we've had lately. I have no desire to sit in front of my computer. Even first thing in the morning, when I am gross and unwashed, I go outside on the front porch with a mug of tea and something to read. It's really amazing. I love where I live, for reals. The sky has been a beautiful blue with just enough fluffy, white clouds to bring out the absolute blueness of the sky.

Today I went to the dollar store and bought a beach mat, some beach shoes and a beach umbrella. I work nights now, leaving me free to go to--you guessed it--the beach in the morning. I'm very excited to learn the fine art of "laying out." I heard about it on "Laguna Beach," which I probably shouldn't admit I watch since I am over the age of 18, but I need a little junk food too!
From what I surmise from the show, this means tanning for most people, but since I'm already a burnt sienna color, I'll be using the umbrella and sunscreen to help me enjoy the outdoors minus the extra pigmentation.

Its also been a weekend of a taste of home. One of my high school friends and her husband came down for the day on Saturday. We lazed around and grilled, then headed to the Barnegat Lighthouse. We also went through old high school pictures, teehee.
Then Monday my friend Chao, who still lives in Minneapolis, came to visit. I took Tuesday off to show him around the island, including, yes of course, the lighthouse. Back home in Minneapolis, we used to take most visitors to see some of the Lock and Dams along the Mississippi, but most people were more interested in the Mall of America.

This weekend was one of those times I was really glad the meteorologist was wrong. It was predicted to be heavy, heavy rains all day Tuesday. The rains came...but not until Tuesday night when we were already asleep. And by the time we woke up, they were already gone, replaced with that same blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Amazing.

I made Chao into my little model...and he did the same for me. We had a lot of fun playing around with different techniques on our cameras. One of my favorite shots I did is on his camera, but I'll share it with you next time.

Lazy days in the lighthouse

Long way down (I know I keep taking pictures like this, but I love how it looks!)


Portrait of the two of us. Can you find me?

Impending storm

This is Obadaiah Seagull. I call all seagulls Obadaiah after a book I read in 2nd grade.