Although it was nearly four hours long, the segment of flight between Louisville and Las Vegas was beautiful and comfortable. They had announced that the flight would be full, but somehow I was blessed to have an empty middle seat beside me, and that always makes for added comfort and convenience. I have no fear of flying, actually thoroughly enjoy it, and I always try to obtain a window seat. Two reasons: The wall makes a resting place for my head and I might get in a snooze or two, although I don’t sleep very well on planes, but anyway, early on I asked the stewardess for a pillow. The second reason for a window seat is the spectacular view of the earth from 32,000 feet high. What a beautiful place is ours.
The crew in the pilot’s cabin on this flight were talkative, often pointing out landmarks and spots of interest. Right away, there were Pueblo and Colorado Springs, then Kansas City and not long before our arrival in Las Vegas, there was Lake Powell, clearly visible, dividing its 1800 miles of shoreline between Arizona and Utah. Jerry and I have vacationed there several times, and twice have rented large house boats where, with family and friends, we excitedly explored the historic and intriguing area. The waters are of the Colorado River, whose thundering force through the centuries has carved deep canyons and sharp inlets. It is a spectacular place, much of the terrain being of vivid red sandstone. Clearly visible from the plane are the wide plateaus, whose sides finally give to chiseled outcroppings that step down hundreds of feet onto the valley floor, where still flowing in deep gorges and ravines is the mighty Colorado. In some places, there appear to be rivers of red mud. I could make out the several marinas on Lake Powell, their strips of docking the size of dashes on a computer screen. The boats were bent over commas, tiny blips scattered across the blue waters.
“Take your seats, and buckle up,” now came the word over the intercom. “We have weather ahead of us.” But none developed, just a little wind, and lots of clouds and I was a little disappointed, for I was set for pelting rain against the windows. I can’t figure out clouds. They are so beautifully and clearly formed, pristine white—bluewhite—the color of glaciers, and from a plane window, it seems I would be able to grasp and hold a cloud. Should work to take in a fistful of cloud the same as taking hold of a wad of cotton candy at Disneyland. Hundreds of feet high are many cloud formations, but some are mere puffs of meringue. Others are sharply pointed and extend as arrows many feet into the blue.
And then we were coming into Las Vegas and below us was the strip. I recognized the Stratosphere, New York, New York and Caesar’s Palace. We were 15 minutes early, and after our soft landing, a voice directed our attention to C16. “Charley 16 is our slot, but as you see there is a beautiful plane there, and there’s not room for both of us.” So, on the tarmac we waited, until 15 minutes later, the Charley 16 plane was nudged out, and we moved into our gate.
The inside of the Las Vegas airport was drastically different from the quiet and orderly Louisville airport. There were the clanking and flashing lights of the slots, and crowds of raucous people milling about. I never did figure out why, but people lounged all over the floors, napping, eating, talking on phones, and playing computer games. Plenty of chairs, but some mysterious appeal was attached to those floors—for them—not for me.
I had a 2 1/2 hour layover and had told Jerry I would eat there, but nothing appealed to me, so I just walked around for awhile. I came by this lady who was sitting at a bar, with a green pillow slung around her neck and with tubes from something on the counter running into her nose. I thought she was sick at first, but she seemed pretty animated, so I paused and read the signs around her. Seems I had found an O 2 bar. You just plop yourself down on one of the hard plastic stools, hand over plenty of money, then you are allowed to poke tubes in your nose and get extra gulps of oxygen. Extraordinary energy and a sheer revival of life are promised. Hand over a few extra bills and you can imbibe fruit drinks and other healthy concoctions. I passed on it all.
“Thirty-four minutes from wheels up to wheels down,” the stewardess told us as we prepared for take-off from Las Vegas to Ontario. She began taking drink orders before the plane had been cleared to depart, and after we were in the air, still at a slant, she began handing out the snacks. She had served a portion of the passengers, when sudden turbulence caused her to sway and to struggle with the balancing of her tray and the drinks there. She grinned and said, “I know you guys are laughing at me,” then the turbulence increased so that she bent her knees to lower the center of gravity, and finally she was sitting on the floor. We were all grinning, and some of us never did get our drinks, which was no big deal at all.
Approaching Ontario, I looked down and saw Lake Silverwood, which as the crow flies sets ten miles or so behind our house. Tried to see my sweet home, but I don’t believe I did. We landed ten minutes early. On the way to the baggage claim area, I was jolted to harsh reality as I passed a young man, outfitted in a national guard camouflage suit, and holding straight before him a rifle, no doubt loaded and at the ready.
I lifted my luggage from the carousel and went to the street to wait for Jerry. After a few minutes, here came our blue Jeep, Jerry pulled up to me, and helped me with my luggage. We didn’t kiss until I was in the car, for security was heavy, and they were warning that the cars must be moved out quickly.
I was home!