The first sight that greeted me this morning in the ABQ B Concourse was a middle-aged couple wearing matching Hawaiian shirts – royal blue and black with a big yellow moon on the left upper side. Completing the outfit were wrinkled pairs of black khakis; they looked so happy padding down the hall on their way to who knows where. But for me things like this are omens, portents of impending travel strangeness commensurate with the oddity of the sight. And a vision such as this could only mean today had the potential to be epic.

I’m on my way back for the long haul, no more back and forth due to the vagaries of business conditions and plans. This time it’s for real, everyone will be there and the work will finally begin. Just being on a consistent time zone will make my life far easier, and so I am looking forward to what this next stretch will bring.
The news in the wind is that things have changed a bit on the far side during my short hiatus – Gmail is now blocked, as is Facebook. More worries by the powers that be that these communications methods are undermining the official message. And judging from the activities in the western part of that country, I am not surprised that they continue to lock things down. We’ll see what this means for my blog and my email connections. I wonder what they’re planning to do with Twitter.

It would be grand to say that my trip today had measured up to the Hawaiian Shirt Portent, but so far it’s been about the same as ever is. Checking in was easy in spite of the couple in front of me who spread multiple suitcases and cardboard boxes in front of the two kiosks available in my line. He seemed obsessed with reprogramming his luggage locks, she was busy moving little pieces of paper from here travel wallet to plastic bags. Things that made me wonder why they had not been done at home. He stopped programming for a second to argue with the ticket agent about his visa for Vietnam claiming to be a “resident” versus a “traveler.” Just another case of semantics in daily use.
Today I had 1st Class on the Barbie Jet sandwiched between three youngish airline employees taking a free trip to San Francisco and blithering on about their plans. Whether or not to ride the cable cars seemed to be the biggest decision they faced today. I nodded off and on to their chatter, interrupting the gal next to me once to point out the Grand Canyon bathing in the dawn haze. She wasn’t moved so I went back to my music.

One of the benefits of an upgraded ticket on the Barbie Jet is a free snack box, nicely opened and folded to present a bouquet of snack packages. Bagel chips with vegetable cheese dip, a dry cookie, a package of powdered sugar/vitamin C to boost your traveling immunities and most interesting a small foil of Cashew Crunch – imagine 1 inch cubes of Styrofoam, soaked in a sugar solution and then rolled in cashew chips. Most interesting was the apple sauce. What person beyond the age of 11 eats applesauce? No offence to those of you that do.

So once again I find myself sitting in the lounge looking out the window at the same airplane tails I’ve looked at dozens of times before. It’s a funny thing to watch a 747 lumber in and know it’s the 8:00 arrival from Shanghai. Or that the 777 lining up outside the window right now is the 13:30 to Seoul. I don’t think I ever thought I would get to where I would know the comings and goings of not so random planes, but here I am naming them as they roll in and out.

For now though, another Diet Coke and another hour until I catch my bird, out of sight, down and around the left side of the concourse. According to the board, it’s leaving 30 minutes early. Imagine that.