Long Ride Today

Phoenix to Charlotte, then Charlotte to Gatwick. That’s today’s agenda.

Counting ground transportation, security delays and air time, it will be about eighteen hours from door to door with the last hour spent remembering to stay left on the road.

It’ll be about 10:00AM when I get to the hotel but my body will feel like it’s the middle of the night. Aching tired, distant nausea, foggy brain. Not a good time to go sight-seeing. But the hotel probably won’t let me check-in until the afternoon so there’s several hours to kill — of course, it may take that long to find the hotel on those twisty roads.

I went to Pigot once, in the south of England. Driving down from Gatwick, there was a major fog. The locals said it was “typical”. But I couldn’t see the edge on the other side of the road and no signs, neon or otherwise, were visible, much less readable. Searching for the hotel, I couldn’t find it so I parked along the edge of the road in what I hoped was out of the main flow and walked up to the first door I could find. It was glass and I could see what looked like a restaurant inside. So I went in and asked which way was the hotel. The waitress gave me a quizzical look and pointed through an opening to what I then saw was the Reception. I checked in but had the bellman help me navigate the rental from the street around to the parking lot in the rear.

Hope tomorrow morning’s search won’t be as challenging.

After some spotty sleep Saturday night, Sunday will be a “foggy” day; my body will be rested but the circadian clocks will all be out of sync and my brain will be prone to stupid mistakes.

“Get lots of sun in the daytime,” I’ve been told. “It helps reset the clock.”

So I’ll be out and about as much as I can in the UK daytime.

I’ve never seen central London, seen Big Ben, the Parliament and all that. The train goes through Maidenhead to London and, if it runs on Sunday, that’ll be a good adventure with only a minimum of driving between hotel and train station.

Then I’m teaching for four days a handful of miles from the hotel.

And shooting air pistol with a local club Monday night with their guns. That should be fun meeting them and then embarassing myself on their range.

And finally back the other way Friday midday and arriving Friday evening, both “local” but different time zones. It’s a longer ride going back against the jet stream, an additional three hours, plus a longer connect time in Charlotte. And my body clock will be mostly on UK time but instantly pick up on the coming stress. The ride home will be harder.

I don’t like these really long rides. Body-clock changes of more than three or four hours are, well, I guess “unpleasant” is the closest fit to how it feels. There’s no one discomfort to point to. Instead, lots of things are out of kilter. But, in time, you learn what to expect. You know the pain and the mild nausea will pass in a few hours. You learn to accept. And to wait. The ordeal will be over in a few hours. Knowing there is an end helps.

The final hour before landing is the worst. First, you know it is almost over but the plane hasn’t started its descent yet. So you wait. Then we start going down. Good! If it’s a nice morning, I’ll see the ground and find distraction there. That helps. But if it’s cloudy or foggy, then you just wait, and wait, and wait until finally the ground appears again. The thump of the landing and then the braking are very welcome. But then there’s the interminable taxi to the gate, and then waiting for all those in front to hurry up and get off the friggin’ plane, will ya?

I don’t sleep on planes. Maybe I know too much about them. Then again, my tall body just can’t get comfortable enough in those coach seats with the ever-decreasing leg room.

So I’ll have a book; there will be a couple of movies; and I’m taking an extra pre-charged battery for the notebook computer.

I wonder what the flight attendants will serve for breakfast?

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