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Karla's Kolumn: Traveling via planes and automobiles


December 2, 2021

Unlike the popular Thanksgiving movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” starring John Candy and Steve Martin, my Thanksgiving vacation only featured planes and automobiles, no trains or buses.

My husband and my fur kids (just the dogs) left a week before I did, driving down to Arizona to visit his dad and siblings. I was to follow a week later, having booked a one-way ticket from Billings to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

Before booking my flight, and after finding limited seating prior to Thanksgiving, I had to make a quick call to my brother, one of the only human beings I know that would purposely be up at the crack of dawn and not have to work early Monday morning for the flight I was considering.

He graciously agreed to drive me to the Billings airport for my 9:12 a.m. departure. Off the phone and ticket purchased.

Of course, they recommend you get there two hours early. I debated since I was not checking any luggage if I really needed to get there that early but I figure I best not take a chance not knowing for sure how my luck would run that day. So up at 3 a.m., ready by 4 a.m. for my friendly Uber/brother driver and we were off.

I did well not falling asleep on him but instead we had a nice visit during the trip (I can easily fall asleep in the car).

We arrived at the airport without an incident and I was dropped off at the curb.

Now I have flown just two other times in my life and both times I have had traveling companions. This was the first time flying solo. I was feeling pretty confident and thankful that this was a non-stop flight. I knew my luggage was the right size, I had cleaned out my purse of all the sharp instruments in it (don’t ask). All my liquid bottles were under 3 ounces as specified (this was because I had sent a suitcase with my husband with my toothpaste, shampoo, hair gel, I was prepared as I could be or so I thought.

So I check in at Allegiant and they quickly send me on to security. The TSA agents were friendly, courteous and patient (what was I thinking keeping my pocket full of change). I swore I was going to wear easy slip on shoes but nope I wore my lace-up boots. This is why you get there early to take your shoes off and on.

I step on the body scanner and they ask if there is anything in the left leg of my pants. Uh, just my leg. Nope the scanner has highlighted a spot on my ankle and my knee, thus requiring a quick pat down of the bottom portion of my leg. The TSA agent declares that I’m OK so now I’m on my way to collect everything I just had taken off.

I head to my gate with an hour to wait before boarding begins. The hour passes quickly as I am a people watcher. I see one guy sleeping using his suitcase for a pillow. I check out the different styles of masks and whether people have them over their noses, under their noses, hanging off their ear, under the chin and that would be a yes to all of the above.

Finally time to board, I get my carry on stored away above and get situated in my seat, a window seat.

I am excited about the window seat but my crowd claustrophobia self would have also liked an aisle seat. I tell myself it will be OK as it is only a two-hour flight.

It was a quick flight and having the window seat was the best as I watched clouds and mountains and fields roll by, which made me forget about not sitting on the aisle.

A quick landing, I meet up with family and the week zooms by to Saturday when we face a two-day drive home.

The trip home I rode with Alan and the dogs. Saturday was a 14-hour day from Florence, Arizona, to Rangely, Colorado. Sunday was a 10-hour drive to our little 10 acres of heaven.

Our dogs are the best travelers but they acted like typical sisters with the youngest Shadow lying down to take up most of the back seat, leaving older sister Ivy with a small portion of a window seat. For most of Saturday Ivy sat in her seat looking out the window, trying to lie down as it got dark but not finding much room to get comfortable.

Unlike the drive with my brother, I did not stay awake to keep Alan company Saturday or Sunday. When you are in the passenger seat naps are easy and almost mandatory. You fall asleep at Vernal, Utah, and wake up outside of Rock Springs (it wasn’t quite that long of a nap but close). Naps make the trip go by much faster.

I also did quite a bit of reading while in the passenger seat in between my naps.

While awake I also took time to marvel at the beauty of southern Utah and how parts of northern Arizona looks a lot like places in Wyoming. I can see how there always seems to be more cars headed in the opposite direction and I wonder what do they know that I don’t.

No matter how we travel, asleep or awake, on planes, trains or automobiles, one thing is for certain, just like in the movies, it is always good to be home.


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