Sunday, January 13, 2008

In New Mexico

Well, we made it! I'd been working up to the VERY last minute (I meant to quit at 4 but quit at 6). After a frantic half-hour of running around trying to pack (me, that is--Hans had been all packed and has been cleaning the house for the last two-three weeks and it looks GREAT!), we were chauffered to the airport by Amy Cameron (thank you, Amy) and took off to the Lower 48 at 8:23 pm.

First stop was Anchorage, where we sat around for a couple of hours in the surreal Ted Stevens International Airport, enjoying the lovely tile work on the floors and disseminating seditious literature (back issues of the Republic). The most amazing part was listening to the announcements, made by one of those machine-voiced, smooth and oh-so-calm professional announcers saying things like "Do not leave bags unattended. Unattended bags will be presumed dangerous and will be removed by security and destroyed," "In case of emergency, call 911," and the very zen-like "The threat level is orange." Then they paged Hans, asking him to report to the TSA desk. We figured he was in real trouble, alien that he is, but it turned out he'd lost his checkbook in the john and some very nice person found it and turned it in.

So then we were off to Seattle. I read a sci-fi book on the way down. I really hate take-offs and landings, and this book, which dealt a lot with the nature of death (personal and of civilizations), didn't help. We hung out for a while, ate, looked at the cool artwork with which the airport is festooned (great mobile of a seagull made with tiny little sculptures of birds and whales and salmon etc.), and then discovered that we were waiting at the wrong gate and had to rush back to the other terminal to get the right one.

And then we were off to Tucson. This flight was VERY hard to sleep on for some reason. We landed at 10:30 or so in the morning to a scene of screamingly bright sunlight (hard on people groggy and bleary-eyed from too much travel and too little sleep), picked up our luggage, and went off to Dollar Rent-A-Car where Dad had reserved a car for us. But they didn't want our money. They wouldn't take cash, they wouldn't take a check (apparently nobody does in the airport), and Hans doesn't have a credit card. I do, but they didn't want that, either, because I'm not the driver. Really stupid. So we ended up renting a car from a place called Airport Car Rental, which was two and a half times as much, but took a cash deposit (actually, my credit card), and picked us up from the airport.

So after this inauspicious start, we drove for MILES through Arizona, stopping to snooze in a place called Texas Canyon on the way. Hans got out and took pictures of the cool rounded red rocks all over (very much like the ones in the scene in Galaxy Quest with the cute little green cannibals and the rock monster), and we drove on (and on and on). It was sundown by the time we got to New Mexico, and dark by the time we got to Cliff, but the directions Dad gave us were excellent, and we had no wrong turnings whatsoever. Dad met us at the gate, and we talked their ears off for a while, ate dinner, and zonked out in the most amazingly comfortable bed in the guest house.

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