LAX => EWR

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I’m traveling today. My client on the East Coast has a big project and over the next couple months, I will be bi-coastal every few weeks. Though I would rather not travel on Sundays, I’m enjoying it. There is something fun about taking a business trip, which feels illicit for leaving home to go to a new place, but justifiable since it is for work. I think of myself as having an excused absence from my normal life.

Growing up I loved airplane travel. Perhaps it is because we so rarely traveled by commerical airlines when I was growing up. Every summer when I was kid, we would visit my parents’ respective families back in Montana. The tiny community of Anaconda (outside of Butte) has never been a airline hub, so taking a plane flight for four people was often triple what it took to drive. So, each year, my parents would announce we were going on a ROAD TRIP, followed by my sister and I groaning constantly, my father gripping the wheel tightly in a barely controlled rage, and my mother with a forced smile trying to make the best of it.

Road trips now are different than when I was a kid. My kids have had iPads available to them since they were toddlers. A road trip to them is 17 games and four Disney movies followed by a nap. They have no idea how mind-numbing rural Utah can be when you have nothing but a copy of Boys Life, a completed Mad Libs book and a travel puzzle game that you got bored with 20min after leaving the house. Obviously, my sister and I had each other to torture in the back seat, which made each summer’s trip into a child’s version of Satre’s No Exit.

I think part of my father’s frustration during these roadtrips is that he is a pilot and loves to fly. Once, when I was 5 years old and my sister was 3, my father convinced my mother to allow him to fly us in a private plane from our home north of Los Angeles to Las Vegas for an extended family get-together. The flight there wasn’t too bad, but turbulence and the stifling air in the tiny cabin of the Cessna during the return journey caused my sister and I to vomit non-stop from the sky above Barstow, CA until we were on the ground. My mother, who had been in the back seat with us, was not pleased. That was the last private plane flight for quite awhile, regardless of how many times my father suggested it.

The handful of commercial plane flights that we did take when I was growing up always felt like the height of luxury. As my kids will never really know, plane flights pre-9/11 had more creature comforts: more leg room, more food, more drinks. On longer flights, there were the movies that were projected onto the cabin wall, which made you feel like you were in drive-in with people from all over the world.

Obviously, plane travel has changed a lot. Much of the feeling of luxury is gone (with the leg room and meal service). But, still, as illicit adventures go, an excused absence for a long plane ride would make my tiny roadtripping-self green with envy.