Flying is always interesting.
Flying out of tiny airports is like stepping into the past. A little calmer, a little gentler.
Friday, I flew out of anwew-to-me airport, on my way to deliver my uncle's ashes to their final resting place in the Gulf of Mexico.
It's a tiny little airport. Even though it has a full on restaurant, it has only one gate. The airline is so small that it can't check your luggage (or you) all the way through to your destination. Not a big deal, but it comes into play later that my checking in here, I was not, in fact, checking in for the second leg of my flight to Houston.
Looking out the window we see signs that reveal the size. Note the wind sock.
I watched that one leave while drinking my coffee and waiting. I had to finish my coffee outside of security, because there was no place to buy anything inside security (it being the entrance to the gate itself). They only had a water-cooler inside the gate.
I knew that I'd not be able to bring a water bottle into security, but had hoped to be able to buy some water on the other side. No luck. But the coffee from the restaurant was pretty good, and I planned on buying a grossly overpriced bottle of water when I got to O'Hare.
When my plane arrived, I realized again just how small an airport I was in.
The seven passengers and two crew pretty much filled the plane. The woman who checked us in, and gave us our boarding passes came out to gate check our luggage and see us off...
The copilot helped us up the cute little drop down stairs, closed the door, and walked around to climb aboard the cockpit himself.
The flight was lovely. A little bouncy at times, but gave a wonderfully different perspective on the world. Had I remembered that my phone does have a flight mode (which would have let me use the camera in flight), I'd have been able to show you the quilt of the midwest as we flew over.
I was reminded that, despite the dense population of our cities, and even most towns, there are still places where folks' houses are half a mile or more apart. I pondered the freedom and isolation of living that way as I looked down on houses that sat alone in their square mile of land, surrounded by fields.
Our landing was gentle, and our crew was charming as the co-pilot then led us into the terminal at O'Hare.
My peace was promptly dispelled by the realization that I had arrived at O'Hare airport at the far end of Terminal 3, with less than 50 minutes to get off my plane, gather my suitcase (which fits in the over head bin of large planes, but was gate checked for the wee plane above), and dash like a madwoman across the airport to the far end of Terminal 1.
That meant race-walking from the end of that horizontal blue band on the left (yep, the part that is out of the picture) up around the arc and back down to the bottom of the green band on the right (yep, the part that is out of the picture, but which you can almost see peeking back in as a wee bump). I did manage to find a shuttle that got me from the Y at the top to the top of the green band. But they were already loading my plane by the time I'd reached that Y.
Upon arrival at the Y (Terminal 2), I'd reached an area where my outgoing airline (United) had gates. I tried to get the folks there to at least check me in, so that the folks at my gate would know I was, in fact, in the airport and thus wouldn't give my seat away to a stand-by passenger. They refused. They did, at least, aim me at the shuttle bus.*
When I got to the top of Terminal 1 (the far end from my gate), I tried to get someone THERE to check me in. I was breathing pretty heavily by this time, as it's been quite a while since I had to march at speed for that distance (nevermind hauling the suitcase). Again, they refused. The fellow told me that it only takes HIM 5 minutes to get to the gate I needed. I refrained from pointing out that when he did it, he wasn't likely to have just dashed 2 miles. He asked if I needed assistance, and I was tempted to say yes, but if I'd waited for their wheel chair, or cart, or whatever to get to me, I'd have missed my plane.
Needless to say, I did not stop to pee (no bathrooms on tiny planes), or get water, much less get lunch. I arrived gasping as they were calling stand by passengers to the counter. At first, they coudln't find my reservation -- even with the confirmation number in hand. But in the end, I boarded the plane, stashed my suitcase, and headed straight back to the lavatory.
The flight attendant generously gave me some water, after which I settled in to enjoy our pilots last ever flight. He retired that day.
My arrival in Houston was smooth, and my lovely Aunt and beautiful cousin were waiting for me when I emerged from the building.
(I've since learned that there is some sort of train thing in O'hare, but no one told me about it, I saw no signs for it, and I still cant' figure out where I'd get it even looking at the O'Hare map. I think it's outside security, which means risking going through a long line again....)