Friday, August 5, 2011

California, Here I Come

I remember the first time I visited California. I was 21 years old. It was my first time ever flying in an airplane. The plane from New York to Chicago was enormous, some big jet fuel wasting machine, and less than half full at that. I had a connecting flight to Sacramento. My rock climbing buddy, Greg, was going to pick me up at the airport in California.

Except that Greg thought I was arriving in Fresno, some three hours away. BC - Before Cell phones, you just waited. Sometimes, a long time. I didn't think it was unusual . Finally, I heard my name being announced on the airport loudspeaker "Nancy Emro, please pick up a white courtesy telephone". I did. I was connected to my friend Greg, calling from the Fresno airport. He would just drive to Sacramento to get me. No big deal. I sat down to wait some more.

After he picked me up, we headed in the direction of Rock Climber's Heaven - Yosemite. Somewhere along the way, we stopped for the night. We slept in the car, in the front bucket seats, and finished our drive in the early morning.

I spent a week in Yosemite, camping in tents, climbing during the day, and a week in Colorado, doing pretty much the same thing. Drove back with three other rock climbing pals, in a Volkswagen van, straight through from Colorado to New York, sharing both the driving and back of the van for sleeping. I remember waking up to dawn in some midwestern state, flat as the eye could see in every direction.

My niece is coming to California for the first time tomorrow. From Connecticut. I have sent her tons of travel advice via email - what to do and what not to do at the airport; how early to get to there; what to bring; how much to tip the skycaps. We spoke on the phone last night, and I went over a few last minute instructions.

And then I thought back to my first trip. I made it, certainly not without a hitch, but I arrived safe and sound, without email or cell phone, just a little late to my final destination. Life was simpler then. We didn't have to worry about not packing liquids in our carry-ons, or going through security checks. We slept in the car on the side of the road. Someone actually put a call through from Greg at the Fresno airport to me at Sacramento airport. I cannot imagine that happening today.

And so, I think Caitlin will do fine traveling on her own. If something unplanned happens, as the young people of today say, we will "just deal". The vacation will go on.

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