Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Longest Day

Friday, February 28, 1997

I remember the sunshine and how it illuminated the landscape, so far below.

The Rocky Mountains—how they looked close enough to touch, the jagged ridges and snowy peaks. Up the Alaskan Panhandle, following the shoreline of the bay, the water was so clear and clean. The snowy land came to meet the water and plunged into the emerald depths, still visible on that sun-soaked day.

Approaching Anchorage, the horizon to the north became blanketed in low, feathery clouds, through which the peak of Mount McKinley—Dinali—rose like a resting giant.

On the long journey, from Vancouver to Tokyo, there was lots to do besides stare out the starboard window. Having been seated in the centre aisles of the oversized but under-filled Canadian Airlines flight, the only time in which DW and I could capture a glimpse outside the cabin was when we got out of our seats to stretch and wander to one of the portholes of the exit doors.

We had plenty of time to do that. We had plenty of time to do lots of things.

Watch three movies. Read. Nap. Eat. Watch another movie.

When the meal tray arrived, I was offered chicken or beef. I wasn't particularly hungry but asked for the chicken anyway. When the attendant realized that the last chicken had already been given, I was offered beef, instead. I declined.

"Are you sure?" I was asked.

"No, thanks."

"Can I bring you some cheese and crackers? I can bring you some after I finish with the cart."

I expected one of those miniature packets of Kraft cheddar and saltine crackers. "Sure, that's fine. Thank you."

I dozed off before the attendant returned. DW and I had an entire centre aisle to ourselves, five seats upon which we could stretch out. I took off my shoes, lifted the arm rest between two seats, and curled up.

When I awoke, one of the trays to the seat at my feet was open. On it, a white china plate with gold edges sat with an even whiter, cloth napkin, which covered an assortment of cheeses and high-quality crackers. Obviously, brought from first class. After my nap, it was a treat that made me glad that we had chosen this carrier.

(I miss Canadian Airlines.)

The sun followed us on our westward journey, slowly overtaking us. As we crossed the International Date Line, we jumped ahead to Saturday afternoon, skipping Friday night, though in our minds, it was still Friday. And though we napped, off and on, our bodies and minds were beginning to feel the effects of fatigue.

On our final stroll around the cabin, we looked out the window to see Tokyo, sprawled out like a scar on the natural landscape. We took our seats and buckled up as our plane began its descent.

Our journey wasn't quite over, yet.

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