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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Travel and Time

First, a few words about travel in the early years of the 21st century.

Warning, Warning. Danger Will Robinson! It’s nothing like what Walt Disney promised us in Tomorrow Land. I want my supersonic personal air transport unit and I WANT IT NOW!!!!! We were sold a bill of goods, and I am not amused.

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We are at the Milwaukee airport waiting to start our flight to Sacramento via Minneapolis. Travel just isn’t what it used to be. Airline travel is a lot like what I remember about Greyhound in the 1970s. Really, more like Greyhound if it had been run by the East German Police. This airport’s greatest distinction is Renaissance Books, a used bookstore located in the terminal. I killed some time looking at a large illustrated edition of Paradise Lost. In the engravings, Satan was the coolest looking of all the angels, as it should be.

The luggage screeners just gave my briefcase the old wipe-for-explosive-residue routine. (I don’t know if that actually does anything, or if they do it for our entertainment). When they took my case for “further screening”, I was glad the Irish Historical novel I just finished reading was in our checked bag. After all, Irish history is little more than the stories of terrorists who won, or the current Sinn Fein and Provos (provisional IRA) terrorists who seem to be winning a war of attrition, that, thank goodness, has been a cold war for the last few years. I guess the evil of terrorism is in the eyes of the beholder. However I was not amused when Gerry Adam’s mates blew up one of my client’s offices in the National Westminster Bank building back in the day. I like freedom fighters as much as the next guy, but when they blow up places I frequent, I say the heck with them. The guy they pulverize could be me.

On the bright side, traveling cattle car class is one of the few experiences where the skinny and shorter guy wins. I have plenty of room to relax (no knees in chin, no girth flowing into adjacent seats), and the seats are well enough padded that my Diminished Gluteal Syndrome doesn’t give me a sore backside. Otherwise it’s a very unrewarding experience. I’m lucky flying was so much easier and more pleasant when I had to fly for work.

Rental car experiences have been good the last several trips I’ve made to Wisconsin. Even a couple of years ago when I left the lights on all night and the rental guys came out, jumped my car and brought me a new replacement car. They didn’t even laugh at me, I was embarrassed enough already.

We booked our hotel through We got a deal, $51 per night for a room at the Sheraton by the Dane County Coliseum. That was an unbelievable good deal. That’s why I’m bragging. The catch with Hotwire is that we were only able to select “a 3.5 star hotel” in the downtown region”, and had to pay in advance, before the hotel’s name was revealed. We got lucky.

When we arrived late at night, we found out we got luckier. They were pretty full so they upgraded us to the Executive floor (remember Pink Floyd - “I’m in the high fidelity first class traveling set I think I need a Learjet”? The room had duvet comforters instead of bedspreads, and an awesomely large big screen TV. Our room was on the 7th floor, which was inaccessible to the riffraff staying on the lower floors. The floor had a lounge area with an even bigger TV, free cookies and soda, and free breakfast. A free cheerios, oatmeal and milk is a great deal. My only criticism is that the towels were not executive towels. They weren’t oversized and were no more soft and thirsty than any middle class towels. What indignities we suffered. We had to have our electronic room key cards re-coded twice, when the elevators stopped recognizing them, and allowing us access only to the floors full of riffraff rooms.

Now, on to the main event.

We went to Madison for our parents’ 60th anniversary party. It was a good visit. I won’t talk too much about the party or the relatives, because no one could possibly care, beyond the folks who’d be tattled upon. If you were all there and you know it was good. If you weren't,you probably wouldn't care anyway. I can say that my sister arranged and executed almost everything for this pretty big party, including a gorgeous wedding cake that tasted like the best sour cream coffee cake ever. It was the first wedding cake my parents ever had, and my mom loved it.

I get to Madison at least once a year to visit the parents and sister that live near Jon Johnson in Wisconsin by the big school there. I enjoyed this visit more than most. I usually visit alone in the autumn which certainly beats June’s weather, not to mention fall colors. I usually get some time to myself to poke around in the downtown / university area and walk in the University Arboretum. These are all good things taken at face value.

Spending all that time in town tends to reinforce a feeling that I’m past the springtime of my life. I moved away from Madison over 20 years ago. My life then was certainly far from perfect; I was in a marriage headed toward failure and my career was less than ideal for both me and my employer (I was headed toward failure with them as well). All that said, I was young and the future seemed a lot bigger than the past. So much has changed around Madison in these decades. Taking the time to idle around the local scene usually leads to an uncomfortable feeling. A feeling that this world has moved on, and no one bothered to save a seat here for me. That is not an encouraging feeling. It makes me wonder what’s left beyond rolling up my pants and walking on the beach along with J Alfred Prufock. I think I really need to buy more peaches at this Saturday’s farmers market.

I will dare to buy a peach.

I will dare to eat the peach.

I will take care of my pet cat.

I will pet him.

I will call him George.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Anonymous said...

Twas a delight to have you and the lovely Kathleen here to visit. And, btw, I regularly feel old and as though things have passed me by; I think that's just the downside of being old. All in all, I'll take it over being one of the people I fondly remember from my youth who never made it this far.

you know who...

Steve said...

BTW, the cake really was that good. To my regular non-related readers, I say too bad,you missed it.

What really gets me is the physical layout of the downtown and campus areas Madison has changed so muchi never really know where I am.

Facebook has a memorialpage for my HS. The dead guys list is the only list of people from my HS class I've seen where I really knew more than half of them. To casually have known know me in HS seems to have lead to a short life for many.

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