Odyssey to Germany
Feb. 28, 2014
My flight left Portland on time at 6:00 am. It was KLM with Delta and I was riding in a window seat. The sun hadn’t appeared yet and the fog was hovering as the plane ascended. I could see the lights of Portland between layers of fog and in the distance the sun was hovering just below the horizon, hiding but soon to make an appearance. The soft pillow like cover of clouds below made it impossible to see after we left the city airspace. Once into the flight snow-covered peeks now and then appeared in breaks in the cloud cover.
I’m on my way to Atlanta and on to Frankfurt where members of the Saarland Hurricane management will meet me. I’ll begin another coaching odyssey in Europe, this time in southern Germany. I’ve done stints in Austria, Finland and Croatia with a very brief stopover in the Czech Republic thrown into the mix. My wife and puppy will join me in six weeks. Hopefully I’ll be accustomed to our surroundings by then, which should make their arrival on German soil an easy transition.
I’m reminded of my first trip to Europe in the summer of 1964. That time I flew out of New York after a four and a half day journey on the ground. I hitch hiked from Portland to New York City and did it in record time. This trip across the USA will take about four and one half hours, a vast improvement.
I must say the instruction video explaining the what’s, why’s and how to act, made the price of admission worth it. Funny, funny. Someone has a great sense of humor at Delta. I’ll sit back and relax and try to get some sleep. Getting up at 3:30 to get ready has left me a bit drowsy. Talk again soon.
I turned on Rascal Flats on my I-tunes and settled back to enjoy the next few hours. God Bless the Broken Road was causing me to nod my head to the melody as we began to feel some turbulence about forty minutes into the flight. I think we were over Pendleton. The turbulence was probably left over from the beating we took back in 1973 while coaching my first playoff team. We were ranked number one in the state and got our butts handed to us by the Buckaroos. It was a rocky ride home not unlike today’s flight as we passed over ‘Roundup Stadium’. It will probably get smoother, somewhat like my coaching ride did.
The layover in Atlanta was three hours which isn’t bad. It gave me time to purchase a rolling walk on. I had thought, foolishly, that I could lug my sport bag on and off planes and through airports, wrong. Sometimes I forget I’m seventy plus years old and heavy hurts. $175 plus $12.50 tax later my shoulder felt a lot better, my wallet smaller but the price wasn’t enough to heighten the pain. And adding the cost of the sport bag, which I left atop one of the many trash bins located in the concourse, the total was reasonable for today’s prices. The new roller was on sale, thank God.
As we took off from Atlanta the sun was shining and the brown still winter landscape looked forlorn from high above in my window seat in row forty-four, second from the back. It was a good seat but the location would ensure that those of us here probably wouldn’t have a choice of the three dishes on the menu. More like, what’s left. It’s ok, the scotch-rocks would keep me from complaining. The young German sitting next to me quickly put on his headset and became invisible. I only knew he was German because I overheard him in a short conversation with another passenger. My Deutsch isn’t very good still but I recognize the accent when I hear it.
There was only a little turbulence as we headed east-northeast up the coastline of America on our eight-hour flight to Frankfurt. We were passing over the southern edge of the Chesapeake Bay when dinner was served. By the time red wine was served I was looking out at the lights of Boston, impressive. The apex of our half-moon arc would take us just under Iceland, over Northern Ireland, crossing over midland England around Manchester and finally landing in Frankfurt from a northwesterly direction.
We had reached our intended flight altitude of 33,000 feet and I had Blake Shelton harmonizing into my earphones. I had a choice of Watch, Listen, Play, Explore, Sky Kids, Playlist, This Trip or Help on the Video monitor sunk into the back-end of the seat in front of me. My German friend was watching a movie. Flying to Europe has changed a bit since that 1964 first time on a prop plane that landed on every possible piece of land between New Your City and Luxembourg. They call it progress and I think this time they, whoever they are, are correct.