Friday, June 29, 2012

Arizona Adventure: Flying South

It was just the first step on a two-day adventure in Arizona, but my flight south was a fun little journey all on its own.

Flying out of Seattle is always delicious. I love to see good ol' Puget Sound in all its glory as it loops and cavorts around the various tree-covered islands, peninsulas, and funky bits of land. Honestly, the view from the air is just so rich and lush that as usual, I pressed my nose to the window to take in every glorious inch.

Then we climbed up above the low layer of clouds that we Pacific Northwesterners like to call the "marine layer." See? That sounds so nautical and jaunty, doesn't it.

With the high layer of clouds up above us, I felt like I was in a cloud sandwich. 

And with a few more bumps and jolts than usual, our trusty jet zoomed up to cruising altitude, where we could see all the clouds far below us, and the deep blue outer atmosphere up above. 

These sights give me chills every time I fly. 

Within a half hour or so, we left our lush green corner of the world and spent most of the next two hours crossing over the wastelands of eastern Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

This part of the world is oh, so very dry. And dull. And uninhabited. And unrelentingly brown.

Now I love to fly. I enjoy everything about it - the flight attendants' routines, the variety of interesting buttons around my seat, the delightful fun of being served a cool beverage in cute little cup. I am intrigued the power of the plane's engines and the mechanics of flying - I listen for the landing gear to go up and down, I watch the flaps maneuver this way and that, I am fascinated by all the sensations of being lifted, dropped, and occasionally tossed from side to side in this tiny tin can of a miracle that hurtles me through the sky. In all honesty, I have a healthy fear of this mode of travel, and that makes the experience all the much more exciting to me. 

Of all those wonderful things, my favorite part of flying is looking out the window. I love to see the world unfolding below me, and I usually find the scenery to be endlessly fascinating.

But on this flight, after a while, I have to admit that I got a little bored with all the brown ridges. There is not much else to see in this landscape, and I was in need of some novelty.

Happily, snack time diverted me. I munched on the contents of my shiny snack packet and gulped down with a big glass of icy orange juice. This meager heap of salty treats wasn't much of a meal, but it filled me up quite nicely.

And then I could no longer help myself. I fell asleep.

I am a champion plane sleeper. The droning engines sing their lullaby to me, and I drop off like a baby in a cradle. 

Now if the scenery is interesting, I'll try to fight off my drowsiness. But on this trip, I figured that there would be nothing worth seeing till we dropped down into Tucson, so I let my eyelids fall and drifted off to sleep.

I slept soundly for at least ninety minutes until I felt a sharp dig in my arm. As my eyeballs flew open, I immediately saw my daughter pointing out the window. "Look," she commanded.

I looked. And this is what I saw.

Holy moly. That's the Grand Canyon!!

What a beautiful, glorious, commanding vision. We both stared at it in silent awe. 

Brown scenery is not always boring. Sometimes, it is stupendously fantastic. 

You just have to know when to look.

Then my plane gently fell from the sky and deposited me in Tucson. I rented a car, bought myself this cheeseburger and began exploring the brown town.

Next time, I will show you the stupendously fantastic things I found.

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