Sunday, January 11, 2004

China Trip: Flight to Shanghai

At the moment, I am sitting in the San Francisco airport, writing with black hands from a leaky pen, but that’s a completley trivial thing compared to what’s going on. I’M GOING TO CHINA! People are boarding the plane for Shanghai right now! However, let me just mention a few things that happened up to this point. Probably the most exciting thing to happen was the arrival of my debit card in the mail at the last possible time yesterday. I had applied too late, so it wasn’t supposed to arrive until next Tuesday. Of course, in that case I wouldn’t have been able to bring it, so I had prayed and asked the Lord to hurry it along if there was any possible way. He did! I was so excited that I called my family to tell them the news, and we had a really good conversation and time of saying goodbye. I didn’t get to bed until 11:00 because I was making address cards and finalizing my packing. The alarm went off early at 3:45, and I was downstairs at the assigned departure time of 4:15. My regret at the moment is that I didn’t get more food and water before I left, but I wasn’t hungry or thirsty then.

We boarded a plane in Detroit that took us to Chicago in an amazingly short time, considering the time it takes to drive. In Chicago, I slept through most of the two hour layover. On the plane, we happily got breakfast of a hot croissant with egg, ham, and cheese. I got water every time they came to offer it, but right now I’m very thirsty and my throat hurts like I’m getting a cold.

I slept again on the plane from Chicago to San Francisco, but I wanted to make sure I got to see the Rocky Mountains as we flew over. Dad had described the sight to me when we drove to Colorado and saw them rising majestially out of the flat plain. That time, I had woken up in the van after a whole night’s driving over the flat plains of Nebraska to see the morning sun shining on the breathtaking peaks near Colorado Springs. Dad had said that flying over them was quite a sight as well.

I woke up after a few hours and wondered if I had missed them. I couldn’t see, because the man who had the window seat had closed the shade. I craned back and asked Trevor behind me (who also had a window seat) whether we had passed the Rockies. He said something to the effect of not knowing whether or not we had even crossed the Mississippi River, so I knew he didn’t know. I got up and moved forward to where I thought I saw an empty window seat. It was empty, but it was in the exit row directly above the wing, so it didn’t promise much of a view. A few more rows up, I saw another open window seat, so I went up and asked the man in the aisle seat if I could get in. He put down his book and obliged me. As I slid into the seat I was hit by two things. First was the view. Again, I had woken up just in time to experience the stunning transition from flat ground to rocky peaks. Second was the realization, “I left the camera back at my other seat!” Why did I always forget the camera at the most wonderful moments? For a second I thought of saying, “Oh, sorry, could you let me out again? I’ve just got to get my camera!” But he looked so settled and comfortable back in his chair, reabsorbed in his book, that I decided against it.

Without the camera, I determined to absorb every detail so that I would at least be able to describe it later. I thought about Casey and his maps and his interest in topography and how many cool aerial shots I was depriving people of by not having the camera. I was on the right side of the plane as we were going west, so I was at the perfect angle to see the dazzling effect of the sun on the snow covered mountains. As far as my eyes could see, the land rose and fell, the glittering snow interspersed with the tiny black dots that were trees. The peaks were a study in contrasts and shadows as the part where the sun shone looked so much different from the part behind it. {Okay, that was a sort of pitiful sentence but in the middle of it I watched an entire, REALLY stupid movie called Freaky Friday and my brain seems to have been robbed of some of its function. Plus it is now 10:40 pm Eastern Standard time, and I’ve been more or less “up” for 18 hours now, facing another 8 before I really go to bed. Ack! It’s midday over in China right now, 20 minutes till noon.)

Anyway, back to the beautiful Rocky montains… When after about half an hour I was still seeing interesting topography, I went ahead and got the camera. No longer did I have to rationalize my NOT taking pictures. (I had consoled myself for a while with the thought, “Well, if I DON’T take pictures, then I won’t deprive them of the pleasure of seeing it themselves…if they ever do see it for themselves.” That “if” bothered me. “It’ll never look exactly like it does today. And what if they never get a chance to fly over this spot? Or what if it’s night? Or cloudy when they go over? So I was convinced, and a load dropped off my mind when I got the camera and started clicking away.)

Have you ever experienced (or can you imagine) waking up, having it grow light at the normal time, and then traveling and traveling, waiting for it to get dark? We were chasing the sun west, which resulted in the fact that at 1:00 am on my watch, it was still only dusk, and it took until after 2:30 am to get really dark! It was a long day.

Next Post: Arrival in Shanghai
Previous Post: Frozen Photo
First Post: Pre-departure excitement

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