Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dancing Upon The Clouds

Uncle Vernon's Wish

When I was a kid, it was understood that flying was expensive and pretty much reserved for movie stars and family emergencies. Dad was a police officer and his salary dictated that our summer vacations would be spent traveling in a station wagon or camping by a lake somewhere.

I took my first flight when I was five. It was with my next door neighbors; The Hackshaw's. They asked me to accompany them on a flight from the Bay Area to San Diego for a relative's 105th birthday. Mom made sure I was dressed in my best trousers with a sweater from Monkey Wards. No way was she going to let her kid look like riff-raff. We boarded a PSA Super Electra jet (why do I still remember that fact so clearly 50 years later?). The flight, thankfully, was pillow smooth. I remember how satisfying it was to gaze down on an ocean of mashed potato clouds! 

This week I flew twice. One trip was from Phoenix to rain soaked Nashville. That trip involved weaving our little jet between one amazing cloud formation after another.

Plying Our Way to Nashville

As I looked out at the valleys and canyons formed by a series of magnificent Cumulus Castellanus clouds, I remembered the last request of my Uncle Vernon. Vernon was the uncle that normally did not feel the need to say all that much. Smiles came easy to him. And when my chain smoking, diesel fixing, uncle neared death, he instructed aunt Zora to make sure he was buried without shoes - so he could "dance upon the clouds in his bare feet".

As I looked at those amazing clouds it occurred to me how we mostly miss the essential joy of flying; simply looking out the window. Nowadays when I fly, I see most passengers reading their books and kindles, watching movies on tiny little I-pod screens, sleeping, and/or playing sudoku. Almost no one gazes out of the window. Pilots seem bored too; rarely pointing out amazing sights below us like the Grand Canyon or the Meteor Crater anymore.

Northern Arizona's Meteor Crater
(Look at Approximately 9:00 O'Clock on the Photo)

Yet, while today's air travel experience is different: the seats are small, and seat mates seemingly all proudly display their latest tattoo's whilst wearing their very best "wifebeater" tank top, the view outside of the plane from a window seat is just as good as ever.

The puffy clouds are still there and the crazy quilt of America's agricultural heartland still extends from the front range of the Rockies all the way to the Atlantic.

Drifting in and out of those amazing clouds this week I was a kid again.

I also was pretty sure that somewhere out there Uncle Vernon was having the time of his life.

Roadboy's Travels © 2010

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