National Lampoon's North East Vacation

After a week on the road for work, nothing beats ending it like flying home through stormy weather. The weather in the NE on Friday was pretty nasty – “absolutely pissing it down”, as we would say back home. I did seem to be in luck though, as my flight was on time, and we boarded on time. Things were looking good. OK, so after we taxi’d from the gate, we sat around for 30 minutes waiting for clearance to take off. No big deal, it just gave me time to finish the book I was reading. And off into the air we went.

I have developed a quite fascinating flight-related narcolepsy over the last couple of years; a while back, I couldn’t sleep for a second on a plane, and now, I’m dreaming the second the wheels leave the runway. This was bad for two reasons:

Reason 1: If I sleep in the daytime, I sweat a little. Wait, that should be ‘a lot’. Yep, I turn into some kind of human Niagara Falls. This is probably a ‘TMI’ moment, but it might be useful information if you happen to be near me in the daytime when I fall asleep; grab your life jacket, because it’s going to get wet.

Reason 2: The confused waking up part, where not only are you concerned that you may have done the big ‘grunt wake-up’, but also the usual “where am I?” question that pops into your head, as you stare suspiciously at passengers who are all wondering why I’ve just doused myself in water and grunted.

So, I wake up, a little on the damp side, thinking “Where am I?”, and I look out of my window to see a lot of sky, and the pilot is making a big left turn. And he keeps making the left. And keeps making it. After a while, I started to wonder if we’d somehow joined a 15,000ft plane version of NASCAR, but the lack of chicken wing bones around ruled that one out.

The pilot then explained what was happening

Pilot: “Ladies and gentlemen, you may have noticed that we have been taking a few left turns,”

Me: “Really? No, hadn’t noticed at all you redneck NASCAR freak”

Pilot: “Unfortunately, air traffic space above New York has become saturated due to the bad weather system, and so we have been placed in a holding patter over New York”

Me: “Planes get wet, so we have to go into a holding pattern? Are they not waterproof? Oh, you’re using saturated in a different sense here – you really should have picked a different word to use. Especially as I too am saturated and thought I might have to go into my own holding pattern”

Pilot: “We’re waiting for word from air traffic control, but I must warn you that there is a good chance that we may have to turn back.”

Me: “And I must warn you that there is a good chance that I might have to kill you if that happens. Don’t you know that I’m going to Fogo de Chao tonight?”

And so the NASCAR race continued. I noticed two interesting things during the race. First, we were the only plane in the race – I expected a few 747’s to be inches away from our bumper. Second, the weather was gorgeous, and there wasn’t a plane in sight. It dawned on me that New York must be like a huge roundabout (I believe that’s ‘traffic circle’ over here) – you hit New York, go around the circle, and take the south exit and continue flying. Our pilot was obviously having a Griswald moment, and I resisted the temptation to say “Look kids, it’s Big Ben”, or “Look kids, it’s the Statue of Liberty”. Well, when I say “resisted temptation”, I was actually too busy plotting how to hijack the plane if we had to turn around, armed only with what I had in my quart-sized zip-lock bag, with containers of 3oz or less.

Forty minutes later, we received the announcement, “Good news, we’ve been cleared to head on down to Baltimore. Bad new is we haven’t been told how to get there”. You need instructions on how to get there? I have a Nuvi GPS in my bag, should we stick it to the windshield for directions?

We finally landed, a 50 minute flight turning into a 2 hour tour of the New York skies, and I made it home in time for the carnivore theme park, otherwise known as Fogo. Well, that was after I took a shower, as I think somebody must have spilled water on me while I was sleeping. And where did that chicken bone come from?


~ by eddie on October 21, 2007.

5 Responses to “National Lampoon's North East Vacation”

  1. Very true – and when you do see them here (like in DC), they attempt to control them with merge lanes, traffic lights, and yield signs, all leading to absolute bedlam. I’m telling you, it’s not much better with the sky roundabouts.

  2. Roundabouts are becoming more and more popular in the US. Golden, CO has lots and more and more are showing up in the midwest i’ve noticed. Anyway, thanks Eddie. Keep up the good work.

  3. Um. What?

  4. Yep, apparently there are roundabouts in Golden, CO. I believe there are also moose in Anchorage, AK. Or mooses.

  5. I don’t think Golden has an intersection in which to create a roundabout. Seriously. Vail and other I-70 mountain towns do . . . but not Golden. Says me.

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