It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here. It seems that work takes up most waking hours in the week and weekends have been reserved for, well, anything and everything. It’s difficult to believe that it’s been a year since the time I spent travelling round the UK by rail. That’s because it’s not. It’s eleven months. Well, ten months two weeks. OK – ten months, two weeks, six days and around twenty-three hours. I just worked it out.
I’m two hours into a seven-hour flight and hence have a bit of time to kill. While working out exact anniversaries of calendar events isn’t the most thrilling thing in the world to do it did just while away three or four minutes. Usually I’d be watching something on the in-flight entertainment system but, unfortunately, United Airlines have decided to assign a heritage aircraft to the route between Heathrow and Newark and hence the in-flight films are on a loop and (apparently) recorded on a VHS system with some severe tracking issues. The film I was watching (UP – it seemed appropriate) finished some time ago but the system won’t reboot until all the other films have also finished. By the time it’s taking for this to happen I can only assume that one of the other films is the special director’s cut extended version of Ghandi. You could say that United have put me on the Pacer of the aircraft world. Although I dearly hope the plane wasn’t constructed out of surplus bus parts.
So what am I doing? Where am I going? Well I can’t tell you too much because I honestly don’t know. What I can say is that this is the first of two flights I’ll be on today and the second one is almost as long as the first. My final destination today is Las Vegas, Nevada, but that is really only a staging post. I have seven days, a hire car, and a map of the South Western United States. The only thing that’s really fixed is that I have to ultimately find my way back to Las Vegas by Monday of next week, otherwise I’ll miss my flight and be stranded forever in the western wilderness; or have to find some other way home (maybe a house elevated by several million helium balloons?).
This may seem like quite a loose travel itinery to some of you but it is not the first time that I’ve done this. I have, over the years, spent many months driving round North America, some of it for work, most of it not. I’ve mangled to visit thirty-seven of the states and the majority of the Canadian provinces. There was an original aim at some point in the past to have visited all forty-eight continental states before the time I finished being thirty, but unfortunately other things (Blackpool, Umberleigh and the Caledonian Sleeper) got in the way of that. If all goes well, on this trip I should add another four or five states to the tick list which will leave me only the Deep South to visit. Oh and Alaska. And Hawaii.
Travelling round the thirty-seven states to-date has been fascinating, eye-opening and, at times, slightly surreal. I’m sure this trip will be no different except, this time, I’ll be taking you all around with me. The important thing though is that, when I land in Las Vegas later today, I’ll be around five-thousand miles from Blackpool, which can’t be a bad thing. Although I will be in Vegas. Which is basically a bigger version of Blackpool. In November.
I’ll leave you with that thought as the flight attendants are now coming round with the fourth pass of the beverage service. I’m sure this is more than usual but I think they’re feeling a bit guilty due to the antique nature of the aircraft. They might have figured that if they ply us all with drink for the duration of the flight half the cabin will be too drunk to notice they’re watching the same film for the third time and the other half will be permanently holed-up in the toilets.
I’ll see if I can post this online while in Newark. The United Airlines magazine tells me that the majority of their fleet now has in-flight wi-fi; but unfortunately this aircraft was built many years before the internet became a big thing. Here’s hoping the gaffa-tape attaching the port engine to the wing holds for the remaining five hours….