Tanja and I talked for a while and shared pictures from the trip before settling into the flight. I was able to catch some sleep here and there for ten minute stretches and watch a couple of Firefly episodes on the Powerbook before looking out the window to see a plane in the dark flying just off to the left in front of us and slightly higher up in altitude, but remarkably close! Although I could not really estimate how big the plane was, I would guess that it was no more than 500-600 meters away. We flew in formation for some time before a slight speed differential took the other plane away from us and slightly to the West.
As the flight moved on, surprisingly, we ran into the electrical storms over Columbia again and this time I was prepared to take some photos. They were spectacular storms and one of the most beautiful displays I’ve ever seen. They were not quite as impressive as the electrical storms over Columbia last week, but I was most excited to be able to see them and capture images.
Unexpectedly, when we landed in Atlanta, I had to leave my traveling party to make an extended stay in Atlanta for a few hours. I can not/will not write about the reasons why here, but let me say that the officer from the regretfully named Department of Homeland Security that met me at the plane was a royal pain in the ass, and also quite rude. Look, I know that you had a cold, I know you were not feeling 100%, I understand that you did not want to come in, but guess what? I don’t care. It’s your job and if you hate your job that much, find something else to do and don’t complain about it. Beyond rude, in your capacity the behavior you exhibited was downright unprofessional.
At any rate, we got done what we had to do in Atlanta and after finishing up and returning to the airport, went straight to the Crown Room. Given the 37 hours or so that I had been awake, I was so tired at this point that I was swilling coffee and trying to type an email prior to take off when I looked at the computer screen and realized that I had written a half a page of the letter “l”…….. I had actually fallen asleep writing an email, so I was admonished by my new travel companion to not fall asleep and miss my flight. I struggled to stay awake and managed to get on board my flight and secure my seat belt which is the last thing that I remembered for half the flight. I do not even remember taking off and missed the in flight snack which these days likely consisted of a cracker and some sort of spread.
After 42 hours of travel, only three of it with sleep, I made it back to Salt Lake City. However, I was most delighted to get off the plane, kiss my wife H, go home, spend some time with our cat, take a shower, eat a BBQ chicken pizza from Wasatch Pizza and crash in my own bed until my body said “wake”.
I don’t have any travel scheduled before the end of the year, for which I am grateful. Next week I start the medical student interview cycle, and have a bunch of work to finish off before the end of the year. However, I am looking forward to it. In the next couple of days, I should also have a photoset up with pictures of people and such that some of the meeting participants have requested.