Thursday, January 31, 2008


Sailing on the evening tide

Northwest Airlines ground crew on the tarmac at My Home Town Airport.
The little figure at bottom center is a snowman, which the ground crew dressed up
with a reflective vest and hand-signal flares.

In the olden days of transoceanic travel, departures frequently occurred in the evening, to take advantage of the tide. Sailing on the evening time symbolizes sleeping, eating, living on the ship until it reaches at the destination port. That has always struck me an integral part of the romance of travel, where time has to be taken in the getting there, where the adventure is not only in the arrival. The need for sleeping accommodation on the conveyance itself shows a commitment, that one will transfer one's whole life, albeit temporarily, to the journey.

A vestige of that can be recreated by train travel, but air travel essentially kills that romance. Air travel is simply about getting there fast. I generally zone out, "kill time" until it's over, all the while looking forward to the day when, like Star Trek, we can be simply "beamed" to our destination.

On this trip, a 6 p.m. departure for the Old World, I tried to get into the mindset of the evening tide. And it sort of worked. The flight was kind of nice. I have to say, I really like the fancy new personal entertainment centers they provide at your seat -- we had a choice of about 20 movies, in addition to music and other stuff, and they were offered DVD like with start times when you wanted them (not a single start time for the whole cabin) and the ability to pause, rewind and fast forward.

The next morning we were in Paris.


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