Got up early in the morning and had tea with the marmot. I'd already packed the night before, but Dan hadn't quite finished packing. To be fair, it's far more difficult for him as he owns a lot of things that I don't: a laptop computer, a PocketPC, a digital camera, a bunch of plants that need watering before you go on vacation... That, coupled with the fact that his work is more demanding than mine, means that he's faced with a much bigger challenge whenver we're to head out of town for any length of time. My task is simply to stay out of his way and not remind him in any way that we have a deadline approaching.
Our friend Mark arrived right on schedule at about 9 AM... but Dan was still packing. Mark and I waited patiently for about forty minutes and then loaded everything into the back of his truck. The drive to the airport was uneventful; there was a light rain and folks were mostly keeping it at the speed limit.
Once at the airport, all we needed to do was check our luggage. Unclear as to whether or not we could do so at the curbside check-in, we decided to wait at the self-service luggage check-in line instead. That didn't move very quickly, largely due to the fact that everyone else in line were seniors who became befuddled at the sight of anything that was self-service. I imagine fifty years of other people doing all the work for you is the main reason why everyone got stuck the second they got to use the self-service check-in machines. Needless to say, Northwest had one employee assigned to each machine to basically check in customers, which was kind of amusing. The biggest time waster was having to key in your passport number, I guess; we'd already done this online the day before, so it didn't block us. The woman in front of us was a senior flying to Hartford, CT to see her grandkids, and she was drifting in and out of a panic attack at the propspect of having to use these infernal machines.
I wonder if people will ever adapt to a DIY world.
Oddly enough, the self-service check-in seemed to malfunction for us; it didn't spit out the three checked luggage tags it was supposed to so, so even we had to rely on an actual NWA agent to get out bags checked. No problems there, so we ambled around the airport for a bit admiring all of the recently completed facilities upgrades [as well as some awful 1970s stainless steel sculpture gracing a hidden corner of the terminal].
Now, international flights from Seattle all leave from the south satellite terminal. This means you have to head downstairs to a crowded security check before getting on the train that takes you to the satellite. Strangely enough, today's staffers seemed to be either old white men or nubile young Hawai'ian girls wearing leis. Go figure! The Hawai'ians directed traffic; the geezers shouted at us [I guess they were hearing impaired] to PLEASE TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF, SON, which of course we did. As is the norm for us, I breezed through and waited a few minutes for Dan, whose wallet sets of alarms and who is of course travelling with many electronic devices, all of which must occasionally be turned on to satisfy guards' curiosity. No problem.
A short train ride later and we were sitting around the departure lounge, waiting. We were going to get a Whopper Jr. but decided that we'd save the money. In any case I'd packed two peanut butter and honey sandwiches, which did the trick. Today's flying public were mostly morbidly obese twenty-something Americans, most of whom were probably going to Amsterdam for the Cannabis Cup. Yuck. Nothing like seeing the groaningly fat chowing down on Double Whoppers to remind you that maybe you don't really need to eat so much. At least there was a very handsome Bear to watch in the crowd; a man in his mid-thirties with a fairly long van Dyke and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
Once on board, there was really nothing left to do but sit down and wait for nine hours or so. The flight was wholly uneventful; everything went according to schedule. I took an Ambien and wondered where those four hours went. I didn't feel like I'd slept or rested, but I did feel shock that so much time had elapsed. [I now know that Ambien isn't the solution either - you don't really sleep, you just aren't awake for some time. They didn't help with the jet lag at all.] Compared to other airlines, Northwest's international service was sub-par, but still acceptable. No individual screens, no video game, no menus, no amenity kits, nothing - but a comfortable enough seat and enough to eat is good enough for me.
I'd brought along my copy of The Sinking of the Odradek Stadium as reading material, which again proved to be a mistake. I didn't get more than four pages further than the last time I brought it along, which, judging by the receipt still lodged in the book, would've been Bear Pride 2000. Ah well.