Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder. . .


Yes, it's that time again. Travel time. This Friday, I'm heading to a regional mystery conference & gathering in Alabama. This is a two-day event in two separate cities: Saturday is Murder in the Magic City in Birmingham, and Sunday is Murder on the Menu at Wetumpka Public Library, near Montgomery. I'm looking forward to enjoying some warm Alabama winter weather, providing those storm systems that have been pounding the South give up and move out to sea. That would be nice.

Both gatherings have panels with the 20+ mystery authors as well as booksignings and other get-to-know-you events. Of course, you folks already know how much I enjoy going to conferences and meeting new people. Telling me I have to go into a room filled with strangers and walk around, talk to them and enjoy myself is like telling a duck he has to leave the pond and go swim in the lake. "Quack, quack."

Of course, traveling to different states usually involves air travel unless someone is uncomfortable flying. Not me. I never worry about safety or crashing or stuff like that. Statistics show we're more at risk driving our cars on our nearby highways than flying in planes. However, I'm not crazy about the many inconveniences that are now standard procedure for all us frequent flyers. Delayed flights, delayed arrivals, the delay in getting everybody boarded onto the plane so we can all take off. And my all time favorite: the delay in getting down the aisle and to your seat because one person after another up ahead stops everyone in their tracks while they try to stuff an oversized carry-on into the overhead compartments. Sigh. . .I tell you, folks, the airlines are finally going to clamp down and ruin it for everyone by forbidding all except small briefcase/purse/diaper bag size. And we'll wind up checking even more into the belly of the plane and hoping it makes it to the same city we do.

As for the trip---I actually enjoy the quiet time it affords me. If I'm not reading, then I'm actually writing while I fly. Yep, I can actually keep on writing the rough draft of a novel while I'm sitting in those cramped airline seats, next to people who're talking all around me. I simply zone them out. I do the same thing in coffee shops (another fave place to write) and under the trees in pretty locations or parks, wherever. Since I'm writing the rough draft for each mystery first, I do minimal revisions and just keep "telling the story." Getting it down on paper. Then---I start a long and laborious process of revision. But, the rough draft method actually allows me to write in strange and different locations. I don't need a certain chair or number #2 pencils (remembering a scene from an old Dick van Dyke show, years ago). I just need that laptop and the characters inside my head. And, to be honest, disappearing with my characters lets me ignore the other boring or annoying parts of travel.

Do you have any favorite airplane or airport travel stories? Funny stories? Horror stories?

22 comments:

Jessica said...

When I decided to move home from California, the friend who was kind enough to buy my ticket wasn't paying attention and booked me a flight from Fresno to L.A. thinking that L.A. was just a layover point with a connecting flight back home to Indianapolis. Whoops! I almost got stranded in LAX...but the airline was kind enough to "stow" me away since they had the extra room anyway. I was still a teenager, and a very grateful one at that!

Jessica said...

I do want to say though, flying is one of the most peaceful things I've ever done....I love the clouds from that vantage point, and the sunrise/sunsets... it puts things in perspective for me, and makes even the biggest of problems seem insignificant (at least temporarily) in comparison to how vast and beautiful the sky is.

Dave Chaudoir said...

I used to be an excellent flier, but in the last few years I've been bad. Unfortunately this has coincided with my relocation to the other side of the world! With medication and meditation (and sleep!), I've done better. All of my flights are on big jets and usually long distances, so it's sort of the whole "Do it and see the world, or stay home and be crippled by it." Fortunately I've chosen the former and all my anxiety usually passes away by the time we land.

Lucky you to be visiting Alabama. I have relatives in the northern part. It is a truly beautiful state.

Heather Webber said...

Maggie, you'll love it in Alabama. Those are some great events.

I'm a so-so flyer. I find it hard to write because I'm a people watcher...and there are oh-so-many people to keep an eye on in airports. :)

Deb Baker said...

Those are two of my favorite events. You are going to love it!! Happy traveling.

Mason Canyon said...

I love to fly and the only bad thing that has ever happened is I got the wrong luggage once when I was returning home on New Year's Eve from Texas. I got my right luggage the next morning with no problem. And the airport I was using was the one in Birmingham. I really like that airport. It's always been easy in and out with friendly people. Hope you have a great time in Alabama and hopefully the weather won't be so bad.

Maggie Sefton said...

Jessica,I know what you mean. No matter how many years I've flown, I never lose the fascination with looking out the window at the clouds, the earth far below. It's so beautiful and peaceful, as you pointed out. It's calming, actually. I love being up high, whether it's being on top of mountains or flying. I must have been a bird.

Maggie Sefton said...

Thanks, Dave. I do know how beautiful the South is. I'm a Virginian, having been born in Richmond and growing up in Arlington (across the Potomac from Wash). Summertime is the luscious time, though. With the deep, deep green of the woods, Kudzu vines clinging to everything, and the sound of insects buzzing, locusts song rising and falling, especially at night. Better stop, or I'll start channelling Faulkner.

Maggie Sefton said...

Thanks, Heather. I'm looking forward to meeting these Alabama readers. Should be a lot of fun. As for people, oh yeah. I always meet interesting people when I'm flying. Usually either standing in line, striking up a conversation. Or sitting in the adjoining seats. I agree, people are fascinating. I guess that's one of the reasons we write.

Maggie Sefton said...

Thanks, Deb. I'm hoping we'll get some sunshine while there. The hostess/guide is going to take a bunch of us sightseeing on Monday since we couldnt get flights out Sunday evening.

Maggie Sefton said...

Thanks Mason Canyon. The regional airports are so much easier and often more efficient to get into and out of. And I don't mind flying the smaller, regional jets. I figure those guys & gals are fresh out of the military and starting their airline careers. They're motivated to give 120%. I like that. Plus, you're closer to the ground on those flights so you really do get a bird's eye view.

Dru said...

I like being at the airport at least 2 hours before my flight and people watch. My routine is to get my seat, put the headphones on and then wait to board. All the while trying to guess where people are headed if for business or vacation.

When I'm on the plane, I always get a window seat so I can gaze out the window and go into my own world.

The best part of flying is strolling off the plane to my final destination.

Shel said...

Once the plane takes off, I'm great. I used to love flying, until I got stranded in Atlanta for five hours waiting out an ice storm, in 2005. That kind of put a check on it. The new TSA rules don't help my feelings about airports, either. So now I avoid flying whenever possible, but I still do love the actual trip once we're off the ground.

signlady217 said...

I love to fly. Sometimes the waiting to board can get annoying for me, also if the flight is delayed/canceled/changed and you have to deal with all that.

When my husband's youngest sister got married, she and her fiance were both living in Maine (had just finished grad school, I think), so they had the wedding there. We flew into Portland and transferred to the Bangor hop. Coming back we did the opposite. The funny part is that the rest of my husband's family drove between Portland and Bangor, and on the return trip while we were waiting for our flight, we saw each other in the airport in Portland! So we got to spend about another hour or so together. We certainly did not expect that.

And we've been fortunate in that our luggage has only been delayed three times, and so far never lost.

jbstanley said...

All I can say is that I like to use my rare airplane time to read and I always get a talker next to me. i try to be polite, but just once I wish I had the guts to say, "Sorry, but I'd like to read my book." I know, I'm a grump!

Allison said...

I really don't care for flying...I'm too tall and a bit too wide to fit in the seats. I do like looking out of the window, but everything else, not so much. Hubby hates it too...I couldn't get him to go to Ireland with me last year. If he'd gone, he'd have been in a bad mood for 3 days before the trip just thinking about the flight. Then he'd be in a bad mood 2 days after landing, then be in a bad mood the 3 days leading up to the flight home. So, he'd have had 1 day to enjoy the gorgeous country. I left him at home and took an extra suitcase for souvenirs.

Helen Kiker said...

I like the places I can go on an airplane - England being my favorite. Taking off & landing are a bit of white knuckle.

Only had our luggage go missing once - on a trip to England for our son's wedding. Luckily it came on the next flight & the airline delivered it to our hotel.

Helen

Maggie Sefton said...

Dru----Window seats are great for that reason: the view. Can't beat it.

Shel---You've hit the nail on the head. It's not "air travel" that bothers most people, it's the accompanying problems we encounter--like weather delays which we have no control over, unfortunately.

Maggie Sefton said...

sign lady---talking with people in airports is one of the things I enjoy most about traveling. You meet such interesting people doing really fascinating jobs. Let's keep fingers crossed on luggage.

JB--I'm always reading or working on computer, and I know what you mean. My technique is to use when they keep wanting to talk is to answer friendly and all that, but to decrease my response time each time. And I always finish the sentence, smile, then turn my eyes back to my book page. They ususally start reading something then, too. So, stimulates reading all around. :)

Maggie Sefton said...

Allison---Good for you! I had 13 glorious days in Ireland in June 2006 and it was wonderful! Beautiful!

Helen--Funny, but one of the few times I had luggage delayed was years, years ago going to England. Got it the next day.

Lover of Books said...

I love flying! Well except for take off and landing cause my ears pop a lot!

The most embarrising story I have to tell happened when I went on a missions trip to Trinidad. I hate airplane bathrooms cause I am afraid of the horrible things that might happen. Well it did happen once, my skirt got tucked into the back of my panty hose. So humiliating for a 14 year old, now if I fly, I wear jeans. Or if I do wear a skirt, I just wear a slip and socks. No repeats so far. lol
Krista

Sarah MacCallum said...

Good luck traveling today :-) The only good thing about the airport delays is all the reading time it provides!

Sarah