MAYBE I JUST FELL OVER AFTER ONE LINE TOO MANY? Just over 24 hours—Albuquerque apartment to Oslo Airport Bed and Breakfast. How many times in those hours did I say, “I simply cannot do this again…I’m too old for long walkways and heavy backpacks; for sitting upright for the whole bloody 24; for thinking I’m so tough when I’m not.” But guess what? Now I’ve been in my little unadorned, but cozy-enough, room in a sort of forest next to the airport for about two hours and…yeah, you know what’s coming…I am happy. All heavy lifting and long lines forgiven—you are watching a hopeless travel junkie in action.
Tomorrow morning it’s SAS to Svalbard…far far far north. I am almost childishly excited. Is it the rocky hiking trail, the constant cold, the vessel continually bumping up again broken chunks of glacier, the 24 daylit hours OR all my new REI and Kathmandu stuff and getting brand new woolen gloves in the middle of the New Mexico summer? Whatever, I’m practically skipping around the room. Slowly skipping.
First though, a proper introduction to 2018’s Six Weeks as a Norwegian. I promised to write brilliantly and so forth on this blogging trip didn’t I? It seems the fine literary stuff must begin tomorrow and for now it’s just a barely coherent ramble through the day.
Thursday, August 9, 2018.
6pm: Packing the final little bag of critical items. Here’s Surfy, Kindle, Sammy the new Samsung, and Canon the new Camera; here’s a toothbrush, couple of combs and lipsticks, four strawberry and three cherry Chapsticks; and here’s my billfold with passport, credit cards and driver’s license…driver’s license…funny, it’s not here with the other little oblongs of plastic. Where’s my driver’s license…I have two road trips planned, cars are reserved…Where is it…Where oh Where?
8-9pm: Still searching…with that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
10pm: Resigned, moving on to Plan B. It’s okay. I’m calm. Every single perfectly planned trip must be imperfectly executed because it seems I must f*** up at least once. It’s inevitable. I should just start each travel budget with the $500 (or more!) it’s going to cost for my screw-up. This one’s too complicated to describe right now but Plan B is going to work out fine…fine…fine…So try to sleep. Yeah, right.
11pm: When I was a kid I often went to sleep thinking about a book I wanted to read. Then I would dream that I woke up and there it would be…lying next to me on my pillow. Can’t get that driver’s license image out of my head or my slumber.
Friday, August 10, 2018
3am: Nope. Not on my pillow. Give up. Get up.
4-5am. Shower and stuff. Like coffee and yogurt.
6-7am: Steve’s on his way over to take me to the airport. We get there early; I walk straight up to Security, a chipper woman who actually smiles at me, I’m through in minutes. Sometimes it’s almost like 9-11 never happened. That’s an impossibility of course—there is only before and after horrendous horrors like 9-11 and Katrina and Trump, the kind of horrors that make you see your country, your world, in a whole new disappointed light. But I digress.
9am: About to take off for Chicago, first step in transforming me into a Norwegian. Uneventful.
Noonish: Best fish tacos I’ve ever had in Chicago Midway’s “Windy City Taproom” which, along with a tall IPA, bring me briefly back to life. That fish was blackish and crispy and salty and flaky. What a lovely airport surprise. I can have them again on my way back. I’ll never eat fish tacos anywhere else. Possibly.
3pm: All aboard for LaGuardia. An empty middle seat. Sometimes small air-travel miracles still occur.
5/6/7/8pm: Arrive LGA, Shuttle JFK. Check in, security.
11:30pm: Take off for Oslo. Norwegian Air, the budget airline of Norway, where your meal is only $45 should you choose to order that luxury accompaniment to your flight. In all fairness, you also get breakfast for that princely sum. I selected vegetarian which wasn’t great, but it was Norwegian. In fact my mostly Norwegian mom used to make that same macaroni and tomato sauce lunch with that same fruit cocktail for salad/dessert. Authenticity is always costly. Must say the experience was pleasant enough, the crew was efficient, the flight on time and all that. I do miss the idea that on international flights you arrive at your seat to a nicely folded blanket and your own soft pillow, and the meal, while not necessarily good, used to have lots of things: a main dish, perhaps a small fruit or veggie appetizer, salad, roll and butter, cheese, crackers, brownie or pudding…it was hard to keep them all balanced on the tray and the butter was always brick hard, and the rolls stale, the lettuce browning around the edges, and so forth but it was so much fun getting all those bits.
Saturday, August 11, 2018
10:23am/Albuquerque time. 6:23pm/Oslo time. I am exhaustedly babbling. Happily ensconced. Quiche in my room soon. This is a really simple little b&b, regular one, not airbnb. About $80. Little repacking. To bed with Bob Dylan bio on Kindle. It’ll be light much of night and I’ll fall asleep with that scratchy old voice in my head—for tonight “Blowin’ in the Wind” I think. And real live Norwegian woods can be my last sleepy sight.