Picking up where I left off in Part One, where I finally made it from Tucson to Philadelphia by a circuitous and somewhat improvised route during this perilous pandemic.
I Came With Baggage
Since I had missed my connecting flight to Philadelphia, my baggage preceded me. I went to the baggage office for Alaska and found it closed in the early afternoon. A sign on the door gave a toll-free number where I could follow up, but also said I could check at the ticket counter. I jotted down the number and headed for the ticket counter. All the airlines had representatives present except Alaska. I had them paged and no one responded. Their neighbors told me they had their last flights for the day and wouldn’t be back until the next day.
No one answered at the toll-free number and no message was possible. I called again the following morning with the same result, but they initiated a call on their own which I missed. Their message was that they would deliver the baggage that day to the address our son had provided for them when he spoke to them himself previously. The delivery didn’t occur when promised and the following morning we needed to start our drive to the other end of the state for our family reunion. No answer and no message possible.
Our first stop in my old stomping grounds was at the home of one of my best friends in this life. He passed a couple years ago, so his wife and daughter were going to include me in scattering some of his ashes in his hometown. When his wife heard my story about not having my suitcase, she gave me some of his unused clothing she was anxious to give away. What a godsend! Buying a few more items set me up for the remainder of my trip. My baggage hadn’t followed me across the state, but it was at our son’s place when we returned. I flew back to Arizona the next day.
You Reap What You Sow
We wonder sometimes if our actions that violate common sense and logic will come back to bite us in our hindsight. When the first flight brought me to those snow-capped peaks, I considered how this trip might go awry, but I realized I wouldn’t have seen this majestic sight had I not been assigned such a ridiculous route. I started taking notes on a paper pad I carry with me. I decided to truly see what this coast-to-coast journey ahead was going to show me. A rich feast was set on the table of the North American continent and I will share some morsels with you now.
Crossing the Cascades revealed mountain villages nestled in the mountain range…northern plains with irrigated farmland…the Rockies with frozen lakes and mountain meadows…more plains across Nebraska, I think, where I start to see wind farms with their giant white blades generating power…our southeastward arc takes us over the Mississippi River…the scattered passengers are quiet as red-eye travelers…lots of windmills across several states…the sun sets and artificial lights begin to twinkle as twilight settles upon the land…big cities, maybe Pittsburgh and Baltimore, appear below before we finally touch down.
Our son takes me around Philadelphia…the ghettos with masked poor folks on crowded streets…the tour of closed factories…down to Center City with scenic skyscrapers and the art museum where Rocky made his triumphant climb…peaceful protests with police hopefully guarding the peace…a Schuykill River walk…historic sights such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Congress Hall…a bucolic evening nature walk in Tacony Creek Park near our son’s row house in North Philly.
The drive across beautiful Pennsylvania with Amish Lancaster County…no toll roads for us…Appalachians…a golden eagle soaring east of State College…Allegheny Mountains…thick with trees and leaves looking like drooping faces…my little town charming our son…dear friends and loving family, too close to wear masks…classic “shiny diners” with their food that takes us back to a simpler time.
The Final Tally
A whirlwind tour of the country in a week. Looking danger in the eye, I found humanity in its many forms. The virus hasn’t shown its face, lurking unseen who knows where. My trip was challenging and rewarding all in all. I’m back to hunkering down, shooting for two symptom-free weeks. And of course, wishing the same to the cautionary wise, the risk-takers, the country folks and the street people everywhere.