Back from a small vacation to St. Louis to visit my boy, his girl and their baby daughter (my 4th granddaughter, total of 5 grandkids). Got to Boise/Gowen at just after midnight on icy December 14 due to no timely ride there, waited inside in my wheelchair 'til 4am when TSA opened up and got injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and selected to go to my gate...where a Delta 737-800 (old winglets) took us all on and made a departure on 10L into the inky black winter sky...and flew into a beautiful sunrise over an icy white South Dakota. Plopped into a cold, clear Minneapolis/St. Paul on Runway 30R, made the fast wheelchair trip with go-bag, gadget bag and cane, up the steep jetway, up those terminal slopes and over to a waiting MD-90, which took us off from 30L to St. Louis in just over an hour as I fought sleep...and as we then descended into very heavy cloud and fog into Lambert at around noon. I swear, the ceiling over STL was 200 feet!
But we got there, parked, met up with the kids and shared the back seat with Joelle, my 8-month-old granddaughter. We bonded instantly and had a great time for 4 days, 3 nights. And she and her parents got spoiled by Yours Truly, travelling all over STL through heavy fog, moderate rain and then clear skies. We ate plenty of food, watched lots of M*A*S*H & other shows, talked a lot...and Joelle and Grampa bonded further via shared napping on the couch.
December 17, the 115th anniversary of powered, heavier-than-air flight, and it was time to return home: at Lambert by 1pm and once again wheeling through TSA for more injection, inspection, detection, infection, neglection and selection for the trip home, wheeling quickly to the waiting 717, the Little Mad Dog, for the trip back up to MSP. Once aboard, we made haste for the runway, were cleared for a no-hold turn onto Runway 30L and immediate departure...and boy, does she love to get off the line! Rolled, rotated, lifted and climbed hard, got to altitude over Illinois, then Iowa and descending over Mason City, Iowa (site of the Buddy Holly/Ritchie Valens/Big Bopper crash) into Minneapolis on Runway 12R with the blazing, setting sun behind our right wing. Layover time was under an hour but the sky was night-black by departure...
Wilbur and Orville never had it so good. Or did they? Time would tell...
Now we're on the 757-300 (the long one) for the trip to Seattle...plane #2 of 3 that day. She's big but she's no slouch as she does a drag-strip launch and hard climb out on Runway 30R...for my former home of Seattle. The longest trip of all, we had an excellent view of the clear Dakotas below, under a 60% moon which lit the snowscape below beautifully...and lit the broken overcast of Montana with white clouds and white snow everywhere. Clouds hit over the Idaho panhandle and stayed that way across Washington, where we descended into heavy cloud which held heavy rain (the engine lights lit it up) and we got some bumpiness, which persisted as we broke cloud over Woodinville headed west, then lined up with Sea-Tac's Runway 16R for approach over Shilshole Bay and a flawless touchdown in spite of the rain and wind. Although I was used to Seattle being like this a lot in winter, it feels a little foreign...it's no longer home.
Once docked, we all got off into the terminal, with me again wheeling up those steep jetways & ramps for a slightly-delayed third leg home to Boise on an E175 Embraer. The delay was only 15 minutes (late arrival...we more than made up for it flying to Boise) and we again boarded, got seated, coasted up to 16L where we were again cleared for immediate turn-and-burn departure. That little 175 gutsily rocketed forth and up...and in the heavy, dark Seattle rain we encountered significant turbulence 1,000 feet AGL and continuing as we passed by Kent to our left and hit cloud at 3,000 feet AGL. Then a turn, many more bumps, climbed further as we bumpily passed St. Helens with no view, got to cruising altitude for a turbulence-free 20-minute koffee klatch (with biscuits) before descending back into major bumpiness. But now, the rain was gone, the overcast ceiling much higher up over the Malheur Range, crossing over Ontario, OR & the Snake River, then greased 'er straight on into Boise's Runway 10R this time. Now, we're home. Wilbur & Orville would've been proud.
Got off, I wheeled up, in and through to the chilly Arrivals parking area at 11:35pm, where my daughter waited for me to drive me home. Got home, straight to bed, slept for 9 hours straight...and smack into a massive fibromyalgia flare-up (almost identical to an MS flare-up) for 3 days, just now getting over it.
And that was my 5-plane vacation.