Thursday, May 5 2011
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York, USA
Today Gretchen and I would be flying to Rome. Not the Rome here in New York, which is 150 miles away, but the more famous one in Italy, 4,250 miles away. Throughout the morning Gretchen and I took care of last minute household tasks and at around 11am, Nancy picked up Sarah the Vegan from the bus station and delivered her here, where she would get a relaxing upstate vacation in exchange for looking after our house and the various dogs and cats living within it. Gretchen had made a big pot of chili, which the three of us ate together shortly before Gretchen and I began our drive to the Newark airport (from which we could make a nonstop flight to Rome).
The only glitch in the drive came on the Garden State Parkway when I accidentally drove our EZpass-transducer-free car through an unstaffed EZpass tollbooth thinking it was one that might accept cash. (Why would it have even been there? EZpass-equipped cars can drive through a pair of lanes where they don't even have to slow down.)
As we waited for our boarding at the gate, we took turns patronizing a Smashburger franchise for french fries, onions, and mixed vegetables — the greasiest allowed by law (you should have seen the puddles in the containers after the vegetables were eaten). Smashburger looks like it's a fast food joint. You pay for your stuff and then stand there waiting for it to be prepared by some guys in the back. And then, after the passage of a certain amount of time it dawns on you that Smashburger is actually a part of the so-called slow food movement. We expected to be getting plenty of that in Italy, not in the airport.
Our flight to Rome was to take approximately eight hours. It was a beautiful clear day, with good views of the ground: first of Long Island, and then of Nova Scotia, where there was still a little snow on the ground. (I could only see out to the southeast.)
Gretchen had ordered us a special "strict vegetarian meal," which wasn't actually all that bad and was completely vegan. It was built around a core of rice sandwiched between two mildly-spiced Indian curries.
Another unexpected bit of pleasantness came in the form of an absence: there was precisely one baby on board, but perhaps he was born with defective respiratory passages; the little fucker never uttered so much as a pop from a collapsing snot bubble.
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