Christmas flight to Ecuador
Friday, December 25 2015
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York, USA
This morning, Gretchen gave me my Christmas stockings as usual for this day of the year. This year, the gifts crammed into them consisted mostly of nuts and tiny blank artists' canvases, though there were also a lot of tiny bottles of liquor (as opposed to the usual 200 mL flask of brandy or scotch).
Gretchen and I would be leaving for Ecuador later this afternoon, and I wanted to address a few last minute things before leaving, particularly the firewood supply. I'm good at starting fires, though most others are more reliant on kindling, so I went out with my backpack just to gather it. I didn't venture far from the house, restricting my salvaging to the north slope of the three-sided geological formation immediately northwest of where the Stick Trail crosses the Chamomile (41.929517N, 74.107791W). Unfortunately, most wood in the forest was still moist from recent rains, though small sticks and dead skeletonized trunks were sufficiently dry. Today's tally came to 43.9 pounds, which I tucked neatly into the gap beneath the neatly-stacked pile of wood in the indoor firewood rack.
Gretchen picked up our house sitter Tamsyn from the Kingston bus station early this afternoon. She'd found her on HouseSittersAmerica and vetted her over the course of numerous emails and Facebook private messages. Tamsyn said she was a vegan and went on to demonstrate intense enthusiasm about our creatures, so it seemed she would be a good fit and, as a plus, leave the copper plumbing in our walls. In person, she was significantly more woo-woo than us, talking (for example) about how
"the Universe" does various things. But what mattered is that she loved our animals and seemed responsible, more so than was expected given the nature of our relationship. All we needed was for her to watch our animals and keep our pipes in the wall and above freezing, but she was offering to do things like mop our floors. Our response was something like, "Sure, if you absolutely must!" We showed her all the features of our house, including where and with what the animals are fed. Then Gretchen took her for a couple walks in the nearby forest. The weather was cooler than it had been yesterday, but it was still unseasonably warm.
Finally it was time to go. Tamsyn was being so great with our critters that we saw Ramona following her into the house as we drove off. [We wouldn't have much internet on this trip, but whenever we got it, there would be lots and lots of cute pictures of our critters sent by Tamsyn.]
Unfortunately, our flight to Guayaquil would be leaving from Kennedy Airport in Queens, and that meant a long drive down highways subject to gridlock. Even though it was Christmas Day, we hit a bad patch of congestion somewhere in the trench of the Cross-Bronx Expressway.
Our jet to Guayaquil was a wide-body with a two-aisle 2-6-2 seating arrangement. Gretchen and I were lucky to get two seats between an aisle and a window with nobody behind us. Instead, there was a bathroom which didn't seem to stink or attract lines.
We landed in Guayaquil after 1:00am and there was a guy from the hotel holding a sign for us. The hotel was the Marriott Courtyard, and, since all the arrangements had already been made, we were handed our keycards without any fuss as we came in the door. Our room (I think it was 1204) was in a corner of the building and came with a commanding view through floor-to-ceiling windows of northeastern Guayaquil, including the airport.
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