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TUESDAY, FEB. 26, 1991
Somewhere over the Atlantic

I've decided not to put any stock in omens and portents.

I'll admit that a day ago I was asking for a sign before departing on this, the Mother of All Road Trips. Then, as I was packing my suitcase, a picture fell from the wall and crashed to the floor. And not just any picture; my Big Bend picture. Another desert, another adventure, a long time (14 years?) ago. That one I look back and laugh about--getting lost in the desert for 2 days without water until finally being rescued in an army helicopter. But that one I chalk up to youthful folly. This trip? Well, we shall see.

The trip to the airport was itself a bit too ominous. Approaching the freeway ramp, we were greeted by a pickup truck coming at us the wrong way down a one-way street. Bonnie, our driver, evaded and we were on our way. The man thought he was going to the depot, but not yet. A mile from the airport, we were surprised by a chunk of debris in our path. The thump when we ran it over sounded like bad news. Ten seconds later the left front tire shredded, and Bonnie wrestled the van from the left lane, through traffic to an exit ramp. Rob and I set about reading the jack instructions, unloading the spare, and getting our hands greasy. The sound of hissing air meant more bad news; the left rear tire also expired. Thank Bell for cellular phones. We called AAA, then a cab. The cab came for Rob and myself in five minutes. So we left Bonnie and Rob's friend Cheryl to wait for the tow truck.

Only half an hour at the PanAm ticket counter and we were ticketed to London, with open reservations to Bahrain and back. That wait was nothing compared to the hour delay before boarding, followed by the hour on the runway waiting for clearance. After returning to the terminal to lighten our load (we had too much cargo on board to take off), we finally got off the ground.

The good news--Ted Turner has sprung for business class seats! Whether by oversight or design, we're in wide, comfortable seats just one notch behind first class. As we wing our way over the Atlantic, I can't help but feel that maybe our luck is finally going to go our way.

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© 2011 Chuck Afflerbach for The Hick Town Times