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Wednesday, 04 February 2015


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Did I ever tell you about the time I flew to ... ?

Oh, nevermind.

So, that mid-life relationship you opened the first episode with: I gotta agree with you. Maybe it's because by then sanity prevails, and one can fully appreciate the person and the moment. (I am convinced that the impulse to fall madly in love and to have children is a temporary mental affliction that Nature has imposed upon the young in order to avoid our species going extinct.)

I'm not so sure that your recall of the Blazer catastrophe is the only factor at work on your psyche. I had no such experience, yet as I get older (73 in a few weeks), I have gotten much more risk-averse. Perhaps it's the realization that, buddy, there ain't that many good years left. So, don't do stuff that will mess them up.

I'm curious about the Finger Lakes region in mid-winter. Last summer, at Keuka Lake, I stared at one particular house on the lake, and wondered what it would be like to vacation there in the snowy season, rather than in July or August. My imagination suggests a roller coaster of gloomy leaden days alternating with spectacularly bright and beautiful ones. What was your experience? (If you ventured out at all, that is. Roaring fireplace, wine, and your SO - why go out?)

[Mike, S. tells me that the downside of winters in the Finger Lakes is unrelieved, unremitting grayness. I wasn't there long enough for that to be oppressive (and I do think we had a few sunny or partly sunny days), but she says it gets old. --Mike]

Welcome back! Hope you are fully re-combobulated by now, however reading between the lines it sounds like the diabolical return journey was a small price to pay for your time away.

O.T. After reading your recommendation for David Bailey's East End, I decided to purchase a copy. It arrived yesterday from Amazon, and I am very happy. The reproductions are first rate, the subject matter is fascinating, and Bailey's ability to see the unusual in the commonplace if amazing. I was a bit put off making the purchase as you said that the books were paper back. In fact the three (large) books are hard backs. They do come in a slip case. The physical package is very pleasing.

In regard to long distance relationships, I have always heard that "absence makes the heart grow fonder", but I think it is more likely abstinence. =)

Also, you don't get one drop of sympathy from me about your travel saga--you are most obviously in love! The other stuff is just trivial background noise in comparison. Love can get you through a whole lot of plane delays. Congratulations!

I waited patiently to comment on Part 1. Normally I wouldn't bother but believe this is germane. For more than 6 decades I was essentially unflappable, but recently I've become anxious (physically noticeable) about winter storms and mentioned this just the other day to my spouse. So the return of your anxiety about the accident isn't strange, at least not to me.
As for texting, you really should learn to use the speech to text option. It's absolutely liberating and SO much faster.

[To your last point Paul, I do use it, all the time, and I agree with you, but of course there are limitations when you're surrounded by strangers and wish to communicate privately.... --Mike]

When learning to drift in a snowy parking lot I got cocky and the car spun out. Whoosh. Whump. Up to that moment I thought I was a master of the automotive universe. Formula One material. In the seconds following I was the passenger in a car with no driver.

A valuable lesson long remembered.

So glad you made it back intact.

Just for fun.

A little sloppy, quick and dirty on a small original. I hope you get the idea.

Thank you for the multi-episode story. As for the finale, I guessed only too well what was coming. (I live in the frozen north too.)

I dread flying and I'm supposed to get on a plane on Saturday: another snow day. I may bite the bullet and pay an exorbitant fee to change my flight to the day before, which is not a snow day.

Happy for you that you have found your SO.

How can you be discombobulated - didn't you go through a recombobulation zone? - or wait, I think I may have only seen that at the Milwaukee airport., and you were going the other way. FYI - Milwaukee airport has a service for starting dead cars; we've had to use it on our practically brand new, at the time, Subaru.

Thanks for Part II. It reminded me why I avoid Midwest airports in the winter. Back in the day, when a particular case had me flying to the East Coast at least once a week and connecting through MSP/ORD/DTW, I carried a small sleeping bag in the expectation that an airport closure/bung-up would strand me. Cf http://www.sleepinginairports.net .

Sorry for your travel woes - pilot to passenger, but one of my best winter memories happened in Finger Lakes country. In 1973, with two feet of snow on the ground, a friend and I hiked into Taughannock Falls by Cayuga Lake, me carrying a 120 slr, tripod, two lenses and film to photograph the tons of ice surrounding the falls. I still look at those photos often with nary a though of the wet socks, jeans and boots and frozen face. And yes, my car did start when finished. It's a good thing because the whole area was totally deserted with no road service to call - if we'd had a phone.

Hang in there, she's worth it.

I, too, have roadside assistance, but, thanks to the time in sometimes takes for help, I now only use if for troubles I can't remedy myself. To jump start my car, the wife and I now carry one of these in our cars:

I was skeptical of its strength due to it being in such a small package, but it easily started my convertible which sat for 2 winter months in the cool garage without a single start. It's an impressive little device and, in my opinion, money well spent. Just don't put it in your trunk.

...and book me on David Lee's flights any time! I like his attitude, as opposed to this guy's: http://abcnews.go.com/US/selfies-caused-colorado-plane-crash-ntsb/story?id=28688703

Handy practice tip: No selfies while flying an instrument departure.

Loved reading this story Mike -- all three parts. As a 15 year airline pilot it's helpful to hear what it's like for passengers during challenging weather events. Thanks for being patient through all your troubles. I'll try not to say "and the plot thickens" over the PA ever again.

About long distance relationships and travel...

The travel gets easier. Don't rush anything. For two years, I commuted from Milwaukee to New York City once a week for work. The first couple of trips were terrible (including one episode of pulling my suitcase from Hampton and 24th Street all the way to 76th at midnight on a Friday in February). As time wore on and I gained experience, the commute got easier. Soon, I found a rhythm and was able to turn the travel time into productive time, editing photos and writing on the plane or while waiting in the terminal. Give it time and you'll develop some travel callouses. It'll get comfortable. You might even enjoy this new lifestyle or at least find fodder for a photo project.

In my life, I've had two long distance relationships. The toughest parts were avoiding resentment brought on by the hardships of travel, and also choosing who would eventually move. I never made it past that second issue. You seem to have a leg up in that department with a job/business that is completely mobile. Best of luck.

So all this high adventure aside, is S in to photography?

Congratulations on the new love. My wife was 47 and I was 50 when we married 20 years ago after a brief courtship. By that age most people have enough experience to know when they have found a keeper. It was my second marriage and my wife's first. A friend of my wife said it gave her new hope. ;-)

"I didn't make much of an effort to look at it through the camera—I just watched it, wonderingly. A sight to behold."

Good for you! Some of my friends, and my girlfriend especially, wonder why I don't sometimes photograph when I'm on vacation or when something extraordinary is happening. It's because I want to experience, absorb and enjoy it fully and undistracted. I want it to become an emotional memory.

It's not that I can't have this type of feeling when photographing as well; it's just different. It's a photography biased memory (and all that goes along with the challenge of composing and exposing a good photograph).

Trains are such a nice way to travel, and we let them go to seed. We are nuts.

When my "beloved" catches me whining she displays a particularly annoying signal gesture. She lightly rubs a thumb against the side of her index finger. It's her "finger violin".

I feel your pain. Some days your get the bear, some days the bear gets you :-)

If your going to travel via air on a regular basis then you're going to need some tools.

Check this web site out:



When I was travelling a lot and leaving my car in the long term, I seem to remember that they all had a portable battery booster as this type of incident was not unusual.

I suggest that you check your car battery, if you haven't already. That is, see if the car will readily start after it has been left for a couple of days. The battery may have already been on its way out when you parked the car, but either way it has taken a beating. It is best to check now, rather than find out when you next need the car.

This is why I don't get back to the US very often. The flight from Tokyo to Seattle alone is apx 11 hours, and I am just getting started. By the time I get back to my very rural West Virginia hometown, nearly 24 hours have passed. If everything goes well.

But I'd do it more if my girlfriend were there. I just began a new relationship last March with a woman who lives about an hour from me in northern Tokyo. I shared what you wrote with my her:

"....joys of mid-life relationships. Best I've ever had; I am so surprised at finding such happiness at this late stage, when I was well and truly past the expectation of it, that I just seem to cherish and enjoy every minute. The depth and richness of this mid-life happiness is the best gift that my life on the surface of this little green and blue globe has given me so far. If you're middle-aged and lonely, keep trying, is my advice. The rewards can be beyond your imaginings...."

Although she has some trouble with English (we often speak an odd mix of Japanese and English each other), she understood it and replied:

"I can understand the feeling of what does he would like to say and you also. I am also have same feelings. Our language is different but sensibility is similar."

So you are speaking for a lot of folks in their 40s and over. This is one area that seems to improve with age.

I take Amtrak to the Finger Lakes every couple of years from central Illinois to Syracuse via Chicago. About the same amount of time as you spent on your travels except its spent reading, napping, dining, etc. with great legroom and round trip costs less than your parking. Worth investigating. Only issue now is increased freight traffic from petroleum transport has been causing delays. Walk back and get another coffee or beer.

Forty seemed too fast on the highway...except to the idiots whizzing by . . .

Per Seinfeld, there are three types of drivers: me (perfect in every way); morons (those driving slower than me); and maniacs (those driving faster than me).

Somehow, as I've aged, there seem to be a lot more maniacs in the world and fewer morons. Oh, and driving is a lot less stressful.

May your LDR become an LLR (long-lived)!


Having dispensed the above advice I went out to the car to find that I'd left the lights on and the battery was flat. I was very lucky, and after a couple of grinding 'uhuh' sounds it started. This is what comes from relying on the opening of the car door to alert me to the lights being on. G@rr@£, be%@ium, Ford Fiesta door light switches!

On, er, a brighter note, your excellent reason for travelling encourages this 56 year old not to give up hope just yet.

Mike, loneliness can be like a cancer, so it's a pleasure to read that things are looking up in your world (and S's). Best wishes for the future.

So Mike. I did the exact opposite. We were probably in different terminals of Chicago O Hare at the same time.

I had to drive from Brookfield to O Hare airport. I left before noon and was one of those idiots who drove 30m behind a truck who drove at 50mph all the way on the highway. No problem. Except one. I needed a bathroom break but saw many cars had left the truck tracks and rammed into a pile of snow and got stuck. As i didnt want to risk that, i didnt try to get off at a service station and just held my legs tight.

I arrived after 3 at the airport, drove into rental returns and said "fill her up yourselves but tell me where the restroom is" :) All this time, my incoming flight showed on time and outgoing flight on schedule.

Long story short, my plane left the airport at 220am instead of 510pm. A long uneventful, boring time. We got on and off one plane as the long runway was closed and the 747 couldnt use the short runway as wind was wrong. The next incoming BA flight had to wait over 4 hours for a gate to dock at. Eventually I got home 12 hours later than scheduled.

I just had this same double roadside assistance experience myself (from Nissan in my case) last night here in Honolulu, and I'm going to have to call them again this morning to get my car to the dealer to see what's up. The battery is only 2-3 years old, so I suppose that we may conclude that either cold weather or warm weather may bring about low battery life. Or perhaps it is the combination of cold weather in New York, where it spent the first two thirds of its present life, and warm weather in Hawai'i, where it now resides, and somewhere in the mid-southern-midwest, perhaps Lebanon, Kansas, which is near the geographic center of the 48 contiguous United States, there is an environmental utopia where car batteries last for at least five years.

Mike -

Perhaps the only avoidable element of your star-crossed return from New York was the $247 parking bill. Numerous low-cost parking options have sprung up to serve the needs of long-term parking at Mitchell Field. Here's but one: http://www.wallypark.com/milwaukee/

Cheers and best wishes-

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