I just returned from a trip to Seattle where we spend the Thanksgiving holidays with our younger daughter and her family. The flying involves Hartford to Chicago to Seattle and back.
We spent a fair amount of time running on moving sidewalks to make our connections, riding on a scary high-speed train to get around the Seattle airport and once, sitting on the tarmac for 1 ½ hours while a new computer was installed. We were happy to wait; I hate to fly in jumbo jets with faulty computers.
But the upside of it all is that we met a lot of very nice, interesting people along the way.
There was the Alaska-bound guy with a well-worn face, who wore a butter-yellow leather jacket with foot-long fringes. He stood in line with us as another guy wearing Hans Brinker type wooden shoes clomped by. “Now, I’ve seen it all,” muttered the Alaska guy. And we all had a good giggle.
On one leg of our journey we sat with an elderly lady who spoke in a thick Irish brogue. She wore a brightly patterned dress and a big white flower smack on top of her vivid red hair. She was headed for Sacramento and was very nervous, but happy to chat about her three children, all of them doctors. There was a wheelchair waiting for her at our destination and once settled in she called “Happy Thanksgiving” to us until she was out of sight.
From Chicago to Seattle we sat with a woman who told us she had created a one-woman show about the life and times of Blanche Stuart Scott. Ever heard of her? Neither had we.
On Sept. 2, 1910, Scott was the first American woman to solo in an airplane. A Rochester, N.Y., native, she was a pal of the Wright brothers. She was the first woman to drive coast to coast in a car, when only 218 miles of paved road existed outside American cities. Dubbed “The Tomboy of the Air,” she was the first woman to fly in a jet, with, of course, the world famous Chuck Yeager at the controls.
Our new friend told us of the research she had done on this fascinating woman who is prominently featured at the Smithsonian. She told us how she had worked up a period aviation costume to wear; the right boots, she confided, she found at Victoria’s Secret.
She herself was a pilot as is her husband and a couple of children. She loves to present her character at public gatherings, especially youngsters like the Girl Scouts.
And just before we landed, she asked if we lived anywhere near West Townshend where dear friends of hers live. We said indeed we do.
On the last leg of our trip, the smartly dressed woman sitting with us turned out to be a nun. And she told us of her travels to Taiwan, involving 16-hour flights.
We spent eight days in Seattle without ever getting a glimpse of Mount Ranier, but we had a lovely turkey dinner.
We had chatted and laughed with people we’ll never see again.
But, as we dragged in late at night to a dark house and ticked-off cat, we repeated the Dorothy mantra from the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.”