Back In The U.S.S.R.

As I am someone who likes to write about my travel experiences, especially because they often provide elements of humor about them or reveal general concerns that apply throughout life [1], I thought it would be worthwhile to provide a summary and chronicle of my two-day trip back to the United States.  It begins Tuesday morning in Kuressaare, where I wake up fairly early to finish reading a book and then go off to to the bus station early to buy a ticket because I had somehow managed to buy tickets for the wrong day on both of the bus tickets I had purchased online.  My ability to quickly vanish was judged as being on the verge of antisocial, though it wasn’t.  I usually have a purpose and a plan when it comes to my travels and I do not like to waste time going about it, and after I had bought my bus ticket I sat inside and read until some of my friends from the site told me that they were loading the bus a bit early.

The bus ride from Kuressaare was not nearly as entertaining as the trip from Tallinn had been.  Part of it was the fact that the bus and the ferry were more crowded–the bus was largely sold out thanks to a flood of people from one of the small cities that the bus stopped in along its way through Saaremaa.  The combination of deary weather right around freezing and a cramped bus and ferry made the trip less enjoyable, as did the fact that it was impossible to convey to the cafeteria staff on the ferry that I wanted my food particularly plain.  It is hard enough to do in English, much less Estonian where I am limited to pointing and attempts at pidgin.  Once we got to the bus station, the eight of us from the feast site that had traveled together from Kuressaare split into two groups of four.  Four of us were headed off to Moscow, and the other four were staying in Old Tallinn for the night, so we divided up into two taxis and we waved the others goodbye.  I managed to share a taxi with friends where the father of the family worked at the American Embassy in Moscow, and as we had a few hours to kill, we did so in an enjoyable fashion that involved a lot of witty conversation, plenty of food to eat and bottled water to drink, and a lot of inside jokes.  The young lady of the party snapped lots of photos and managed to get a large box of Toblerone candy, as it reminds her of her middle school humanities teacher.  I noticed in general that the family did not listen to each other well, but that while each of them was quite fascinating to have conversations with, that all of them tended to speak what was on their mind and not pay sufficient attention to the others, and to the details about what the others were saying or what they were hesitant or reluctant about.  I ended up sitting near them on the short plane trip to Tallinn, where they gave me the thumbs up on a roast beef sandwich, which I usually do not eat for gout concerns, and we waved farewell as I went off to spend the night in the Moscow terminal and they went off to a late arrival home.

I had planned to do some writing, albeit not publishing, from the Moscow airport, but it was not to be.  When turning on my computer at the airport Tuesday evening, the screen did not light up and the computer was basically dead, and so that necessitated adding another stop to my already crowded post-arrival schedule, about which I have much to comment on but would rather do so after a reasonably full night’s sleep and some time to reflect upon what words to say about it.  Suffice it to say, though, that I did not get to do any blog preparation except for the rudimentary preparation I was able to do on my phone, and I really detest blogging on my phone.  I did manage to get some reading done.  By the time I got to Moscow I was able to finish a novel about a particularly Nathanish young man on the lookout for intimacy as well as intellectual and spiritual enlightenment who runs afoul of the Soviet government for passing along questionable poetry, and by the time I got to Los Angeles I was able to finish a 540 page book on Oregon Country in newspapers from the Lewis & Clark journey to the Lewis & Clark Exposition a century later.   Both reviews should appear fairly soon.

As might be imagined, my sleep in the Moscow airport itself was fitful.  The capsule hotel was a bit on the spendy side so I decided to be thrifty and find a relatively inconspicuous place to nap, which was not easy at all.  For breakfast I went with the fairly safe if uninspiring Burger King route, and when I arrived after quite a long hike to my bfe gate for departure, I was able to watch the immensely slow logistics of what the airport staff was doing to clean up the plane and get it ready for turnaround.  We ended up leaving an hour late from Moscow, which made me concerned for my transfer in Los Angeles, but there was nothing I could do about the incompetence of the airport workers even if having my time wasted is not something I find particularly enjoyable.  The plane ride it self was enjoyable, as I got to read a bit, catch up on all of last season’s episodes of Game of Thrones, about which I have more to say later, watch Hail Caesar, about which I have more to say as well, and listen to some music.  Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the plane trip was a bit limited given the fact that on both the Moscow-Los Angeles and Los Angeles-Portland legs of my trip I was close to crying babies, and on the Moscow-Los Angeles flight I was on the aisle and had to get up several times for the Russian speakers who sat beside me.

Los Angeles reminded me yet again why I detest it so much when it comes to flying.  While I had been able to dodge around the corridors to avoid re-entering security on the way out, I had no such luck this time because I had to take my baggage manually through passport control, which was at least amusing, and featured a really intriguing portrait of me on one of the printed documents for re-entry with pursed but somewhat pouty lips and my glasses that I had been unable to take off in time.  Since the airport in Tallinn had not given me a boarding pass for my last leg of the trip, I had to hike outside the airport from the international terminal all the way to terminal six in order to check myself in.  Thankfully my check-in luggage was re-checked before all of that hiking, which left me a bit sweaty and dehydrated, and subject to the highway robbery for anything to drink in LAX.  By the time I got through security again and had managed to hike to the distant gate where my flight to Portland was, I was pretty tired, and I managed to sleep for most of the trip on the plane.  But that was not the end of my adventures, as I had a computer to deal with just before Fry’s closed in Wilsonville, and some groceries to pick up for work for the rest of the week, before I could lay my weary heard to rest and prepare to face some extremely long days at work ahead as I catch up on my work.  But that is another day.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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