July 9, 2021: 5:17AM PDT:
It is about thirty minutes or so before the boarding time for my group for a 6AM flight on a Friday morning from Portland International Airport to Denver. Why am I here? Well, the reason why is that for my usual travels in July my mother and I are embarking on a series of trips to go to the last 8 states that I have yet to visit. These eight stares are, in order of the scheduled visits I am taking to them: Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana. Over the course of the next few days I will make brief updates here as well as make some videos of the trip to airports, monuments, museums, hotels, restaurants, and the like. And by the end of the trip, when I return the second time to Portland, I hope to have made it to all 50 states. With that, let’s go.
I have just arrived in Denver airport and filmed a short clip of my arrival, so early that the plane had yet to arrive–my connecting flight to Tulsa is now arriving as I write this. Despite all of the hassles that traveling can come with, I still find myself with the simple, child-like joy of traveling all the same. My flight from Portland to Denver on Southwest in a 737-800 was nearly full, but I was able to find a window seat despite being in boarding group C and I saw our flight takeoff from Portland towards the west until we got to Sauvie Island, and then turn north on a flight path that took us towards Hillsboro, eventually passing just south of Mount Hood. Despite a bit of turbulence the flight was a good one, and most of the flight passed in clear to lightly cloudy skies. The landing into Denver was gorgeous, as it should be, and though this is only my second time at this particular airport it is at least going better than the first time I traveled to Denver where the homeless people of downtown mistakenly assumed me to be one of their own. But that is a story for another time. In the meantime, behind me as I sit passengers are leaving the plane and then we will board in that time-honored way that Southwest boards by group number. I am in spot B57 in what looks to be another full plane.
We have been in Tulsa for a while and I am relaxing in the hotel before we go to dinner. I met up with mom quickly and got my luggage, but it was at that point that things got a bit interesting. We had been told that there was a shuttle from the airport to the hotel but that did not prove to be the case. We ended up catching an Uber for about ten bucks and arrived at the hotel which did not look at all like it was advertised online. When we got to the hotel the lobby was closed and we had to use the tiny night lobby, and found out that the hotel didn’t take either the Wyndham or the AARP discounts. When we got to our room we found that the coffee machine was a bit janky, that we had a broken door, and that the hotel receptionist had forgotten to give the wifi password. These concerns were soon rectified and we were able to relax and chat. My mother is talking to my stepfather and we are about to head to dinner. 1 state has been added and there are 7 more to go.
July 11, 2021, 11:51 CDT:
It is nearly midnight here and I am taking a break from writing other entries to comment here. We are relaxing in Wichita at the Airport Super 8, and it is a considerable improvement on the previous hotel. The room is clean, the hotel is friendly and quiet, and I am looking forward to a comfortable night sleep and some breakfast in the hotel before we head out to the airport after checking out here. In the meantime, I plan to write some before I sleep. I drove all day from Tulsa down to a couple of notable Cherokee sites and then up to Wichita to add my 44th state, with six still to go.
July 12, 2021: 12:41 CDT:
I am currently in the Wichita Mid-Continent airport waiting for the plane to arrive and I am chatting with my mother about our favorite flights, airport experiences, and the like. Wichita is a friendly little airport with one terminal, a little museum before security, and is generally a fast and friendly place to be. Our plane has yet to arrive even though it is about an hour before our check-in. In looking online, I decided to look at the routes that Southwest had for its pilots for these routes. According to what I was able to see, the flight to Denver is the first segment of 3 between Wichita and Denver, Denver and Houston, and Houston and New Orleans for the crew, and the flight from Denver to Portland is the fourth segment of five for the brutal 13 hour schedule of that particular shift for a crew that will have gone from Seattle to Phoenix, Phoenix to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Denver, Denver to Portland (our leg), and then Portland to San Jose to close the day at about 8PM. I hope those pilots are getting some nice rest and some well-earned OT :D. In looking at flights, I have often been intrigued at the sometimes strange circuits that crews make, as the Denver to Tulsa leg I took a couple of days ago was followed by a Tulsa to Las Vegas leg. I must concede, though, that Las Vegas is probably a more fun place to spend the night than Tulsa.