Manhattan, and Norfolk… Eventually
I got up at seven this morning. Yeah that’s right, read it again. I’ll wait. I had everything packed and ready to go last night so I didn’t have to think about anything this morning. Dad and I left for the airport at about 7:30. We didn’t have any trouble outside of the regular morning traffic. Checking in at the airport was no problem. Since I flew last a few years ago, the humans at the ticked counter have been replaced with kiosks. There are still people there to take and tag your checked luggage though. It took me a bit longer to get through security than most people because I didn’t take my laptop out of my bag before putting it through the X-ray machine so one of the people there thoroughly searched it by hand and put it through the machine again. I got through and into the terminal well over an hour before my flight. I got a bite to eat and looked at the planes until I got bored of that and then watched a 24 episode. The plane didn’t arrive until after 9:30 so I figured we’d have to be at least a little late leaving because I was reasonably certain they can’t turn around the planes that quickly. We departed the gate at about 10:15, just ten minutes late. The flight to Newark wasn’t too bad. I had a window seat just behind the starboard engine. I already knew it sucks to sit behind the wings because of the noise but there were no forward seats available even back when I booked the flight in the first week of May. Between that and having the headphones volume almost all the way off, I walked off the place with a headache. A little over in to the flight we started moving through some clouds which means there was nothing to see and it was more than somewhat bumpy. I was hoping to get a good look at Manhattan on the approach but I was disappointed. I did get a distant glimpse of it though. It would have been better but the air wasn’t especially clear. Not long after I arrived at Norfolk-Liberty, a very big airport by the way, I learned my connecting flight was cancelled. I was scheduled for another flight which was to depart at 8:45 instead. The thought immediately came to mind that I could go to Manhattan for a little while. I’ve never been to New York before and I’ve wanted to visit there since I was little. I didn’t want to risk missing my new flight but I asked some TSA’s about it and they put my mind at easy about the simplicity of getting there. I took the airport’s “AirTrain,” which connects Newark’s three terminals and a few parking garages. It also goes to a New Jersey Transit transfer station, which I took to Manhattan’s Penn Station. It’s rather impressive all the things Manhattan has underground and Penn Station is an impressive example. It’s like an entire airport underground, except for trains of course. Even so, I was able to find my way to the surface without much trouble. Emerging from the ground to see Manhattan for the first time was certainly an interesting experience. There are so many people, all apparently in a big hurry, and tall buildings everywhere block your view of the famous tall buildings. Since I wanted to be cautious about being on time, I decided to spend only an hour or two in the city before heading back to the airport. With that in mind, it made the most sense to see Times Square, although it was painful to pick one thing since I could stay there for a week and still feel bummed about missing out on sights. Times Square is about eight blocks from the train station. After walking around for a block or two I went back down to a subway station to get there, so I got to have the whole New York subway ‘experience,’ which sucks by the way. They’re just as hot, cramped and smelly as I’ve heard. Times Square was pretty fun to see. Like everyone else I’ve seen it in pictures and on television countless times and it was cool to see it all in person. I walked around a bit and stopped in a few places including the ESPN Zone, Virgin Megastore, Gap and a place called Ray’s Pizza. I thought I might have a chance to get some good New York pizza which I was there but this place was basically a privately owned Sbarro. It’s wasn’t too bad though. The Gap the last place I stopped in before I headed back to Penn Station. It was a lot more hassle getting back to the airport. It took me more that a couple minutes to find the NJ Transit ticket counter. Those trains work in an amusing and slightly irritating fashion. Even though the trains run on set schedules, the tracks they stop on are not predetermined. They are announced no more than ten minutes before the trains depart. That means all the passengers have to congregate around these screens that show the train schedule. When a track is announced, a good number of people will bolt and run to that track. It’s funny until your train comes up. The track for the 5:37 train I took back to the airport wasn’t announced until about four minutes before it was supposed to depart. Oh, and the tracks are a level or two below all these screens, and they don’t seem to have much of any public address system on the tracks level. I was back at the airport a good while before I learned my ‘new’ flight was delayed at wouldn’t be leaving until ten. I got a drink� well a couple drinks, and a sandwich at one of the little bars in the terminal. I left there well before nine to be at the gate and catch my flight. The flight was delayed two more times after this. I called Aunt Layren at least four times about delays. I finally did board at about 10:30. We left the gate at about 10:40, but between taxiing and waiting in line to take off, we didn’t get off the ground until about 11:15. This flight wasn’t in a big Boeing 757 like my last flight, it was an Embrarer 145, a small jet that seats about 50. I was in the left side, which has only one seat. There are two on the right. The ride is a lot less smooth as a consequence, and I think even louder than my first flight today. The plane does feel faster though, for whatever that’s worth. I closed the window a few minutes into the flight because there was nothing to see aside from the strobe light. I opened a few minutes later after my complimentary beverage and saw the moon, just starting to rise in the horizon. It was big, ever so slightly red in color and its dim light barely illuminated the clouds under the plane. It was a lovely image and for a few seconds I forgot about the loud and incessant engine noise, but only for a few seconds. The plane landed about midnight. The Norfolk airport was pretty deserted. I got my luggage from baggage claim without too much trouble. Aunt Lauren was waiting for me just outside. She drove me back to her house, which took about a half hour. I got to bed at about 1:30.