I’m going flying again…

6 minute read

July 21, 2023, 8:07 PM

Remember when I wrote that Journal entry about how I had not flown on an airplane in more than two decades?  That non-flying streak ends next week.  Elyse and I are taking a Wednesday-to-Friday “weekend” trip to Toronto in order to see an exhibit at the Myseum of Toronto about television in Toronto.  As you probably guessed, there are elements from Today’s Special involved in this exhibit.  The exhibit runs through the middle of next month, and so I figure, we’ve got to go see it.  I found out about the Myseum exhibit from Nina Keogh (who played Muffy), and it opened just after we had finished our trip to Ottawa.  I really wanted to go to the exhibit, but I felt like I couldn’t do another trip to Canada so soon after the last one, both for cost reasons, but also for time reasons.  But eventually, I determined that I couldn’t resist, but that the only way that the trip would make sense would be if we flew.  I played with it in my head, and then pitched it to Elyse, and she was supportive of the trip, but was surprised that I suggested flying.  But an exhibit about Today’s Special will mean a lot to me, so I considered it worth it.  I loved the children’s television exhibit when we went to Ottawa, and so I’m excited to see this second take on a similar subject.  If it tells you anything, I heard Muffy’s voice in my head, telling me, “I know you want to visit me, but to do it, you’ll have to fly, you see.”  Damn it, Muffy, you talked me into it.

Once we get to Toronto, we’re staying at the Chelsea again, which is within walking distance of the Myseum and also “The Store“.  My plan for the day is to visit the Myseum and the store, and see what else I can get myself into in that general area.  It all works out because the Chelsea is about four blocks from the store, and then the store is about four blocks from the Myseum.

I suppose that this trip is the logical conclusion of a process that had led me to do a lot of thinking.  For about seven months, from early November to early June, I was working various services that took me past Washington National Airport several times a day.  I would roll up and see all of these people boarding with their little suitcases and going wherever.  I also saw the planes take off and land as I went by.  This happened day in and day out.  And it got me thinking.  It made my flightless life feel quite confining, as I saw people traveling the world, and I was under a self-imposed limitation based on how far it would be practical to travel via road or rail.  I did a whole lot of regional travel, but I started to feel a little constrained, as there were things that I wanted to do but were either unreachable by car or impractical to do with the time that I had available.

That’s one thing that has changed for me in the last few years.  It used to be that money was the limiting factor when it came to travel.  In my twenties and thirties, I did a lot of day trips, and hotel stays were rare, because while I could do day trips on the cheap, a hotel stay raised the price of a trip several times over.  Back in 2005 or so, I could do a day trip from Stuarts Draft to DC for about $50, and that included gas, Metro, food, and whatever else.  Add a single night in a hotel to that, and now that’s more than doubled my cost.  And when money was tight, I couldn’t justify the extra cost.  I definitely remember a few times where I would go to a place somewhat distant from the house, go home, and then return the following day, because it was much cheaper to drive home and pay for the gas to the house and back out than it would be to get a room.  Now, I can afford to travel like I mean it, but time is my limiting factor, since vacation time at my workplace is scheduled for the entire year at once, and I only get so much vacation time in a year.  So while I can afford to go monetarily, I can’t afford the time.  With the limiting factor’s becoming time instead of money, it changes your mindset a bit.  Yes, I can afford to go to wherever now, but how much time will I have on site?  I can’t justify an outing if I can’t get enough site time relative to the time and effort that it takes to get there and back.  And if I want to expand my horizons further than the HR-V can carry me in the time that I’m alloted, I’ve got to use other methods.

So in getting ready to book airline reservations for this trip, I realized something: I had no idea what I was doing.  I had never booked a flight before in my life.  The last time I flew, I was 18.  My parents booked all of those travels.  So this was all new territory to me, going on Travelocity and booking flights.  I’d booked with Travelocity before for hotels, but never flights.  So now I got to navigate different airline and airport options.  Dulles, National, BWI, Toronto Pearson, and Billy Bishop.  And then there were a lot of different airlines that flew between DC and Toronto.  American, Delta, Air Canada, United, Porter, and so on.  Elyse initially recommended that we fly out of BWI, because it’s typically cheaper to fly out of Baltimore than DC.  However, I didn’t see any significant difference in price when I looked at BWI, which led me to look at Dulles and National, which have the added bonus of being on the Metro system.  We originally looked at taking Porter Airlines from Dulles to Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto.  That would have had some Today’s Special cred with it, since Sam and Jodie flew out of that airport in “Flight“.  However, we only found one scheduled flight, and it left around midday.  Considering that I work late into the night, I wasn’t feeling that one, since this was supposed to be a fun trip, and I was not about to pay a whole lot of money to be exhausted the entire time for lack of sleep, or oversleep because I didn’t plan enough sleep to function and subsequently screw up the whole thing, and be out a ton of money.  So I ended up scheduling a flight on Air Canada that leaves Dulles just after 5:00 PM and arrives in Toronto just before 7:00 PM.  In other words, I will be properly rested for this adventure.  Then for the return trip, we’ll be taking a flight on American that leaves Toronto around 7:45 PM, and arrives at National Airport just before 9:30 PM.  That gave us a good portion of the last day to play around before we had to head to the airport.  The use of a different airport for the return was deliberate.  We were taking a later flight, and I know how Metro can be.  National Airport is a significantly shorter Metro ride than Dulles, which meant that rather than taking Silver to Metro Center and then Red to Shady Grove to get home, we could just take Yellow to Gallery Place and then Red to Shady Grove from there, since I will have work the following day.  Then of course, getting to the airport, I also have no idea what I’m supposed to do.  I vaguely remember what we did in the 1980s and 1990s, but it’s been decades since then.  Fortunately, Elyse knows, so I’m thinking that she will be the adult here.  On all past flights, one or more parents handled these things, and this will be the first time that I would fly without a parent with me.  Meanwhile, I’m anticipating that the airport will piss me off, but I’m willing to be surprised.

I was also surprised at how easy it was to get over any mental hurdles about flying for this trip.  I guess it shows that if you want something badly enough, you’ll figure it out.  I posted on a Reddit forum about people who are uptight about flying, and a respondent basically told me to forget everything that I knew about flying in the 1980s and 1990s, because it’s all different now, and the planes are apparently of much better design than they were before.  Let’s hope that they’re right, because I definitely only tolerated my last few flights.  Though I suppose that I’d warmed to flying a little bit in the last few months, as I had been looking at some local flight excursions for photography purposes recently, looking at helicopter flights and hot air balloon rides, both in the Frederick area.  So I suppose that I was already a little bit primed to take this plunge, though I didn’t think it would be so soon.

I’m also treating this trip as something of a test, with the idea’s being to see how much I can tolerate flying for something that I really want to do.  Because if this succeeds, it might open the door to more trips in the future.  I want to go to the San Francisco area at some point, I’ve thought about going to Germany in the future, and Elyse really wants me to go with her to Japan (though I’m less enthused about that latter prospect), and for the latter two, I obviously can’t just hop in the HR-V and drive there like I do for other places.  So we’ll see.  I used to enjoy flying as a small child, but as a teen, not so much.  Now that I’m in my forties, maybe I’ll enjoy it again, though I have my doubts.  Only one way to find out.

Wish me luck, I suppose, and of course, I’ll have a full reportback on the adventure when I get back.