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Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber. Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet. Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little. I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Days Gone By

"When the plane is delayed, it's not the fault of the girl at the desk. I'm resigned to the fact that everything is out of my control and that air travel nowadays is barbaric."
                                                Tom Conti 

I am on US Airways Express flight 2831, en route from Austin, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona where I will make a connection on my way home to Long Beach.

The evening takeoff out of Austin is spectacular. The sky, a mix of the last remaining crimson shadows of the sunset silhouettes dark but nonthreatening clouds off to the West. The old sailor's rhyme regarding "red skies in morning, sailor take warning; red skies a

t night, sailor's delight" comes to mind as I gaze out the CRJ-900's porthole watching the last sight of the runway drop away out of my view.

As we climb, up ahead the glittering skyline of downtown takes shape, passes regally by a thousand then two thousand feet below and several miles away before itself crawling back beyond my ability to crane my neck and watch. The outline of the river -- reflecting the last remaining brightness in the sky -- is clearly framed against the dark of the land, while the bright lights of the streets illuminate the towers and, at one end of a long boulevard, the capital dome of the Texas State House. All of it drops out of view.

This is the sort of takeoff it love. It gives you a last and final glacé at a place you've been and is something of a final wink from somewhere you will miss when you're gone. It's not the sort of thing you get everywhere, nor every when. I can count on perhaps two hands the number of times I have had this sort of "magic moment" on liftoff, and it's a special thing.

As the sun sets and the outside of the plane grows further dark there is a friendly, convivial laughter in the plane a couple of rows ahead of me. The drone of conversation, a rarity on most flights these days, is in full swing throughout the aircraft. Perhaps sensing the mood, the flight attendants are joking with the passengers during the standard drink service, keeping things light.

I am seated in an exit row, and the seat next to me is vacant, affording me a pretty roomy and leisurely arrangement. My coffee, hot from a just-made pot, rests on the tray intended for the passenger next to me, were there any such person on the plane. The setting, in its entirety, reminds me again of the days in which flying was an adventure and not simply taking a bus from point A to point B.

It's nice to rediscover these things, to touch them, however briefly, every once in a while.

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