I’ve been planning this around-the-world trip for months and already I’m having problems. I’m using my iPod as a PDA (I put all the monthly online bill payments into my Outlook calendar and exported it to the iPod) so that I can just check it every morning and remind myself of any business that need to be taken care of on the road. I’ve also carefully whittled down the equipment that I needed to carry, since every extra cord is something else I need to carry. One of the things I jettisoned was the charger for my iPod because I just figured I’d bring the USB cable and charge it through the MacBook. However I didn’t stop to think that I had the iPod set up on the PC (Windows) computer at home, which launched iTunes every time the iPod was connected and updated the Outlook calendar in the iPod. So last night, in the hotel room in LA, I booted up the laptop with the iPod attached to charge them both, and when iTunes was launched I panicked. You see, I don’t have a calendar on the MacBook, so I was frantic that my entire calendar would be simply wiped out when the system tried to update the iPod. Fortunately, the fact that I’d switched the iPod from the PC to the Mac made the iPod freeze up completely and I was able to change the system settings so that the calendar is not automatically updated each time the iPod is connected. Of course, then I had to figure out how to unfreeze the iPod.
Second, my Skype software – the one that I will use to phone people while I am traveling – suddenly stopped working. So I had to download and install it all over again. Strange gremlins are at work – it worked yesterday right before I left home.
This morning I left the LA hotel really early so I would have no worries about having enough time to check in for international flights. My flight left LA at 12:15 and I arrived at 10:00 AM. The shuttle bus driver asked me what airline I was flying and I checked my ticket – USAirways. I stood in line for an hour, only to be told that, although the ticked said USAir, it was a flight operated by United and I was at the wrong terminal. A glance at the clock – 11:00 – and a mad dash across the street and through the parking lot to Terminal seven. Fortunately, they called for everyone who was going to Tokyo to move to a separate check-in line and it all worked out just fine. Whew! Really, my fault. With this Star Alliance program, you pick one airline to handle all your booking (I picked USAir), but the flights may be with any one of 18 different airlines. And while my ticket said USAir, the itinerary that I so painstakingly put together clearly said that it was a flight operated by United and I needed to check in at the United counter.
I am just tired. Can’t imagine why… I’ve only spent about 18 hours a day for the past four weeks getting ready to leave, at the expense of my sleeping hours. Now I just need to settle down and pay attention.
I have met some interesting people already. On the flight from LA to Tokyo I was in line behind a Japanese woman who was carrying a shopping bag with a big box of Krispy Kreme donuts.
“You’re taking home Krispy Kreme donuts – all the way to Japan?” I asked.
“Oh yes – all three of us,” she said, indicating her other two friends. “In Tokyo we have to wait in line one hour to get Krispy Kreme,” she added.
I told her about my brother-in-law, Steve, who can’t pass a Krispy Kreme store without buying a box of glazed donuts and that he loves them so much he freezes them so he’ll always have Krispy Kreme when he craves one.
“How many Krispy Kreme stores are there in Tokyo?” I asked.
“Oh, only one – line very, very long.” Yet another reason to love America, huh?
On the plane I struck up a conversation with my seat mate, Gus. He’s a Navy Cryptologist who travels to our ships all over the world to train the signals intelligence personnel. That led to a long conversation about the capability of the National Security Agency to monitor all communications and the hundreds of thousands of intercepts they have each week, but their inability to review all these intercepts because of the lack of personnel to actually read what has been intercepted. Fascinating stuff.
“How on earth did you ever get into Cryptology?” I asked.
“Well, I took an aptitude test when I enlisted and they told me I scored so high that I qualified for this thing called Cryptology. I asked the guy at the recruiting office what it was and he said he didn’t know, but that it was super secret, so I signed up for it and here I am.”
The best part about long term travel is the people you meet. Before leaving the States I sent an email to my entire list of contacts. I know people from all over the world due to the Yoga retreats I have attended overseas and I have heard back from friends in Scotland, Israel and Japan – all of them wanting me to come visit the. Unfortunately, those destinations are not on my radar this trip, but maybe next time. I also heard from a friend who, the last I heard, was living in Ibiza, Spain. She is now living in Bali and has invited me to visit her. I’ll be in Bali on my birthday so I’m delighted that I can spend that day with a friend.
Must go – another plane to catch. So many places, so little time. I am tired but happy, can you tell?