The Way Home

The Way Home

Grand Junction, Colorado – September 7, 2013

The day started quite early as is always the case when leaving Guyana. My flight was the 05:35 Caribbean Air flight. Usually, the motor pool driver would pick me up at about 02:30 or a little earlier. Today, traveling on the same plane was another colleague, so the driver talked me into a 03:00 pick up. The driver and the other passenger arrived at 02:50. As the driver was loading my luggage, he told me we had to pick up one other couple. That got my stomach tied up in knots because it usually takes about an hour to get to the airport.
At about 03:00, we arrived at the other couple’s house, as the driver backed into the driveway, he said, “Oh shucks! I’m getting a flat!” He got out and opened the rear hatch. Now I started to get nervous since the time was ticking. The driver closed the hatch and got back in the Suburban. He told the guard to let the residents know we would be right back. He said to us the tire was not completely flat, so he was going to drive back to the embassy and switch vehicles.
Off we went! Luckily it is only about two miles from where we were.
When we arrived at the embassy, the driver parked the Suburban in front. He walked into the compound to get another vehicle while we stayed outside. By this time the left front tire was completely flat. We removed our bags and waited. Soon the driver emerged from the compound. We loaded up and began the drive back to the house.
We arrived at the house and picked up the residents. As we departed, I nervously glanced at the clock on the dash, 03:28.
Even though our progress slowed because of the occasional large truck doing 25 mph, the driver got us to the airport in just about 40-minutes.
As I walked into the terminal building, I was astonished at how many people were in the small airport. That was due to the relatively short time before departure and the fact that Caribbean Airlines had two flights taking off within 25 minutes of each other. I went to the shortest line and got checked-in reasonably quickly. About 40-minutes later I was on the plane.
We took off right on time. We landed at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago a short 55 minutes later.
There are many things in this world I don’t understand. One of them is the handling of passengers arriving at Port of Spain from Georgetown. In Georgetown, to get into the waiting area, one must pass through a full-body scanner. Also, shoes and bags must go through an X-ray machine. That is very similar to the U.S.; however, upon landing at Port of Spain, all Georgetown passengers go through the same routine again. That is what I don’t understand.
After getting off the plane, one is in the concourse area of the airport. That is the “secure” portion of the airport. But, instead of being allowed to sit and wait for the connecting flight (which is always the same plane parked at the same gate) one is forced to be screened again. One could argue that it is a security flaw since the screening only consists of a metal detector and an X-ray machine. Since there is not a full-body scanner, there is a possibility that dangerous, non-metallic items could be introduced to a passenger and be brought into the secure area undetected.
When I made it to the end of the screening line, I was surprised that it was easily 100 meters to the screening area. That did not count the zig-zag portion of the line. The line inched along at a painfully slow pace. By the time I got back into the concourse, I only had about 25 minutes to wait to board the flight to Miami.
The flight from Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago to Miami, Florida was scheduled to depart at 08:30, so one would think boarding would begin at about 08:00; it started at 08:18. By 08:36, everyone was on board. Regardless, a flight attendant did not close the door, nor did we push back from the gate until 08:53. “We just completed the final paperwork,” was the explanation from the captain. Oh well.
About halfway through the flight, when I looked out the window, I found myself feeling almost disoriented. Looking down at the ocean, it was just as blue as the sky. In the distance was a small thin layer of clouds. They appeared to be at about our same altitude. It was difficult to tell if we were flying upside down or right side up when focusing on the clouds! It was beautiful, though.
As we neared Miami, flying over and near the big island of the Bahamas, it struck me how crystal blue the water was. It was a beautiful shade of turquoise.
Landing at 12:35, little did I know there was another travel surprise coming. Leaving the gate where the plane parked, one has to go up an escalator and then walk to immigration. When I got to the top of the escalator, in between me and the first moving sidewalk, there was a large crowd of people just standing there. I thought it was some tour group, so I began to walk around. Then I noticed it was three lines. At the head of each line was a Customs and Border Protection officer. They were checking everyone’s passport. I went back to the end of a line and waited for my turn.
On my customs form, I wrote that I had been to Guyana and Suriname on this trip out of the United States. When I handed my passport to the agent, he did not look at it at first. He pulled out the customs form, looked at it and then at me. He asked why I had been to those two countries. As I began to answer his question, he saw that my passport was a diplomatic passport. He immediately said, “Oh, never mind. Have a good day, sir”. Off I went to immigration.
I passed through immigration and customs quickly. As I exited, I found myself in Terminal H. I had to go to terminal D, but first I had to re-check my baggage and get my boarding passes. That all took about an hour. Luckily I had a three-hour layover.
Of course, my gate could not have been D2 or D3; it was D42! What a hike! When I got near the gate, I had a quick chicken Caesar salad and waited to board.
The flight to Dallas, Texas, was uneventful. Upon arrival, I made my way to gate B10. Directly across from B10 is a TGI Fridays, so I decided to have dinner. I had the Dragonfire Chicken. It was particularly marginal.
Emerging from Fridays, I discovered my gate was now B24. Once I got there, it was only about 20 minutes until we boarded.

Gate B24 at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
The flight to Grand Junction, Colorado was pretty. We were flying almost directly toward the setting sun. There were quite a few clouds. The sunlight hitting them was beautiful. Unfortunately, none of my photographs did the sight justice.
About two hours later, I was on the ground and heading for Fruita, Colorado.
During my time in Fruita, I was able to relax by pursuing my passion — photography. The following are some of my favorite shots from this trip.

A dragon fly lit on Tyler’s hat for a while.
The water spigot.
Cattle in a nearby paddock.
A wider view of the cattle.
A cow and her calf stopped to see what I was doing.
A freshly cut paddock.
A hummingbird and wasp in competition for a sugary drink.
Maybe a little too close for comfort?
A dandelion ready to blow away.
The Main Street Cafe in Grand Junction, Colorado.
An old mixer in the Main Street Cafe.
A woman walking by The Main Street Cafe.
Detail of a water fountain outside The Main Street Cafe.
The Independence Monument in the Colorado National Monument near Fruita.
A canyon wall in Colorado National Monument.
Detail of a canyon wall.
A dead bush provides contrast.
Layers of sand that are millions of years old.
Prickly pear cactus.
Prickly pear cactus II.
A rock formation in Colorado National Monument.
A lizard sunning along side the trail.
In places, the sandstone seems almost liquid.
Detail of the sandstone.
Another lizard sunning by the trail.
A rock formation in Colorado National Monument.
The trail leads to the far rock formation.
Clouds gathering over Colorado National Monument.

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