Not quite Friday the 13th

The flight to Houston from Baltimore-Washington this afternoon seemed like it was kind of dragging on a bit. I couldn’t really tell because I don’t use a watch except for my cell phone and it was turned off.

Clouds had kind of obscured the view on and off. I did fly over what I believed to be Talledega Motor Speedway, the venue my friend Ross and I visited a couple of years ago for a NASCAR race.

Looking at the Continental route map inside its in-flight magazine, I figured we would be flying over northern Mississippi shortly, making our way back to Texas.

After awhile, sitting in a port window seat, I looked out and saw what I thought to be a rather large lake. I kept looking at it, saying to myself: “Jeez, that’s a hell of a big lake.” Soon I saw a couple of noticeably-sized islands in the lake while what seemed to be a city of moderate size appeared onshore. Down there too was a pretty good piece of paved airport and it was then I realized that we were flying over my old Navy stomping grounds of Gulfport, Miss.

During my couple of years stationed at Gulfport, I never made it out to the barrier islands sitting between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I understand that they took a pretty big hit with Hurricane Katrina. But they looked beautiful from the air. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the photo above, as it is a U.S. Geologic Survey photo.

It kind of shocked me, I don’t know why, to see the U.S. 90 bridge at Bay St. Louis from the air and to realize that it was still washed out from the storm. I looked at the Mississippi Department of Transportation Web site — which is really quite good — and it reminded me that both that bridge and the Biloxi Bay bridge remain out of commission.

Soon I saw out my window what I figured to be the Rigolets, the waterway/swamp connecting Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. Driving back from Gulfport once from New Orleans I took Hwy. 90 and drove through the Rigolets, a kind of wild swamp ride. We also flew just north of New Orleans and over Lake Pontchartrain. After seeing it from 30,000 feet, the times I drove over it on its bridges didn’t do the lake’s size any justice.

By the time we flew over the Atchafalaya Basin I was kind of wondering where the hell we were going. I don’t know, perhaps flights from Washington, D.C., to Houston take that route but I thought it was kind of odd and it certainly wasn’t the same way we flew up to BWI.

At some point in time we flew out over the Gulf, which really is pretty cool to see from the air. There certainly seemed to be a lot more oil drilling platforms just off the coast than I had ever imagined.

By the time we made our descent to Houston we were in thick clouds. The plane literally came out of the clouds when it was about to put its wheels down.

Not a regular flier, I still somehow managed some frequent flier perks from past flights and thought it wasn’t too shabby to be one of the first to board the plane after first class passengers. The downside was that the flight was full to the gills and I was stuck back in my window seat on Row 21 upon landing. We had pulled up to the main Continental terminals at George the 41st airport and knew I would have to take a shuttle over to the puddle-jumper planes, one of which just might still be there to take me to Beaumont.

But the flight from BWI had indeed took about 30 minutes longer than scheduled. I asked the captain going out of the 737 if we had flown around storms. He said: “Something like that.” Since I had only 10 minutes to get to my flight, I didn’t stick around to quiz him.

Remarkably, I got to the A terminal about five minutes from our scheduled departure. But, no one had even left the terminal yet for the plane. The weather had caused delays. Eventually, we got on a shuttle bus to drive out to the little twin-engine Saab turboprop. Then there was a line of all sorts of airplanes, most bigger than ours, waiting to take off.

The weather report for the 25-minute ride back to Beaumont didn’t sound very promising with overcast skies and gusts up to 30 mph. And, it was a bit rough. But we arrived, again surprisingly, on time.

My only real problem on this Friday the 13th was that one of my checked bags didn’t come back with me. Hopefully it will catch up with me soon. So I guess this didn’t qualify as a real Friday the 13th. Of course, I still have a few hours to go on this day.

An afterthought — I know it isn’t good to edit after I have published something. I have done this a few times now on this particular piece. But the truth is, it is difficult for me to edit something online whether it be using blogger or writing something with Word. Perhaps I am just one of those dinosaurs who is used to seeing things on paper. My half apologies.

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