Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Our Version of The Odyssey

On Saturday morning, the day of our departure, my RC group and I had planned to get breakfast at Wawa together for one final excursion together, but since some had left already and others were running late, I ended up going with just Sravan and his friend from the math course. There, I bought my usual yogurt with granola and mango along with a pretzel and tried to use up as much of my change as possible so I wouldn't have to carry it with me back home. Unfortunately, I was not entirely successful and still ended up with a sizable amount of coins.
The Wawa on the corner of our street
Upon returning to the Quad, I continued the effort I had started the previous night to pack all my stuff. Somehow, there seemed to be less space in my luggage than I had remembered, but eventually, I managed to pack in all my possessions, including the ones I had bought during my time on the East Coast. I cleaned my room, wiping down all the surfaces with cleaning wipes before donating the rest to the Summer Discovery program. During that time, I was distracted a few times by my RC group, once to witness the chaos one member had left in the room adjacent to mine and the others to say goodbye to each person as they departed. Finally, after putting the finishing touches on restoring my room to its original state, I brought my luggage downstairs, said goodbye again to the friends I encountered, checked my keys back in to the Summer Discovery program, and waited for Mr. Hillyer to show up with his shuttle. Sure enough, he did, easily recognizable by his tall frame, and we all said goodbyes yet again before loading our luggage into the shuttle, getting into the vehicle ourselves, and being whisked off to the airport.

Once we arrived at the Philadelphia Airport, we printed out our boarding passes and checked in our large luggage with only minor difficulties with the tags for my luggage and Diana's that were quickly settled. We then walked through the airport to get lunch at Chickie's and Pete's, which Mr. Hillyer seemed pretty enthusiastic about (although he usually seems enthusiastic anyways). There, we ordered their supposedly famous Crab Fries to start with while exploring our menus. On a side note, we didn't understand why they were called that, as they didn't have any crab in them, as far as we could tell. The fries came out shortly, served with both a creamy cheese sauce as well as maple syrup. Although we were all somewhat apprehensive about the syrup, I decided to continue with my adventure to try new things and go for it. I discovered that I actually liked the sweetness that the syrup added to the flavor, much to the surprise and amusement of the rest of the cohort. I also tried the cheese sauce, and although it was good, I decided I somewhat preferred the syrup, although occasionally, I would revert to the cheese sauce. Keeping up the effort to be adventurous, I ordered the Mussels with White Sauce, which, according to the menu, was an award-winning dish with nationally acclaimed sauces, so I trusted the lofty advertisement and went for it. I certainly did not regret that decision, as the mussels were absolutely delicious. However, I was somewhat disappointed that I realized I should probably have been dipping the bread they provided in the sauce after I was more than halfway through. It was still a great meal, though, and I'm glad I took the chance on the mussels.
The Chickie's and Pete's in the airport
The only picture of food on my blog
After our meal, we headed over to Gate B9, where our flight would be taking off from. To our surprise, the area was already relatively full when we got there, despite being several hours early. Since there were no outlets available to plug in my laptop, I had to go to Gate B8 instead so I could continue working. However, I was still exhausted and ended up being unproductive. In the meantime, I saw Trisha and Jason, who were on the same flight as us, as they passed me on their way to Gate B9. Eventually, it came time for us to board the plane. Just before we did, I bought a bag of Chex Mix from a nearby stand and managed to use more of the change I had.
One of the gates in the airport
Some of the stores inside the Philadelphia Airport
After boarding the plane, I decided to do some calculus, simply because I have a greater propensity for math. We had also been doing so much reading and writing about social issues that it was actually somewhat enjoyable to go back to doing problems with definite answers. Shortly after the plane started to taxi, I succumbed to exhaustion once again and returned to consciousness only to discover we were still on the ground. Confused and still somewhat disoriented from waking up, I thought it hadn't been very long and ended up staring at the time on my phone screen for a while, trying to process that it had been an hour and a half. Finally, I had the bright idea of asking Allonna what had happened in that time. Apparently, our flight had been delayed due to poor weather conditions, and once it had improved, we had run short on gas from idling so long and had to refuel. Upon refueling, we were then further disappointed by the news that we were on a waiting list to fly. Finally, nearly five hours after we had boarded the plane, we finally took off into the air, much to the happiness of everyone aboard. I had the window seat, so I had the responsibility of taking photos of the group. I ended up taking pictures every few minutes while I was awake before drifting back out of consciousness. Since we were flying westward, we had a great view of the sunset for a few straight hours until the sun finally dipped below the horizon for us. However, we also saw some lightning storms during our flight, which was not exactly what I was hoping to see while we were up in the clouds. I also had dinner on the flight due to the several hour delay, as the Chex Mix was helpful but not enough to satisfy my hunger. Of course, like all food on airplanes, the pastrami sandwich I had was subpar, but it accomplished its purpose.
To illustrate how long we were on the ground: from broad daylight to dusk.
The progression of the sunset
Finally, the captain's voice disrupted the silence as it filled the cabin, informing us that we were almost in San Francisco and to fasten our seatbelts for landing. Once we disembarked from the plane, we headed over to baggage claim, where we picked up our luggage and said our final goodbyes to Trisha. We then boarded the shuttle, which took us all the way back to El Cerrito, where Don, in his signature aloha shirt, was waiting. After we had taken our luggage out of the shuttle and loaded it into our own cars, we stood under a tree to take some more pictures, our final ones of the program, before heading to our homes.
Coming home: an aerial shot of the Bay Area
One last group picture
After a long day of waiting, both before boarding the plane and during the delay, it felt like we had undergone a journey, hence the title, although I'm certainly very glad we spent "only" 10 hours on the plane rather than 10 years like Odysseus did in Homer's famous epic. Upon arriving back at my house, the only thought on my mind was that I was glad to have finally made it back home.

No comments:

Post a Comment