The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 97: Cramped, but Not Squished

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September 5, 2020, Phoenix-

America’s hottest (temperature-wise) metropolitan area welcomed me back, this evening-with an air temperature of 113F-at 8 p.m. This is just another reminder of why I left this city, nine years ago. It could, of course, be worse- I could always find myself, at some point, on the plains of northern India, in the Arabian Desert or in Baghdad. I will wait, though, and not be in any hurry along those lines. Thankfully, it was a short walk from the air-conditioned terminal to the air-conditioned van that will bring me back to Prescott (Air temperature, a balmy 81F).

The day started in Baton Rouge, with a relaxing morning and a lunch of left-over jambalaya and crawfish pie, from the delightful Rice & Roux. The business manager of Spring Hill Suites drove me over to the airport, as she has NO desk or transport staff, at the moment. Such is life, in the sneering face of COVID-19.

Baton Rouge Regional Airport is a small enterprise, and was rather languid, even somnolent in places. TSA, though, was alert, and I found that I had not been thorough enough, in sorting stuff out of my carry-on. A nearly-full bottle of water and some plastic cutlery bit the dust.

The puddle-jumper to Dallas-Fort Worth left on-time. With the two seats in front of us remaining empty, my young row mate got his own row-giving both of us some sorely-needed space. The other good thing was that the tiny plane was in the air for barely an hour.

A snack and a vitamin water, at DFW, sufficed before I boarded the somewhat larger plane to Phoenix. We were told that the plane would be “quite full”, leading a different young row mate to take her seat in the middle of the row, with me in the window seat. Fortunately, she was able to take the aisle seat. Given that there was a large backlog of planes waiting to take off, and the seat space is much smaller than I even remember from two years ago, I can’t imagine how it would have gone, had a third row mate shown up.

Two hours later, the still restless and anxious young lady, facing God-knows-what, in the hours and days ahead, was off the plane and out the terminal door like a shot. She said nothing, only glancing at my copy of “The New Jim Crow” and taking note of the title and author, then going back to availing herself of what little comfort the seat allowed. I felt nothing but empathy.

Another friend had suggested ditching the plane in Dallas, taking a train to OKC and from there, going to Flagstaff, via Amtrak. Two things- I flew on the Red Cross’s dime and there is no direct transport from Flagstaff to Prescott. The train is always an option for the future, but I do like the freedom offered by driving.

So, off we go, up to Prescott, and at least two weeks of respite from disaster response.