Are we there yet?

Post 25/2022 Friday 21 October . . . Once upon a time, families traveled long distances mainly by car. Compare that to what we witnessed in air travel this week. On Tuesday, we flew Southwest Airlines from Chicago’s Midway Airport to Long Beach International Airport. Plenty of elderly folks, a noticeable number of young families, and a few businesspeople were headed to California. Doesn’t anybody stay at home anymore? I ruefully asked myself. Guilty as a pimpled nose–with good cause I hasten to add.

Evening sun on trees on the campus of Greencroft Continuing Care Retirement Community, Goshen, IN.
Bird of Paradise in Seal Beach, California, taken on a morning walk.

From windy and cold to sunny and hot. From home to there. Connection with friends after 14 years and more of not seeing each other in person.

Getting there

Here’s one way to get from north central Indiana to southern California.

Have a friend drop you off at South Bend International Airport (Thanks Gwen!). Instead of catching a plane from here, take the South Shore Railway to Chicago’s Millennium Station. Encounter one surprise: being bused from Michigan City to Gary Metro because of construction on the track. Transfer back to the South Shore to Millennium. Tickets for seniors cost $7 each.

Take the five-minute walk to the Orange Line at Wabash and Washington. Ride the up escalator, pay for the fare with a contactless credit card, travel to the end of the line at Midway Airport. (Stay at an airport hotel for the next-day flight.) Call for the shuttle service. Shiver in the wait at door 2, thankful for your puffer coat.

Check in. Walk to dinner at the nearby Fridays. Turn in. Read. Tune out the sound of planes taking off.

A laugh at the vagaries of travel

Getting to Midway and our hotel took a spot of time: 7 hours. By car the travel time would have been about two-and-a-half hours for a distance of 121 miles.

Here’s what makes me laugh. The speed limit of some retirement communities, Greencroft for example, is 18 mph. Driving to Midway Airport and our nearby hotel at 18 mph would have taken seven hours. The slow road might get you there, but never on superhighways. Ha!

Walk there? No. Though it reminds me of the phrase on the T-shirt I’m wearing, a gift from Allison and Rachel who visited us about a decade ago in Cornwall, UK. The message is: “Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.”

Next morning take the shuttle back to the airport. Check-in. Proceed through security and find your boarding gate. There’s an impressive array of eateries and other shops along Concourse B. Smile as you pass the queue at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Take your turn boarding the direct three-and-a-half-hour flight to Long Beach. Enjoy drinks and snacks. Today: Brownie Brittle and Snack Mix (pretzels, bagel chips, cheddar cheese squares). It’s encouraging to see people taking Covid avoidance precautions, though many act as though the pandemic has passed.

Arrival

We were met by friend Linda and their family caregiver. Soon arrived at Linda’s home, five miles away. Nice dinner of salad and lasagna, fruit and ice cream. Restful night. Lots of catching up.

At the Long Beach home of Bob and Linda, longtime friends.

Next day

It’s a short hop to Seal Beach for an ocean-side stay.

In Southern California Off the Beaten Path, the description for Seal Beach notes, “The charming city offers a special blend of quaint sites, history, and ocean beauty. Main Street downtown provides a pleasant, old-fashioned stroll lined with antique shops, boutiques, restaurants, and ice cream and candy stores.”

We’re here for a pleasant spell with Linda and other friends. The ocean breezes are a real comfort after the temperature when we arrived in the 90s. Our condo has no mechanical air conditioning. In a way, that’s a blessing–it underscores the concerted attention needed to mitigate the continuing rise in global temperatures. Glad to see a sandpiper on our walk yesterday.

Today we had breakfast at Crema Cafe, one of Linda’s favorites. Creama is also a favorite of cousin Pam from Tuscon. Pam messaged Marty about her delight in a coffee and almond croissant from Crema–truly tasty. Thanks, Pam!

Since Covid-19, restaurants on Main Street have branched into outdoor seating “parklets,” displacing car parking spaces in front of their businesses. Even with Covid still an item, some letter writers say it is time to return the spaces to car parking. Others are saying the spaces should be made permanent. One city council candidate said, “Walking down Main Street, regaled by the laughter and conversation of the many diners and walkers there to enjoy their city, represents something positive that came out of the past two years.”

The candidate wrote further: “I put my bid in for a permanent arrangement of parklets more than a year ago, asking planners how that might be worked out . . . I know that the loss of parking space is an issue, but truth be told, I can look at parked cars anytime, but a great downtown is another story.”

I’m sure glad I brought shorts and a few T-shirts. As well as a hat and gloves for travel coming and returning. Meanwhile, sandals, shorts, T-shirts and sunscreen.

We made it here, too

Recently Marty and I had the pleasure of reconnecting with friends Monty and Ginger at their home in Rockford, Michigan. Pleasant walk along the Rogue River, tasty meals and snacks, lots of conversation, and the mind-stirring movie, Hamilton.

Happy travels. Happy times at home.

-John

4 thoughts on “Are we there yet?

  1. Thanks for coming to visit us. The Autumn colors were spectacular! We had a nice walk along the Rogue River and watching “Hamilton” was really memorable. Glad you’re now enjoying the sun and warmth of Southern California!

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    1. Fine stay. Mostly staying put in Seal Beach. So good to lounge, read, walk, visit, take in the ocean’s expanse. Glad to have seen fall colors in your area of Michigan. Best!

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  2. Great to know your whereabouts the last little while. As long as you have the right attire, every weather condition can be enjoyable. So enjoy!
    Kaye

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