Day 1

Departure to Japan
Philadelphia to Chicago:
I am at Philly airport at 6:00am for the 1st leg of my flight, United Airlines to Chicago. I tried to get a more comfortable exit row seat, but the seat Nazi who had spotted me at boarding made me move. I guess they would rather have an empty emergency row than have anyone sit there who has not paid extra for the privilege of opening the door in an emergency (Go figure!).
I think I should have watched the Weather Channel this morning. On the descent to Chicago, the Pilot lets us all know that there has 12 inches of snow have fallen this morning. H referred to it as “Snow Flurries”. Only in Chicago is 12 inches in 3 hours “Snow Flurries”!
Finally …found the destination board an located my flight to Tokyo. It was delayed of course, which gave me that extra ½ hour to slip outside for a smoke and an eyewitness view of the “Snow Flurries”. After resolving my nicotine needs and arriving at my gate, I was pleased to discover that I had been moved up to a “special Economy Class” seat. Given the 13 plus hours of flying time and my 6’1” frame, this was the first of many pleasant surprises I had to look forward to.
The flight itself was a bit surrealistic. You are traveling in a west by northwest path. Everyone on the very large plane closes the window blinds for most of the trip. You don’t know if it is night or day and they serve you lunch twice. You watch a movie, eat, sleep, watch a Japanese Special on Baseball, sleep some more, discover an old box of tic-tacs in your bag, sleep a little more, wake up thinking okay that’s a full day. Then…you look at your watch and realize you still have 6 hours more to go.
3 important things to remember on these trips;
1) Never look at your watch
2) Try not to drink alcohol
3) Beware of the Japanese bedroom slippers that they give you.
While time disorientation and dehydration are easily over come. Your feet swelling up from size 10 to size 12 will make for interesting contortions on putting your shoes back on and even more interesting walking (sort of) through customs. It’s really difficult for old dancers with enough scar tissue in their feet to scare Dr. Frankenstein. Well. …Nuff said.
My seatmate for the entire trip was a young Japanese guy in his 20’s. He didn’t speak much English but turned out to be from Fukuoka. Interestingly enough he didn’t get up at all for the entire 13 plus hours. For a fairly short guy he must have the bladder of a large camel!


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