Monday, August 1, 2022
Well, here I am in the Motor City!
Dave and I arrived yesterday evening around 5 p.m. local time. The flight was smooth enough, but getting out of London was crazy. Our plane was scheduled to depart just before 1 p.m. GMT, and there have been news stories recently about backed-up queues at Heathrow because of staffing issues. So we knew to give ourselves extra time. We left home at 8:30 a.m., got to the airport at about 9 a.m., and used every second of those next four hours to get through check-in and security. I have never seen lines like that.
We did dare to check our bags, even though there have also been stories about baggage being stranded at Heathrow. (I figured if worse came to worst and my bag got left behind I could just go to Target once I got to Michigan. I carried my camera and computer onboard.) Fortunately, we got lucky and our bags arrived too.
The guy who sat next to me -- a college kid named Michael who was coming back from a study-abroad experience at the Courtauld Gallery -- barely made the plane. I thought the seat next to me was going to be empty but he and several others got pulled through the queues by airport staff at the last second so they weren't left behind. He said he'd arrived at Heathrow three hours early, as Delta recommended, but that evidently wasn't enough time.
Anyway, once we were all onboard and in the air it was smooth sailing. I spent the whole flight reading most of Rick Bragg's "All Over But the Shoutin'," a memoir of his childhood in Alabama and his ascension in the newspaper industry that I've been meaning to read for decades. He worked at the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times and The New York Times, where I've also worked, and though I didn't know him in either place it was interesting to read about his experiences with people and newsrooms I know well.
Here's what it looked like as we flew over Lake Erie. That's Canada directly below us. I also got a pretty good view of Montreal and thought about how I'd visited there so many years ago.
It's funny how we fly now, isn't it? Airplanes used to be much more social spaces before the advent of the seat-back television. People moved around and talked to each other, and the cabins were bright, with all the windows open. Now everyone is just in their own little world, plugged into their entertainment system, and the airplane's windows are all closed so we're huddled in a dark tube. If you've been reading here for any length of time you'll know I'm normally loath to converse with strangers on long flights, because it can feel a bit claustrophobic. But I wound up chatting with Michael partly because neither one of us watched the TV -- I was reading and he was mostly writing in his travel journal, which I admired, being a compulsive journal-writer myself!
Dave's parents picked us up at the airport and we headed straight for Dearborn to go to dinner at a place called Ford's Garage, which is in the heart of Ford-land.
Here's my pulled-pork sandwich, complete with a bun branded like a steer.
And this was our tower of onion rings, served atop an oil funnel. (Presumably a fresh one!) The bathroom sinks were made of car tires. Dave's parents had been telling us about how fun and quirky this restaurant was so I'm glad we finally got to see it first-hand. My sandwich was good but thank God I got the broccoli as a side dish because otherwise that place was hardly serving health food.
And now it's almost 5 a.m. and I am wide awake. Ah, jet lag!