Had Wits, Did Travel

Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA – I am home. Get out your calculator. If I woke up at 6 AM in Reykjavik, and sat down with my Katy cat at 11 PM in Little Rock, and Reykjavik is 6 hours ahead time-zone-wise, how long was I awake and on the road? Did you come up with 23 hours? This was a day of units, each unit a different world.


Unit 1 – Center Plaza Hotel & Leaving Reykjavik: Good warm breakfast, checking out (Did you sleep well? Please come back again!), taxi (we’ve learned, taxi drivers just aren’t chatty). The weather was gray and sprinkly; I took pictures of Reykjavik’s colorful buildings as we left the town I have now put on my “Must Visit Again” list, like Quebec City.


Unit 2 – The Reykjavik Airport: From the highway the terminal showed its colors, and, like Perlan, its openness to the sky, gray or blue. Inside everything was open, light, lively. Rick and I said our goodbyes here; his flight was 8 hours direct to Seattle; my flight was 6 hours to Chicago with a 2-hour layover, and then 2 hours to Little Rock. Our flights departed within 15 minutes of each other, so our last wait-times were at different gates. Note: I wore my scarf for warmth here, and not for its mosquito-repellent properties!

Gunnar got me to Gate 35; he was my transporter from checkin to boarding, pushing my wheelchair to all the right checkpoints and the most unusual boarding technique of the entire trip. There was no ramp from inside the building to inside the plane. They had an “elevator on wheels” for those who couldn’t climb the plane’s outside steps. They rolled me onto this device, hoisted the wheelchair UP to plane-door height, and then eased my platform snug against the plane’s far side to a door right behind the pilot! Someone took my bag and stored it; someone helped me to my seat; an aisle seat beside a pleasant young couple from Madison, Wisconsin, fun to talk with and helpful all the way. Only flaw in the flight? No food for free– not even a tiny bag of Goldfish. Somehow I missed this fact when I booked. They had plenty of food, which they cooked to special order for those who pulled out their credit card. Note for future Iceland Air flights: pack some crackers.


Unit 3 – The Chicago Airport: Wheelchair waiting in Chicago. I had two hours to get to my United flight somewhere far away. Enter Paul. He’d only worked there 5 months, but Paul knew his way around O’Hare! He pushed me over half of Chicago as we went up and down elevators, walkways, checkpoints, customs, every known hindrance to man or beast, and got me to my United gate with 15 minutes to spare. I don’t know how he did it! He got the biggest tip of anyone on the entire trip. In fact, I tipped him once and thought about the miracle he pulled and then tipped him again. My United flight to Little Rock, no sweat, small plane on home grounds, a coke and pretzels standard fare.


Unit 4 – Little Rock: My familiar Clinton airport where this journey began 24 days ago. People were waiting to help; a kind man with a wheelchair and smiles and questions about where I’d been pushed me all the way to dear friend Tracy’s waiting car; good bye! Tracy drove me home under an Arkansas full harvest moon, a 15-minute trip. She lugged fancy-schmancy inside, gave me some welcome-home flowers, and made a quick exit, as my eyes were of their own accord closing fast (which sometimes happens after 23 hours).

Katy cat came out of hiding and gave me an accusatory look. “Just where on God’s green earth have you been for 24 days?” it said. “You won’t believe it,” I told her, my eyes blurry now. “Just give me time to get my wits back.”


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