Saturday, April 11, 2009

The coast, the desert and the three day trip

We flew west with Rudy, the raccoon. Jake, the white tailed deer, had a mechanical problem and left us waiting in a mountain city while they worked on him. While Frontier (a whole different animal!) checked to see if they had the right part, we shifted our weight, looked in our bags and looked expectantly at the gate agent.

"I wonder what part it is," Best offered. Adam and I shrugged.

"It'd be funny if we went out and there was a United tail on the plane." Adam replied after a moment.

"But there'd be no animal on it," I protested, rather fond of the wildlife photos (and television offerings, actually - well done, Frontier).

Adam grinned. "We'll go out and there'll be a marketing person up there with a can of black spray paint," he predicted. "Draw a circle, a couple of triangle ears and some whiskers and rename this plane Alley, the cat." And we laughed before being called to board (Jake remained the graceful figure on the tail and wingtips) as we continued farther west for a few days.

Had this been my first and not my (I've lost count) corporate travel experience, I would have been utterly enamored of business trips. We were in three lovely cities, housed in rooms that were luxuriously spacious (kitchenettes, separate living space, king sized beds and the requisite eight pillows in each), ate incredible meals (enchiladas, steak, fresh salads full of local vegetables) and started late enough in the morning that I continued to feel reasonably rested and sharp through lengthy meetings. We laughed a lot and were reasonably productive. And my moments of extreme stress were few and far between.

I was consistently shocked when people apologized for the weather - calling it too rainy or dry, cool or warm depending on our location. "It's lovely," we assured them, reminding them of our home state and watching them blink in horror at the idea of snow. The Midwest...making you feel better about your weather through 90% of the year. The three of us walked all we could, standing outside to chat and breathe fresh air. I lingered in the garden of one hotel during a break in the rain. The air was heavy with sweetness, flowers looked vibrant and healthy, and I sighed happily as I arranged colors and shapes on the screen of digital camera before capturing the image.

Between luscious chocolate torte and perfectly rich carrot cake, we traveled to the desert. I glanced out the window between tapping the keys of my laptop and blinked at the desolate scenery. Mountains and desert turned an odd shade of brown in the dimming twilight and I shivered with a sense of foreboding since my last glance out the window had revealed the blues and greens of the Pacific crashing against sunny shores.

After circling yet another airport, impatiently waiting to land the damn plane already, we secured a driver and soon checked into another set of large hotel suites. After placing a room service order, I hurried to the shower to wash my hair and rinse the smell of plane down the drain before hastily dressing to answer the timely knock at the door. The next day contained more meetings, a bit of lab work and talking to men who are as brilliant as they are friendly.

"That's my cover!" I said upon walking into the director's office. A young man, he's oddly lacking in ego and embraces my direct approach to collaborations. I like him very much.

"That's why I kept it out," he said and I nodded at its removal from the stack of journals on his desk. He handed the bound pages to me and I brushed my fingers fondly over the cover, blinking when he handed me a pen. "Would you sign it?" he asked when I continued to wear my inquisitive expression. I smiled, glancing at Best before returning my gaze to our host. "Seriously," he said. Ducking my head over the glossy cover after glancing around his office and admiring the multiple awards tucked discretely between books and between family photos, I scrawled my signature in the lower right corner, very flattered and feeling rather enamored of a job that allows me to meet such amazing scientists.

I returned home in the first moments of Friday morning and smiled when Dad came into the garage to greet me, proudly displaying the baby gate they added to the Wall of Awesomeness so that Chienne could not continue to escape. I heard Mom calling upstairs, telling my sleepy canine I'd come home. I walked inside, giving hugs and kisses and having a piece of Easter chocolate as I caught them up on travel news.

The house was lovely - kitchen counters wiped clean, laundry folded and properly put away. I declined the offer of dinner and thanked them for all the work they'd done while I'd been gone. We had breakfast when I woke, having caught a mere five hours of sleep.

"Stay here," they advised when I debated going home for Easter. "Get some rest and relax." I offered more hugs and kisses with my offers of thanks and expressions of love as I headed off to work. They'll return on Saturday in preparation for Longest Trip Yet - a 10 day excursion to a familiar island that one of my favorite people calls home. In the meantime, Chienne and I took a walk and napped at great length. I've cuddled with Mr. Sprout when he curls into my side and giggled when he tries to attack my hand when I rub his belly. It's wonderful to be here - quiet and mellow - so I'll enjoy the time until I must depart once again.

2 comments:

hypoglycemiagirl said...

It IS nice to come home isn't it?

CharlieAmra said...

The photo of the yellow flowers are beautiful. Do you know what kind they are?

Sounds like you are doing more business travel than I am. Pretty funny or ironic (can never tell). The deserts are the best AND worst part of travel, that is for sure.

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