Sunday, December 04, 2011

Gulf Coast Saga: Day 1, Part 3 - Stranger in a Strange Land

Landed in Pensacola without a hitch and picked up my ride, a brand new Chevy Traverse, loaded.  One of the first things I noticed about driving here in the deep South is that the use of turn signals is definitely an option or a sign of weakness, take your pick, but it's really OK to change lanes without signaling.  I still had another 65 miles to plow through to get to my hotel in Mobile.  The route was mostly on Interstate 10 through the piney woods that make up the natural environment here.  Crossing Mobile Bay was really quite beautiful.  I was trying to imagine Union Admiral David Farragut steaming his way into the Bay shouting "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

With the ease of modern technology whose name is Tom Tom, I found my hotel.  The front desk clerk was an affable African American woman who asked me "What brings you to Mobile?"  I'm thinking Mobile, it's definitely not pleasure, so I answered truthfully "business" which is nobody's business but my own.  Then out loud she read my company's name on my company shirt.  Maybe I don't get this Southern chit-chat curiosity and maybe I'm just a little too Pacific Northwest reserved.  I should probably lighten up.

After throwing my bag into the room and a little nest building, I cruised out to look for food.  I was starving after a long day of travel fueled on Starbucks and scones.  I quickly found a fast food place, Raising Cane's, that served up all manner of deep fried chicken strips, or as they refer to them in the South, chicken tenders.  Fried chicken, for sure I was in the South.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gulf Coast Saga: Day 1, Part 2 - Windowless Leaving Seattle

My travel profile includes window seat.  I look forward to flying over the landscape, gazing down at meandering rivers, tilted fault-block mountain ranges, Cascade volcanoes, open-pit mines, belching industry, small towns, small airports, just about everything.  I boarded the plane with this in mind.  Boarding a plane is a routine that involves shuffling down the aisle to my row, dumping my bag in the overhead, squirming my way to the window seat, buckling in loosely, relaxing a bit, then taking a look out the window.  What! Wait! Hey, no window.  Yep seat 10A on this 737-800 had no window.  I was honestly quite bummed.  I told the young woman in the center seat next to me that I was going to draw a window with a face looking in.  The upside to being windowless was that I read a book cover to cover between Seattle and Dallas-Forth Worth.  As we were on approach into DFW, I strained to look out the window in the next row up.  The young woman next to me who it turns out had a wicked sense of humor says to me "Looking out your imaginary window?"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gulf Coast Saga: Day 1, Part 1 - TSA Carnival Barker

I'm on my way to Mobile and Pensacola to visually review vacant residential units in several apartment complexes for damaged asbestos-containing materials and mold.  The work is a little south of my pay grade but we're lacking in available qualified staff and I'm happy to win a trip to the Gulf Coast.

I'm flying from Seattle to Pensacola, with a stop in Dallas-Fort Worth.  The real trip starts with running the TSA gauntlet.  This morning we're greeted by a carnival barker TSA agent with his pitch about removing all liquids and gels from your bags.  Geez, he's annoying.  I never remove my liquids and gels from my bag, at least I don't in Seattle.  But I'm tempted to this time.  He's loud but not that compelling.  Like the majority of TSA agents, he's packing some extra pounds and he's having a bad hair day, everyday.  I didn't take out my liquids and gels one time in Salt Lake City and they looked in my bag and found them.  The TSA agent scolded me.  It was rough.  Well, they didn't find my liquids and gels this time.  So there Mr. Loud Mouth TSA agent.