City Code Snapshot: YVR

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If this all sounds familiar, it’s hopefully because you remember this post from last year, and not because all my posts about flying sound the same (although I suppose that would be its own commentary on the nature of the gig these days…).  I’m reposting this Rhapsody in Blue and Green about my favoritest of all airports for the benefit of those among you who may wonder why (or, for that matter, how) I set my upcoming erotic romance almost entirely on Vancouver International Airport property.  You Again? is a short, sexy love story about When Henry Met Zack that gets kinda hot kinda right away.  Sure, to the casual reader, it’s about sex, it’s about expectations, and it’s about beauty and the eye of the beholder.  But if it’s True Romance you’re looking for, remember: Greater love hath no man than a flight attendant for his favorite airport. 

YVR totemWhen last I featured a City Code Snapshot, it was of our isolated airport layover in Houston.  I am a frequent and vocal critic of — OK, whiner about — lengthy airport layovers and their high boredom factor, as you will by now have noticed.  Thus I feel like there is a certain amount of poetic justice in the fact that my very favorite of all airport layovers — the one for which I single-mindedly bid to the exclusion of any other factor, and for which I shamelessly whore myself on the trade board — is in one of the most glittering and glamorous cities in North America.

I don’t care if I never see downtown Vancouver on a layover again, as long as we continue to luxuriate in these posh airport digs, and from me that’s pretty big talk.  The five-star hotel is not just attached to the airport, but is perched feet from the USA Departures terminal, and the view from the relaxation chamber that other hotels might try to pass off as a mere “room” is very often of the airplane that has delivered you there.  But not to worry: if this reminder of your fast-approaching a.m. departure threatens to foul your mood, the blinds are easily closed, noiselessly and automatically, at the push of a button beside your comfy bed.  Continue reading

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Writing Exercise/City Code Snapshot: SNA

greetings-from-orange-county-californiaHey gang!  So today we’re going to try something a little different, and use (slightly more than a thousand) words instead of a picture to offer a snapshot of the Orange County layover.  Partly, yes, because I neglected to take a picture while I was there yesterday, but also because I used my one Orange County Outing as a writing prompt, the results of which I am moved to foist upon an unsuspecting public share.

The sun-soaked oceanfront county of Orange is home to 3 million people.  It encompasses such scenic byways as Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, and Tomorrowland, and boasts a glamorous mall and a very manageable airport named after the man who shot Liberty Valance.  It is, in other words, as depicted on this-here postcard, probably delightful as a vacation hot spot; at the very least, judging by all of the dernier-cri sportsters zooming along the 12-lane surface streets, it is a great place to get rich selling really expensive cars.  And, as is often the case in this post-fun day and age of flying, we see none of that.  No Laguna art galleries or Capistrano swallows for these crews; rather, we lay over in an airport-adjacent business park close to a fountain, a few drastically trimmed shrubs, and bugger all else.  If you are firm in your resolve to get coffee, however — and you know how in this arena my resolve does not waver — you can walk 3/4 of a mile, take your life in your hands crossing the hugest intersection in Southern California, and get you a Starbucks.

Which is of course what I did yesterday.  Having collapsed onto my bed at something of an early hour the night before, I was up and at them, and rolled up at the Starbucks at like a quarter to nine.  A stone’s throw from the Southern California headquarters of every company in America that has a Southern California headquarters, this particular Starbucks was jammed.  Men in suits, women in heels, everyone on their way to work or getting a jump on the first meeting of the day, everyone talking, either into their phones or at each other.  The baristas were rushed off their feet, friendly and loud.  And over here along the wall, as is apparently required by some bylaw in company policy at every Starbucks location, sat the Guy Working on His Laptop.  I was like, Really?  This is where you’re going to come to try and get some work done?  I myself have a crippling fear of being perceived as a posturing Look At Me! douche anytime I so much as refer to my laptop in public, and so naturally I judge others harshly against this standard that I hate having applied to my own self, you know how we do.  But then I caught myself doing it — which is much less rewarding than just blithely judging people and getting on with your day, as you know — and reminded myself, You don’t know this dude’s story at all.  And, because I prefer to think of myself as someone who Knows It All, I remedied that by sitting — on a lovely patio chaise, but still — at the very same Starbucks amidst the very same distracting crowd, and writing (it hurts from the irony, I know), and deciding that his story is this: Continue reading

Seoul: A Model Layover

seoul beautiesBefore I started flying, I knew next to nothing about Korea.  I knew there were two of them, and I kind of knew why, and everything else I knew I gleaned either from Margaret Cho’s stand up or from reruns of M*A*S*H.  I arrived in Seoul for the first time with few expectations, vowing only not to be taken in by the senior flight attendants who were trying to get me to make an ass of myself by walking into this back-alley restaurant and asking to be served something called Beep ‘n’ Bop, as if I don’t recognize a made-up food item when I hear one.  (Why don’t you order it, if it so exists?  P.S. – It does, and it’s do-it-yourself delicious, once you get the hang of flat chopsticks.)  I was immediately sold on Seoul, and it endures as one of my favorite layover cities (albeit one that I no longer see).

In A Model Romance, Bridger and Kai’s very different experiences in Korea eventually and unexpectedly bring them together in San Francisco.  To celebrate Seoul, and the upcoming release (Sunday, March 10th) of the story it helped inspire me to write, today’s Special Edition City Code Snapshot will feature five of my favorite things about Seoul. Continue reading

Coffee, Tea, or… This Stuff?

Cafe au lait in Paris, France, where I first learned to love coffee

Cafe au lait in Paris, France, where I first learned to love coffee

As a rule, I am not a particularly early riser.  I’m not a milkman, we don’t have kids that need tending to, and we have the Golden Girls in the DVD player in the bedroom almost all the time — I am happy to seize any opportunity to loll in bed that may arise.  It is definitely not my habit to leap from the bed at the first sign of the new day, but when I’m working, it is kind of my preference.  I like to get my flying out of the way early in the day, before the operation has had a chance to fall apart and people have really had the chance to miss connections or otherwise be disserviced (read: before people have good reason to turn cranky).  Morning flights are generally low-key, as many passengers use the first portion of a morning flight to come to terms with the idea of being up and at ’em at what airlines are dictating to be a more and more ungodly hour.  (Yesterday, we worked a flight that started boarding at five in the morning.)  I like the pink light of the sunrise in the cabin, and I like to get home and have the day ahead of me, even if I am going to end up spending much of it napping.  (There go those Golden Girls again…)

Here’s the thing about me and morning: there’s gotta be coffee.  Not in-room brown water, not some instant powdered mess, and certainly not the swill made from grass clippings and the remnants from the chicory factory floor that it embarrasses me to serve on the airplane, but please: real coffee.  At home, this is easily achieved.  I buy yummy coffee — nothing fancy, half the time it’s from Cost Plus (sorry: World Market) — but it’s dark, it’s strong, and the dispenser-style coffee maker that Jared got me for my last birthday makes it easy (and fun!) to drink way too many cups of it every day.  Yes, at home, I look forward to getting out of bed (at a reasonably leisurely hour) and going coffee crazy.   Continue reading

City Code Snapshot: DSM

So, look who’s psychic:  In the Lima edition of “City Code Snapshots,” I predicted I’d have a lot to say about Iowa here in this space, and where did I go on my very next trip?  That state’s own capital city, Des Moines.  Land of the Big Blond Bumpkin, and home of the Tastiest Hotel Cheeseburger in the U.S.A.  The State Fair was on when we were there, which would ordinarily easily be able to provide me with a day’s entertainment — I love a good corn dog — but I never know where my next downtown Des Moines layover is coming from, and I was on a lunchtime mission.

A couple of months ago, I flew with this Chicago-based girl I’d never met before, and we fell into a conversation about food; specifically, about our favorite places to eat on layovers.  And she blew my mind telling about this place in Des Moines, Iowa, of all far-flung locales, where she had stumbled upon a crab rangoon pizza.  I am a mad fan of all things crab/cheese wonton, and sometimes order whole Chinese dinners just to have an excuse to summon them to my door, and I am also a huge fan of all things pizza, and sometimes order whole pizzas just to have an excuse to, well… eat them.  Knowing that there was a place that these two worlds collide and then they let you eat the results was more than I could resist.  It’s not like we don’t have State Fairs in Colorado.  (And in fact it starts on Friday.) Continue reading