From The Air: Boston to Chicago

Regular readers and friends will have figured out that, in this smartphone-in-your-pocket era, I’m always on the lookout for views lovely, strange, new, interesting or otherwise engaging to photograph. Unlike most airplane travelers, I stare endlessly out the window when I’m fortunate enough to have a window seat. Below are shots, mostly in chronological sequence, as my plane from Boston to Chicago flew along the northern edge of the Finger Lakes in NY State, over Buffalo (pictured also in the out-of-sequence large photo at the top of this post), then over the southernmost part of Ontario in Canada, between Hamilton & Detroit, then across the US state of Michigan, the Great Lake named Lake Michigan…and north of a fog-and-rain-bound city of Chicago, into O’Hare airport. For readers who’ve not explored the Great Lakes regions of the US and Canada, or the Finger Lakes region of New York State – do. There’s a lot to see and do. 🙂

Travel Memories, Known & Unknown

Imagine, if you will, boarding a series of flights at pretty much midnight in one time zone, to make connections in two different cities and end up landing halfway around the world, quite literally, about 36 hours later. Especially during covid, with all the uncertainties that implies. (For the record: I’m too lazy to capitalize that disease correctly. I also don’t want to give it any more of my time or energy than it’s already taken, nor do I feel it deserves the respect of me spelling it entirely properly. So there.)

So anyway, one gets confused, and apparently one’s phone also gets confused! The phone believes the above photograph was taken before some of the ones below, which I know to be untrue because, well, it’s the only photo for which I have 100% certainty about what it shows: Mt. Diablo during a beautiful sunset on the evening of July 4th this year. Meaning it was taken as the last airplane I boarded that day was approaching the runway at SFO.

So with these three, I’m about 80% confident they all show the shores of Lake Michigan and the general sprawl of Chicago Metro, most likely as we made our approach to O’Hare earlier that same  4th of July.  If you click the individual shots, you’ll see the phone’s time-stamp filenames. Which in this case means it looks like they were taken at nearly midnight, while the amount of natural daylight suggests otherwise. Ah, the confusions of time zones and international air travel…

And we finish with these two below, which I’m more than 50% confident were taken somewhere around the general shores-of-the-Black-Sea area, simply because I remember waking up, looking out the window to see a crumpled mountainous landscape, checking the flight-path screen to learn we were somewhere in the region of the Caucasus. That being a part of the world I’ve neither visited on-ground, nor flown over much, I thought “hey, let’s snap a shot or two.” And even though the camera thought it was middle of the day, my body sent me more or less immediately back to sleep and blissful forgetfulness.

Travel Before & After the Smoke Spread

The first and second photos above were taken almost exactly two weeks apart, on September 2nd and 16th respectively, from the skies not at all far from ORD, the main airport in Chicago. The third was taken on the 2nd above the Sacramento-American river delta, which feeds San Francisco Bay, at time a time when smoke was already affecting northern California but hadn’t spread as far and wide. The fourth was taken on the 2nd somewhere above Iowa or Illinois, I’m guessing. On the flight from SFO to ORD (2nd), I didn’t have flight map available readily, so the names of the photos are my guess as to where the plane was when I took the shot. Flying home on the 16th, I know where each shot was taken and you’ll see pretty precise into in the photo names.

As you’ve seen from prior posts, our wildfire season began earlier than usual in Sonoma County and Norther California generally. This brought smoke to our skies, which I’ve already posted about here. While I was enjoying time by Geneva Lake in Wisconsin, more fires started due to more unusually hot and dry weather all over the west coast. Then the smoke spread to many of the midwestern states which … umm, narrowly voted for the president who withdrew the US from the Paris accords. I found the flight home on the 16th so distressing, because the smoke was visible everywhere. How long will a rigid core of Americans continue to think that climate-change denial is good public policy for the nation with the largest economy and carbon footprint globally???

In the gallery below, you can read date and location info in each photo’s name. As you see above, we in California already had smoky skies on the 2nd, but actually when I flew back in on the 16th, an onshore flow had driven the smoke away in my area. For now air quality has been reasonable and the sunsets lovely but not too scary. 🙂 It’s about to get hot and dry again, so please hold the though “no new fires” in your mind, and prayers if you do those. 🙂 Peace and a truly democratic, majority-based outcome for all elections in the world, be it Belarus or the US…

Covid Travel.1

Well, now that I’ve been on four flights during times of covid, I figure I might as well show a few of you who are avoiding airports what it’s like: still mostly empty. On July 4, I flew Dhaka->Dubai->Chicago->SF. Then two days ago I flew SF -> Chicago to spend some time with family in Wisconsin for birthdays and such. There are a few more people in airports now than I saw when I came back into the country in July – in both O’Hare and SFO. It’s a bit sad and a bit alienating, but probably a good deal lower risk than many activities that lots of folks are doing now…and the flights are mighty inexpensive. It does all get a bit exhausting, though, doesn’t it…?