In the last week of December, I had a business trip to the Minneapolis area that was…shall we say…interesting.
As the flight began descending, the pilot came on the intercom and let us know that there would be some gusty winds and a bit of snow, as we approached the airport.
Strong clue that the flight crew were MN-based. The “bit of snow” was a white-out, as we cleared the underside of the cloud cover.
My fellow passengers, however, quickly made it clear that the vast majority of them, or at least those choosing to express themselves, were not only NOT local, but perhaps had not previously spent time in the air, outside of a possible low-arc release from a playground swing, in the distant past. For several, the response to the lack of visibility appeared to be the assumption that Snomageddon was upon us, and that glaciers had already formed to block our possible landing. I think there may have also been suspicions of impending Yeti attacks, as well, although this was not specifically called out.
Eventually, the initial white-out gave way to a steady but not overly obstructive fall of snow, as we continued to descend, with the gusty winds shoving the tail section to the left every few seconds. Nothing big, but more than one might expect, with little prior experience.
The clincher, however, came as we moved into roughly the last 45 seconds of the approach, when a few of the less steady passengers got the idea that the runway should already be visible to them … but they could only see white on the ground! Raised concerns of “where’s the runway?” echoed from several rows behind me, suggesting again that some of my fellow travelers may not have been familiar with how far in front of us the runway really should be, while still at that point in the process, and that as long as the pilots can see it, when are still probably progressing normally.
Moments later, we touched down (sighs of relief clearly heard), decelerated normally, then taxied to the gate and waited for the jetbridge to create a path off the jet. A portion of my fellow travelers exited calmly and patiently, appearing to avoid eye contact with those still recovering from their more traumatic interpretation of our shared experience. Some people still appeared to need additional time to steady themselves before walking off. Perhaps they thought the Yetis were laying in wait, in the terminal, and they wanted to let the rest of us confirm if this was true?
I generally don’t mind arriving late at night. Although I usually end up with fewer choices at the car rental isle, the actual drive to the hotel is less congested and I get to go straight to my room and try to get to sleep with the usual issues of work already trailed off for the night. Emphasis on the “try,” here. More than a decade of working in hotels appears to have left me somewhat less than completely relaxed in those locations not secured by my own colleagues.
On this trip, my selections at the rental garage were somewhat different. It had been snowing for a couple of days, off and on, and the forecast was for more of the same. As a result, I didn’t have to search for the cars I usually seek out (SS Cameros with less than 100 miles sometimes present themselves, as do Hemi Challengers with the same youthful histories)…I had to crane my neck around to look past them to find something that would maintain traction! I have never seen the selection isles so packed with American muscle cars, before. Bright colors, convertibles, the most over-powered testosterone chariots I have seen available were in seemingly endless rows, sulking in the garage gloom for want of a suicidal driver.
The attendant actually laughed when I asked if he had anything with 4-wheel drive left.
In the end, I had to settle for a 4-door Charger. Even that managed to find ice like it was magnetically linked or GPS-steered.
The trip, from a work perspective, went fine after that. Some progress made and the path forward more clearly defined. Even the travel home was far less eventful. Apparently, it is less disconcerting to my fellow travelers to take off into a white sky than to descend through one.
By the end of the trip, however, I had a bit of a sniffle. Nothing too bad. It was not even constant. Little did I know that it would rapidly expand into something that would stay with me for weeks, and eventually play havoc with my sinuses, throat, and upper respiratory tract. A truly gravely voice can be fun on a conference call…the first day. As it drags on for days, the novelty of it wears off quickly.
So, why am I writing this now? Months later. Because I was back there earlier this week, and the lack of reportable details was refreshing.
The only thing I felt the need to document was the snow pile I found in one parking lot.
Yes, the light posts are roughly 15-16′ all.
No, there was nothing there but a parking lot, before winter.
Really puts in perspective the small amount of snow and ice I removed from my driveway, but then this post was really driven by the personal perspectives and difference one’s past experience makes.
I’m told the employees at this place have a pool started to guess when it will all melt away.
Some have picks in late June. I plan to be fishing while they wait that out.