As is my usual custom, I was up all night packing. I crashed around 08:00 for a nap and woke up in time to throw the last few things in the last bag before leaving around 11:00. Unfortunately, Talita's was out of the question. I went straight to the airport and got in line while Erin parked the car. Unfortunately, I got in the wrong line, but fortunately, the right line was shorter. The agent helping me was great; she'd been there for years and recognized someone heading to the Ice and knew what to expect. I did have to shuffle a couple of items out of my largest box, but it was all go from there. I'd been expecting a top-to-bottom search at the security checkpoint, and even that went smoothly. With plenty of time until boarding, Erin and I had a quick lunch at Max & Erma's, then it was time to go.
It wasn't a long goodbye; neither of us wanted to stretch it out. She turned to leave, and I headed through the checkpoint. There was no line, and I was on the other side in no time (after filling 4 trays with the contents of my pockets, the laptop, etc.) I rang Tom and he said he was just around the corner. A few minutes later, he showed up, in his official regalia - crisp shirt, snappy epaulets, and smart hat. He asked more about how the project works and what I'd be doing this summer, and all too soon, it was time to board the plane.
The flight to Chicago was quick - about 90 minutes on an Embrair 145. I thought I only had a few minutes to change concourses, but I was mistaken; I had nearly two hours. I parked myself in a chair by the gate and fired up the laptop. It would have been great, except that they changed our gate and I had to move. At least I had a live power plug at the new gate to keep the laptop happy. I wrote and played Solitare on my computer until they boarded group 5, then I shutdown and climbed aboard.
I spotted a number of signs proclaiming a nearby "DC Electronic Power Outlet", but unfortunately my row was devoid of jacks. Fortunately, the lone empty seat on the plane, one row up, had a jack. I moved up and plugged in. When the beverage cart rolled by, I was feeling peckish and ordered the $3 "red box" snack pack. I wasn't happy about paying for food on a 4 hour flight, but that's the way the industry is going.
Eventually, we descended to a great view of LA out the window. We landed, I grabbed my stuff, then headed over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, next door. I had two hours until my next leg, I called Erin from the same spot by the elevator that I did two years ago. We talked for a bit, then I had to go grab a quick bite. With several booths to choose from, I went with a bowl of Udon Noodle Soup. Fortified, I made my way down to the TSA checkpoint, but was turned back with the wrong kind of boarding pass. Quantas had several counter computers down, so it took a while, but eventually I cleared the checkpoint with a Qantas pass in hand. At the boarding lounge, I ran into several Ice people, Billy the Carpenter being among them. He told me stories about working in Greenland over the summer, and how he's going to help open up a new field camp out on the plateau - 60 people on its first season.
Eventually, we boarded the plane. Seat 41H isn't too bad; it's near an exit, so nobody behind me to annoy by leaning back. I plugged in my own headphones and waited for takeoff. The movies started right after we got in the air; I put on "The Fantastic 4" and watched through the dinner service. As I normally do, I had requested 'Asian Vegetarian', a nice choice for Pacific travel. It took the form of Tofu and Shiitake stirfry over Jasmine Rice. After fiddling with the seat-back entertainment gizmo, I crashed out for a nap around 21:00 local time.
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