See? Told Ya.

Smallest plane ever:

That was Monday afternoon. Today I rode back to Denver in what was probably the exact same plane, with a pilot who can’t be two years out of high school, through non-stop turbulence. I kept my eyes closed the whole flight. It was almost enough to give a girl a phobia.

Because I have no real fear of flying. But when sitting in a little tin can like this, flying through the air a few miles above the surface of the planet, you realize that there is really nothing at all between you and a smear on the ground but a thin sheet of metal being pummeled by violent winds. Disturbing.

Up, Up and Away

So, I’m in Cheyenne, Wyoming, by way of Denver, Colorado, today. Some observations:

Massive B.O. should be considered a security risk. I have no idea how a man smelling so obscene would be allowed through security.

There should be a special First Time Flyers section in the airplane where the newbies can congregate to violate all the unspoken in-air rules together.

The Beechcraft 1900D Turboprop is officially the smallest plane I’ve ever been on. It’s unsettling to be able to see clearly out the cockpit windows from the back row. At least it was a short flight.

The Cheyenne airport is officially the smallest airport I’ve ever entered, and that includes Yakima, Washington, and Bend, Oregon. These little out-of-the-way towns really know how to frighten the tourists.

You can see for miles and miles out here. It makes me nervous.

And Then Two Weeks Passed

Best laid plans of mice and saleswomen, and all that jazz. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been running up and down the IH-35 corridor as far north as Dallas and Fort Worth and as far south as San Antonio, and a lot of places in between. Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of miles in a short period of time.

I’ve also seen my two college roommates, Julie and Tanja, and had cocktails with friends, Pam and Mandy. And let’s talk about all these beautiful, delightful, fascinating women.

Julie and Tanja are two of the people dearest to my heart, having spent some of the most impressionable years of my life in their company. Julie is clever, passionate, and absolutely effervescent. Tanja is thoughtful, determined, and wickedly smart. (Really, you could switch the names around and the descriptions would still apply. They are extraordinary women!) Julie is expecting a son soon, and Tanja is a new mom.

The two of them are more than just a hallmark moment in time to remember fondly; they are part of the fabric of my life, weaving a beautiful pattern on my heart and soul, changing the texture of my little world. I owe them debts of gratitude for kindnesses large and small, and I just love them.

Pam was my roommate at BlogHer this summer and an online friend of several years, and Mandy is a new friend introduced just this week. They are funny, witty, fascinating women, and I hope to spend more time in their company and to get to know them both better. With cocktails.

What’s been both surprising and reassuring is the way the conversations with each of these lovely ladies has the tone of just picking up where we last left off – whether that was a month ago or a year ago or for the first time today.

And here is where I make a little confession: I have always yearned for some magical life-long friend. You know what I mean: the girl you met in first grade and stayed friends with forever. You double-dated in high school and were bride’s maids in each others weddings. You talk on the phone almost every day, even now. And for me, at least, that’s a fantasy, especially given the fact that my sister totally and completely qualifies here. (Note: that’s the problem with fantasy. You ignore the blessing in your midst.)

These friends I have now are life-long friends, whether we met nearly 20 years ago or more recently or at birth. What is suddenly more important to me, and I think to most women I know, is that our friendships are deep and real and honest. That we can be exactly who we are with each other, without fear or regret.

I was struck by a part of the conversation with Tanja and Julie. Our lives have taken us separate and interesting places and yet some of the fundamentals (faith, beliefs, values, ethics, and such) have taken similar though sometimes winding paths to bring us again to a new, different common ground. And now, looking at each other, we see those same kindred spirits that drew us together in the first place.

We’ve changed so much and not at all.

More Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

So, yeah, I’ve been traveling. A LOT. And completely not blogging about it. Because by the end of the day and end of the week, I’m just exhausted. And also, there is so much in my business life that I seem to be using up all my words before I have a chance to write.
Anyway . . . excuses, excuses.

So, this past week I was in Northern California – from San Francisco as far north as Arcata. (About which more in a sec.)

In San Francisco we took a few days before the start of the week to celebrate my 37th birthday. (I’ll go ahead and admit that I am ambivalent about this birthday. Normally I remind everyone I know for about a month before my day, and then celebrate throughout September. This year, I just don’t want to think too much about it. And also, surprisingly, I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I ever thought possible. It’s a wonderful feeling, actually. So long as I don’t dwell on that late-thirties thing.) Anyway, we stayed at the always lovely Hotel Monaco at Union Square, where the staff are the epitome of genuine hospitality, from the hostess to the housecleaning staff, and everyone in between. Stay here if you ever get the chance. And bring your pets, who are always welcome.

We did a lot of the things we always do when we visit SF, but this time we walked it all – averaging about 5 miles per day and seeing more of the city than one does by car. We walked from Union Square to Chinatown, down to North Beach, and on to Fisherman’s Wharf. Another day, we took the car to Golden Gate Park, walked the park, strolled through Haight-Asbury, visited the Conservatory of Flowers, and later hit Ocean Beach. (Note: it is unbelievably easy to get lost in Golden Gate Park. I advise a map.) What we didn’t do was load up on souvenirs and stuff. Because we always come back to this fair city and because we just didn’t want the bother of lugging it all back through airport security.

Now, I will confess we spent a portion of Labor Day in Napa Valley, hitting a couple wineries. If I had thought ahead, I would have planned more time to visit a few of the Baptist Wine Club preferred vineyards, but instead we just stopped by a few of our long-standing favorites for a couple bottles of things we keep running out of and that we can’t get back home. Like Sattui Madeira, which is the perfect after-dinner beverage, in my humble opinion.

Tuesday brought meetings in Arcata, CA, home of Humoldt State University, and which I learned is world famous for it’s growth, consumption, and distribution of certain controlled herbs and weeds. Apparently, 1 in 7 citizens of the county grow their own – at least according to the bartender. That probably explains the popularity of a university a couple hundred miles from any major city and lacking decent shopping & dining. It seems the citizenry has other priorities.

It was in Arcata that a dreadlocked couple loaded with luggage entered the elevator and remarked, “we’ve been driving all day. And you smell good.” Odd. And later that evening, a panhandler explained that the snails were out and would I “please take care not to crush them. They’re just trying to cross the street.” The only possible response: “thanks for the warning. I’ll be on the lookout.”

Also, there were more dreadlocks in Arcata than I have ever seen at any given time ever, even considering that NY Subway trip and the fact that I live in another, popular college town. There’s just no comparison. Arcata wins for dreadlocks.

The rest of the week found me in Redding to visit Simpson University and then on to Berkeley for a trip to the university there. I sorta made a big loop of Northern California, which meant for a lot of driving (about 900 miles in total) and led to a bit of back pain. Still, it was a great weekend for celebrating and a great week for business.

And I’ll try to be a more consistent correspondent going forward, even if I’m traveling. Well, especially if I’m traveling. Oh, the things I see and the people I meet along the way!