On the road again

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.
– Robert Louis Stevenson

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I’m a guest at the Maple Leaf Lounge, Pearson International Airport, Toronto, for the moment. I have a 6 hour layover between flights, just shy of being enough to justify a quick escape from the airport, especially when your next flight is to the U.S. Getting through security these days always has the potential to be a chore but getting to the States takes the cake (although I’ve heard Israel is the toughest).

Before I even have the chance to start taking everything out of my pockets and divesting myself of everything including my boots, my boarding pass has been checked three times. It will be checked once more just before the scanner. Today, at that juncture, I thought I had lost my passport for a moment and I – the guy who prides himself on the adopted motto for travel, “go with the flow” – actually started to freak out just a little bit. Fortunately, I held it together long enough to find my missing passport in the deepest recesses of a shirt I commonly wear when I’m flying. It has pockets galore, all sealable, and I do my best to decide clearly beforehand where everything will go. I can hear my Aunt Fran intoning the old adage “a place for everything and everything in its place.” She left out the part about how too many things and too many places to hide them can lead to confusion.

I’m very deliberate about such things. I’ve traveled enough to believe that solid organization is at least one important factor in how much enjoyment I can expect to have doing what many find a chore. Bottom line for me: not only do I love the destinations; I enjoy the getting there as well, as long as I have everything in hand in preparation. iPad? Check. eReader? Check. iPod and headphones? Charged and ready to go. Snacks? Itinerary? Any paperwork I might need? If I’ve made sure all of that is in place before I leave the house, I am pretty confident things from that point will be all good.

Especially before I retired, opportunities to spend time in airports were welcomed and a source of pleasant anticipation. An airport is one place where, when I choose to “go with the flow”, I can truly relax. Nothing will bring you any closer to departure time, and the time you do have at your disposal is entirely without responsibility. It has an effect similar to that which a golf course has on me. After I hit (or mishit) that first tee shot and head down the fairway, the real world fades behind me and a silence of sorts descends. All of the concerns and distractions of the world park themselves for a time. It feels good.

So the Maple Leaf Lounge is a bonus. It’s not because I’m so well traveled; rather, I happen to have the right credit card at the moment so I’m granted free access. I haven’t been to airport lounges all that often but, this one, I must say, is especially nice. For one thing, it is large yet divided in such a way that you don’t feel like one of the huddled masses. And the food is pretty good. Soups, an excellent hummus, salads, good bread: overall, plenty to make for a reasonable lunch.

And comfort. Granted, no daybeds or other options for getting horizontal but the chairs are people-friendly and varied and the overall atmosphere is relaxed. The contrast to the seating at departure gates is pronounced. The seating at the gates seem designed, by virtue of wafer-thin padding, to discourage settling in. Kicking back in the lounge can’t help feeling a bit luxurious. I always say that I’m not one to actively seek luxury. That being said, if it presents itself and I’m available, it would be impolite to say no.

The sun is setting over Toronto now and the lights of the city in the distance are beginning to assert themselves. Departure approaches and I need to get some exercise so it’s time to leave and go for a stroll. Next stop Los Angeles for a few hours rest and time adjustment. Tomorrow, Kona International and the Big Island of Hawai’i. I’m looking forward to my arrival but, for me, getting there is always part of the fun.

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