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When it comes to travel, I'm very much like those old cartoons, the ones where the subject has a little angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

Except on one shoulder, I have the somewhat normal, happy-go-lucky soul I like to think I am. And on the other? A whiny 7-year-old. In need of a nap.

Case in point, last week. And just everything I did for the five or six days I headed west for a little break and the opportunity to provide some support and "muscle" to the Lovely Mrs. Smith and one of her projects.

As with most things, the trip started with me pledging, again, that this would be the time I ventured forth with the sort of wide-eyed enthusiasm solidly befitting the voyage. I was going to be my best self, living my best life. A veritable credit card commercial, complete with gazing into a clear dawn and happy interactions with locals.

I said that at the time. And, potentially, I may even have believed it. Just like I believed I was going to finish the 500-page book and the five or six magazines that made my carry-on backpack weigh about as much as a Buick. But hey, I was being aspirational!

Take, for instance, the act of flying in the first place. My happy travel glow is in full force when I board the plane, find my seat and consider I'm about to, literally jump on a rocket that will blast me halfway across the country in roughly the amount of time it would have taken the early settlers to get out of sight.

What an amazing thing technology is! Imagine how in awe of this process the Wright Brothers would be. Isn't this cool?

Five minutes in ... you'd think this amazing technology would have extended to making a seat that's comfortable to any single person on this plane. And I guess I could be sitting closer to the tail if, say, I was in the cargo hold. And I'm trying to identify exactly the components of that "interesting" odor coming from the plane's one lonely little bathroom. Sort of a blend of disinfectant, toxic waste dump and the kind of cologne teenage boys gravitate to until someone tells them "no."

And then there's the airport. Look, a Johnston & Murphy next to a book store next to a coffee shop next to a Chick-Fil-A! It's like they knew I was coming and wanted to make me feel right at home. All the seats have power strips, the big blue board there is going to tell me exactly when my flight will leave, I'm here in plenty of time and life is good.

Again, five minutes in and ... wow, the "big blue board" is so bright it's causing partial blindness. Which is OK, because every departure on it is either late or doesn't have a crew or a plane or all of the above. And my power strip isn't powered. And the only empty seat is in the middle of a group of junior high school students on their way to a national kazoo competition (which, apparently doesn't require they pack their instruments in their luggage), right across from a couple and their five emotional support Chihuahua's who seem like they themselves could use some emotional support. Or whatever the canine version of Benadryl is.

Once I arrived, I discovered the mountains were beautiful, the food amazing, the views magnificent. And ... you get sick driving through those self-same mountains, they don't seem to believe in queso or Diet Dr. Pepper and their two seasons appear to be "hot" and "a whole lot hotter."

The hotel is great! The bed's not as comfortable as the one at home. This place is so easy to navigate! Traffic is terrible. Look at all the birds! There is no way that stain is coming out of my jacket ...

Perhaps the reality of my travel life is that it's great in the abstract, not as great in the execution. Or perhaps I should just proceed with the idea that life isn't actually a credit card commercial (well, the bill's real, anyway) and if you want to smell the roses, you're going to have to put up with the thorns. And the birds.

And besides, you always get to come back to your own house. Except the leaves are turning so I'm going to have to rake them. And it's so wet ...

Commentary on 11/09/2018

Print Headline: It's great ... until it's not

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