Slow Traveler


Tomorrow, I head out on a week long trip spent running around the South.  It’s a bouncer; starting with a day long flight to Orlando, a short visit to a plant on Tuesday, a flight to North Carolina, a short visit at a plant there, then a return to LAX.  While this trip isn’t as exciting as it sounds, it brings to an end a pretty tough run of travel over the last few months.  Okay .. maybe not exactly brings the travel to an end, I just don’t have anything planned for a month.  Major travel at least.  Numbing travel at least.

When I took this job, I knew there would be travel – in fact, while it’s a little heavy the last few months, it’s still about par with what I was told to expect.  Besides, the job itself is by nature a traveling job.  I’ve known that since the mid 2000s, and was at the time a benefit.  I still like to travel, it just is a little more demanding these days here in LA.

The trouble comes with more the logistics of getting in and out of the city.  Gone are the days in Wichita that the time from wheels on the ground until I am back to the house can be under a half hour.  Even in the nightmare traffic conditions of Boston, I only lived 10 miles from the airport (it could take me an hour to go that 10 miles, but still).

Here, I have two options for airport (more than that, but bare with me).  The most convenient airport is Burbank.  The only thing between me and that airport is a mountain … an actual mountain.  It’s 3 miles away as the crow flies, but can take up to a half hour to get to depending on the route you take around the mountain … and that’s without traffic.

The real challenge is if I have a flight out of LAX.  That’s closer to 30 miles, and a route that takes me through “the belly of the beast” … namely Downtown.  If I am not fighting the traffic on the 110, I am fighting the traffic around the 105, 405, and/or backstreets to the 10.  Yet that is just the start of the problems.

The main problem is all about timing.

Someone gave me the line this week:  “LA Traffic is like living with vampires.  At certain times of day, you are perfectly fine.”  Getting to the airport stinks during morning and evening rush hours.  This could be as early as 7am, and run as late as 7pm, with a small window around lunch (but not including lunch).  So if I could plan my flights outside those traffic windows, life can be ‘fine’.

On the flip side, I am typically flying out of LAX because I am flying a long way without connecting.  So, let’s say I have business in Boston.  That’s a six hour flight with a three hour time difference.  So, if I plan to head to the airport at 10am after the traffic has died down, then I would need a departure after 1PM (counting drive time, park time, etc).  That means the plane would get in after 10PM – and put me at a hotel by Midnight-ish – and this with a meeting starting around 5AM California time.  That sucks, but the other option is I get a morning flight to get me to the aiport before traffic.  My flight tomorrow is like that … so my alarm is set for 2AM.  TWO A M!!!!   Did I mention 2AM?

Coming home, it’s some of the same madness.  The added twist is that the pup needs to be picked up; and for some reason I use a boarding place that is 30 minutes away on a good day … and a nightmare on a bad day.  Recently, I took a flight that landed at LAX at around 3:00PM.  It was over 4 hours before I got home.

So yeah, I got a bit of a break coming, and I am looking forward to it.

Then again, every time I say something like that my schedule blows up.



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