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Episode 024 – Retired and Traveling by Plane - Mexico

Here I sit at 39,000 feet and feeling miserable. My eyes burn; my butt is numb. Is there a secret to flying that I have not figured out? I hope so. Maybe together we can make travel a little more tolerable for us folks who are not as pliable as we use to be.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

My mother never wanted to travel via plane after reaching her mid seventies. Neither did my in-laws. I know several people over the age of seventy who resist all but the most urgent need to fly the friendly skies.

Most of we retired can recall when flying was a luxury.  We would put on some very nice clothes, look forward with excitement to the trip, and marvel at air power. I remember when Western Airlines was flying out of Alaska in the 1970s. They offered a triangle flight out of Anchorage that went to Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles. For another ten dollars you could book a return flight through Hawaii: ten dollars. Of course, you could stop as long as you wanted in Hawaii. They also served food on real plates, and it was an entire meal; salad, entree, and desert. They used real glasses, and they served you all the free champagne you could drink.

My how times have changed: today I am crowded on a plane that was over-booked. There is no leg room for we that are over six foot in height. The seats are so narrow that everyone walking down the aisle bumps into my shoulders – and my friends think of me as skinny. For food, I am offered a tiny bag of pretzels. I can buy something that they refer to as a sandwich. If I want to extend my flight in any way, shape or form, I first need to pay them one hundred dollars; just for the privilege of changing the ticket. Then I will need to pay the extra fair.

Of course, on top of all of that other stuff, I am practically strip searched at the gate. Off come the shoes, empty my pockets, take off my belt, take off my hat, turn all of my belongings over to an x-ray machine and stand under the glare of several armed security people: people who are big enough to enforce most laws and yet appear young enough to still be in school.

But here I am, at 39,000 feet; cruising at 550 miles per hour in a self-contained vessel breathing all of the air exhaled by the 200 plus passengers – half of which seem to be coughing up TB germs. I recall a flight to Anchorage for a Christmas holiday where Brenda and I both contracted the flu bug. We spent our entire two week trip with high fevers, throwing up, and lying in a darkened room - oh what fun! I do muster up a little empathy for the young mothers on this flight with screaming toddlers in diapers. I’m sure none of them are having any fun.

I know; I don’t have to go. I don’t have to fly. I can just sit at home and play my guitar, drink coffee at the local coffee shop, and exercise in my own neighborhood. (It sounds very good to me at the moment.) But, I am off on an adventure. Peurte Vallarta calls. A home exchange has been arranged. Free lodging and warm sun during cold, wet Northwest winters are hard to refuse. We always find reasons. We don’t want to admit, that for us, the time for exotic travel may be a thing of the past. We now like a bit of luxury. And by that I mean more than a bag of pretzels and legs pressed against our chin for hours on end.

We arrived. I am now writing from this beautiful condo just south of Peurte Vallarta – Conches Chinas. The water smashes against the sand and rocky beaches below. The blue water and sky run together endlessly out our walls of windows. Pelicans fly over-head. The condo is all white with high ceilings. Lazy fans run in every room; earth red tile floors throughout the place. Mexican music plays on the stereo – not loud enough to drowned out the crashing surf. Twelve straight hours of sleep has restored energy to my body and I am so glad we came. What a marvel air travel is!

But I am still concerned about it. Is there a way to make these journeys a little less arduous; or really, a lot less arduous? If anyone has suggestions please contact me through retirementtalk.org and I will be happy to include them in a follow-up program.

I want to follow this program up with a few more posting from my winter retreat. Many of you might be contemplating a visit to Mexico someday and I will try to share some of our experiences.

 

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.