Monday, June 4, 2012

No Exit

LaGuardia was the usual: delayed planes, cranky people (yes, you will even find cranky Canadians at the Air Canada gates in LaGuardia), and scenes out of No Exit.

But here's the thing.  See that map in the previous post, the map of Newfoundland? Newfoundland is an island IN THE ATLANTIC. Now, being somewhat -- but not much -- smarter than the average American high schooler (a large percentage of whom think Toronto is in Italy, which, you have to admit, is a good guess if you know...absolutely nothing), I know that Toronto is in Ontario, which is north of the Great Lakes. This makes Toronto a somewhat out-of-the-way stop when you're trying to get to Newfoundland.  In fact, it turns what should be a three hour direct flight into a Homeric odyssey involving two nations, multiple security checks ("you want to wand me where???"), and a time zone change that leaves you one and A HALF hours ahead of New York time. Yes, that's right, Newfoundland is one-and-a-half hours ahead of New York. Why? Not a clue. Hey, it seems to work for them, and who am I to judge?

TRAVEL HINT TO ALL AMERICANS CHANGING PLANES AT PEARSON: If you check your baggage, you have to retrieve it at Pearson, clear customs, and then recheck it, and by that point, if you're not thinking about Sartre and his definition of hell again, you're a better person than I am. Instead of checking, jam whatever you have to into your oversized carry-on and rely on Canadians being too nice to point out that your "carry-on" is the height and weight of your average pony. Works every time.

Once safely on the flight to "newfenLAND" as the locals pronounce it, I met Cal, who's a newfenLANDer but who works in the oil industry in Northern Alberta.  Cal informed me that instead of driving home (home being two hours north of the airport), whenever he flies in at night, he stays at an airport hotel, because there are "too many moose" on the road for him to drive home safely.

At first I thought Cal was hitting on me using the old "too many moose" come-on, but he seemed pretty earnest.

For those of you who read my Alaska blogs a few years ago, you know I have a thing about moose. Moose are not friendly animals, in fact, moose are particularly large, ugly and violent, especially in...drumroll...SPRING.... when they have baby moose (also as homely as a dog's back tooth) tagging along with them (yes, yes, they're called calves, what do you think I am, National Geographic Explorer?).  But if Alaska taught me one thing, it is how to survive a moose attack:

TRAVEL HINT TO ALL AMERICANS TRAVELING NORTH:  The best way to survive a moose attack is to roll under a car and stay there until the moose loses interest. Be sure to pick a car that does not ride too low to the road. I have a recurring nightmare of being trampled by a moose as my delusions of smaller-than-I-am grandeur lead me to try to roll my schlumpy American body under a Ferrari.
The second best way to survive a moose attack is to run around large obstacles, like cars or like tree trunks because moose, also like your average schlumpy American, have a wide turn radius, and you should be able to outrun them.

So, pondering the likelihood of running into moose YET again, I looked out the window of the plane as we were landing to get this lovely picture I call "NewfenLAND at night":

KIDDING!  That's North Korea.

NewfenLAND was actually a lot more lit up than I had imagined. For my fellow Lawn Gylanders, it kind of reminded me of coming in for a landing at Islip-Macarthur, complete with wicked cross-winds but with the added benefit of a few icebergs floating in the harbor just off the runway to make things interesting for fearful flyers.  Yes, that would be people like me. We landed with James Horner's music to Titanic playing at full blast in my mind.

TRAVEL HINT TO ALL AMERICANS TRAVELING TO "newfenLAND":  Oh holy cow, it is cold at night. Bring your Patagonia. (That sounds so snobby I want to slap myself.)

As I raced to my rented Chevy, my eyes darting left and right to spy the meeses I just knew were hiding around the next SUV in the airport parking lot, I realized that if the meese hiding behind the SUVs didn't get me, the Arctic wind blowing off the Atlantic would.  But while exiting the airport and fiddling with the GPS, I discovered who my real enemy on this trip would be:


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