11:34AM CDT. Welp, after a brief scare, we\'re off the ground, and I\'m writing to you from about 20,000 feet.
After a hour hour nap from 4:00 to 5:00, I got up and got dressed. I\'d spent all night, as usual, getting everything ready to go. I\'m not sure why that seems to be. In this case I have an excuse (only one week to prepare) but I really wonder if I wouldn\'t have been up until 4 anyway.
Mom and Dad were gracious enough to stay over at my place last night and drive me to the airport this morning. We drove by Kati\'s and picked up Lizzie and Emily (my sister and niece) who also trekked with us in the dark 6:15am early morning to Austin Bergstrom.
Celia has a hurt leg, and apparently wasn\'t feeling very well, so Kati and Jay didn\'t come. They were up all night (like me) so they were asleep when we got there. Emily was a real trooper, she was sleepy, but awake and alert the entire way to the airport. We said our goodbyes outside the entrance to the terminal and I headed inside to get my ticket.
I wasn\'t initially able to get a seat with a power terminal (rows 17-23 of 777-200ERs have Empower in-flight power jacks, which I have a power inverter for), but after talking to the gate people, I was able to move to seat 22A. The flight to Houston was very brief , only 22 minutes. For some reason, I *always* have to walk across the Houston airport. It never fails! D-5 was my departure gate, and upon arrival, the wonderful symphony of lots of people speaking Japanese around me gave me a smile.
We loaded on to the plane, and lucky enough I was in a row without someone in the center seat. Woo, more room for all my stuff. :)
All this was happy and hunky-dory, but as we taxied away from the gate, we stopped cold for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into fifteen, and then… they shut off the engines, which is never a good sign. The captain came on and said that they had shut down one of the five runways, the longest one, and naturally it was the only one that was capable of launching this massive hunk of a plane. He said they shut the engines off to save fuel and that we\'d be taxiing back to the gate to wait it out until they made a decision about what to do. Uh oh.
About two minutes later he came back on and said that the runway was reopened, just for us, and we\'d be up in the air ASAP. Cool! A few minutes later the massive engines (world record for biggest production engines, a bit of trivia) propelled the 777 into the air. Several gazillion announcements and videos later, we reached 10,000 feet, and I was able to break out the laptop and portable power inverter. Works like a champ.
I\'m still very tired, and was trying to nap, but they\'re bringing around lunch soon and I really don\'t want to miss it. Meanwhile I\'m coding this website and watching The Stepford Wives. Fortunately my row mate doesn\'t seem to mind that I\'m sprawled out over two full seats now. Heh.
The problems I foresee - one, I don\'t have a reservation anywhere tonight. I tried to make a reservation at my standard Sakura Ryokan online, but could no longer make one within two days of arrival. Things were available last I checked, so I\'d imagine it\'ll be okay, I just need to call when I get to Tokyo. Second, I don\'t have my host parents\' phone number with me. That should be okay, I have my host brother\'s email, and he\'s responded once already. Plus I\'m not going there until the end of the trip anyway. Third, I don\'t have Gene and Lou\'s number, but if I can get internet access when I get there, that can be solved pretty easily.
Barely an hour in… 12 hours to go!
6:16PM. We\'re just about leaving Alaskan airspace and entering the Bearing Strait. When they fly to Japan, they don\'t fly a straight line; they always fly up and over. Longitudinally, we\'re just past Maui, according to the nifty map they show. They have lots of statistics, including altitude, ground speed, time to destination. Kinda cool really, kinda helps keep you from going stir crazy cause you know where you are. They also alternate the same information in Japanese.
So far we\'ve had one meal (beef and rice), one snack (mini hamburger), and about four beverage services. Flight this time doesn\'t seem as long. I took a little nap after lunch for about two hours, which is okay since it was Japanese sleepy time. The trick, I\'ve learned from doing this as much as I have, is to stay awake as much as possible. (hey cool we\'re 339 miles from Nome, random statistic) The thought process behind this is that if you stay awake the whole time, you\'re going way past your normal bedtime, so of course, you get sleepy. You arrive sometime mid-afternoon (in our case, before 3pm) Japan time, and you\'ve got adrenaline to keep you moving at the airport and beyond. If you can just manage to stay awake until 8 or 9PM, that\'s like 6 or 7 am, which means you\'ve now stayed up all night, and are DOG tired. You go to bed at a normal Japan bedtime, and whack, you\'re over jetlag almost instantly. You will find yourself waking up around 5 am for a while, but outside of that, it\'s not too bad.
Going home, that I haven\'t mastered yet. I guess the answer there is to *sleep* as much as possible, and unfortunately that\'s way harder than staying up. My boss, Monty, agrees with me on this one - traveling west, stay up. Traveling east, sleep.
5:43 remaining in the flight. I\'m busy fixing coding errors in the website I programmed two years ago.
11:00 PM CDT (1:00PM Japan Time). Only an hour to go. I\'m kind of impressed, this flight has, excuse the pun, flown by. I think possibly because I\'ve had a goal in mind - getting the website running on super short notice. Hence I\'ve spent the majority of the flight battling PHP code and pissy stylesheets.
We\'re currently flying southwest towards Tokyo, about the same latitude as Hakodate, in Hokkaido. It hasn\'t been that bad flying alone, again because I had something to do. The movies were pretty much crap this time around - The Stepford Wives, Van Helsing… Some older sitcoms that I\'d all seen. I finally just broke out the Nomad Zen Extra (one of my new toys) and have been listening the whole time since. I really hope I can get these rows on the way home so I can have unlimited laptop power again.
First plan upon arrival - get reservation at (hopefully) Sakura Ryokan and find internet access, ASAP. I need to look up a bunch of phone numbers. I should also give Ken, a guy I met through my friend Angela last time I was here, a call and see if he wants to get dinner or something. Of course, I probably won\'t eat for a while - they fed us three times now, all completely carb-laden. Ah well, I need the sugar rush to keep me going for another 7-8 hours at least before I can go to bed.
Oh, hey, look at that, we\'re parallel to Misawa. Hey Gene and Lou!!