Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day9 - Welcome to Texas

 Although this blog post is supposed to be about my photo walk from today, I really need to back up to yesterday, and write about my flight to Texas.
The flight was smooth, everything was on schedule, and all was calm.  No crying babies, no obnoxious passengers, no long lines at the bathrooms, smooth takeoffs and landings.  It was the part after the landing that was eventful.
After the landing, the flight attendant came on the loudspeaker and announced that we were waiting on the runway for a gate to open.  However, some observant passengers on the flight had noticed numerous police and rescue vehicles, all with flashing lights, lining the runway as we were landing. The flight attendant then came back on the speaker, and calmly told us that we all needed to evacuate the plane as quickly and as calmly as possible.  We were to leave cell phones off, and to take no personal belongings with us.  Leave everything behind, she said.
Before we could even exit, security people were coming on board, blocking our way, opening overhead bins.  Finally someone asked them to move so we could leave, and those of us in the back of the plane made our way off, using the portable stairs that were rolled up next to the jet. On the way out, however, one of the passengers asked a security officer what this was all about, and he said "bomb threat."
Once outside, we were moved away from the plane, but not nearly far enough away to satisfy many of us.  If the plane was going to blow up, we did not want to be anywhere near.  I stood as far away as I could get, until I was told not to wander too far from the group.  I guess that airport policeman wanted us all to go down together.
I gotta hand it to everyone involved, though.  No one was panicky, everything was calm, no one was angry or agitated or impatient.  A few broke out cell phones and began texting or calling and some were taking photos or doing short videos.  I did have my cell phone, but my cameras were still on the plane.  Security officers were trying to tell people to turn off the cell phones, but it was not something they could really control.  In thinking about it, I suppose a bomb could have been detonated via cell phone, but once were off the plane and on the ground, it would have been somewhat of a moot point. 
The entire runway was cordoned off, and helicopters were circling the area.
Our baggage was removed from the belly of the aircraft and lined up on the tarmac.  Bomb sniffing dogs were working on the baggage, and others were taken onto the jet.  The demeanor of our group of passengers was calm and curious, and as the dogs exited the jet, one of the passengers even joked, "Will the person who was sitting in seat 17C please raise your hand?  We need to talk to you."
Some of the passengers used the time to talk to the various security officers from the airport who were standing around, and they revealed information that a threat was phoned into Baltimore about our specific flight.  The information was passed on to San Antonio, so they were ready and waiting for us when we landed.  Speculation abounded among us passengers as to why we were not diverted immediately upon learning of the threat.  Someone else said that the threat was specific to the landing, so it would not have mattered where we landed. Someone else reported that security revealed to her that we had been shadowed on our entire flight by two fighter jets out of Randolph.  We all agreed that we were thankful that for the duration of the flight, we were in total ignorance.  It would have surely led to drama and panic and I, for sure, would have been a nervous wreck.
Finally, about about 45 minutes after landing, we were allowed back on the jet.  It was declared safe for all to return.  I did not like the idea one bit.  I was willing to go back and get my camera bag and purse, but give me my luggage, and I'd glady make the 1/2 mile hike to the terminal.  However, I did not voice my fear, and I boarded the plane like everyone else.  I felt anxiety rise as we were told to settle back into our seats, fasten our belts, and be taxied to our gate.  But, when all was said and done, we did finally arrive safely in San Antonio, Texas.
Will I fly again?  Well, yes.  Next Sunday, as a matter of fact.  The older I get, the more philosophical I get about my own inevitable death.  It will happen when it happens.  I'll try not to hasten it, but not flying would limit my quality of life and travel experiences, and there are still too many places I want to go. 
Overall, Southwest Airlines handled everything superbly.  I just hope they compensate us with a free flight somewhere.  We deserve it.
And now, on to the photo walk for today.  The reason I am in San Antonio is I am visiting my daughter Lauren, who is in the Air Force.  She has been transferred here from Andrews AFB for the next four years.  She has rented a house, and right now I am sitting on the kitchen counter, typing on my laptop.  There is no furniture. It is due to arrive later this week. 
I slept last night on an air mattress that I brought for myself.  I also brought some pot and pans and towels.  We are camping in this house with an English bulldog puppy, who is right now begging for me to play with him.  I've had to put everything out of his reach, other than his toys and water bowl, because he is a champion chewer, working on those baby teeth.
This morning we went for a walk, such as puppies will walk.  It's more like dragging him down the street.  He'd rather sniff and sit and look up at me with his forlorn little face.  After ten minutes of that nonsense, I crated him and took off for a real walk. 
All the houses look similar here in this subdivision, so I took care to notice the house number and street name before I went too far.  Lauren is at work and will return this afternoon, so Kingston and I are keeping each other company as I write this on my laptop.  Later, we will go out shopping for basics like a couple of chairs to sit on and groceries for the fridge.  I will find a place with wi-fi to upload the pix and the blog.  Tomorrow we will do some touristy stuff, and then the moving truck arrives on Thursday.
Remembering that today is September 11, I am certainly grateful that all was well for me and all the passengers on flight 618 yesterday.  I'm remembering those who died on 9/11 eleven years ago.  It was a beautiful, clear day, just like the weather is today in Maryland and here in San Antonio.  Three fighter jets passed overhead while I was on my walk.  I am in Air Force country.  Thank you, Lauren, and to all others who serve.  God Bless America.
Visit my web site: camscamerashots.zenfolio.com

Cam's rules for the Daily Photo Walk:

  1. walk every day
  2. the walk must be in addition to any other planned activity for the day
  3. post a photo every day
  4. use my Nikon P7100 (it is a very convenient size and weight)
  5. no weather excuses

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