Posted by: gmelvin | May 22, 2014

Getting to Italy…

Melanie Safka Album ArtFlying at an altitude of 37,000 feet – listening to “Animal Crackers” by Melanie Safka – and now writing a oddball blog about listening to “Animal Crackers” at 37,000 feet! Ever hear of Alice’s Restaurant?

What a week! Wish I could say more…but unfortunately not much for reasons of personal obligations. I can say I came down with Strep. I lost much work time on my last week of school, and it significantly dimmed my chances for a safe trip to New York.

But I made it.

It’s time now. Having been accepted in a special Global Librarianship class, I flew to Syracuse, NY for a one-week class orientation…which will be followed by two weeks of Pistoia and Florence, Italy! First international trip!

Why? My first week in Italy will involve both attending & giving presentations to librarians from all across Europe. My second week will consist of tours to the Uffizi Library, Galileo Museum and Library, Berenson Library, and more! They will be exclusive tours not available to the common tourist…


So…ever had the moment when you did something wrong, and it turned out to be the right move anyhow?? I got on the wrong flight!

All flights that morning got cancelled. Heavy fog in Nome. That meant a required work day at school – which was no problem for me. I had enough paperwork to keep me busy forever due to having strep. But that didn’t leave me with comfortable feelings for the remainder of the day.

Forecasted was bad. I called frequently that afternoon…likely nagging the Bering Air flight coordinator to the point of hatred. At 3:30, he cancelled the flight. Anyhow – predicting this could happen…I double-booked with the competing bush airline Ravn Alaska.

Here’s a tip:

–       In bush Alaska (at least in my area), you can book over the phone a flight without paying upfront. If a cancellation is likely to happen (because of potential bad weather for example), call the other bush airline just in case your original booking gets canceled. If that original booking is cancelled, simply hop on the other bush airline that you’ve booked on the phone and pay once you arrive at your destination. Be careful: Do not pay for the flight until you arrive at your destination. The reservation person will not usually ask for payment on the phone during a booking – so just don’t ask.

I was surprised Ravn Alaska landed. In the past few months, they’ve had a number of crashes. I’ve thus heard the FAA imposed a number of flight restrictions on Ravn. Thus, they’ve been avoiding our village for even the slightest amount of bad weather – which is extremely frustrating here.

But…the plane landed in the fog…and I never saw it until it was on the runway. Surprising! When they parked, I handed over my luggage and hopped on board. I then saw…I believe…a training exercise going on for IFR flight. What luck?!?

The pilots wanted to go to Shishmaref (another small village) and then return back to Brevig, dropping off the villagers traveling from Shishmaref. We took off with little turbulence, but lots of fog! When we arrived in Shishmaref, one passenger departed and a lot more got on the plane. Only we had a slight problem…that “slight” problem being “one” man without a seat in a cramped plane. We all just looked at each other.

“Which one of you is from Brevig?” shouted the pilot. Image

“I am, sir!” raising my hand.

Poking his head inside the plane from the open door, “You’re supposed to be on the second flight from Brevig.”

I kinda gritted my teeth…squirmed a little…and calmly responded that I was not told otherwise. The pilot conceded it wasn’t my fault, and stepped out to talk with the copilot. About a couple of minutes later, a villager spoke up and stated she would be more than happy to come into Brevig the following morning. Relief.

But…her heroics were short lived. The pilot soon asked everyone departing to Brevig to exit the plane. Conditions had worsened in the village, and he wouldn’t fly into it.

So I got on the wrong flight, which happened to be the only flight from Brevig to Nome that day. God really does work in mysterious ways. Nothing happened on the way to Syracuse, NY.

Now to Italy!


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