The flight kissed Appleton good-bye and took off towards Minneapolis. It was July 2nd, Thursday, about 7pm. I was at the window seat, near the wings trying to recollect aerodynamic theories that "might have been" in my engineering syllabus. The sun was having a long summer day giving my mortal eyes, the experience of Raman (Sir CV) Effect.
Earlier, it had taken some marketing to convince Siva, Jai, Srikkanth and Seshu to go to Yellowstone National Park for the 4th July long weekend. The term 'Park', obviously, did not sound "long weekend'y". They trusted me(may be) and their google results(mostly) and accepted my project proposal. With sincere thanks to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, I booked the flight tickets and the motel rooms, in early June. Thus started our "Allies in Wonderland" project.
The plan was to take the connecting flight to Salt Lake City(SLC) at Minneapolis and reach SLC by 11.30pm; rent a Chevy Impala and drive towards West Yellowstone. We reached Minneapolis, said 'Cheese' a few times to Nikon S560. The monitors in concource F said that our flight to SLC was late by about 90 minutes. All the 'Cheese' melted immediatley, except for the frozen ones in the camera. Anyways, that gave me a chance to get back to Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" after almost 3 years. After 5 chapters for me, a few games of chess in iPhone 3GS for Srikk and Jai, our flight was declared ready for boarding.
I was at window seat again. After thanking the pilot deep inside my heart for the successful take-off, I started peeping outside for a glimpse of the golden stars below and silver stars above. 'மின்னிய'polis, I said to myself. The flight was travelling at about 550 miles per hour and the moon was travelling along outside the window almost as if it wanted to give me company through the journey. "So cute", I thought. I wasn't romantic....I was just sleepy...sleep...slee....zzz....
I heard "Cookies?" and wanted to say "Damn, turn them off", but then realized that the word was uttered by the air-hostess. I took one of the "Made in Belgium" cookies. Munchingly, I began to become aware that, I could not stretch my legs freely...almost at the same time, Seshu, having attained enlightenment after the short sleep, spoke to me the best words of the whole trip....."HM...Chevy may not be comfortable for a 6 hour journey and the drive inside the park there-after". Suddenly, "leg S P A C E" seemed to be next only to cleanliness. An upgrade to SUV (for car-illeterates, "a bigger car") would still be within our budget. When we reached the rental car place, Jai got us an SUV and Siva heard his best sounds of the trip, when the lady in the counter uttered, "it will be a GMC, gentlemen". Just that week, he had told me that he wanted to drive GMC in one of our trips.
At about 1.30am on July 3rd, we hit the highways of Salt Lake City and the stereo played 'Mukundha Mukundha'. Incidentally, Mukundha means, "Giver of freedom"....very apt for a July 4th trip. Our first destination in West Yellowstone was "West Yellowstone Airport". As a cost-cutting measure, we had decided that we would take the motel room only on Friday night and it was my master-mind that suggested that we use the airport restroom for refreshing on Friday morning.
At around 6am, the GPS said, "Arriving at destination". So, we were in the airpo....wait did someone rob the airport? All we saw was a board that read "West Yellowstone Airport" pointing towards a wooden building that looked slightly bigger than our car garage in Appleton!! And there was...there was a...thing...like a mini-aeroplane with it's wind shield(?), covered by a cloth, as if it were just out of an eye-surgery. The road to the airport looked better than the run-way. There were a few indications of people having lived in that place, somewhere in the past. We looked at each other's face....I think everyone had a short flash of my email "Friday morning: Refresh at West Yellowstone Airport" - What a great idea!!!
We got back into the car, and knelt in front our Oracle, the greatest invention that man ever made - "GPS". We searched for the nearest petrol station and accelerated towards it. For those of you who are not familiar with 'travel in US' - petrol stations are where road travellers in US stop to fill the car's stomach (may be) and empty their bladder(mostly). Our car had enough petrol.
The problem with restrooms in most gas stations (petrol bunks), is that only one person can use at a time.....so we went in one by one....trying to ignore the sarcastic look of the shop-keeper - not because ignorance is bliss....but because emptying the bladder is more blissful!!!
The primary task of the day having been fulfilled, some of us changed the dress inside the car and filled the morning breeze with some axe effect. That done, we went back to the GPS and asked it to direct us to the west enterance of Wonderland - aka - "Yellowstone National Park".
(The journey will continue...)
(Note: 'Yellow' woods and now 'Yellow'stone - please be assured that, I am not becoming a 'yellow'maniac).
6 years ago