- Essays: On The Road (And A Little Off)


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De Nederlands, August 9th already, 2005

Patty dropped me off at the airport and I
went in to take the first step of about ten
thousand li until I get back home again.
Got my ticket. went to Security where some
guy with a thick middle eastern accent
interviewed me after some lady with a dot
on her head shunted me off to the
"suspicious: obviously dyed hair"section of
the corral...i'm not makin this up...
got on the plane, pointless chatter about
pomeranians with a very nice old
lady government employee i do believe, i
mean that she works in the department of
old ladies with pomeranians, not that she
was any kind of agent...flew in to
Baltimore,,,went to the
IcelandAir counter which was not gonna be
open for another two hours...

The Ïcelandair ("The Coolest
Airline") terminal at BWI exists at
the end of the whole airport in the
international section, which doesn't appear
to be up and fully running yet. this is a
good thing, as I don't like a lot of
airplane stuff going on around me,
especially in airports.... beside it are
the air jamiaca counter and one which for
reasons of national security i won't go
into, then a british airways and jazz the
canadian airline and maybe something else,
i forget, i wrote it down but then lost my
notebook, more about that later...but at
this time of day the place was deserted,
was Sergio Leone deserted, there being only
a tumbleweed and myself.
so I hoofed it down to the sections denoted
by other letters,lookin for adventure in
whatever came my way,
yeah girl gonna make it happen,
wait that's born to be wild.

anyway go down to the food court and find
an internet terminal. cool. there are three
in all but the other two don't work,,,note
to WYSE: see front of this sentence...

so i'm sitting there typing away when a kid
about in his early twenties sits down,
notices that I have mentioned
something hip (to him, i mean) in the
subject line of one of my letters and we
get to talking.
Airport conversations always include this
question early on, sometimes in the first
sentence "Where you going"

But anyway we soon establish that the kid
is goin back to Iceland.
"BACK to Iceland?" I ask.
(This is interesting, because in this part
of the airport are a lot of people going to
a lot more places than to Europe. but i'll
let that thought go,,,sheer paranoia, i'm
"Yeah. Back."
Turns out that in his opinion Iceland is a
cool place, especially this time of
year...later on it's colder than a booker's
"Well, the people are all well-educated and
speak perfect English, and it's really
clean and there's a lot of reasons".
I hope I haven't screwed Iceland by sending
a lot of pigs North who will shame our
culture, waggle their eyebrows at Icelandic
women and leave a lot of trash lying around
their countryside. Don't tell anybody.

Then the kid syas ÿou oughta come and play
in Iceland, you can make a lot of money.
(Oh Lord I see what I'm doing. Iceland is
gonna be inundated by cover bands if it
ain't already. "Dick and the Weeds" TONIGHT
at the Reykjavik Hilton play all your
favorite 70s hits,,,)

Anyway, ultimately we exchange numbers and
go our separate ways...maybe I'll see if I
can't stop in Reykjavik a couple of days on
my way back...

I make a few final calls on the cell and
ankle it back up to the IcelandAir terminal
("ankle it" verb courtesy of Kinky
Friedman, the next Governor of the Great
State of Texas).

IcelandAir's counter opens at 4:30 and the
last possible moment for Check in is at
7:30, and since IcelandAir has one flight a
day going out, you can make your own
inferences...that the international aspect of
BWI is just getting underway was mine, but
you can use it if you want...
I am second in line.

I have been trying to fly cheaply and save
money but really unless you live near one
of the airports from which international
flights actually occur, and you know my
thoughts about Nashvile International (yeah,
right), anyway unless you live in one of
those coastal or minneapolis towns you're
locked into paying money to get to the port
of departure so it's tough to actually save
money on these things, it just goes in many
small increments rather than a thousand
bucks out the door in one chunk. but I'm
flying in sort of a confirmed standby
status and think maybe I'll get shunted
over to the side where they put those kinds
of passengers and be told to wait until the
real passengers are aboard, but the
perky Babe issues me my ticket no questions
asked and I get to wait around until time
to fly, which is about four more hours

I walk back up to Icelandair's counter and
have an encounter and a revelation which
for reasons of national security I can't go
into here.

But the shops behind the international
security checkpoint area are now open so
after I show my passport and boarding pass
to Mr. Aziz (I'm not making this up), I get
to go through only having to take my boots
off this time, and head to my gate, where
by counting the house I ascertain that
there are only about 110 people waiting to
get on the plane.

BUT the plane is a 757, and let me tell you
about the 757, the most ill-conceived
passenger plane to roll off the line at
Boeing: worst trans-oceanic plane in the
goldanged world...I mean it can travel five
thousand miles on one fueling, but who
would want to? Three seats to a side, one
tiny aisle down the middle, was never ever
meant to fly across the ocean, but because
it could, some of them got sold for that

Anyway I had gotten a window seat and
considered myself very lucky until this
very large Tongan lady sat down in the seat
next to mine. I took two Clonipin and went
to sleep. Slept so soundly that I missed
breakfast. Lost my glasses, woke up just as
we were getting into Reykjavik. After the
lady from Tonga had deplaned, an apt
expression, I was able to go to the row
behind mine and find my specs under my

I'd like to talk about the IcelandAir
stewardesses, flight attendants, whatever,
got these perky little uniform caps on and
alternately shy and knowing smiles,
sometimes make that blue-eyed eye contact
and sometimes their eyes kinda skid
away...the paradigm seems to be the
incredibly willowy-bodied blonde Viking
babes with hair in a pony tail under the
perky as I said before little cap, but
these babes are chilly, I gotta say.

Reykjavik. Didn't see it. Saw a tube
comin off of the plane and my arrival gate,
saw my departure gate and a tube going onto
the plane to Frankfurt.


hiya kids hiya hiya hiya
(let's have a big hand for froggy!)

well i got to germany. amazing. i'd tell
you about it but I lost my notebook. with
riny's number. so that when I got off the
ICE train (really fast. where we were
runnin along beside cars on the freeway we
were passing them like they were parked.
and the sense of motion? almost none, like
the smoothest airplane ride you never took,
the world going by the window in
cinemascope.I slept a big part of the three
hour, 250 mile trip...
anyway i didn't have riny's number...so
when I got to Utrecht had to
find an inet cafe.
walked through the huge Utrecht station
lookin finally ask at a bar...couple of
guys have opinions, tell me, i leave and
one of them follows me down the steps and
into the street...makes sure I know where
Kanaal street is,,,

I get there, having asked a guy on the way
and he reaffirming what I'd already
heard...walk along kanaalstraat and come to
javastraat. look up there's an internet
sign...one of the ones they use here is the
@ symbol.
go inside, dig through my email, find
riny's number...call him...okay he'll be
here in 30 minutes...step outside...as you
have probably discerned by the name
javastraat is in kinda what constitutes an
indonesian part of Utrecht. still, long
dutch girls goin by on bicycles...time to
milk the cows, milkmaid goin home...they
are so wholesome...HEALTHY girls. how how
how how.
some kinda indonesian guys street scene
goin on behind me. after i determine it's
just an ordinary scene in a language i
don't understand and not one that is gonna
erupt in violence at any second i ignore.

riny comes...manly hugs...little travel bag
and solid body guitar in trunk...we drive
half an hour to riny's town, which i won't
mention the name of because of the internet
spies from mars, but anyway spend the
evening catching up and watching bill hicks
shows...i was completely unaware of bill
hicks until i saw that otis lee crenshaw
thang and looked up otis lee and found out
the he is rich hall, one of my favorites
but so good at putting on the otis lee
personna that i didn't recognize
him...amyway bill hicks...you'd like bill
hicks a lot mama. really a funny bitter
dude...does (or did. dead now) some very
funny bits...

that's about it...oh i got a email from
rory, probly gonna connect tonight in

love to all....

that's the way the world looks and i'm
walter conkright.