In which Aviatrix shuts up and goes home.
In wrap up I'll note that over the last couple of weeks everyone here in Texas has been very nice. They're friendly and helpful and don't seem to mind saying things twice when I don't understand the accent or vocabulary. They're also more travelled than typical in the US. Many people I talked to here have been to one part of Canada or another. (The topic of overseas travel never came up, so that's the only metric I have). A commenter on my first Texas blog entry mentioned something about aggressive driving, but I haven't experienced that. There's the usual amount of not signaling lane changes, less than California I think. But the streets are wide, with lots of lanes, huge wide shoulders and dedicated left turn pockets everywhere, so an unexpected lane change isn't a pressing emergency. No one tailgated or honked at me for driving the speed limit. It would seem that everyone here has been driving since they were sixteen, so they're certainly not lacking in practice.
In total, over two weeks of walking around town or driving back and forth to the airport, I saw six people using human-powered transportation: five walking and one on a battered-looking bicycle. The first two walkers I saw were young black men, dressed in a way that I thought only existed in movies, with oversized, falling-off jeans and blinged out with multiple enormous faux gold necklaces. They were walking towards me, coming the other way, along the grass at the side of a road. I was a little bit surprised to finally see someone else walking and said hello, but they were way too cool to deign to acknowledge my greeting. The commonality of us all being human beings aware of the purpose of feet wasn't enough for them, I guess. Or maybe I was looking stunned by their garb. Sorry about that, guys. I am exceptionally square. I just wouldn't have the panache to pull off a fashion statement of that magnitude. I rarely wear accessories that don't serve an immediate practical purpose. Maybe you were equally dumbfounded by my cartoon airplane t-shirt tucked into Marks Work Wearhouse trousers, with the waistband fitting well above my navel.
The other three walking people were caucasian, wearing exercise clothing, and strolling purposefully along a lovely treed path that went from the vicinity of the Wal-Mart all the way downtown, and perhaps further. It followed a pipeline right-of-way and I found it on the way back from downtown. I smiled hello at a man going the other way, and then walked with and chatted to a couple going my way. When we got to the end of the path, there was a parking lot, and their car was there. They had driven to this path in order to walk on it and were now driving home. In fact they offered to drive me to my hotel, even though it was only two blocks away.
My conclusion is that for white people here, walking is acceptable, but only as a recreational activity, not a means of transportation. I'm not quite sure about the other two guys. Perhaps their car had broken down. Or danced away. Although I've seen a lot of overweight folks, it's not everyone. I haven't seen the scarily obese people that TIME magazine keeps doing exposés on, so locals are getting some exercise somewhere.
The Texas work is not complete, so we'll be back, but the customer decides to take a break for a couple of weeks, so we leave the airplane in a hangar and all drive to into the big city to get cheap commercial flights to our various homes all over the continent. We cross our fingers that the connections work and we don't get stuck somewhere with inadequate snowploughs.
I don't get to see clearly what it looks like on the way in by car, the way I would arriving by air, but I can see from the road map and from driving there that it is an enormous gigantic airport, bigger than two "normal" international airports put together. It's so big they call it an "Intercontinental" airport. I find my gate, but shortly after I get there they announce a gate change. It's a full airplane, but there's a delay as they have to remove the baggage of someone who didn't show. Poor sucker probably didn't hear the gate change. I always hope someone like that is just inattentive and not deaf or non-English speaking, because it would be a really rotten reason to not make it to where you are going.
I do not get stranded anywhere en route, and sleep most of the way. I do sleep when other people are flying. I wake up in time to watch as we slip under scattered cloud on approach to the snow-covered Canadian city nearest my home.