We flew across the country today with Virgin America, and I want to say that this was probably one of the best flying experiences I have ever had. The staff at the Virgin check-in desk were very pleasant and helpful, as were the ground staff who ushered us onto the plane… even the TSA folks at JFK were friendly and nice! Every time I travel, my Tamrac backpack is loaded with camera gear, so it comes as no surprise when I hear the words, “Bag Check!” as I go through the security screening line. Today was no exception, but as I stood by watching the agent make sure I had no bomb materials stashed away, I had to almost pinch myself to see if I was really in New York? Everyone we dealt with all day was well… nice, stress-free, and quite un-New Yorker like… which made for a pretty nice experience.
New York to San Francisco in 5 1/2 hours, and other than a brief little scare at the start of the trip, the day went off without a hitch. After clearing security, we headed down to the far end of our terminal so that Jack could do some plane-watching. As we idled away an hour or so, I couldn’t help noticing that there was breaking news appearing on the terminal TV monitors. Apparently some guy had managed to scare La Guardia airport into evacuating the whole place, and without much information for us to go on, there was some obvious concern on our part about any impact on JFK.
The last time the whole family flew together was in 2006 when we went to Ireland, and on the morning we were returning to the US there was a pretty big scare about a plot to use some combination of household liquids to wreak havoc on several transatlantic flights. That day ended up being a long one, though today’s itinerary thankfully ended up being unaffected. Virgin America had excellent service, a very comfortable flight, and we arrived in California on time and eager to begin our vacation. Jack was very impressed with the monorail at the San Francisco airport.
We rented our car and navigated the California Freeways as we headed east toward Yosemite. Our first night’s accommodation in the park isn’t until Sunday evening, so after having traveled all the way from Maine the day before, we didn’t want to have to spend too much more time in the car today. We found ourselves a hotel in Lathrop, and were all glad to finally stop moving and enjoy our surroundings. With a couple more hours in the morning to get to Yosemite, needless to say the Patterson clan is excited to finally see the beauty and grandeur that we have been reading and talking about in person since we started planning this trip back in the winter.
Tomorrow evening should find us at Glacier Point for our first sunset in Yosemite. I have been pretty much driving throughout the trip so far, but it will be nice to slow down, enjoy the view, and maybe come away with some photographs to share.