Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The best place I've ever been

While doing that test in the previous blog, I started thinking about the best place I'd ever been. At first I was going to list the foreign countries that touched me the most. But then I thought about the trip to Fairbanks I took with my dad in the spring of 1969.

Back then they hadn't yet introduced the jumbo jet. Long range, non-stop flying was still a dream the Boeing engineers were on the cusp of bringing to fruition. As a result, my dad would fly his 707 to Fairbanks where another crew would board, refuel, and fly to Tokyo and back. This left my dad in Fairbanks for a weekend layover.

That weekend he asked if I wanted to tag along. Pan American, at that time, was strictly an international airline. Regulations forbade it from picking up passengers in the US. Therefore, the flights within the US were inevitably empty. I had the whole jet to myself.

707s were beautiful, graceful airplanes. Long and lean with four engines on the wing, I could always recognize one in the sky. They also came equipped with circular lounges in first class. This is where I sat for the journey, eating vanilla ice cream. Besides being the only passenger, I was the captain's daughter. Talk about star treatment.

What I remember most about that flight is the eternal sunlight as you head west and north. Alaskan springtime meant twenty hours of sunshine. So it was light when I left New York and it didn't get dark until I came home on Sunday. Pure magic.

In the late sixties, Fairbanks was a one horse town. Yet I made a friend there, and I'll tell you all about Eva tomorrow.

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