The Long Trip Home


I just checked the GPS in my tablet.  Our 737 is climbing through 23,000 feet at 430 mph ground speed.  We’ve just poked through the clouds into the late afternoon sky. 

Our heading is 273 degrees.  That won’t last long.  We’re headed to Phoenix.

It was a late departure.  We left the gate, pulled a few dozen feet onto the tarmac and stopped.  “Deicing,” was the word from the cockpit.  But the iceman never cameth!

Did the pilot get tired of waiting?  I watched a Delta RJ get doused, then all of a sudden we were on the move and steaming down the runway.

Still climbing.  We’ve gone through 37,000 feet, ground speed 440 mph.  The heading is 245 degrees, a little south  of west.

Throttle back.  Level at 37,265 feet.  That’s GPS altitude.  The altimeter in the cockpit has us at an even number, I’m sure&#185.

The are a few breaks in the undercast.  Wherever we are, there’s been recent snow.  The ground has a powdered sugar look to it.

This was a whirlwind trip.  We were on the ground around 48 hours.

Melissa’ shower was a blast.  This will be one stylish baby!  My photos will wait until SoCal to get posted.

We stayed in Melissa and Mark’s house, downstairs in a spare bedroom in the basement. Perfect. No windows. Quiet. Sensory deprivation!

Anyway, the bedroom we used last time is now a nursery!

We got to spend some time with my niece Jessie, her husband Evan and their two kids. One is two, the other four.

How do Jessie and Evan have any strength at all? The kids are constantly in motion.

We also saw my sister and brother-in-law. Is it too late make up for the putz I was growing up? The more time we spend together, the closer we get.

My sister is still hobbling after knee surgery, but she says she’s feeling a little better and has started cutting back on pain medication.

My parents are in the neighborhood too. This was a tough winter. They left Florida and arrived in Wisconsin just in time for brutal cold. It was relentless this year.

They were shut-ins in Florida too, but I’m sure looking out their window now is a little more depressing up here. Hopefully they’ll take advantage when spring arrives.

It will arrive, right?

Getting old is not for pussies… or so says my dad.

We rented a car for the trip. Enterprise gave us a Prius. That’s probably a bad choice for a rental fleet. I never quite knew what the in-dash display was telling me. The Prius is the only car I’ve ever driven where you needed a lesson first.

Before we left the airport Jasmine briefed me. Going from neutral to drive or reverse is unusual, as is parking.

“Press the button with P on it,” she said. We both giggled like fifth graders hearing a dirty joke.

We’re back in Milwaukee in June. My nephew, Matt, is getting married. Big celebration.

Whirlwind again. Seeing the family makes the trip a lot easier to take.

&#185- Sully says 38,000 feet.  His altitude is based on less accurate barometric pressure.  All planes use it, so we’re good.

One thought on “The Long Trip Home”

  1. Geoff,

    All aircraft flying above 18,000′ set their altimeters to the international standard pressure datum of 29.92″ hg. At that altitude and higher we don’t use the term altitude anymore, but rather state our elevation by the term “flight level.” Since all aircraft set their altimeters to 29.92″ or 1013mb above 18,000′ we all fly at hard flight levels that end in zero, ie. FL310, FL320, etc. This ensures that all aircraft have at least 1000′ of separation between Flight Levels. Generally speaking, Flight Levels are even numbered for aircraft heading Westbound, and odd numbered Flight Levels for aircraft heading Eastbound. We call that rule the Hemispheric Rule in determining what altitude an aircraft is cleared to fly.

    You are now free to fly about the country!!


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