On the morning of my departure (3-07-08) to California's "Center of the World" I was excited! Getting to the Center of the World is pretty easy. Fly to San Diego, pick-up the Enterprise rental car, and drive approximately 170 miles to Felicity, California. Straight shot!
The bags were packed and I seemed to have remembered all the smallest details; binoculars, walking stick, camera, batteries, maps, and rocks (that's another story)! As usual, I'm up and ready to go in plenty of time and my friend Samara, who has generously agreed to drive me to the airport, shows up exactly on time. And so we're off!
I've already printed my boarding pass, so it's just a matter of checking my bag when I get to the airport. Terminal A at Sacramento Airport seems strangely quiet for a Friday morning. There's no one in line at the Southwest counter and I'm checked-in and on my way upstairs in record time.
Shoes off, laptop in the tray, jacket, cell phone, carry-on bag...check my pockets, "Yep!" All clear. My carry-on goes through the x-ray and I see a puzzled look come over the security guy's face. They back-up the belt...."Oh, looks like an apple." I hear him say. I smile. "No, a delicious pear! A real chin dribbler!" They laugh and I hear them say, "We like her! What was that you called it again?" I feel good thinking that something so simple as "chin dribbler" brought a little cheer. Should be a good day.
I get up to my gate...now I see why the terminal was so empty...everyone's already upstairs. It's packed! I decide to take a photo of the gate information -- might as well document the full adventure. But GASP my camera isn't working. This can't be! I planned. I keep trying but nothing happens. I put in fresh batteries this morning...let me find the extra pair. I walk away and am searching when suddenly the airport policewoman is at my side. "Can I see your camera?" she asks. "You know you're not suppose to take photos in the airport?"
I am stunned! No one has ever mentioned this before. And in the world of airport security, it seems a bit odd. But I smile and show her the camera and explain why I am taking photos...or in this case, not taking photos. She's very friendly and once I explain she lets me proceed.
The flight boards and departs right on time. Lucky me, I'm in the first 25 -- it's a pretty full flight. As always I'm praying for smooth sailing, since I'm not the world's best when it comes to flying. The skies are pretty clear and few wispy clouds. In no time we're far and away from Sacramento and the vast expanses of California stretched out below. It's spectacular and green. Soon the still snowy Sierra Nevada are on the left -- I specifically chose this side of the plane. High peaks and deep valleys all draped in white.
What a vision.
The flight is a little less than smooth, but it's not much more than hour to San Diego. And the sight of the coastline brings a huge smile and the idea that we'll soon be on the ground eases my nerves. And besides, the Center of the World is just that much closer.
At San Diego, I grab my bag, a cup of coffee, and hop onto the packed Enterprise shuttle. The rental location is seriously under construction. But to make-up for any inconvenience, they've got tons of smiling staffers to speed the rental process along. And, bottles of water at the door. Thank you! I need this! I get my paperwork in minutes and am out in the parking lot with Trevor who is showing me my Nissan Versa. I have no idea what this is, but it's an upgrade from my requested "economy" car, which is not available. No problem. I got a killer deal on this rental. I booked it pretty far in advance.
Trevor is really thorough and makes note of all the little dings and dents...much appreciated by me. We chat a bit about California; he's originally from Corona. I tell him I'm going to the Center of the World, in the far southeastern corner of California. He's very interested and I explain the purpose of my adventure and how I've waited nearly 18 years. He says he'd like to know more, so I direct him to the blog and he thanks me.
Finally, after exchanging some more stories and a couple of friendly handshakes, I pile into the Nissan and get myself out of the airport and onto Interstate 8 east and almost immediately I see signs that say Yuma, 171 miles.
And now...really now...I am on my way to Felicity, California...the Center of the World!