Riders On A Storm

I always try to get to the airport early because I’m a natural worrier. Instead of waiting for things to go wrong, I anticipate every negative scenario miles down the road so that I know what to do if any of these situations arise.

This occasion was no exception. I was flying from Nashville to Memphis because I’d managed to grab a cheap flight. It would last less than an hour and I could spend my time seeing Memphis and its multitude of attractions with more money in my pocket.

When I got to Nashville International, there was the tail end of a storm in progress. It was the same storm I had experienced in Alabama; it had slowly moved North before beginning to dissipate.

I headed for security upon arrival. I stood in line with my boarding pass ready on my phone but when I stepped up to scan it, the light flashed red on the reader. After a brief conversation (in the “step aside, sir” aisle) I was told by security that they’d never heard of the airline I was flying with. The check point staff then turned their attention back to the people with real tickets and I was left to investigate for myself what was going on.

I asked at each airline desk on the main concourse whether they had heard of my airline. None of them had… Until I reached Alaska Air. 

“The name is ringing a bell. Something makes me think that we’ve had someone with this problem before. Let me ask…,” The woman said. She went into an office behind the counter.

When she came back, she handed me a post-it note with a street address and a phone number. I needed to head to a private airfield. It was still counted as Nashville International, but it wasn’t the main airport.

This was mentioned nowhere on my ticket, booking confirmation, or the company’s website.

When I got to the small airfield (by way of a taxi), I was greeted by a smartly dressed man behind the main desk. 

“Going to Memphis?” He asked.

“Yeah, how did you know?”

He smiled. “There’s free popcorn in the vending area, make yourself at home.”

The lounge was filled with luxurious leather seats and a huge TV mounted on the wall in one corner. The rest of the walls were filled with signed pictures of celebrities that had passed through.

Every plane outside was a learjet or similar. Not bad, I thought, for a ticket that cost less than renting a car!

I spotted my plane by the logo on the tail. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of the luxury models that I’d seen. Instead, it was a single propeller Cessna style aircraft. I smiled thinking that this was going to be an experience: a tiny plane on which you can feel every bump in the road on a clear day but this time combined with a storm? I had a feeling it was going to get bouncy.

And it did.

The man sat next to me was stationed in a Nashville army base but was flying to Memphis for his sister in law’s wedding. He said he’d rather fly than drive because driving is boring.

I think he might drive next time. 

He spread himself across the interior wall of the plane and gripped his seat with white-knuckles every time we hit an air pocket, making himself look like a cat doing everything in its power to avoid being put in a bath.

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Atlanta

The flight from Savannah to Atlanta lasted maybe an hour though I feel like it was a little under. I’m definitely not complaining, the drive would’ve been 3-4 hours of concrete boredom with renting a car costing around the same price.

I was sad to say goodbye to Savannah but was also looking forward to seeing how a big city in the same state would differ.

It took me almost half an hour to get out of Atlanta’s huge airport. With almost 4 hours to kill until I could check in to my accommodation, I decided to take a taxi to the zoo. Zoo Atlanta is located in Grant Park which wasn’t too far from where I was staying. 

It was another hot and humid day in Georgia and carrying around a backpack filled with clothes was making life a lot harder but the zoo provided a welcome distraction.

Zoo Atlanta works hard to help conserve a great number of endangered species (including pandas), and aims to educate people about conservation and the dire situation into which a lot of these animals have been forced through human involvement; whether it be through trafficking, the pet trade, poaching…etc.

After walking around the zoo for around 3 hours, and having skipped breakfast, I was starving. I found a pizza restaurant and bar called Grant Central Pizza where I demolished a 12″ pizza in so little time it actually warranted the admiration of the bar staff. (I ate it so fast, I didn’t even take a photo).

“Where else are you going on your trip?” Jess, the bartender asked. 

I mentioned that I was going to Nashville.

“I have family up that way! I have a great great great grandfather who was a famous bear hunter. Now that part of my family lives up in the mountains… They’re what we call rednecks. In fact, once we had a family reunion and my cousins from up there tried hitting on my siblings.”

“Your family tree: the stump,” a waiter, Ryan, said, “A few twigs on there but even they’re growing into each other.” He picked up a glass of water, the bar phone, then ordered Chinese food.