Wednesday, 19 July 2017

I am a nekked Episcopalian (or To North Carolina and back - my adventures and observations)

I left SRQ on the first flight of the day at 6:00 a.m.  Delta to ATL, and then Delta again from ATL to RDU.

If I have to travel via ATL  (which is almost  unavoidable when flying from SRQ) (everyone goes to heaven or to hell but we all change in Atlanta) I prefer an early flight before the skies around ATL get too busy.

Both flights left on time and arrived on time.  I've had good luck with Delta and I usually pay a wee bit extra to use "Delta Comfort".  The seats are wider, the leg room is better, one's first bag is checked free, and the seats are near the front or the aircraft which makes for a speedy exit.

Once in Raleigh  I picked up my rental car from

I chose a Nissan Altima

I have never owned or driven a Nissan.  I was extremely pleased with the comfort and ride of the Altima (once I figured out that with key-less entry and ignition you have to press down the brake before the engine will start.

I decided at the last minute to rent a GPS/SatNav which was just as well.  My carefully printed directions located the Hotel at 3800 Hillsborough St, Raleigh.  I got there easily enough, but there was nairy a hotel in sight. It's the location of

Meredith College

I'd never heard of this College, but being there gave me the opportunity to think about my good Massachusetts friend, Meredith Wirtz.

My Hotel was in fact at 3800 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, which is 25 miles away. I'd have been hard pressed to find it without the GPS/SatNav.

I was staying at the Hilton, Durham near Duke University.

It was a good choice. I arrived at Noon three hours before check in time but the extremely pleasant young man at the desk found out that my room had already been prepped so I was all set to go. More about the Hilton later.

There was a 

nearby  I'd never before eaten at a Cracker Barrel  (it's a bit of a Southern institution, having been founded in Tennessee). 

I'll not be in a hurry to go back.  The menu is biased in favour of high calorie, high fat content southern comfort food.  I was able to find a salad with grilled chicken which was good.

At the risk of offending I have to say that never before have I seen so many (apparently morbid) obese people in one place.  (O.K., O.K., I am an Anglo-Yankee snob!)

I'll try to redeem myself to my southern friends by telling you that at dinner that day (with my friend George Blaisdell Jr.- we knew each other in Pittsfield) I ate catfish and grits!

Back to the Hotel.  The front desk and shuttle 'bus staff were as helpful and friendly as you can imagine. (I made this clear in my Expedia review of the Hotel). I asked "are you trained to be super-friendly?"  "Yes", said one, "but we probably got our jobs because most of us are friendly by nature. We love our work".

It turned out that there were three of us who were heading to Sam Rodman's consecration the next day. We got to chat to the staff (none of them had ever heard of the Episcopal Church!)

One of them asked "are you Catholics or are you Christians?", and "do you believe in Jesus or in Mary?"

We explained that we are Christians, but that some Episcopalians also claim to be Catholic.  We said that we love Jesus, and that some Episcopalians are devoted to Mary.

I said "We are a very broad Church.  You could be in an Episcopal Church and think that you are in an evangelical "thank you Jesus" Church.  You could be in another, and think that you were in a Roman Catholic Church".

"But I" I continued, "I am a nekkid Episcopalian".  The young woman asked "what does that mean?". I countered "you'll see when I leave for the consecration tomorrow".

She looked puzzled, and then said "that's a joke isn't it?"  Laughter all around!

There was a bonus.  The hotel shuttle 'bus drove us to within sight of the Duke Chapel, and met us after the service.

I've written before about the Consecration itself and my visit to Church and lunch with my pal Kadi.

The return journey was a bit hairy.  Once again it was on Delta.

The first leg from RDU-ATL was greatly delayed.  Kudos to the Gate staff member who gave us frequent and timely updates.   He was great.

I was sweating, lest I missed my connection from ATL-SRQ. I took my seat, only to find out that I was in the wrong row, such an embarrassment to this fairly frequent flyer.  I apologized to the passengers and promised that I would go back to school to learn the difference between 12 and 11. That relieved the tension.

Then my heart sank.  The man in the seat next to me (in a two seat) row, was super sized. I inwardly groaned.  But then he asked me the time of my next flight, and using his hand-held  he checked my departure time and gate from ATL- SRQ.  And when we got to the gate at ATL he stepped aside so that I could depart the plane before him.  Helpful guy!

I ran down the long concourse in Terminal B, raced down the elevator, jumped on the under ground railway to Terminal E, rushed up two escalators and got to my gate just as the announcement "this is the final boarding call" was being made.

All hot, bothered, and out of breath I apologized to the cabin crew.  They were not fazed. "Welcome aboard" said one "would you like some water?"  Oh yes indeed, I wanted some water. 

This morning I got an e-mail from Delta apologizing for the RDU-ATL delay, and asking for my comments. This I did and lauded to high heaven the work of the gate agent in RDU and the Cabin staff at ATL..  I hope that my praise and thanks is relayed to them.

On the ATL-SRQ leg I was in a window seat in a three seat row.

In the row in front of me was a Mum and Dad with a wee child who was in a special child  seat which was secured by the seat belts in the middle seat, but had her flying backwards, so I could see her lovely face.

I was intrigued to watch her.   Her Mum gave her a small stuffed toy in a transparent and hinged plastic box.  She figured out how to open the box, chuckling as she did so.

Her Dad gave her a cookie, one of those sandwich cookies with peanut butter in the middle.  The little girl worked determinedly to separate one half from the other.  When she succeeded she did what you or I would do:  she licked off the peanut butter before chomping the two halves down.

What a joy to see her as she experimented and learned.

As we descended into SRQ (I knew that we were near because I could see the Sunshine Skyway Bridge), this sweet baby had a melt down. She sobbed and screamed  I decided to ignore it..

We landed, and a woman in front of this family made a patronising comment to the Mum and added "my ears are still hurting". (Liar, liar, pants on fire!)

I leaned over to the Mum and said "don't worry.  She's a little child and little children cry and scream, it's not a big deal".

As I arose from my seat, the man to my right said "any parent knows that if your child is screaming you give it a bottle".

I was out of patience.  I responded with 'I am single and I have never had a child.  But I know that wee children sometimes melt down and get into a crying/screaming jag and that's O.K . with me".

He did not respond.

I wanted to add "if that bothers you, think about all the hungry little children in refugee camps, whose screams we cannot hear".

But I kept my counsel and zipped my lips.  It was nearly midnight and we were very tired

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