Flight over the Andes of Ecuador
"A or F, please, preferably not over the wing."
This is my standard request when flying most commercial flights with a seating configuration of 3 and 3. I just don't get why people (without extraordinarily long legs) would choose to be bumped and climbed over in the aisle seats rather than enjoy the amazing perspective of our planet from above in a window seat. Perhaps they need easy access to the toilets? Fine, I'll grant them that, and I'll count my blessings that I can, for the most part, wait. I'll cross laps when I absolutely have to, but I'd sooner just cross my legs...especially while crossing over the Andes, the Rockies, or the Himalayas.
I love the window seat. And here are just a few reasons why:
#1A. It's my happy place, my comfort zone, and my zen place - where I can feel completely insignificant and gain a new perspective - a wider lens, if you will - on whatever trivialities seems important in my life at the time. Did I pack the right shoes? Did I remember to pay that last phone bill? From the window seat I can simply look down and think "oh yeah, there's our planet, isn't it amazing and awesome and...does anything else really matter?" Sigh.
#2F. I'm a geographoholic (dibs on wiki credit for coining that one)
- Throughout my childhood, I collected the map inserts from National Geographic, and my first dorm room in college was decorated in nothing but maps. And postcards.
- In jr. high I excelled at geography, a dreaded subject amongst my peers but not for me. There was a time when I could draw Europe freehand with all the borders in all the right places, including a two-part Berlin. Funny, I had no interest in doing the same with my own country's states - it all became a blur east of the rockies, kind of like those early cartography renderings of anything that wasn't Britain or India. There'd be California drawn with complete precision, then a few straight-lined geometric shapes to the right, then, oh who cares, just doodle some scary sea serpents instead. But, given the right circumstance I will still occasionally draw a map on cocktail napkin (and pen an entire article on a cocktail napkin too), particularly when the napkins are accompanied by caipirinhas...
- Perhaps being a native Californian and living just west of the San Andreas fault line accounts for my abnormal fascination with plate tectonics; and islands, which my part of the state may become if the rumored predictions are accurate. When I was young I actually got pretty excited over the thought of breaking off from the rest of the state to become an island nation. I've got a drawing of that somewhere too, I think it's in a box of my treasured 4th grade art projects. A waterproof firebox no doubt.
Flying over the Great Rift Valley in Africa - plate tectonics nirvana!
- Coastlines intrigue me. I'd often sit on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific with my best friend and we'd contemplate life while perched on "the edge of a continent."
Then, a year and some rains later, that perch is gone, washed away or tumbled into a rockpile on the beach below. The coastline has forever changed; and it continues to change, every year, all over the planet. Never take a coastline for granted.
#3A. It's really all just one big ocean. Kinda mind-blowing to think about when you're on a trans-Atlantic flight...or a trans-Pacific...or crossing any oceanic body of water. They all look the same from 35,000 feet. Mind blowing how that makes perfect sense.
|Reefs of Bora Bora in the South Pacific|
#4F. Let's be practical for just a moment. Sleep. You might actually want to sleep. Just because you're in sardine class doesn't mean you enjoy having to remain upright while your jaw drops open and drool trickles down your chin. Well, when you start to doze off and your head flops over onto the shoulder of that poor soul in the middle seat - if you're in the aisle seat, you're out of options. The best chance you've got is to take advantage of the fact that they are probably too unassertive to say anything (after all, they did end up in a middle seat). But if you have the window seat, you also have a wall, an alternative place to prop that ridiculous excuse for a pillow. And there's a bonus! The wall serves as support reinforcement should that middle seat occupant flop their head, along with their entire upper body, your way. Don't panic. You've got that wall - use it to leverage against as you flick your elbow with a whallop and send the startled soul flying toward, you guessed it, the now-regretful drooling dozer in the aisle seat.
#5A. Back to me. I do a great deal of writing while I'm in flight, and when I look up to compose my thoughts, I find it difficult to source my inspiration from tray tables or tv screens. I need open space - emptiness - to watch my ideas swirl around, bounce off puffy clouds, and settle...gently...like snowflakes....somewhere on the crust of that great planet below.
|Roof of the World - The Himalayas|
Some of my "thoughtflakes" will top majestic mountains...others will melt away into the deep blue sea. Some will run the meandering course of a river...others will stumble over skyscrapers and land with a "flakeplant" on the pavement. No matter where my thoughts settle, they start in the nothingness of space. And that's often the only thing I see when I look out the window - a perfect blank canvas on which to paint a picture with thoughts and words.
Picture? Did I just say picture? What a convenient segway into sharing more photos! Okay, so that's really a rather abrupt transition - more like turbulence. Please remain seated with your eyes on the screen until it is safe to move about the internet again. And here, I'll even let you have the window seat.
More reasons why I love the window seat (in pictures):
|How close the pilots navigate downtown on approach to SAN|
|The harrowing sharp bank upon take off from Paro Airport, Bhutan|
Gaining a better perspective of what the shipboard naturalist gets excited about:
|Amazon River "Meeting of the Waters" from above|
Including parts of plane for context of place:
|Nature Air flying over Costa Rica|
|Southwest Air flying over Arizona|
Observing Patterns of Man:
|Rice Terraces near Chongqing in China|
Observing Patterns of Nature:
Fairy Circles of the Namibian Landscape
Which brings me to another segway. The above photo was actually shot from a Hot-Air Balloon.
Sometimes you get a nice aerial view from a balcony:
Balcony View from the Kahala Resort in Hawaii
Or from a gondola!
The Great Wall of China at Badaling
And no aerial blog post would be complete without mention of helicopters. So, before landing, here's a small selection of aerial images from helicopters to enjoy:
|Helicopter Flight-seeing in Alaska allows for landing on glaciers!|
|Canyonlands National Park, Utah|
St. James, U.S. Virgin Islands
The ultimate perspective of Iguacu Falls, by helicopter:
What's next? Some day I hope to add to my aerial image collection from this perspective:
The ultimate aerial window seat!
Be sure to check out the full gallery of aerial images to see more of Namibia, Costa Rica, South America, and more from above!