Since I wrote about what I don’t like about air travel the other day, in the interests of fairness, I thought I’d mention my favorite part: the view.
And I’m not talking about when you’re little and it’s fascinating to watch houses and cars turn into dollhouses and Matchboxes.
I mean the actual landscapes, the breathtaking expanses of land and sea that you could never see or appreciate up close.
God’s handiwork, like the lush vineyards and rolling hills of Tuscany that unfurled below me this summer like a patchwork quilt in every shade of green and brown, and made me almost resent the time I spent in Florence—Florence—before I finally escaped to that perfect country for a day.
I spent most of my honeymoon flight from Miami to Aruba ignoring my new husband and leaning across the strange guy next to me. He had the window seat and below was the Caribbean Sea in such a clear, perfect shade of turquoise that I could see coral reefs from 20,000 feet above.
But my most treasured memory is of a land that I’ll never see up close, and one that’s rapidly disappearing: the North Pole.
Korean Air’s punishing 14-hour flight from JFK to Seoul takes you up and over the polar ice cap. I had given up trying to sleep about half way through and was ready to scream from frustration and boredom. I was also in the very last row—next to the bathrooms—and I wanted off that plane.
I got up to stretch my legs, use said bathroom and there it was. The black ocean was gone, the clouds had disappeared and the ice shimmered below, crackled like an old oil painting and veined in electric blue. It was spectacular break from the tedium, a sight that inspired dreams of mommy and baby polar bears.
But I hate the cold and a trek across the Arctic suggests a dystopian Victorian novel of exploration that ends in disaster (I was an English major, OK?), so I was happy to drool from above.
Did I mention that I’m afraid of heights?