This is going to be a long one, been traveling all day with lots of time to think. I had to fly to San Jose, California today for a Unix training class at HP. It has been about six years since I've been on a plane, it was before 9/11 when I last flew. Its not fear of terrorists that have stopped me. I just don't like flying. I've had too many problems with technology to ever be completely at ease in some mechanical contrivance hurtling through the sky. Even so, its more the hassle than anything else that has made me avoid getting back on a plane. So I was somewhat surprised that it wasn't that bad. Sure I had to take off my shoes and my jacket, but otherwise it was no worse than it used to be. The flight of course was uncomfortable, planes definitely aren't designed for fat guys. But as I sat and looked out the window I was struck by a moment of awe. Here I was, some ordinary shmuck, soaring through the sky, a realm that not all that long ago was the realm of gods. We really do live in an age of wonders, and for the most part we just take it for granted. The views were really incredible, the mountains, the clouds, the oceans, and even the cities. Would someone 150 years ago ever have believed that such experiences would become common and ordinary?
My destination of Cupertino was only a couple of miles from where I used to live. I drove by the old place, wandered around some of the places I used to hang out. I left California about 8 years ago. I only lived there for three years, but I have lots of good memories. It was my first few years of marriage, and my first real exposure to a culture beyond that of the midwest. It was a shock to be sure, but I think it had a lot to do with getting me beyond the closed mindedness and prejudice of where I grew up. I'm glad I lived in California for awhile, and I'm glad I left. Its too crowded and expensive for me to be really happy here. But there is a lot of cool things about the area too. For one thing, it's beautiful. Tonight I drove to Santa Cruz, with a side trip through Big Basin Redwood Forest which is full of absolutely gorgeous scenery (and thats besides the stunning park ranger I met). From Santa Cruz I drove up highway 1 to Half Moon, which runs along the coast and some more beautiful scenery. I stopped to watch the sun set over the ocean and listen the waves for awhile before the incoming tide threatened to strand me on the rocks I was standing on. I continued on up the coast, sun roof down and bagpipes blaring over the stereo.