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December 10, 2008

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Houston to L.A.
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Greetings from the good ol' U.S. of A! For all you readers who are new, welcome! I was on over 100 NPR stations this weekend with Rick Steves (we taped it in Seattle a couple of months ago) and I was also on about the same number of local stations with Peter Greenberg and WGN Chicago so we have quite a lot of new subscribers. To give a quick re-cap, I just completed a trip around the world, which I'm about to start telling you about this week. While I was away, I received a ton of emails from family, friends and readers, concerned about my safety, which I greatly appreciated. Thank you!

CLOSE CALL IN MUMBAI
Some people wanted to know how my mental state was after being in India and if I'd altered my travel schedule. I missed the Mumbai terrorists by just 36 hours, as I had a reservation at the Taj Mahal Palace. To be honest, I really didn't think too deeply about it. When I start to play the "what if" game it doesn't do any good and just freaks me out. It conjured up images and feelings I had back in 2001 while I was in NYC during 9/11. One thing is for sure: I'm not going to let some cowardly, misinformed, misguided loser terrorists win. I'm going to go on with my life and travel to the places I intended to, even before we annihilate those scumbags. The only thing we can do is learn ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones, which will make us all better travelers. Obviously, it doesn't happen overnight and it's a continual learning process. Anyway, there's much more to come on multiple destinations in India and other countries and it's going to take me several weeks to tell you all about it. So for now, just sit back, grab a glass of wine, a cuppa joe, a bucket of ice cream or whatever tickles your fancy and come along on this incredible journey, which begins today.



NEW AIRPORT SECURITY LANES
We left off last week from Houston, Texas. I forgot to mention that the Houston Hobby Airport is well run at least it was the days I passed through. It took a minute for me to check in at Southwest (that's even with my ancient paper ticket) and there was no line at the "expert" security lane. The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has been testing out new security checkpoints across the country where travelers can choose one of three security lanes before passing through the metal detectors. They modeled them after ski slopes so travelers can relate and my favorite is (obviously!) the black diamond. It's for those who have the 3-1-1 drill down pat. The blue square lane is for the intermediate traveler with a few carry-on bags and who also know enough to take their shoes and jackets off, laptops out, remove metal from their pockets, etc. The green circle line was created for novices and families, groups or those requiring special assistance. Before I automatically jumped in the expert line, I looked around to see if any flight crew or airport staff were approaching. If there had been, I would have jumped into the intermediate lane since you know those under-appreciated workers are going to cut to the front of the black diamond line anyways ... as they should.

HOUSTON'S HOBBY AIRPORT
Lickety-split and I was on the other side of security. I grabbed a breakfast burrito and a bottle of water. The airport prices are reasonable (though not as good as PIT); a bottle of water or a soft drink is just $1.69. Some airports charge double that, which should be a crime. I sat next to a 70-something-year-old lady who was flying for the very first time. I could just feel her fear as we taxied down the runway. She did the right thing by just keeping her mind busy and engaging in a favorite pastime -- search puzzles. She didn't want to look out the window or even get up. Of course, that meant I was stuck in my window seat so I had to cross my legs for the three-hour flight, which was no easy task after guzzling a bottle of water and a can of Southwest's apple juice. Just before landing, she did get a bit braver and glanced out the window from time to time, then immediately put her head in the middle of her puzzle book. Once on the ground, I asked her how the flight experience was and she said, "It wasn't that bad." Bless her heart.

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Pictures From

The Trip

 

Welcome To Mumbai

 

Bombay Times

 

Entering Mumbai Airport

 

Pulling Up to the Terminal

 

Mumbai Airport

 

Houston Hobby

 

Expert Security Lane

 

Southwest Airlines

 

Landing In L.A.

 

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