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Friday, December 15, 2017

TRANS CANADA: Day 10 Continued--A Magical Return Home to Honolulu

I left you in Chicago (that is the city skyline in the background), and on my middle flight home to Los Angeles, now better understand why I spend so much time, money and energy on long trips.  You just don't know what to expect and just hope the pluses overwhelm the minuses.  This one was extraordinary.    

I decided to enter the cold only a few days before I flew to Vancouver, not particularly because I wanted to, but because I could.  I only have a short period left when I will forever be restricted to my Purgatory known as 15 Craigside.  The remainder of my journey could well have been the most magical ever, especially if you value the fabulous USA, solar energy and friends.
The remainder of my journey could well have been the most magical ever, especially if you value the fabulous USA, solar energy and friends.

I start with my itinerary:
  • Woke up at 5AM (midnight Hawaii time) because the bellman said I should catch the 6AM taxi ($70 with tip) arranged by the hotel.
  • I noted that the first flight left such that I arrived in Chicago half an hour before boarding.  Should have been enough time for my bag to also catch this plane.
  • However, the leg to Los Angeles concerned me.  The arrival time at LAX was 2:52PM, but boarding to HNL was to be 2:40PM.  How far would I have to walk?  What are the odds of my bag also making that flight?
  • Turned out UAL463 actually arrived half an hour earlier.  Also, we docked at Gate 73.  UAL1498 to HNL left from Gate 72. 
  • So I wandered over to my boarding area and aimlessly showed my ticket and was let on the plane.  I was the first passenger.  I think this had something to do with the walking cane I use when I go on these long trips.  It only costs $2 from Daiso in Bangkok.  But I've lost two, so you can also buy one in Daiso Japan for $3.  You saw me with this cane next to the Canadian moose two days ago.
  • I should add that, after some shuffling around, a long-time University of Hawaii colleague ended up sitting next to me, and will provide details later.
Another reason why I came on this trip is because I had two regional upgrades that would have expired at the end of this month.  On checking in I found out that UAL had upgraded the first and third planes.  However, the magical Chicago-LAX leg was a window seat (F) in Economy Plus.

Let me start by saying that I had four Bloody Marys:


I looked at the back of the can and read the ingredients:


One can provides 62% of your sodium requirement, and I was already pass this limit.  When you add the pretzels and peanuts, who knows where I was for the day.  I still had half the total trip left.   For the record, I also had another to Honolulu, with a can of beer:



Took me a long time get here, but the highlight of my trip was not all that snow in Canada.  We have a beautiful country, and my photo-taking began with the Rocky Mountains, which stretch from British Columbia down to New Mexico.  This is just around Denver:


It gets better and I saw sights I never saw before, probably because of the lighting angle and time of day:


I have twenty more, but, next, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam (note the low water level) and Las Vegas:


Having run a solar energy research institute in my past, I was especially excited about the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, located between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  The three power towers have a gross capacity of 392 MW.  At one time it was the largest solar facility in the world, but #1 is now in India at 648 MW, larger than the smaller nuclear fission power plants.  I might add that the biggest wind farm is in Gansu, China, up to 6,000 MW in 2012, but with an expectation of reaching 20,000 MW by 2020, the equivalent of 20 nuclear power plants.


Close by is the following scene, which looks like this should be in Hawaii:


Finally, approaching LAX:


I might add that a little girl was sitting next to me totally catered to by her father.  She kept elbowing me and I could have filed an improper behavior charge for harassment, but I got back at her by taking her photo:


Which now leads to my seat mate on the flight to Honolulu.  Murli Manghnani, who also is in the School of Ocean and Earth Technology at the University of Hawaii.  He has been a researcher here since 1963, and at the age of 80, still active.  He was on his final flight back to Honolulu after a short trip to India, back through Hawaii, then on to New Orleans to receive an award.  He is 80 years old, and surely the oldest employee at the UH.  He said that he would be making around 20% more if he retired, and is considering perhaps doing so.  To the left is a photo when he became a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.  

Here at sunset are the Big Island volcano peaks:


Amazingly enough, my bag was the first piece of luggage to arrive onto the baggage carousel.

Finally, this morning home at 15 Craigside, where I was greeted by a white orchid:


Business must like what is happening with the Congressional tax package, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 143 to 24,652, another all-time record.

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