Flashbacks

Initially I thought that being this close to the mountains would mean that I’d never make it up to Munich, but since December I’ve been there nine times, mostly to its airport. The weekend after bauma was one of these times, though for this trip I was heading back across the ocean to attend a friend’s wedding. The venue was Jekyll Island, which until receiving the RSVP for the wedding I hadn’t heard of before. But with clear blue skies, perfect lawns, and a gentle breeze, what’s not to love?

Beach return-3

 

I wasn’t particularly expecting it, but heading back to the States brought back all sorts of memories. The reception was held at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, whose stately architecture somehow reminded me of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The humid weather, with abundant sunshine and unending humidity, was likewise familiar. The no-see-ums that attacked me while I sat poolside — I ended up with 40-some bug bites — were also a[n irritating] reminder of Charleston; we have none of these critters in the Allgäu, so this ferocious nuisance was a happily-forgotten memory for nearly a year.

Beach return-4

 

There is a huge amount of Spanish moss growing on trees in Charleston, yet despite its prevalence I don’t think I have many pictures of it during my time there. (Chalk that up to never having formally visited a plantation, perhaps.) On Jekyll Island, the stuff is if anything even more rife, again prompting bursts of recollection.

Beach return-1

 

I could have spent days marveling at the massive trees and seemingly detached elegance of the island, but to be frank I’m not too sure how I managed not to for over three years in Charleston. For now I’m blame it on the bugs and the humidity. After my assignment maybe I’ll test out the theory.

Beach return-2

 

My trip to the Charleston-like city didn’t last long, however, due to a computer failure that brought me back to Jacksonville one day earlier than anticipated to try to sort out. Though I didn’t end up fixing it there — it took another trip to, well, Munich, naturally, to remedy — one nice touch was that I could finally do an effortless beach sunrise shoot: wake up, put the camera and tripod in the car, drive two minutes, park, and walk two minutes to reach the soft sand. My go-to beach sunrise spot in Charleston, Botany Bay, in contrast required a good two and a half hours of preparation and travel time, so the ease of shooting on Jacksonville Beach was marvelous. I hoped for clear skies but was pleasantly surprised by a rather colorful morning. This is rare: of all the sunsets or sunrises I’ve deliberately gone to, this was one the easiest to shoot and I also got more color than I had bargained for. Consistent landscape photography demands both diligence and being in the right place at the right time; the pairing this particular morning was certainly not a familiar acquaintance!

Beach return-5

 

Though the long exposure obscures the actual frothing of the Atlantic waters, the stillness of the morning was not reflected by the attendance at the pier. By the time the sun rose above the horizon, probably three dozen other visitors had come to watch the show; the ease of beach access wasn’t alluring to just me.

Beach return-9

 

Perhaps the best part of the morning, and the most typical and dare I say comforting, was that four hours after sunrise I was due to leave all the familiar warmth and southeastern coastline and begin the return to Germany. What’s a trip without a risky departure itinerary? I had chosen a two-stop return flight in order to fly on the 747-8I for a third time. I couldn’t upgrade on my 747-8I flight last year due to multiple technicalities of international upgrade rules within Star Alliance, so once again I asked if there was still a seat free on the upper deck of the iconic jumbo. A lifelong wish came unexpectedly true as there were still a few seats open. The astonishment that began earlier that morning continued for the next eight hours as I had my first — and arguably last — exposure to the upper deck of any 747.

Beach return-6

 

While I was far more emotional while flying Swiss Airlines’ first 77W, knowing that this would in all likelihood be my only exposure to the upper deck of such a legendary aircraft was chilling in its own right. Thankfully, even with sharply tapered sidewalls, the cabin still felt airy and unrestrictive.

Beach return-7

 

When we left the sun-drenched Jacksonville runway, the temperature was about 31 °C. In Frankfurt, the temperature that greeted suitcases as they streamed out of the cargo hold of the -8I was also about 31°, only this time measured in Fahrenheit. At this massive airport, formerly firmly the realm of the 747, a light rain was falling, pooling just slowly enough  on the windowpane as to shed a tear for the magnificent plane.

Beach return-8

Flashbacks

7 thoughts on “Flashbacks

  1. chuckography2014 says:

    Congratulations on snagging a seat “upstairs” on a 747! Did you wander up and down the stairs? I sure did.

    Think I told you about my stepping into a tiny elevator on a wide-body jet (L-1011 or a DC-10), down to the windowless galley and chatting with the senior flight attendant. I said I was surprised that a someone with seniority would choose to be down here for the entire flight, no views, warming meals and sending them up. She laughed and replied, “There’s zero contact with any of the passengers. I earned the right to be down here.”

    I look forward to enjoying a concert with you the next time you actually are IN Charleston again. I don’t mean on a spruced up hoity-toity Georgia island or land-bound on a colorful – but deserted – Florida beach.

    I am picturing you smack dab in Charleston, the Holy City, outdoors, surrounded by copious Spanish moss draped on oaks and pines. The faint buzz grows in volume in the distance as the scouting party locates you and has passed the word to prepare for a full-bore assault. “Target engaged!”

    But, no worries for me. I will be sitting with you on one side and Raj on the other. His head and arms are a gnat, no-seeum, sand flea and mosquito major target with no quarter given. Slapping is futile. There are just too many and they are relentless.

    You are in luck though because the attack force has divided. Half of the blood suckers heads for you and the other half dive-bombs Raj.

    I sit in my bemused Carolina Native contentment, sipping my frosty beer and listen to the Blues playing at this Spring outdoor concert.

    Locally we don’t use the phrase “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” We know it’s the crushing combination of both.

    A 99-degree day with 99% sweat factor pretty much defines Spring, Summer and a lot of the Fall.

    The year that I lived in Minneapolis had a record-setting snowfall of 128 inches. I took the first job offer that happened to be in Tallahassee.Florida.
    I sent my still captive north-bound family a picture of a malfunctioning time & temp sign on a bank that showed 109 degrees.

    It really was only in the high 80s. And no snow was predicted.

    Chuck

    1. Tigerotor77W says:

      Ooof, I don’t know… I’ve had enough bug bites for the year. I’m just thankful that while standing on the beach in Jacksonville there were no invisible bloodsuckers there.

      I wandered around the stairs a few times and also took some pictures of them (they’re straight now, though, rather than spiral, so it was hard to frame the shot). The flight attendants were curious about my shooting and a few asked what I was up to. :-)

      Alas I won’t be walking up and down those stairs much more; I don’t plan on upgrading in the future. If the flight were longer, maybe, but for a trans-Atlantic flight by the time meal services are over I’m ready for a nap — and then the wheels hit the tarmac.

  2. chuckography2014 says:

    WHAT? No spiral stairs. What the hell has happened to tradition?! Probably removed to accommodate more seats. Sigh. I’ll always have my memories. Did you ever fly a DC10 or L1011?

  3. chuckography2014 says:

    Oh, here’s an item about the last flight of a DC-10
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-26259236 and another about the L-1011 http://www.airlinereporter.com/2014/03/lockheed-l1011-saying-goodbye-another-trijet/

    One, I can’t remember which, had a piano bar at the rear of the plane! Back in Coach so I stopped asking for upgrades when they were available. I was in the tour and travel industry and often was “bumped” up front! Low backed seats ringed around the “walls” and short lamps were on tables. Yes, there were seatbelts.

    1. Tigerotor77W says:

      The spiral stairway was something special — indeed sad to see it go. The straight-shot in the 747-8I is still elegant, but it lacks that classiness that the old spirals had.

      I’ve flown in a DC-10 but never in an L-1011. There weren’t many of them to begin with and by the time I started flying longer distances most of the L-1011s that had been ordered had been retired anyhow.

      Those images are pretty interesting… definitely don’t see cabins like that anymore!

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