A visit to Trumpland

March 10, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Tom Claridge

If nothing else, it was certainly interesting.

On Monday, February 6, daughter Nancy drove Pam and me to the Comfort Inn Airport North, where we had booked the night so as to make it easily to an Air Canada flight to Newark, New Jersey, the next morning.

The good night’s sleep was interrupted by an alarm shortly after 5 a.m., and we boarded the shuttle bus to the airport at 6:00 to give us lots of time to clear security and U.S. Customs & Immigration. But when the bus stopped at the west end of Terminal 1 and everyone else got off, I asked the driver whether that was the right spot for those bound for the U.S. and he assured us it was.

Well, anyone familiar with the terminal knows full well that gates to the U.S. are at the other end of the terminal, and we spent the next 10 minutes or so walking the length of the terminal. However, things went smoothly, in part because we had already made seat selection and checked our two suitcases through to Jacksonville. Security was a relative breeze and we got through Customs in plenty of time to have some breakfast before the flight started to board.

The flight to Newark was uneventful, and we arrived almost on time at a terminal we’d never visited before and hopefully will never again. We were dropped off at Terminal 1 and discovered that to reach our departure gate for the United Airlines flight to Jacksonville we would have to walk to a shuttle train and go through security again! And as it turned out, the security checks for both Pam and me were far more onerous than they were at Pearson, with my body triggering off an alarm and the physical search turning up no cause. How it is that in this day and age a way could not be found for transferring passengers to move between terminals without leaving the secured areas only the designers of that horrible airport must know.

When we finally made it to the departure gate the plane was already being loaded, and the flight was only a few minutes late leaving for Florida. But when we arrived at Jacksonville’s beautiful terminal and made it to the baggage area there was no sign of our bags. It took only a few minutes for the lady at the baggage counter to establish that both bags were sitting in Newark. She assured us that they would be put on a later flight for delivery overnight.

A pleasant 90-minute drive followed on a shuttle service based in St. Augustine, with the driver, Wayne, regaling us with some ghost stories based in large part on his wife’s abilities as a medium. Perhaps it wasn’t surprising that he is a Trumpite who confessed his delight at finally having a president “who is honest,” unlike the Obamas, who had seemingly done nothing for their country but rob it blind.

He had no difficulty finding our destination in Palm Coast, my sister Mary’s townhouse that’s just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Intracoastal Waterway and a five-minute drive from the open Atlantic.

We soon found that this has been one of the warmest and driest winters ever in mid-Florida, with most days in the mid-20ºs C. The coolest days in more than three weeks were still sunny and in the upper teens.

To me, the high point in the winter escape came last week, when Nancy was down for a brief visit and brought with her two tickets to a pre-season Blue Jays game across the peninsula in Dunedin. The drive via Interstate 4 involved lots of traffic delays, with miles under construction through Orlando, but the game was worth it, even if the Jays lost 5-4 to the Detroit Tigers. The announcer advised the 5,000 or so fans that the mercury had hit 85º F – perfect baseball weather? – and the combination of low humidity and a brisk breeze left us both comfortable.

The return trip via Chicago provided a demonstration that an airport that’s much busier than Newark’s can be much more user-friendly. Chicago’s O’Hare International has five terminals but miles of speedwalks and no need for passengers to go through a second security check.

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