The first time I visited Paris was my first real trip abroad unchaperoned and fully in control of my own destiny. That journey helped start me on the path to who I am today. I have a lot of great memories of that trip. Now I’m back for a few days and I’ll try to find out what’s changed – both here and within myself – and rediscover my younger self in the process. This is part of a series of my reminiscences of Paris.
After the night of reminiscing in my old Paris neighborhood I woke up relaxed. I lazed around a bit and ran a couple of errands before heading out to the airport. Life was good and I was in no hurry. But my last errand took a bit longer than I’d planned. Not too bad and I’d still have plenty of time, just not enough to take the Metro and train. I’d have to grab a cab instead.
With my flight from Fargo to Minneapolis, I became a Delta Silver Medallion member. That’s 25,000 MQM sky miles, which roughly translate into miles flown. The true distance flown is probably closer to about 20,000 because of bonus MQMs, minimum mileage credits, and flying non-Delta airlines. If you add that to the airline travel I did at the beginning of the year (Atlanta to LA to Taipei to Hong Kong; Lasa to Beijing; Tallinn to Brussels to Washington, DC to Atlanta >15,000), that’s over 35,000 miles of air travel. Including my train travel (Hong Kong to Guanzhou to Guilin to Nanning to Kunming to Chengdu to Xi’an to Lasa; Beijing to Irkutsk to Ykaterinburg to Moscow to St. Petersburg to Pskov to Riga >8,500) and driving (I estimate at least 7,500), that’s over 50,000 miles.
To give you an idea of the scale of that distance, the circumference of the Earth is less than 25,000 miles at the equator. That’s more than some people will travel in a lifetime. I’d estimate that it is about one-quarter of the distance I’ve traveled before this year (~75,000 miles on my trips to Europe, at least 60,000 driving and at least 40,000 flying in North America; about 18,000 to Australia and back). So let’s put my total lifetime travel distance somewhere around 250,000 miles. That’s a hell of a lot.
But consider the airline “Million Miler” programs that have about 250,000 members. I can hardly imagine hitting that mark. I’m not sure I want to. At that point, traveling would be my entire job. Not unlike airline pilots who might be the ones with the most miles under their belt. Consider a trans-Pacific round trip might garner 25,000 miles. If a crew makes just one of those a week, they’d be at 1,250,000 miles a year. I would imagine that 10 years of that routine would be common for those crews. And 20 would be imaginable. That’s 25 million miles flown and is 100 times more than I have traveled. Now that is truly impressive.
Last night I had a 3 hour flight delay. The plane was on the ground in Atlanta and ready to go, it had come in from Syracuse, NY a bit late, but not too bad. But the flight crew wasn’t there. That’s because they were on an aircraft that was having some work done in Springfield, MO. What was wrong with the plane? It ran into some birds shortly after takeoff and had to return to the airport for repairs. That would have been a wild flight to be on. I wonder how often that kind of thing happens.