Sunday, May 29, 2016

Homeward Bound

When May rolled around, I had been on the ship for 8 months and there was a lot of inside knowledge to turn over to my replacement, and very little time. Like an essay, though, it was completed in time. On the top of my concerns was the weather. My ship was anchored an hour out of Chinhae, Korea, and on my last workday I had been delayed half a day while conducting ship's business ashore. As I was closing out affairs with the ship's master, I asked if I should leave before morning, forgoing a good night sleep, because of the waves. He assured me that the weather would be alright. Which it was.

I had a last hurrah on Texas Street in Pusan, and visited Haeundae Beach (seeing is believing). It was Cinco de Mayo, and my original itinerary would've landed me in Norfolk before closing time the same day, 37 hours after midnight in Korea, due to the international date line. Instead, I flew on May 6th, and my first flight sent me to Tokyo. I had enough time to clear customs and go to the town of Narita for lunch. The next flight was 11 hours to Detroit. Many people bemoan long flights, but I didn't mind having the time to myself, and only to myself. In the air, I watched several movies, including "Brooklyn", "The Finest Hours", and a documentary of gentrification in San Francisco. I was curious about this pulsing change that is radiating from San Francisco. It's tech, but it's more than just tech.

Although I flew out of the US to meet ships, once to Israel and twice to Korea, I also haven't entered the US by airplane since 2007. I wondered what the experience would be. Detroit airport, in flyover country, is now an international airline hub for Delta Airlines. I suppose that it was decided by big data. Was Customs and Border Protection on top of their game?  Four widebody flights had arrived in one hour, and contributed to some customs delays in the otherwise well-designed and partially automated international arrival area. 
Slipping easily across borders today, enabled in the name of free trade, reminded me of the time between the gilded age of railroads and the outbreak of World War One, those with means to travel in Europe did so easily and without passports.

My flight from Detroit to Norfolk was delayed for a technical issue. I was surprised, because I always had my engine plant ready ten minutes before departure. Never a minute late. Then again it was me and twenty others to assist in the engineering department, versus a cockpit crew of two. I slept little on the long flight, but wasn't in bad shape, though. I got home at 10pm local time, and woke up for lunch. No jet lag, really.