As I sit here gazing at the stars through the window I realize it has been three years since I last set foot on the mainland. As usual I have booked a window seat, for much of this overnight flight there is little to see, this time the first sight of land seems particularly significant to me.
There is just enough moonlight to see the clouds sliding below, it is only imagination and memory of past views that allow seeing the expanse of waves I know are under those clouds. As I look into the darkness I am a little confused by the pattern of stars until I realize the bright, out of place star is not a star, rather Saturn high in the southern sky.
Alaska flies an overnight from Kona to Seattle, leaving late in the evening and arriving at SeaTac near dawn. The early arrival allows for convenient connections to the many morning flights departing this hub airport. Perhaps it would be more convenient if I could manage some sleep on the flight, but I rarely do.
So I complete a jigsaw puzzle on the iPad, and watch a movie or two from the inflight system. Considering how rarely I watch movies, or even pay attention to releases, most of the list is a complete mystery too me.
Through the pandemic years the islands served as a bit of a refuge from the chaos of the world. COVID, political and social strife, they all seem removed from the islands. Over the past few years there has been little attraction for visiting the mainland, the annoyance of air travel magnified by the restrictions and hassle.
Through the pandemic years my family had visited us in the islands, thus any need to visit the mainland was put off for a while. This may have delayed travel, eventually it would be time. That time has come.
Further along the golden glow of dawn traces the horizon ahead. At first a barely detectable flush, it gradually brightens into a beautiful display. The glow reveals the distant silhouettes of the mountains, Hood and Rainier show this flight is nearing an end. The bright colors promise a good start to a mainland vacation. Visiting family, a week in Portland, a day set aside for hiking in the forest, a jump up to Alaska to fish halibut with my father and old friends.