3:00 PM, Pacific
Most everyone in the country is preparing to watch a certain football game that will kick off in half an hour. I’m at San Francisco airport waiting for a flight to Austin (by way of Denver). On this national semi-holiday the United terminal is empty, and the flight is wide open. The gate agent has distributed boarding passes to all stand-bys, even the non-revenue passengers; the 757 is less than half full.
Although I don’t have a strong rooting interest in the game, it would be nice to see Colts quarterback Peyton Manning win a championship. In the number-one country in the world your life isn’t complete unless you’re number one on whichever pyramid you’re climbing. Peyton Manning’s father, Archie, was a great quarterback for the Saints. But the Saints had the misfortune of playing in the NFC West during the 49ers’ heyday, and Archie wasn’t surrounded with a strong supporting cast. Perhaps the son can succeed where the father did not.
7:00 PM, Mountain
There’s only a half-hour window to transfer planes in Denver, but weather is not a problem, as it was recently when the airport had to be closed due to a blizzard. I wonder if my luggage will make it. It’s a good ten-minute walk to the A319. All the natives are wearing heavy coats, and all I have on is a light sweater. Luckily I don’t have to go outside. The airplane is about two-thirds full and takes off on time. The Colts have come back from a 14-6 deficit and lead 16-14 at halftime.
10:00 PM, Central
We land in Austin twenty minutes early. The captain announces that the Colts have won, 29-17. Peyton Manning is validated. My bag comes off the carousel in ten minutes. The driver is waiting to take me to the hotel. Travel, the way it was meant to be. © 2007 Stephen Yuen
The Hyatt lobby: I'm not in California any more.