Pittsburgh to Palo Alto, Day One: Biding my time

“The best laid schemes o’ mice and men
Gang aft a-gley”

– Robert Burns, To a Mouse, 1785

Yesterday saw me skipping out half prepared from Pittsburgh for my transcontinental undertaking, hoping to escape the furball of weather coming up the coast behind me. Flight service told me that the best way to escape it was to get as far west as I could before it arrived. The forecast called for it sitting tight on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, so I plotted Newark-Heath (VTA) about 100 miles west of that line, where my friends Keith and Kristina recently moved. That way, I’d have a clear path west of the storm for the next day’s flight.


That plan went well right up to the part about having a clear path west. The storm inched a bit further west than expected (“then again, everyone thought it would…”), and I’ve spent the day today watching clouds and rain race across the sky. It hasn’t been unpleasant, mind you – I’ve had the chance to catch up with old friends, amble the charming streets of Granville, OH and the beautiful campus of Denison College, where Kristina teaches. It’s even been a productive day – I’ve managed to get a much-needed haircut and have taken a fine long nap.

It’s odd – if I’m trying to get somewhere, and am delayed by weather, it can be a miserable thing to stand there looking up at the sky, feeling cold and miserable. Each call to flight service for the latest conditions, and the inevitable report that the clearing “will happen a little later than forecast” feels like yet another weight slung over my shoulders.

But the moment I let go, the moment I decide that I’m not even going to think about leaving that day, everything changes. The weight slips from my shoulders, and all is well in the world. Without a change in the actual meteorological conditions, the bleak afternoon swirls into a delightfully brisk autumn day. The maples blaze out in red, yellow and green, and the smell of woodsmoke tickles my nose with memories of long ago and far away. It took me until about 2 p.m. this afternoon to make that decision, and since then, it’s been a great day.

The forecast calls for tomorrow morning to bring 3000’ overcast ceilings. Not gorgeous, but entirely manageable. If, of course, the forecast is to be trusted. If not, I’ve got the company of old friends, and a good thick book to hold me until it is.

More later!


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