03 April 2010

Back in France

I flew out of the little airport at New Bern, N.C., on Thursday at noon. For the first time, the plane from New Bern to Charlotte was actually a jet, not a propeller-driven aircraft. It was a 50-minute flight to Charlotte, with a three-hour layover there.

At New Bern Airport, passengers walk out onto the tarmac with their carry-on bag to get on the plane. If their carry-on is of any size at all, the ground crew requires the passenger check it through to Charlotte. A crew member stands out next to the plane with a cart to collect all the large "carry-ons."

Passengers walking out onto the tarmac
to board the plane in New Bern

On its path to Charlotte, the plane flew down the southeastern N.C. coast to about Wilmington, and then it turned west for the descent into CLT airport. I had a window seat and took some aerial pictures of barrier islands and coast inlets, which I am posting here. I also read an article about chickens in the U.S. Airways in-flight magazine. The article was informative and entertaining. It was an excerpt from a soon-to-be-published book titled Birdology by a woman named Sy Montgomery.

Inlets, beaches, and salt marshes
along the southeastern N.C. coast

My flight to Paris departed from Charlotte and was direct. Security was very light. At New Bern, I had to take off my shoes and jacket. My carry-on bag was x-rayed. There was a perfunctory search through the bag as I walked out of the terminal onto the tarmac to board the plane. Oh, and U.S. Airways charged me $55 dollars for baggage since I checked two suitcases through to Paris. I was not happy to pay that extra fee, which came as a surprise.

The three hours at CLT passed quickly. When I checked in at gate D2 for the direct flight to Paris, there was no security check at all. The ground crew looked at my passport and then asked me how long I was planning to stay in France. They had noticed that I didn't have a return ticket. I told them I live in France and showed them my resident's card. That was that.

Downtown Charlotte and a U.S. Airways Express jet
like the one I flew in on from New Bern

When I got on the plane, an Airbus 330, and sat down, the man in the seat next to mine held out his hand for me to shake and said "Hi, I'm Ken." I replied, "Well, hi, I'm Ken too." We talked for a while — he was traveling with his wife to Avignon, where their daughter is a student. They used to live in France, the couple said — in Besançon, in the east. They were planning to go on a car tour with their daughter, who is on spring break starting this coming week.

Then I watched a movie and some HBO TV shows on the screen on the back of the seat ahead of me. The screen was larger than any seat-back screen I'd ever seen before. The picture was good and so was the sound. The plane was nearly but not completely full. The food was chicken or pasta. I didn't sleep. We landed early, at 6:35 a.m. Paris time.

At Charles de Gaulle airport, Friday about 7:15 a.m.

I had a good two hours to kill before catching my TGV down to Tours. I did that by reading magazines and having a cup of tea and a croissant in an airport café. The TGV left on time but it was a zoo. This was Good Friday, and a lot of people were traveling for the Easter or spring break, I assume. They all had a log of luggage, as did I, and they piled it up on seats and in the little lobby-like space where the train doors and bathrooms are.

I'm glad to be home but it's rainy and chilly. Things are greener than when I left. Callie was delighted to see me again. I slept 11 hours last night but I'm still in a daze.


  1. Hello Ken,

    Glad that you're safely back home.

    I did love your posts from N. Carolina, however...a part of the world as foreign to me as Timbuktu. You had me going to the Google and Bing maps and other sources all the while. It's a fascinating part of the country. I especially want to go laze around on Ocracoke for a while.

    When I was a teen-ager(1950s), I spent two summers working as a deckhand on an old yacht in Duluth. The skipper was a young fellow from NC named Lane Briggs. I could only understand a few words he said as he had a real mush-mouth accent ("Billay, grab at stun lahn an tah it onnat fust post ovuh theya!"). I learned a lot about life from him, though, and we became good friends. There was always talk about Morehead City as a main fuelling-up spot for yachts heading up or down the Intracoastal. My recollection is that it had a reputation for fuelling up the crews as well in it's many bars and honky-tonks. Maybe Ive got it confused with somewhere else?

    Now you're probably ready for another little nap.


  2. Ken, I'm glad you're home. I really enjoyed reading about North Carolina. You wrote it so well and if we weren't now so focused on France, North Carolina is where we'd love to go for vacations.

    I'm glad you had a good visit with your US family. Hope they are all well.

    Bill in NH, my father-in-law had almost the same accent. Your comment gave me a nostalgic chuckle.

  3. G'Day Ken and welcome back "HOME"...
    Home is where the heart is. That's Melbourne for us but France comes close.
    Sorry we didn't get to say hello.
    Maybe next time as Sue needs to return for her 60th I'm instructed.
    Keep well.

  4. Bill, it's nice to be back at home. That guy Lane must have been from the inland south, or maybe the S.C. or Ga. coast, with that kind of drawl. The intracoastal waterway passes through Beaufort and Morehead City, and I know there used to be a lot of beer joints in the area, but I don't know about honky-tonks. It's a little too Baptist for that sort of thing.

    Hello Leon and Sue, thank you for the t-shirt. I'll make it a point to be here next time you come through. Aren't you still in France?

    Carolyn, I wonder where your FIL was from...

  5. Welcome home. Get used to paying for your bags on the airlines; they're all doing it now.

  6. Glad you're safe home. Your posts from NC were very interesting and information--thanks for all the detail on the burying grounds in Ocracoke. Fascinating stuff.

  7. I am happy you are back home safe and sound. Per.func.to.ry;
    I had to look in the dictionary for the definition.

  8. I'm glad you had an uneventful flight home, Ken. Flying from New Bern to Paris is so easy, isn't it? Twenty minutes after leaving my house, I'm sitting in the gate area.

    Hope you are soon rested up.


  9. Alors, tu es de retour ;-) Contente de savoir que ton voyage s'est bien passé !

    Je commence mes vacances ;-) Je vais t'écrire et compte sur toi pour que tu m'expliques les travaux que vous entreprenez ;-) Bon courage pour supporter tous les désagréments de ces travaux, moi, j'ai horreur de ça ;-) ! Bises ;-) Mary


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