Heading North for Christmas in January

My Canadian family and I are having Christmas in January this coming weekend. It’s also going to be a joint celebration with my son Jamie’s birthday.

I flew up yesterday from San Jose and the journey was, like most airline travel, tedious. I arrived at the San Jose International Airport early because I was taking an international flight, albeit via Seattle. The website says passengers should arrive three hours early for international flights but it doesn’t say anything about indirect ones, so I played it safe and dutifully arrived three hours before my flight was due to leave.

san jose mineta international airport
San Jose Mineta International Airport from Bill Abbott via Flickr

This earliness was also inspired by the U.S. government shutdown which has meant that many of the security staff at airports are either not being paid or are on furlough. I expected that there might be even longer lines than usual at security, but as it turned out, I didn’t have too much of a wait there at all. Perhaps this is because the city of San Jose has wisely chosen to keep its airport open by providing no-interest loans of $5,000 to all the federal government workers there. Good thinking, San Jose.

So, I had a short wait for security and a long wait for my flight. I got chatting with a fellow traveler who had been at the airport even longer than I had, and he turned out to be traveling simply for something to do. He was from New York and had come to San Jose on a whim. Shortly after he arrived, though, it started raining so he didn’t do any sightseeing, and now he was headed home. “OK,” I thought. “Whatever.”

Leaving Seattle

I arrived in Seattle with just under an hour before my next flight and while waiting I chatted with a woman who had bright eyes and colorful tattoos. She asked me how I liked living in Edmonton and then went on to tell me how much she loved it. She had come there from Vancouver, where she could not afford to live. After moving to Edmonton she was able to buy a house and her mother, when she visited, cried with happiness.

Arriving in Edmonton

After arriving in Edmonton, I used the handy-dandy automated self-service border clearance machines. I love those things! They are so much more user-friendly than grim-faced customs control officers.

Then, after I picked up my bag from the luggage carousel, I turned around and saw Jamie! He and I had both been on the same flight and didn’t know it. I was stunned. Jamie had been at a conference in Seattle, and I didn’t see him either in the waiting area before boarding or on the plane itself. Apparently, he didn’t see me, either. So, we both traveled alone together, even though I had an empty seat beside me. What are the chances of that?


  1. What wonderful little snapshots you collected during your travels — but that chance encounter at the end trumps them all. Happy (belated) holidays!

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