Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Rest of the Trip

So I posted Wednesday night will all the happenings for most of the trip, but the short clip above is how I started out Thursday morning. This was about 5:30 in the morning, no rain, but big lightening every few seconds as I drove in to the office. By 6:30, it was pouring and it kept pouring, for hours.

It was Thursday, so the next issue of the Leader hit the stands that morning. I was delighted to find Marie had included a shout out to the SBH blog on the front page, and above the fold. That always helps!

 I stayed put and out of the deluge and scanned all the way through to 5:30 when I reached my goal date of the end of 1997. 

I had to blink a few times. I was  . . . done. 

When I'd started this whole thing, it was a whim, an email just to see if perhaps the Leader might have a photo or two from back in the day that I could share. That was September 2013. Across another three trips in 2014 and these two in 2015, I've scanned and archived thousands upon thousands of photographs in the past two years. 

This trip I logged 60 hours. That might be a bit more than the previous times, since I had a few extra days outside of a week, but that's roughly and well over 300 hours of scanning all told, not to mention the untold hours of post-processing, uploading, and posting. 

This little whim got big, quick. After the second trip in 2014, I'd decided to set the end date for the archive at the completion date for the Beltway. The South Belt signs came down, Sam Houston Tollway rolled across the area, and it felt like a good end point. I don't think I believed I would complete it as quickly as I did.

The process is slow and very manual. Stacks of old papers, one at a time, turn every page, lay the page properly on the bed to get a clear scan of a photo, wait for the 300 - 600 DPI scan to process (I shortened it to 300 DPI by the third trip of 2014.) My hands turn gray from newsprint, no matter how many times I go and wash them. But I love it.  

Photographs continue to be unearthed around the cavernous office space. Negatives, too. I have a few leads about other places in the community I might mine for additional resources. 

I have a road trip to Austin for a day or two on the next round to complete. 

It's not over. But a big goal line got crossed Thursday night. I was a bit misty eyed when I realized the same month the Leader began its ability to use full color photographs on the front page was the same month the headline blazes "After 2+ Decades, construction of South Belt is complete."

I even had to rescan with the right settings for the color photograph. For about 1200 issues, I never needed anything other than a black and white document. And here, at the very end, it changes.

I said my goodbyes to Marie and headed out with my gear. It was only lightly drizzling, not enough to even bother fumbling with the umbrella. 

I should back up and mention that the first day I'd pulled in on this trip, exactly a week ago on Thursday, there was a little black bird, dead, in the parking lot, lying against the curb. Every day when I would pull in, I would select that spot so my car would shade him as he returned to dust. 

As I stepped out the doors, on the sidewalk right in front of me, drenched in the rain, was a little black feather lying there, still perfect. With  my hands full, I stepped past it and as I was walking to the car, I caught myself thinking, "I should have picked that up." I set everything down in the back seat and glanced down at the keys in my hand. 

The Leader office key was still on my ring. 

I had to go back. 

And I had to pick up that feather. 

Don't ask. It's just a thing with me.

We all have our things.

Thursday night was laid back. I was exhausted and the rain didn't help the sleepy mood. Steph turned on the television and chose Legends of the Fall. Not the happiest of movies, but it fit the mood. Robert took a photo of us under the blanket she'd made for me while I was here.

I spent some of the evening packing. The next morning, as I went to pull out my travel power strip that goes everywhere with me, it tickled me how many tech gadgets I had dangling. I shot the photo with the phone still attached, but there wasn't a way to get it into the photo with the rest of the crap. 

My constant companions while at Stephs seemed to know what those bags meant. 

And it is absolutely ridiculous that this is all for one person. Every other trip, I've had my blue computer bag and my blue suitcase. That's nuts. 

I'd been already in bed Thursday when I began to think, "I had the early bird check in for this leg of the flight, right?" (I did for Tampa to Houston.) So I'd pulled it up on my phone to check-in online only to discover, no, I did not. I landed at the rather alarming boarding position of C-4. Rats.

It wasn't until Friday afternoon that I rechecked on whether the flight was still showing on time, since the clouds seemed to be gathering, only to discover my flight time wasn't at 7:00 as I'd thought, but at 6:30. 

Oops. About that time, Steph calls to say she got hung up in traffic, but should be there soon, but could she drop Maddie off at her dad's first. 

Uh, well . . . probably not. 

We don't even pull up to the airport until after 5:30. I have Steph just drop me off curbside inside of trying to park and walk the bags in. I somehow manage to get all three bags rolled together up to the Southwest desk and drop off two of them and get my C-4 boarding pass printed. I am in luck as there is no line. 

So at 5:40 as I get into the security line, without reading glasses at the ready, I look down and squint at my pass only to make out the time: 6:00.


Thankfully Hobby is smaller and the line was not terrible. I didn't get pulled for any additional security checks, even though I was sweating through my shirt with nervousness, but with shoes off and two laptops tucked under my arm, I hoofed it, praying my gate wasn't at the far end of the terminal. It was 5:55. C-4 wouldn't matter. Just getting to the doors would. 

The gate wasn't far and, strangely, everyone was seated. The area was full, not empty as though the plane was about to take off. Had we been delayed? 

No, not yet. 

My boarding pass had enlarged only the boarding TIME enough for me to make it out without glasses. 

I looked around for a place to sit to put my shoes on and get the laptops put away. 

Once I shot the evil eye at the asshole taking the last open seat in the gate area with his Starbucks drink and ipad, briefly considered feigning blindness and spilling his drink while I sat down (oh, sorry!), I just plopped down on the floor (right beside the open seat).

So after I lace up my shoes and pack away the laptops, I get up to fill my water bottle since the A group isn't even lined up yet and I'm in the great unwashed Cs.

But then I'm walking past the desk when the agent says over the loudspeaker, "Any of you C group passengers who are interested, I have positions A10 through 15 available for purchase for $25 here at the desk."

I am literally standing in front of her. On the leg from Tampa, the price for those primo spots was $40. What a bargain!

After all that stress, I heard myself say, "Sold!" to her. Let's go. From C-4 to A-10.

I was all happily lined up at the very front right behind the business guys when the gate agent said, "I can't board you yet. We don't have a flight crew."

About that time, the rain picked up. 

By the time we had a flight crew?

Grounded for lightning. 

I had taken my position up again on the floor where I'd started when another woman asked if she could sit down next to me. I didn't realize she was carrying a pet carrier bag until she unzipped him. She had to call her people at the other end of her flight and figure out what to do because her flight, after mine, wasn't going to arrive until after midnight, when the rental car places close. She was on the next flight from the gate to Jacksonville where the time change would not work in her favor. 

While she tried to work out what to do, Buddy, her little dog, curled up in my lap, which I assured her was perfectly fine. We became friends for the next hour as the storm blew through. 

We began boarding and pushed back at 8:00. 

Once on, in 4F, on the window, naturally, I spotted the Southwest Colorado flag plane heading for takeoff. Shouldn't the Denver flight be on that?

As we were building up speed, the rain drops flew off and I was able to get clearer photos of the skies and the Houston skyline in the distance. 

We grazed over Pasadena and the ship channel before getting above the clouds. 


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