I took a trip east again to visit family in the St Louis area. Had a good time.
As usual, took BART for the ride to the airport. Same as always.
But there was a change when I reached the Coliseum BART station. Until this trip, the next stage was taking a bus like that one from the BART station to the Oakland airport.
These days, there is a connector from BART to the airport. This people mover has no driver, being run automatically on a cable. Like cable cars in San Francisco, the passenger cars are pulled to Oakland International Airport. Not exactly a Star Wars tractor beam, but it works well.
Expensive, though. The old Air Bart bus cost a couple of dollars, but each way on the connector is six, so a round trip is twelve dollars instead of four.
In other words, the last mile of my BART ride was more expensive than the previous fifteen.
Small people movers on the golf course alongside the airport connector line.
The connector arrives at the OAK station.
Why OAK instead of SFO for the flight east? I like both airports, they've modernized over the last couple of decades. You can take BART directly into the airport at SFO, too.
The Southwest 737 and the connecting jetway at OAK.
Come to think of it, there is an advantage to flying out of OAK instead of SFO...sometimes. Fog on the west side of the bay hangs around, but the fog on our side burns off easily. More frequently, it's a case of fog near SFO on the San Francisco peninsula, but no fog on the eastern shore here.
We took off on time. In the distance across the bay is SFO. Those are not typical clouds for us, those cirrus ice crystals at about 20,000 feet.
We don't get normal clouds in the Bay Area. Fog or rain systems, usually. Those big fluffy clouds people take for granted? Hardly ever. Usually, if they drift from the Pacific across the bay, they will shrink before they reach the hills along Oakland and Berkeley.
Just above the ship is Hunters Point, an area of San Francisco. Those structures are part of the decommissioned Navy shipyard.
What is missing from this photo, compared to the last time I flew this route?
The football/baseball stadium, Candlestick Park, is gone. It was conspicuous in years gone by, taking up that middle strip of land between Hunters Point and San Bruno Mountain. Candlestick was demolished in 2015 because the San Francisco 49ers now play in Santa Clara and the San Francisco Giants play baseball in AT&T Park.
Here is something else new to see from an airliner window...the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. It's painted white, and glows in sunlight.
The old eastern span, damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that stopped the World Series at Candlestick Park, has been removed. A few barges near the bridge are part of the final clean-up operation.
The island is artificial, Treasure Island. Once a Navy installation, it was turned over to San Francisco years ago.
The eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay
You're looking at several cities: Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Albany. Farther up the shore, there's Richmond.
But I am looking at my home. I can see the block where I live. Southwest takes a route sometimes which passes over my neighborhood.
It's a little unusual taking off from a distant airport and looking down at your place of residence. There is leaving your home to take a long trip, and there is leaving your home.
I used up 90 minutes or so on the journey to the airport. The airliner brought me back in a minute or two.
The Berkeley campus of the University of California. Its most recognizable landmark is Sather Tower, above center and to the right of center. A campanile with bells and a clock, it's about 300 feet tall.
Memorial Stadium and Strawberry Canyon.
What runs under the football field from the south goalpost to the north goalpost?
The Hayward Fault. We get tremors now and then from the Hayward Fault, directly below. The Hayward is a kind of ticking bomb, because it has not had a great movement in over a century.
The stadium went through a retrofit a few years ago, though.
I always think this could be Mono Lake, but it does not look right for the land which preceded it. A better bet is that we're over Walker Lake, Nevada.
Kansas City, Missouri. Have to mention the state, because there is also a Kansas City, Kansas. The river at the top is the Missouri, and the one on the bottom and left is the Kansas River.
When I lived in Omaha decades ago, driving down to Kansas City from Nebraska really was like visiting the "big city."
The airport for Columbia, Missouri, home of the University of Missouri.
We landed fifteen or twenty minutes early. The pilot opened the flaps here - standard procedure - to let out the trash.
I enjoyed the visit, as always. There was a little sightseeing. We visited Springfield, the capital of Illinois. Here is the silhouette of the top of the capitol dome.
But what I will remember most about Springfield is a license plate - of course, a plate - in a visitors lot across the street.
The plate was perfect in its own way, for two reasons. First, Illinois has not had the best luck when it comes to choosing law-abiding governors. Four of the last seven have been convicted of crimes and spent time in jail. The most recent, Rod Blagojevich, is doing time for a number of crimes which included selling off the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he moved to the Oval Office.
And the other reason for this particular plate being memorable? We're in the home stretch of a Presidential election race. It has been a mean-spirited race between Clinton and Trump, worse than usual. Lots of mudslinging, to put it politely.
So, what was the license plate on one of these visitor cars? The plate that seems perfect for the 2016 presidential election?
The plate was BS.
The owner of the car just happened to be returning when I was taking pictures. Nice guy. The plate was his initials, so I showed him a plate with the same initials from California.
And then it was time to fly back from St Louis to Oakland. I did everything more or less in reverse.
MetroLink rail took me from Illinois to the St Louis airport. Here, the train is crossing the Mississippi River. What a great body of water, and to think it essentially divides the nation down the middle.
Lots of construction near the MetroLink tracks downtown, much of it near the ballpark.
A grain elevator in St Louis. You don't see many of these anymore. Guess what opened next door in the year since my previous visit.
It only seems to be an American Airlines 757 landing on a guardrail.
What's wrong with this picture?
The plane arrived fifteen minutes late. In my experience with Southwest at STL, the delay was unusual.
The pilot probably had trouble finding the dotted lines in the sky.
To their credit, we would arrive at OAK a few minutes early despite taking off about twenty minutes late.
We started the flight by taking off
You can see the famous main terminal at Lambert. Much of the movie, Up In The Air, was shot down there. It featured George Clooney and Vera Farmiga. She caught my eye years ago for her work in The Departed.
We passed near Fulton, Missouri. That's the Callaway nuclear power plant. The cooling tower is about 500 feet tall.
Perry Lake, probably, about 70 miles south of St Louis
Crop circles and squares in Missouri
You've seen this before, but from the other side looking this way. That is Kansas City again, from the north and looking south.
The second sighting made me appreciate this plate, photographed a few days before.
Hard to believe, but one of Colorado's Fourteeners is down there
We have just passed Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak in the distance on the right rises some 8,000 feet above downtown Colorado Springs. The peak is a bit over 14,100 feet.
When I lived in Nebraska and took hiking trips to Colorado, I never tried Pikes. Longs Peak near Boulder was one of the Fourteeners I hiked, and I also went to the summit of Uncompaghre in the San Juan Mountains. They were number six and fifteen in the elevation list for the fifty-three fourteeners in the state.
Snowy summits already. Not sure of the location down there, but we're still in Colorado.
You don't forget a formation like that in Colorado. That's something you see in Utah, usually, maybe Arizona. Good to see it again.
It's the Reinecker Ridge, near Fairplay.
Twin Lakes near Leadville
The two lakes connected by a channel are Twin Lakes. The one on the lower right is Mount Elbert Forebay.
I did not know the geographic details at the time. Next time, I'll photograph the mountain next to the lakes. It's Mount Elbert, which I have seen once or twice from Highway 24 down there. It's the highest peak in Colorado and in the Rocky Mountains, 14,440 feet. In the lower 48 states, only Mount Whitney is higher.
A typical sight over Nevada. No other state in the U.S. has so many mountain ranges, about 150. When I reached the top of Wheeler Peak above the Great Basin back in 1988, the ranges were lined up like waves offshore.
Somewhere over western Nevada or the California line, the clouds appeared. At the time, a rain front was moving through the Bay Area.
It is a treat on this route to pass over Yosemite Valley and photograph Half Dome. Too bad there was cloud cover this time.
Here's Half Dome from last year.
About twenty minutes out from Oakland, we passed over the Central Valley of California. We're looking at Modesto.
Instead of the cruising altitude above 32,000 feet, we're maybe at 20,000 feet.
Aren't controlled descents wonderful?
Back in the Bay Area, Those are the Oakland hills, east of the bay
The parking lot closest to Oakland's Southwest terminal was full
Premature lights illuminated the passenger platform at the Coliseum BART station
This rain system was too early for the rainy season. Maybe something from a big storm to the south. This one took people by surprise, since we usually get rain in December or January.
I would learn at the end of the month that October was one for the books. Maybe the 5th wettest in a century.
Rain was a factor in this wreck, seen on the ride home
Much as I enjoyed the visit to St Louis and the flights, there was something which made the return to Oakland better than usual.
Where did everybody go? Are they all in line for the bathroom?
Our plane was half full. And when the seats all around you are empty, 50 percent full feels like 80 percent empty.
The flight attendants came by a few times with all the snacks and soft drinks we could enjoy. The last time they brought the cart by, I had to turn down the snacks. Could not believe it, my stomach was full. That's something you don't experience on airline flights.
Very nice, this elbow room. The back rows were empty, so flight attendants were able to sit in a regular passenger seat instead of a jump seat back in the galley.
How much elbow room?
When you can photograph a photograph of ELBOW on the empty seat next to you, that is elbow room.
That's the Canon with ELBOW. The upside-down camera is the Olympus, which shot the photos through the window.
When you can stretch out across all the seats in your row, that is elbow room
I can't recall the last time I've taken a 50 percent full/80 percent empty flight on Southwest. It has never happened. Always full or close to it.
Which makes this ELBOW sighting so odd. I only photographed ELBOW in the morning on the way to the terminal.
Does photographing ELBOW before you get unprecedented elbow room qualify as synchronicity?
Probably not. Just a comfortable coincidence.
© 2016 J.M. Clarke. All Rights Reserved.