On an early morning flight from San Franisco to Minneapolis, MN I sat and gazed out my window seat with the following thoughts coming to me that I now share with you.

Shortly after take off the plane banked right, headed East and made a quick ascent to cruising altitude through low lying clouds.  In a matter of minutes cutting through misty fog, we emerged above the clouds but now the world below was hiding under a white blanket all the way to the Sierras. 

The mountains acted as a barrior that prevented the clouds from traveling any further.  Once the skies cleared it was wave after wave of mountain ranges each larger and with more rugged peaks than the previous, all seperated by narrow valleys.  Looking down on these valleys, the roads ran north and south like thin gray ribbon randomly rolled out and slowly growing thinner into the horizon. Occasionally the intersecting ribbon shot off diagonially and ran east and west, abroubtly ending at the base of the mountains only to reappear in the next valley on the other side of the mountain range.

The landscape appeared to be desert like and very desolate. The skys were relatively clear with occasional white fluffy clouds like cotton balls scattered across the sky. Most of the mountain peaks still had varying degrees of snow and ice, mostly on the east facing slopes. In some of the valleys a rare small town or larger city was visible with the ribbons of roadway resembling spider webs circling the centers of these outposts of civilization.

Once we had crossed over the Rocky Mountains and started over the mid-west plains the farmland was like a patch work quilt with perfect squares of land.  Four green crop circles in every square quadrant.

As we progressed eastward the cotton ball clouds transformed into a blanket of ocean waves with ripples. Later this flat cloud blanket added three dimensional cloud mountains probably thousands of feet tall. Eventually growing so tall that the plane seemed to skip across the tops or cutting through a few of the peaks. Somewhere over S. Dakota the cloud cover became one large lump of grayish white fluff as well as generating some turbulance for a short time.

Emerging once again from the cloud cover the landscape below was all farmland, semetrical squares created by roads vanishing into the horizon. Each block of land with a farmhouse and support buildings, some with ponds. Small towns scattered in between all this space. From the air it all seemed so small but I’m sure it was many miles between these inter-connected communities.

We must be over Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, as the farmlands transformed into what seemed like a hundred little lakes spread across the flat land. Each lake with houses and each house with a boat dock jutting into the lake like little fingers.  Not before long there were so many lakes dispersed between land, I don’t know if it was lakes with surrounding land or land surrounding lakes. There were hundreds of islands amongst all this water.  This partchwork of land was connected to each other by little slivers of land.  The scene below was like a jigsaw puzzle. 

Finally on the horizon amongst all this quilt of green and blue was the skykine of the St. Paul–Minneapolis metropolitan area.

On the return flight two days later there was much more cloud cover and being later in the day the sun was from a different angel with a hazey effect.  It was a totally different perspective than the flight east. It was as if you were viewing the landscape through a screen door.

When the flight was over the west side of the San Jaquine valley about to pass over the Altamount Pass the two parallel water ways supplying water to the farmers of the Central valley and eventually to residents of Southern California from the Delta, zig-zagged southward along the edge of thevalley parallel to Highway 5 as far as you could see. In almost no time we were over the San Jose area, banked right, and descended over the Dumbarton and the Hayward/San Mateo bridges and safely onto the runway of San Francisco International Airport.

One thing is evident; the USA is a massive country with endless diverse topography.  It is America the Beautiful.

Until next time,
Bon Voyage

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Ole Nordhavn, Cruise Holidays, “your personal cruise expert.”
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