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A Break From Winter
The very best time to depart from a Midwest winter is when you are in the path of a snowstorm following weeks of below-freezing temperatures. Those were the precise conditions when I boarded a plane recently for Long Beach. The approaching storm was serious enough that I booked a room near the airport for the night before my early morning flight. Six inches of snow were forecast, and I wanted nothing to prevent me from climbing aboard the westbound plane when that snow arrived!
As we approached the airport that morning, the driver of the van was very cautious. The marshmallow-size snowflakes looked like lace curtains passing before the headlights of approaching vehicles. Boarding went smoothly, but the process of deicing the airplanes took extra time, delaying our departure from the gate. No one complained, however, as we all had heard stories of planes plummeting to the earth after accumulation of ice made the wings' lift capacity impossible to maintain. Regardless of what time the airplane actually rose through the heavy cloud layer, we anticipated there was sunshine above and that gave us plenty of patience.
Hours later, following a stop in Salt Lake City and 1,811 miles to the west of our point of departure, we landed in Long Beach, an oasis of sunshine and warmth in an otherwise winter-engulfed country. It seemed like another planet, perhaps even a warp in the space/time continuum. Even the sunshine state of Florida was besieged by weather cold enough to ruin fruit and vegetable crops as far south as Miami! California seemed like paradise: palm trees, sunshine, blue skies and temperatures hovering just under 80 degrees.