Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flight - May 12, 2010

My first journal entry from the trip:

The flight alone has already been pretty incredible. Our flight from Detroit to Amsterdam was rerouted due to the volcanic eruptions in Iceland. Our flight plans actually took us above 66 degrees north, into the arctic circle, around Iceland. I was secretly hoping to pass over the northern part of the country just to get a glimpse of the amazing landscape I visited three summers ago. We never caught a glimpse of Iceland, but we did get a chance to see the eastern edge of Greenland. I opened the shade on the airplane window and I found myself looking down at black rugged mountains, layered in snow. The mountains appeared to be just peeking through the unimaginably deep snow banks, as if they were drowning.

I am writing this as we fly over a completely different, yet eerily similar landscape... the Sahara. I see nothing but sand and complex rippling patterns caused by the wind. The mountainous formations that appear every so often look like black islands in a sea of glowing beige. The differences between the two environments are immediately apparent to me. I can imagine myself struggling through the frozen landscape or the suffocating heat of the desert. The temperatures may be polar opposites, but the sense of isolation is frighteningly similar. Black peaks pear out beneath expanses of snow or sand, and both landscapes spread out before me until the horizon. There are no manmade interruptions like the orderly rectangular squares of cultivated earth outside the Amsterdam airport. These places are untamed and explored by so few. In many ways I feel like I have explored a significant part of the globe in the past 16 hours. From the arctic circle, and on past the equator, we have already begun our exploration even as we happily enjoy our inflight movies, vegetarian pasta meal trays, and beverages.

Here is an overlay of the two photos above... just for fun.