Home at last! In the last six days, I've taken eight flights -- something that's always risky in winter. Indeed, one of my flights was almost canceled, and for two of the others, my connections ended up being so tight (because my earlier flights on those days had been delayed by bad weather) that I had to run to make them. For one, I literally made it to the aircraft with seconds to spare.
My worst travel day was this past Monday, December 3, 2007. I started the day in Victoria, British Columbia, where I gave the keynote address to the Canadian Home Care Association (about the future of medical technology). As soon as my talk was over, I high-tailed it to Victoria's airport, and started my first of four flights that day to get me to Kansas State University, where I was delivering another keynote the next day.
The four flights were Victoria to Vancouver, Vancouver to Denver, Denver to Kansas City, and Kansas City to Manhattan, Kansas (where K-State is located). I thought I was home free after I got on my Vancouver flight on time, because the weather was only bad in the Pacific Northwest (as we Canadians kindly humour the Americans by calling that part of the world; it's really our Pacific Southwest). But it turned out that my flight from Denver to Kansas City originated in Portland, and was delayed there almost two hours because of the huge storm that just hit that area. As I said, I made it to the final flight -- Kansas City to Manhattan, Kansas, with less than a minute to spare.
Today was also very nerve-wracking, even though the itinerary was much simpler: Manhattan, Kansas, to Kansas City, then Kansas City to Toronto. But my flight out of Manhattan was delayed 90 minutes -- in Kansas City, where it was originating (it just shuttles back and forth), thanks to freezing rain there.
Fortunately for me, the Kansas-Toronto flight was delayed 10 minutes, or I never would have caught it. (Kansas City is a very frustrating airport: you can't pre-print your own Air Canada boarding passes for use at it (even though you can for use at many other U.S. airports), and you can't change gates (I had to go simply from A12 to A14) without going through security a second time; getting the boarding pass and going through security again delayed me so much that if the flight to Toronto had been on time, I'd have been stranded.
I was so tired, and so stressed, that instead of writing on the flight home (I do a lot of my writing on airplanes), I just curled up with a good ebook: Caleb Carr's wonderful The Alienist (despite the title, not science fiction -- "alienist" is an old-fashioned term for psychiatrist, and, indeed, was one of the titles I considered for my novel about alien psychiatry, 1994's Foreigner).
Ah, well. In the end, the trip was worth it. Although I got to see nothing at all of Victoria, my talk for the Canadian Homecare Associating was extremely well received, and I had a wonderful time at Kansas State University, first speaking at their science-fiction class (taught by Carol Franko), where the students were studying my Hugo-nominated 1997 short story "The Hand You're Dealt," then at a wonderful lunch in a gorgeous dining room on campus, then giving the keynote at the dedication of the new David J. Williams III Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Collection there, then at a wonderful signing for my books (I was amazed at how many sold!), and then again at a wonderful dinner out with David's sister and cousin and some of the K-State Librarians.
All that was on Tuesday; yesterday -- Wednesday -- I just hung around Manhattan, getting some peace and quiet to work on my novel Wake, and enjoying a nice dinner out with Roger Adams, the librarian who had arranged the donation of the Williams collection and had arranged for me to speak at K-State.
I now have nothing major at all on my schedule for the next five weeks, during which time I'm going to finish Wake (it's due January 15, 2008). I'm looking forward to just sitting in my living-room La-z-boy with the fireplace going and working on the book.
(For those who've been to my home: I do have an office with its own La-z-boy, but in winter, I tend to work at a second workstation in the living room, so that I can enjoy the fireplace there.)
Of course, as soon as Wake is done, it's back to travel: I'm going to Arisia in Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 18-21, and then I'm off to Calgary to give a keynote address on stem-cell research for the Calgary City Teachers' Association Conference (and I give a keynote on global warming and Canada's future the next week back in Toronto to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment).
And then, of course, there's the trip to Patagonia ... but more about that later ... ;)