Our journey to China began in the Lexington airport, quaint and silent, from which we took our flight over the familiar green sprawl of Kentucky and Ohio. When we reached Detroit International airport, we were greeted by that most reverent of giants, the 747, lolling beyond the glass, garnering the strength to take us the 15 hours to Shanghai.
I always enjoy a window-seat, and today’s flight served me with clear skies and phenomenal views. We headed north across the Hudson Bay, across the rolling dirty-snow grey of Canada, like the wrinkled skin of a Shar-Pei. I drowned in the constancy of the view and soon drifted away. But hours into our flight, my attention was diverted again to the window, now to the interminable fields of ice, riddled with fine crevices. The ice fields continued for hours, a spectacle unlike any I had seen before.
The flight was enjoyable enough. Kelly’s other seat-mate provided her with cultural Chinese information. I could not hear him for the roar of the engines. The meals, the in-flight movies, and my stack of Smithsonians kept our minds occupied enough to whittle away the hours. For the first time in my life, we followed the sun, chasing it for most of the trip, then finally overtaking it. Through the evening’s rays of tomorrow’s sun, we made out our first views of China. The dimming light played against the hillsides, and powerfully a river, like a dragon, wound its way around them.
We reached Shanghai at 7:30 p.m., over a day after we left, due to the magic of the prescribed latitudes. After a brief night’s rest in a hotel near the airport, we will continue tomorrow to our destination: Xi’an.