Why do I say "I like to travel?"

I'm writing this entry from a beautiful house located on the beach of the Caribbean island of St. Croix. Each February my partner and I, along with our travel companions Lisa and Bev, make the journey from Portland to St. Croix - to stay for two weeks or more at the house owned by Bev's sister and brother-in-law. We arrived mid-day on Valentine's Day and I feel as if I am just now recovering from the trip to get here. It's been three days of great meals, tropical cocktails, early-to-bed evenings and daily multiple naps poolside or in our bedroom overlooking the ocean.

When asked about my passions, I usually include "travel" on my list of pleasures. The journey earlier this week made me realize, it's not the travel I enjoy - it's the being at the final destination. I don't enjoy getting to the airport a couple hours early for any flight. I detest the lines to check bags, to get through security, to have boarding passes checked to gain admittance to the jetway, and then waiting to get on the plane for the pleasure of sitting in a seat too crowded for my 6" 1" height.

The inconsistencies of airline security from airport to airport bug the hell out of me. Some want you to remove your shoes before going through the screening equipment. Others want shoes removed afterwards to then be put on the conveyer belt to be x-rayed. This past trip included a debate about the tahini and almond butter being transported in the carry-on of one of the women in our group. Were they solids or liquids? In the end the TSA powers-that-be determined that almond butter was a solid and permissable as carry-on item. However, tahini appeared to be a liquid and, as the jar contained more than three ounces, required confiscation. In reality the contriband tahini was more of a solid than the almond butter.

Portlander's are lucky to have a beautiful, efficient, well-organized airport. The facilities in other cities are not quite as nice.

Unfortunately, many of our flights seem to require going through Miami International Airport. There's a reason it's called "MIA." A traveler could get lost in the rat maze of corridors and never be seen or heard from again. It's got to be one of the most poorly organized airports I've even had to visit. In all my years of journeys through Miami, I don't think a flight has ever left the gate initially posted on the departures monitors, and the luggage for arriving flights has never been delivered to the announced baggage claim carousel. Departing passengers are never told that the security checkpoint for one gate is closed and lugging your bags halfway across the terminal to another gate will be necessary if you wish to make your flight. All require additional trekking through the rat maze. Someone must be watching from above in a scientific study of the impact of messing with the minds and patience of exhausted travelers.

While wandering through yet another part of the maze I came upon the sign above: "It's all about design." The remainder of the text reads: "These stimulating works of art celebrate the elements and principles of design through line, color, shape, value, space, texture, form, balance, rhythm, movement, harmony, contrast and unity. The result is a sophistication of masterpieces that are pleasing to the eye."

I realize I was tired after over nine hours of airplane travel the day before, another hour of tracking down our bags from the furthest carousel in the airport to the first we passed by, yet another hour waiting for the shuttle to our Miami hotel, and only three hours of sleep before heading back to the airport for two additional legs of plane trips - but all evidence of art of art or design was MIA. The only things in sight were the three waiting area seats in front of the poorly designed sign. It was a cruel trick to play on a travel-weary and cranky designer.

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

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