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Up In The Air

Wednesday afternoon, 18 January 2023, somewhere over North America

The next sound you hear ... Listen! is that a shriek of delight, or a cry of agony? Such is the question...

This grandest of grand adventures is well beyond my control, and I have little choice but to see how it all plays out.

In early January, Sue and I traveled to Colorado to celebrate (Ukrainian) Christmas with my siblings. Our stay coincided with DSF (Dog-Sledding Flight)-Day -10 , so I began checking the 10-day forecast to see what weather may greet me. Healy (the gateway city) had a prediction of NO chance of snow for ten days. Cold, yes, snow, no. Uh-oh...

On our packed flight home from CO, Sue drew the short straw and sat next to a woman who coughed and hacked the whole flight. Of course the woman wore no mask, and didn't even have the courtesy to cover her mouth when coughing. (We ALWAYS wear our masks on planes, and I usually do so when in stores also. Even after being vaxxed and having all three boosters.)

A few days after our return - DSF-Day -5 - I called the outfitter to ask about the forecast. Jon's response: "I don't pay much attention to weather predictions. We're tucked up next to the mountains, and that changes everything. Snow is good right now - the best we've had in a couple of years - so I'm optimistic."

Two days later - Sunday - Sue woke up to an achy body, congestion, sore throat. Classic flu symptoms, despite having had the vaccine. As I began packing for Alaska on Monday - with timeouts to plan our February parks trip to Hawaii - Sue called in sick to work as she sat on the couch, too listless and out-of-breath to move. On Tuesday - DSF-Day -1 - I spent the afternoon running last-minute errands, and brought her home a Covid OTC test.

The blue and pink lines indicated a POSITIVE. (There's that cry of agony!)

Once the shock wore off, Sue looked at me. I'd not felt any inkling of illness to this point, but I had to know. I took the other swab, swept my nasal cavities, and tested. A blue line only - NEGATIVE. (That's at least the second time I've been exposed and not contracted it. During Christmas 2000 - in pre-vaccine days - Sue and I visited her folks and her sister's family, and two days later all seven of them tested positive for Covid, but not us.)

I had to let Jon know, and ask him for his thoughts: go or no-go? He hesitated as he mulled it over. "I'll have to see how your guide feels about it. A couple of my guides are very cautious and would certainly pull out, but your guide is fully vaxxed and boosted. I'll need his input."

The guide proved unreachable that evening, leaving things in limbo 12 hours before my flight. The next morning I trundled Sue off to the urgent care, where they prescribed Paxlovid and a couple other drugs. As if she didn't already feel horrible, the assumed guilt of worrying that she'd torpedoed my grandest adventure added to her woes. Thus, with much apprehension, I completed packing (with additional test kits in my suitcase to keep verifying my health) and traipsed to the airport.

Walking through the terminals - knowing I may yet have to reverse my travels - lent an air of unreality to the day. No word from Jon before my flight to Atlanta, so I fretted the whole flight. In the airport I hesitated to turn my phone back on, but when I did, no message from Alaska awaited me. Now I'm squeezed in a middle seat - yes, still wearing my mask - heading to Seattle

where a flight to Fairbanks will await.

Yes, this challenge is about new experiences. Getting lost in a swamp and calling out a rescue party last year topped a list of experiences I'd just as soon not live again. This lead-in to adventure will certainly join that list. But I've committed to this (or should that read "I should be committed for this"?), and I'll keep testing unless my guide pulls the plug...

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