From Cathay Pacific Flight 829, 34,000 ft over the Arctic Ocean
May 7, 2012
Before I leave home on a trip, I like to talk to the kids about where I'll be, what I'll be up to, and how I expect things to play out. I figure if they can't be there with me, they can at least have a sense of what I'm going to be experiencing.
I realized somewhere along the way that the major leg of the trip, the 15+ hour hop from Toronto to Hong Kong, was going to take the polar route. I made a big deal of it to the kids because, well, it is a big deal. It's a place few of us ever get to see up-close, yet one I suspect we'd all like to experience at least once. I jokingly promised to wave to Santa as we flew over, and said I'd take a picture if the light conditions allowed.
Well, when we got there I was challenged on a number of fronts, primarily the fact that there isn't a whole lot to shoot down there. "Whole lot of nothing" kept running through my head as I peered down at a seemingly endless stretch of white. It was a lovely white, mind you, but still, not terribly photo-worthy. Oh, and Santa's Village was nowhere to be seen. Then there was the photographic impossibility of shooting anything decent through pockmarked plastic windows, through the exhaust stream of a GE90-115B high-bypass turbofan engine (the largest-diameter, highest thrust such commercial engine in history) in the precious few seconds I had before my flatulent, barefoot, privacy-challenged, bathing-challenged seatmate returned from wherever he had gone.
But I promised them a glimpse, and I wasn't about to miss out on the opportunity to connect with them even though I was literally at - and beyond - the ends of the earth. Home, after all, is as close as you imagine it to be,
Your turn: The most isolated place you've ever been is...?