Quite the day of airports and hot air balloonists.

Quite the day of travel today. I left my car in the long-term parking at Pearson airport and walked over to the Maple Leaf Lounge to wait for my flight. I love the ML lounges, because they really make for a happier trip, especially for someone like me – I can be a nervous flier if I have a lot of other things on my mind (like giving a talk at a conference).

While I was in the lounge, most people were watching the England-America game. Impressive match for the Americans. The English looked a little lame. A small crowd was watching the tv screens, though and cheered when England tied it up.

I had a celebrity encounter in the lounge as Michael Smith, well-known star of Food Network fame, was sitting near me. He smiled and was kind to everyone. I was amazed at how tall he is though. I only thought of having a picture with him after he has loped off. Pity. I love his shows – so comforting and easy-going.

The flight to Edmonton was delayed, which was annoying. Apparently an air conditioning unit on the plane was malfunctioning. Oh well… The flight itself was a little crazy: babies in front beside and behind me. As well, a tiny bichon in a soft-shell carrier. He peered at me through the little grate in his carrier, from underneath the seat in front of the young woman sitting beside me. After asking her permission, I gave him a cracker and he munched away in peace and didn’t stare at me anymore.

The Maple Leaf Lounge in Edmonton is very modern and cozy – a sort of Scandi-design oasis. I love it there, actually. The wifi is painless – always a good thing! There was quite the soccer fan in the lounge though – an obese man wearing a a bright royal blue pajama with a South Africa jersey on. He was watching the game on his laptop, using a pair of earbuds to listen to it, and, in that most discourteous of ways that come of oblivion to the comfort of others – talking to the screen: interacting in a one-way (loud) convo with the sportscasters. Amusing at first. Not amusing after ten minutes. Thankfully his flight to London was called and he lumbered off, pajama’ed and full of patriotism.

During the flight to Regina I sat beside a fascinating senior gentleman. He was a hot air balloonist. We spent an hour in happy conversation and I must say that I learned an awful lot about the sport of hot air ballooning. This man was huge – tall, thick and barrell-chested, with giant faded tattoos on his arms, which looked like they may have been anchors at some point in the misty past, but now were faded, shapeless blogs of blueish and greenish black. They reminded me of how many people who are getting tattooed now will regret it in 20 years as the tattoos fade and expand with the aging of the skin.

He was going to Regina to give lessons. Apparently he has a student who is challenging and lazy – I reassured him that I sometimes, although rarely, have come across students who paid their tuition but didn’t seem to care about mastering the subject matter. It is a lack of motivation that can be quite disheartening for a professor, especially one who is in love with his subject matter, as I am and as this balloonist seemed to be.

I enjoyed our conversation because he spoke with great passion about ballooning. Haltingly and in the reserved way of the elderly and the decent, but his eyes shone as he mused about the relative advantages of hydrogen and helium gas. He made me want to try a flight in a balloon. It’s something that I have never done. I will do now.

Finally, I took a taxi from Regina Aiport to the Hotel Saskatchewan, a Radisson hotel. I haven’t stayed in a Radisson for a long time – I stick to Fairmont or Westin, if I can. The room is very classic. A beautiful crown moulding lines the ceiling, and the staff have been incredibly helpful and cheerful so far.

Ok, it’s time for me to get to bed. I have a big day at the Canadian Public Relations Society Annual Meeting tomorrow. I am launching the Journal of Professional Communication.

I am very excited. Will write about that tomorrow.

My plane for Regina
Plane I took from Edmonton to Regina. Beautiful, sunny day!

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