After a short flight from Newcastle left Heathrow at 15.25, some 50mins late, on Monday 12th October to see brother Brian and Karen for a weeks holiday, . Killed about three hrs in Heathrow, reading, sleeping and eating a ham croissant with a Starbucks flat white. The flight is not full and I have a window seat, to the starboard, with an empty seat next door and the aisle seat occupied by another chap. About an hour into the flight the onslaught of food and drink begins, with cocktails and a British Airways gourmet meal
Gin and tonic
Cous cous salad
Buttered chicken curry and rice
Butler and Secret, special reserve cheddar on Fine English Bath Ovals
Dudley Stone finest Western Cape Chenin Blanc. This fine product was discovered in 1869 when it was known as The Star of South Africa, by the Earl of Dudley who bought it for his wife
Lily O’Brien’s Doubly Delicious Orange Chocolate Mousse
With coffee to finish: such luxury.
17.15 BST we were approaching the SW corner of Iceland having left England over the Dee estuary, passed across the Isle of Man, with the Mull of Kintyre in view, finally to leave the UK past the NW corner of Island, county Antrim methinks. We are flying above the cloud at 32,000ft at 500mph into a 77mph headwind. At 17.25BST the time in Phoenix is 9.25, some 8hrs behind UK. Because of the way we are going we are ‘chasing’ sunset (and for the time being, winning), so at 5.00pm Arizona (still daylight) it will be 1.00am in the UK, well and truly dark.
Looking at my inflight interactive map it seems our route has drifted south of Iceland, so the white I see thro’ the window is cloud and not snow, so fingers crossed for clear sky’s over the SE corner of Greenland, where I might be lucky and spot an Elk or Moose! Stroke of luck I just managed to con another 187ml bottle of the fine Chenin Blanc from the steward; happy times.
6.00pm BST we are some distance South of Reykjavik about to cross the sea to Greenland which my map claims to be the Denmark Strait; news on me, and the screen says 4139ml to go, but I have forgotten how many it was to start with (5255ml) , but whatever is was it makes the 3,800 miles I have cycled this year in 10 months a bit pathetic. Good news; the outside temperature has just increased from -69deg C to -53deg C.
Phoenix in Spanish is Fénix. Now left Iceland behind and are continuing across the Oceano Atlantico. Whilst it is very nice to hone up on ones Spanish I don’t think there will be a great need in Arizona, unless of course we get apprehended my the Mexican Bandidos, who are forever pestering Clint Eastwood.
18.17 BST. Breaking news, the cloud has cleared, things are getting a bit bumpy, but could be good news for the elk spotting; watch this space. If the map is anything to go by we may well pass over the port town of Godthab, which is in the S of Greenland and is a well known stopping point for intrepid sailors who venture into the Arctic and tradition has it the if you do hole up there in your boat you paint the name of your vessel on the harbour wall; there are some very famous names on that wall.
18.35 BST. Greenland is here and so is the cloud.
18.40 BST. Mine is the only window blind open so I will have to withdraw visual observations until the rest of the plane wakes up, but since all I can see is cloud you are not going to miss much.
19.30 BST. Just woke up in time to see the West Coast of Greenland pass below. Absolutely fantastic, clear skies flat seas, even an odd fishing boat, but sadly no moose or bears. Next feature east coast of Canada after passing across the Davis Strait, 3427ml to go, nearly half way! (2630ml). Cloud is back. The moving map shows the daylight and darkness; the darkness is catching us up.
20.13 BST. Now passing over Baffin Island, a snow covered wilderness. There looks to be frozen rivers weaving there way through undulating land, but the whole thing is well and truly covered in snow and ice. In the distance are a couple of lakes which are not frozen.
The map shows the Hudson Strait, Foxe Basin, Baffin Bay and Iqaluit and Ungava Bay.
All of a sudden the terrain has become much flatter and I am not sure if we are crossing land or frozen sea, and indeed here comes the coastline of what must be Hudson Bay, complete with icebergs.
Looking at the map one might be forgiven in thinking that we will shortly be turning south to go across Canada and the northern USA but of course we are following a great circle route which means our real bearing does not change. I will get a globe and a piece of string when I get home to see how it works. The photo shows the darkness chasing us to Arizona.
20.43BST. At last the halfway point has arrived; this is a long flight!
21.10BST. We are still crossing Hudson Bay, where the massive ice floes can be clearly seen;
I would imagine in winter this whole area is frozen and this time of year will probably be the clearest since the summer will have melted lots to last winters ice.
Just passed over the previous area and can now clearly see open sea with what look like massive ice cliffs.
Yet another BA feast has been put before us, in the shape of a goodie box with nachos, salsa, fruit cake, healthy oat bars a glass of water and a chocolate. See the picture and drool
22.05 BST. At last we have left the oceans behind and are now over mainland Canada making our way S to the USA. The sunset and darkness are still chasing us and gaining, and I think it will be touch and go whether we get to Phoenix before the advancing darkness. Hope we do.
23.50 BST . Well over Canada now probably into USA. The on screen info tells me there is 1 hr 50 mins to go, and the PA system tells me there is yet another gourmet delight on its way in the shape of beef & rice or vegetable lasagne; doubt we will get another crack at the Chenin Blanc but that may be no bad thing.
Arizona time is now 15.56 and we are due to arrive at 17.40. We are passing over the Laramie mountains, which look mighty bleak and plenty of them. Very close to Wyoming and we now have a tailwind of 1knot. The sun is shining brightly overFargo, Kansas City, Cheyenne and all the other cowboy places we are familiar with.
16.35 Az time. Just passing over the Rockies which have snow on the Northern faces, but in the valleys the autumn leaves in the forests can be clearly seen looking like great streaks of rust flowing down the hillsides, but the sun is on the window so photos are no good; shame.
The darkness is hot on our heels now but I think we will win.
17.20 AZ time. Landing in Phoenix with the sun setting. A very arid looking place from the air, but it is predominantly desert.