Delta Minneapolis to Reykjavik

Fire and ice

May 31, 2021

Photo Credit: Carol Madigan

   We copped the last two standby seats on what turned out to be Delta’s first Minneapolis to Reykjavik run in more than a year and a half, and we were boarded immediately as the gangway door closed shut behind us. I had my phone perched on the “reserve” button for the accommodations we could now finally confirm for when we land in Iceland. This was our third flight of a day that began at 4:00 a.m., and that took us on a circuitous route to Minneapolis via Atlanta, because – to paraphrase Willie Sutton – that’s where the seats were. Flying standby, especially internationally, takes the omnipotent nerve of a Vegas gambler and the supplicating brain of a Price is Right contestant. In other words, there are times it can be a religious experience.

   Carol loves it. She plays with airline seating charts like it’s  a game of Candy Crush, augmenting my own fixation with Delta’s retiree reservation system. She notes terminals and gates of connecting flights, when we’re cutting it close. By the end of the day, she’s already experienced an exciting adventure before we’ve even gotten where we’re going. And, recently, it’s been some time since the two of us have gotten somewhere beyond our own country’s borders.

   At the gate and watching me fumble for phone chargers, snacks and notebooks in the day pack I was allowed to pack on my own, Carol said, “You don’t pack sequentially, do you?” Like it’s a thing you’re actually supposed to know how to do. I’m assuming when I open the suitcase I wasn’t allowed near when being packed, I will no doubt discern our chronologically planned itinerary succinctly layered and all fitting together like a child’s wood puzzle. (It was.)

I’m assuming when I open the suitcase I wasn’t allowed near when being packed, I will no doubt discern our chronologically planned itinerary succinctly layered and all fitting together like a child’s wood puzzle. (It was.)

   But over time, Carol’s main duties center around trying to keep me from coming unglued, when our flying-by-the-seat-our-pants approach  to travel sometimes frays around the inseam. One of the first things that attracted Carol to me was how unflappable I seemed to be back then on my solo travels. I was unflappable, because I was the only one responsible and accountable for any jam I’d get myself in. But traveling with Carol, I feel my usual neuroses take the upper hand. I just don’t want to disappoint her. (To which I can imagine her sighing wistfully at just how much that ship has already sailed.)

   Case in point is when we land in Reykjavik. The online reservation system would not allow me to reserve a room for the morning we arrive. It’s necessary, because Iceland requires a covid test upon arrival, and then a self-quarantine until the results are reported (about 8 hours). I had to email the property and request that extra time be added to the rental, but would not know until we arrived whether they were able to accommodate that request. What happens if they can’t and there’s nowhere to quarantine occupied most of my waking thoughts during the six-hour flight.

   It goes without saying that the rest of our Icelandic adventure following three nights in Reykjavik does conform to the way Carol and I have come to enjoy traveling together. There are no reservations for either a vehicle or accommodations while on our “planned” eight day trip around the country’s famous Ring Road, except to buy all the car insurance the company offers. (Sand, ash, sheep and car doors blowing off are all realistic possibilities). She’s packed our bathing suits, including something she found online called a wet bag, for… you guessed it. (I’m thinking me in a bathing suit in a lagoon would also qualify as whale watching, for which I might expect a partial reimbursement of the bathing fee.)

   Postscript: everything worked out in our favor upon arriving in Reykjavik, and this is coming to you from our sweet little studio downtown(with one wrinkle). Much more to come…

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