July 1, 2019 – Newark, NJ – Another year, another pedaling adventure; this tour is Newark, NJ to West Bend. Hoping to make a lot of history stops.
-Adventure began Sunday when my flight was cancelled. The Newark Airport had completely shut down because of a plane that blew a tire on the runway. Ended up spending the day with a familiar face as I went to see the Dairyland Bike Races with my biking sidekick, Audrey, who went on last year’s tour.
Met a new friend on Monday’s do-over flight out of Milwaukee. Jamie (not her real name), 11, was from northern Wisconsin and flying as an unaccompanied minor.
“I just don’t like awkward silence,” said Jamie. “Sometimes during quiet time at school I just go crazy.”
And with that the two-hour flight zipped by as Jamie shared her life story with me even though the flight attendant stopped once and said, “Don’t wear out your seat mate.” She was absolutely sweet and I loved it.
Topics included Jamie’s Snoopy backpack, her love of the color blue, her vast scrunchy collection, and the stress she was experiencing as her dog died right before she left.
“Normally my mom is stressed,” said Jamie. “I told my mom if I had asthma I’d be having an asthma attack.”
Jamie had been going every summer to visit family in New Jersey. A bright girl, with a couple freckles on her nose, a big tub of gum balls in her backpack, sparkly blue dolphin earrings and an insatiable love of math.
“I go to a charter school,” she said. “We have one class where we have to think of something and I thought ‘where does grape flavor come from for drinks because that’s not really how a grape tastes.’”
A brief check of her phone, because she wanted to see the time zone change, and we were off and running again.
Hot topics: losing her last baby tooth, never meeting a pizza she didn’t like, her wonderful cousins, and passion for swimming.
“I hope you didn’t think this would be a relaxing flight,” said Jamie. “I like to chat.”
”My dad died when I was in 4K,” she said. “It’s just me and mom now. And when Luigi, my dog, died, I just figured it’s my dad’s turn to have him now.”
That hazel-eyed little girl turned me into a puddle and, aside from a quick time zone check, she didn’t miss a beat.
”I almost missed this flight because I got hung up with the TSA agent who had to check my bag because of a rubber chicken,” said Jamie.
Later in the flight she again referenced the scenario and called it the “rubber chicken catastrophe.”
“My family can’t wait for me to visit,” she said confidently. “My grandma I call Yaya because she’s Greek and my cousins…”
Jamie starts listing them off and then stops mid-sentence to start over and list them by age.
Yaya was waiting at the gate for her little charge. A very lucky grandma who couldn’t wait to wrap her arms around her unaccompanied minor.
That visit with my new friend made up for all those years of quiet, dull flights where my adult seat mate never said anything.
Jamie was a joy and a great start to another adventure.
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