01/31/2014 10:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Window Seat

Greetings from California! I'll be visiting here for the next two weeks. Instead of flying back and forth across the country willy-nilly, I prefer to make one big trip of things like this, and pack in as much in as possible. You'll be hearing more about my trip as I go.

Cross-country flights always incite a sense of awe in me at our ability to get in a plane and fly across America, rather than having to travel by covered wagon, horse, or train, likely to get attacked by outlaws. You could say I have a vivid imagination. Or you could say that I've read a lot of history books. Both are true. Which is why I prefer the window seat on a plane. Yes, I know I'll have to make everyone in my row get up a few times because I have to use the "rest room"... However, where else can you get a view like that? A view of America in a single day?

I usually leave from Philadelphia (Don't get me started on that airport!) or Newark, so it really is flying from one end of the country to the other. And honestly, it doesn't get very interesting until just west of Chicago. But when it gets interesting, it gets really interesting: The shape of the changing landscape, the rivers that look like veins, the emerging crevasses and mountains all make me start to see the planet in a much different way. It's like the micro is magnified to the macro, and you can literally see the same patterns everywhere. You can see the impact of farming and civilization. You can see the hidden and the exposed. But whether it's good or bad, ugly or beautiful, it's all amazing.

Amazing that we can fly. Amazing that we can fly so high. Amazing that we can look down on our beautiful planet and appreciate its complexity, beauty, and diversity. Amazing that we can arrive so quickly. Any complaints about travel we have in America today are minor compared to what it took just two or three generations ago for people to put up with if they wanted to go to California (or just about anywhere). Air travel is a good reminder not to take things for granted.

That's why I'll take the window seat every time.

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