You Can't Get to Kenya From Here

The old joke that you can't get there from here applies. At least, if by here, you mean Asotin, Washington, and you're trying to get to Africa.

One advantage of living in an out of the way corner of Washington State is that we complain about sitting through a full cycle at stop lights. We make allowances for farm equipment, wildlife, and our neighbors who are exchanging pleasantries in the middle of the street from the truck windows. 

We also look at the pictures of traffic in places like Seattle and San Diego and question the sanity of living the bumper-to-bumper road rage lifestyle. When family complains about three-hour commutes, we remind them they could move. Not here, mind you. We like it the way it is, and outsiders claim they love the place when they move in, and then try to change it. 

So, most of the time, it's grand. The exceptions occur when you want to leave. In my case, trying to get to Kenya. The moon mission required somewhat more planning but the route was at least pretty well defined. The end point - landing in Nairobi - is, too. It's the getting out bit. 

First, we have one regional airport, across the river in Lewiston. Very convenient in that it's eight minutes away. With only two gates, there's no nonsense of losing three hours of your life standing in line while TSA dithers about giving hard-eyed looks to potential geriatric terrorists and pulling all three of my daughters for 'enhanced' screening. 

Stunningly inconvenient when trying to match up with connecting flights. It would have been much easier if Alaska Airlines hadn't canceled the morning flight. That's a fifty percent decrease in the morning flights. Not for Alaska; for the whole airport. 

Now Alaska wasn't the only option, but they would have gotten me to Seattle. From there, by plane, you can get anywhere. The trick with Seatac is getting to the airport, and I can leave my house and fly there faster than someone from Bellingham can drive there, at rush hour. 

Delta also has a morning flight, but they head to Salt Lake City. Fourteen stops later, you can get to Nairobi. Oh, and it costs more. And takes longer. You do get the added bonus of a twelve-hour layover in Heathrow, though. Not exactly how I plan to visit London when I finally do. 

The average flight time, counting layovers seem to be about 37 hours, with some of the quicker ones getting there in 24 hours and the longer ones promising to have me at the airport in Nairobi in time for the return flight six weeks later. 

The next option was to play around with airports. I checked Spokane. Nice airport, easy access. Surprisingly, not any faster, nor any cheaper. You can bypass Seattle and go due east, but the Delta conundrum of cost and time strikes.  

I looked at Seattle, figuring I could arrange the first leg separately. And I could, not that it made a lick of difference. 

I looked at booking each leg separately and through multiple east coast airports, London, Amsterdam, every option I could think of. The online sites balked, and returned a 'no-can-do, amigo' response.

On a lark, I tried Pullman. The Pullman flights are continuations on the route from Seattle to Lewiston and back, so I didn't have high hopes. It pays to be persistent. Pullman had a morning flight, funny enough, and the cost was relatively low with a reasonable transit time. Put it into the mental file as the benchmark to beat.

Deciding that I had arrived at my level of maximum competence as a travel agent, I contacted a professional to see if she could (hopefully) do better. I sat in a comfy chair while she cycled through the same options I had. It got to the point where she'd go, "Let me try something" and I'd predict her next search pattern. I think it messed with her mind a bit. She start to type, look at me, I'd tell her the next search sequence I tried, and she'd say, "Oh." Type the rest of the query, and tell me what I already knew.

She didn't find anything that I hadn't, both in scheduling and pricing. She did confirm that the Pullman flight was the best option. Not the ideal option, but the best available. I fly from Pullman to Seattle, to Amsterdam, to Nairobi. A one hour flight, a ten-hour flight, and an eight-hour flight. I did spend a little extra to get the seats with more leg room on the way to Amsterdam. I would have done the same with the flight to Nairobi, but the option didn't exist. Along with the extra leg room, I get free premium entertainment and booze. Might need both, but need to be sober when I hit ground as the layover in the Netherlands is a scant one hour and forty minutes. 

I also get one free bag on two of three flights, so I bought a new suitcase. I deliberately chose an overly large one. With a little scrunching, I think I could fit all six grandkids in it. Perfect for the return trip when I load up on souvenirs. 

Now, on to worrying about the next thing, plus I have to send out the paperwork for a visa. By Kenyan regulation, you can't apply for a visa without confirmed travel and it must be within the next six months. Done, and done, and time to head out to run.

Have a great day!