Penguins? On a plane?!?

There we were, 32 wonderful Sports Leisure Travelers waiting to board our airplane to San Diego for an extended weekend, the “Luxury in La Jolla” trip.
There were odd noises coming from two crates covered with blankets in the front row of the plane. We all assumed they were dogs or cats but an odd noise bellowed from the crates. To our amazement there were two VIP passengers traveling with us, Pete and Pat penguin from Sea World San Diego. They were in Sacramento visiting the capital with a few of their trainers promoting conservation and were returning home.
As we boarded the plane their two crates occupied the bulk head seats. As the trainers got them all nestled in they lightly sprayed them with water to keep them cool. As people boarded the plane there were odd noises coming from the crate that was a sound between a cat and a donkey. Boy did the flight attendant get some looks.
Once we were at cruise altitude the flight attendants came by with peanuts and pretzels, unfortunately they were out of anchovies.
As Pete and Pat conversed back and forth, the plane listened with curiosity. To our amazement one of the trainers got on the microphone and told us the captain has given permission for Pete and Pat to come out of their crates and walk the aisles of the airplane. As they waddled up and down the aisles there were giggles and smiles among us all. We had the opportunity to see them up close as well as learn all about where they live in the wild and at Sea World.
What a wonderful way for us to start our trip. We went from penguins, to hot fudge sundaes, to brunch at the hotel Del to shopping in La Jolla to dining in Old Town and all the wonderful things in between.
Of course, we can’t promise penguins on every Sports Leisure flight, but we always try to go above and beyond. To my “shy and quiet” group of 32 passenger thanks for a wonderful trip.
Look forward to making more memories with you. Your “shy and quiet” tour director RoseMarie Holt.

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“Sacramento Bee Lays off 44 Employees,” says the headline…

Our once proud newspaper is a shell of its former self. When I saw this, the first thing I thought of was, “After all the layoffs, I didn’t think there were 44 people left in the building.”

I see this and I think of Marco Smolich the sports editor, and the guys upstairs who helped me when I was a snot-nosed 20-year-old with a semi-pro basketball team. (Yes, there was basketball in Sacramento before the Kings. The Prospectors played at Mira Loma High School the two years I was part-owner. And we never asked the people of Sacramento to do anything except come to the games and maybe buy a hot dog.)

I think of the days I delivered the afternoon Bee in 110 degree weather, when even the dog wouldn’t chase the paper boy down the street it was so hot. I think of the ways The Bee has been a part of the cultural arts in Sacramento, how we wouldn’t have a Music Circus without the late Eleanor McClatchy and the support she so willingly gave to the arts in our city.

A newspaper is a reflection of the community it serves, they say. So what does this say about our community, other than that we are broke. The Bee didn’t respond well when the newspaper business started to go south a number of years ago. Now, they have an on line presence, but they are forever playing catch up. Maybe they will make it, maybe they won’t. No one seems to care any more. Can you imagine what it must be like to work someplace where the ax falls every three months and the person next to you disappears?

A city loses its most public voice and what happens? I guess those of us in Sacramento are about to find out. Because while The Bee is not gone, only life support keeps the heart beating for now. The stories are written by people who live elsewhere, or are pulled from wire services. We haven’t had a newspaper for several years really. We are fast becoming a city without a face.

Just one man’s opinion…
Mark

Simply Charlotte

It’s 3,000 miles away as the plane flies, which means I don’t get there very often. That said, it’s still one of my favorite places to catch a flight or make a connection.

The last time I passed through Charlotte International Airport (CLT) was a few weeks ago. I was transiting from a puddle-jumper coming from Ocean City, Maryland to a full-sized jet on my way home to Sacramento. What makes Charlotte different you may ask? In a word: everything!

The wonderful part about Charlotte is its expansive atrium; a light, bright and airy building that overlooks the “B” and “C” gates. After the beautiful view out the windows, the next thing you notice is music. Not canned “mu-zac” from hollow sounding speakers – but a piano player seated at a baby grand right in the center of the building. On this day he was playing a few jazz standards. Want to sit and listen to the live music? No problem. Have a seat in one of the rocking chairs placed strategically throughout the atrium. Rock, listen to music, connect to the free Wi-Fi or charge your electronic toys at one of the several “power stations.”

Getting hungry? Try my favorite spot for Carolina BBQ, Brookwood Farms. They have a counter within listening distance of the baby grand. Or pick up a Jamba Juice if you want something lighter. Not sure what you want? I dare you to walk through the terminal and not be pleasantly surprised by the helpful airport volunteers who stand out in their bright yellow shirts. They’re easy to get food recommendations from because they aren’t behind a desk somewhere – they’re out in the open, walking around and approaching anyone who might have a confused look on their face.

And did I mention the staff in the restrooms? Yep, just like a fancy hotel or restaurant they have restroom attendants offering towels, fresh mints and other items that come in handy in between long cramped flights. Need something a little more powerful than a mint to put a spring in your step? Visit the AeroClinic in the atrium. The clinic provides treatment for minor ailments, preventative care, X-rays and vaccinations. Prescriptions and packaged medicines are also available.

Of course, there is shopping and a business center and a few other standard airport amenities. But I think you’ll agree that Charlotte goes above and beyond a “standard” airport. I can only hope that when our new terminal in Sacramento opens, they will take a lesson from “Simply Charlotte.”