I was tempted to not hit the cell phone "shutter". A little embarrassed, I felt like a tourist in 1950, boarding one of the old DC birds. But... it was kind of a personal moment, though a small one. Last time I was out of the country was 2004. Africa, to be more precise.

This pic was taken on the jetway stairs today in Sacramento, the first time out of the country after losing semi-vital organs in 2006. Laying in the Trauma Unit I do recall writing off any future international travel.

In some ways it is poetic. The documentary I've been co-writing with Melinda and producer, John Northrup is about, in part, the life of the American missionary, Nelson Bell. He, in 1919, stepped onto a steamer bound for China. We have seen some of the 8mm home films of the Bell's work in Tsingjiangpu, and (finally some poetry...) the footage includes films of later excursions aboard DC-somethings. Back then, it was expected that you'd take pictures of the massive aircraft on the tarmac. There was always somebody filming as the brave passengers boarded. No strict security back then. Innocence dictated a now long-gone trust.

Then there were the pictures of the interior of the planes. Bell and his wife, Virginia, waving as they are seated in what looks like the back seat of a big turquise Chevy (complete with wings - over the tail lights.)

No real bravery needed today, just a personal moment there as the line backed up to get inside the turboprop plane bound 40 minutes to SFO. Now I'm at the gate in San Francisco hearing the calls in Japanese and Mandarin for other flights. The one bound to Beijing is not mine, though Beijing is my final. I go through Narita, Tokyo.

There was just an announcement in choppy English about arrivals in Beijing. They are apparently screening people's body temps as they move past "sensitive equipment". If they detect a rise over normal 98.6, they will, according to the voice, quarantine the person. The swine flu is the fearsome monster.

Feeling my forehead and reminding myself to not drink hot tea just before deplaning.

Next stop Narita... and Beijing. I'll most likely write along here as I go for the next several weeks. Stay tuned.