Sunday, August 16, 2009

Starting off on the right foot

I'm taking a break from my busy schedule of playing Mario Party 8 on the Wii I have finally been reunited with, eating chocolate cookies, and catching up on "Tivo'd" episodes of Ugly Betty, True Blood & Don't Forget the Lyrics to share some photos & stories from our cruise.

So I set out on my journey at shortly after 4 am on July 9. I had to make it to base by 5:15 to catch the bus to the airport. There's a later shuttle, but I didn't want to take a chance on traffic or some other strange occurrence that might make me miss my flight. So I slept on the bus and hunkered down for about 5 hours in the airport. I had breakfast and talked to my friend Jessica on the phone, because that is our morning routine. I did a little knitting and read part of The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares. (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants author)
I got on the plane (aisle seat!) and was ready to sleep some more, but there were so many movies I felt like watching, so I ended up not getting much sleep. I regretted that decision later. I don't remember all the movies I watched (except I know I watched 17 Again and Ferris Bueller's Day Off), but I do remember how tired I was in the Newark Airport.

When I booked my tickets, I chose a later flight out of Newark, just in case there was some sort of delay with my flight from London. We ended up landing in Newark a little early, so I had even more than the 5 hours I was expecting to wait. I thought about seeing if I could get switched to the 4:30 flight instead, but figured that my luggage was already checked through for the 8:30 flight and either I'd have to wait for it to arrive, they'd remove it from the plane, or it might get lost in the shuffle of changes. So, I decided I'd just stick it out and wait until 8:30.

The Newark Airport was actually not too bad. There were LOTS of shops to go in and out of, so that kept me busy for a while. I ate some yummy Auntie Annie's pretzel sticks, read the back of a lot of books at Borders, and smelled every flavor of lotion at The Body Shop. But still I was growing bored and wanted desperately to make friends with someone who had one of those fancy cell phones that can access the internet.

When it was close to boarding time, I sat by my gate. When it was really close to boarding time, I was still sitting by my gate. When it was boarding time, I continued to sit by my gate. About 10-15 minutes after boarding time, I began to really wonder why I was still sitting by my gate. That's when the first of many announcements was made... our plane had arrived at the airport, but it was sitting at another gate. And the piece of equipment that was needed to tow the plane was broken, so we'd have a slight delay while they tried to fix it. I couldn't help but wonder if it wouldn't have been faster for them to try to move US instead of the plane.
Finally, the plane arrives, we all get on and I'm happy... we're leaving! About 40 minutes late, but that's not too bad I guess. David will be waiting for me at the Fort Lauderdale airport and in just a few hours, my looooong day of travel would be over.
I buckled my seatbelt and started to nod off. I woke up to the sound of the captain's voice, thinking he's making that, "We've reached our cruising altitude" announcement. But we weren't actually moving yet. Captain says that the jetway is stuck on our basically we couldn't take off without taking off the wall of the airport I guess. So it would be 5-10 minutes until they resolved the issue, just sit tight.
About 5-10 minutes later, the captain announces that they're having a little more trouble than they thought, so anyone who wants to stretch their legs can go ahead and "deboard the aircraft" for a little while.
By now, it's after 10 and most of the shops are closed, so I just walked around the concourse a few times.
We were rescheduled for takeoff at 11:00. Just 2 and a half hours after our scheduled departure time. And what do you know, just 57 minutes before our originally scheduled arrival. Trying to stay positive... trying to stay awake until I get back onto the plane...and trying not to kick myself for not trying for the 4:30 flight after all. By this point, I would have gladly sacrificed my luggage.
Back on the plane, we begin to taxi. Taxi, taxi, taxi. I begin to think that this is the longest taxi EVER. Seriously. In the history of taxiing, this has GOT to be the longest. But there's a good reason for that... we taxied out, then taxied right back in to where we started.
You see, there was a passenger on the plane who had to be removed.
Imagine, a disgruntled passenger at this point. (It wasn't me)
I didn't even get to see or hear any of the ruckus, so I don't know what was going on. The annoying man across the aisle from me tried to pump the flight attendant for information but she wasn't giving any. She was obviously getting a little tired and cranky herself.
The passenger is removed, but still, we can't leave. Because now we have used up a whole bunch of gas and need to wait for the fuel truck to come top us off.
I decide to just give up hope that we're ever leaving Newark. I'm not even sure I believe it when our wheels finally go up at about 20 minutes past 12.
Hahahahaha, and then our pilot...that funny, funny guy...makes his "we've now reached cruising altitude" speech and adds, "It looks like we've got a good tailwind and clear airspace, so we should be landing at our destination a few minutes ahead of schedule." Either the man has a very strange sense of humor, can not tell time, or was referring to our "revised" schedule.

We landed at about quarter past 2 (I think... It was getting too depressing to look at my watch by this point) and I hustled to the baggage claim where David was waiting for me!! I was SO happy to see him! Not only because I hadn't seen the man in nearly 5 months, but also because 1-it meant I didn't have to get on another plane for a whole entire week! and 2-it meant that I wouldn't have to sleep in the airport. I had begun to worry during one of the nearly 4 hours of our delay that David might not realize that I didn't know what hotel we were going to and he might not be waiting at the airport, thinking I'd just cab-it to the hotel on my own. It would've been pretty out-of-character for him to do that, but still...I was slightly nervous. He did leave the airport, showered at the hotel (but knew he'd better not lay down or he'd fall asleep!) and then came back to get me.
I asked him if he'd seen which baggage carousel my flight was going to be on, and he said, "Your bag is already here. I saw it when I was here earlier."
My bag had inadvertently made it on the 4:30 flight! I didn't even have the energy at the time to be irritated by the irony of this. I was just thrilled that we could immediately get out of the airport, into a cab, and to the hotel!
It took just under 28 hours to get from London to Florida. That's even longer than the trips home from Okinawa!!!

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