Saturday, July 4, 2015

Coming Home from The Land Down Under

Sorry for the delay in this last post. I’ve been on a “Facebook Fast” for the past week. And if you think you know why, unless you’ve heard it from me – you are probably mistaken in your surmise of why. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

As the old saying goes “All good things must come to an end”, so we finally had to come home from our trip. We got up at 4:30 am to head home since we’d been told to arrive at the airport 3 hours before our flight was to depart. We met Josh’s co-worker Owen in front of our hotel. Our plan was to try and catch a cab from there and if we couldn’t try to get an Uber. Within a minute a cab drove by and we hailed it for our trip. We actually go to the airport a little more than three hours early. We found out though that international check in didn’t actually open til precisely 3 hours before our flight (which must have been the first one of the day). We checked our baggage and headed for security. We made it through security with little pain. My passport was looked at several times. Finally we reached what I thought was the last found where they reviewed my electronic visa. The guy looking online said there was an issue. I couldn’t figure out what it could be, I had gotten into Australia with no problem. Turned out when I applied for my electronic visa – I had put my full name in my Family Name and my first and last name in Given Name. Turns out you should put your last name in Family Name and first name in Given Names. So, I was shuffled off to a separate counter where another official looked over my info and finally let me through. We headed to our gate and sat down to wait for our flight.

I gave Donna a call to let her know all was well. I then got up and went to look for something to eat. I went light and only got a doughnut and a Pepsi Max. I worked a bit and rested a bit. We boarded the plane with little difficulty and then things started to go south as we say. Even though it was morning, they served a dinner of chicken teriyaki with ice cream for dessert. I know I should have known better from our trip down, but I ate it. Within an hour, my stomach felt bloated. I tried to sleep on the way back but it was very difficult. They served breakfast later and Josh said he knew something was wrong with me since I had fruit and yogurt. Somehow, I survived the trip and we made it to the Los Angeles Airport (LAX). Once you get to the US, you have to go through customs and immigration again. You have to pick up your checked baggage. You then take the card you filled out on the way there and go to a kiosk and input your info and have your passport scanned. You drop off your checked baggage at the proper place and then pass through one more security checkpoint. We exited the International Terminal to head to the United terminal. Theoretically, you should be able to shuttle there. We waited about twenty minutes and saw every shuttle imaginable except the intra airport one. We finally just gave up and walked. It was a nice little walk since it was on the opposite end of the airport. We got to security only to find that with construction there was a line that stretched out on what felt like a temporary catwalk up in the air. We finally got through and looked forward to heading to the United Club.

We headed into the first club we reached. Josh had a one time pass his company had given him. He gave it to the woman at the desk and started to head through. I mentioned that I wanted to buy a one time pass (like I had at O’Hare). She then said “Oh, we are not selling one time passes because of construction”. I was dumbfounded. I mentioned that my son had just used his one time pass and we’d now be separated for almost four hours. She just simply shrugged her shoulders and said “I can’t do anything to help you!”. So, I just told Josh to go ahead into the Club and I’d meet him at the gate later. I walked to the gate and sat down to wallow in my pity. I worked a bit on my laptop when a woman walked by in a Cardinal jacket. I remarked that it was nice to see another Cardinal fan in LA (showing her my Cardinal jacket). She said “I’m the mother of one of the Cardinal players”. I asked which one and she said “Randal Grichuk”. Randal is a young player for the Cardinals that they acquired from the Angels before the 2014 season. He looks like a good young prospect. I told her I thought he’d be a good player for the Cardinals if he got enough playing time. She said her and her husband were in town to watch him play against the Dodgers. I remarked that she must be very proud of him and she told me she was. She then went to sit with her husband. Later, they lined up to wait to board their flight right in front of me. I met Mr. Grichuk and told him I was glad his son had gotten the only hit off Clayton Kershaw the day before to keep the Cardinals from being no-hit. He remarked how tough Kershaw was and I mentioned I’d just settle for us continuing to beat him in the playoffs (which he laughed at). I told him I thought his son was a good player but he (like most dads would say) said “He needs to hit more consistently”. They got on their plane and I must have ended up falling asleep because Josh finally surprised me by showing up at the gate. We got on the plane and headed for O’Hare. My stomach still felt horrible. I even took the precaution of pulling out the air sickness bag just in case. I made it OK though.

Once we got to O’Hare, we found Owen still there. It turned out his flight to Madison had been cancelled. There was a huge line of thunderstorms south of the airport. The issue was that a lot of flights couldn’t get in to O’hare to then head to other destinations. Josh went to get something to eat. They have a lot of great places to eat at the O’Hare Airport but I still felt too unsettled to take a chance. Josh brought me a banana which was perfect. He then found out his flight to Madison was delayed because the plane couldn’t get there. It kept being later and later. He finally decided to just to ride home with Owen (his wife was coming to get him). I told him I’d be fine there and to head on out. I finally got the idea to go to a store in the airport to see that I could find for my stomach. I finally found some Gas-X pills for an outrageous price (10 pills for 10.00). I took a couple of those and that seemed to fix my issue. I kept checking my flight to Paducah and it was still showing at leaving on time (the plane was already at O’Hare). I scoped out some hotels close to O’Hare just in case I needed one. We left on time though. The pilot ended up having to fly east all the way to Dayton Ohio to get around the line of storms. We didn’t get back until midnight (an hour late), but I was just glad to get home that night. I personally thanked him when we were exiting the plane for getting me home. My lovely wife was waiting to pick me up – I’d missed her so much. I got my baggage when it came out and we headed for home. I crashed until 9:00am the next day.

The amazing thing was I actually lost weight on the trip. That has never happened to me in my adult life. I spent the next few days getting my sleep pattern regulated but it really wasn’t that bad. Would I ever go back? Yes, armed with new knowledge (bring my own food on the plane with some Gas-x tablets and know how to fill out my Visa application correctly). Even with the plane issues, I still had a lot of fun with Josh and it’s one of those unforgettable experiences I’ll remember my whole life.