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Back from Vacation, Catching Up and then some

So, after fifteen (?) days away from home, we’re back in the States and re-adjusting to our original time zone, catching up on sleep, and getting back in the swing of things.

The trip home was a bit of a mixed bag. I was up from about 5am on Thursday morning (London Time), getting ready, finalizing packing, etc… The person we rented the flat from was scheduled to show up at 10:30am and our driver at 10:45am. We were ready, definitely, by the time things started happening. The driver showed up a bit early, which worked out well, because we were able to get the car loaded before our check-out. We were on the road for Heathrow by 10:45 easy and made our way toward Heathrow. The driver was from Sri Lanka and lived in London under political asylum, and was a really nice guy, very polite, respectful, and opinionated! He had a lot of thoughts on London, the state of immigration (and, as it happens, people being forced to leave the country), traffic, construction, how to care for ones family, etc… He was talkative, let’s put it that way!

We got a glimpse into how it is to be a resident of London when your background is one other than Caucasian. It was a grim view, I’ll say that much, but sprinkled with optimism from someone trying to make it work. I don’t want to make this post into a downer, so I won’t go into too many details. Again, this is one person’s view, but it seemed really unfortunate that the UK lets people into the country for school, but may make them leave in between school years and re-apply for a Visa. Once they get their education, they are made to leave again. I’m assuming this is an attempt to stem the large number of immigrants wanting to come into the country permanently when things are generally overcrowded. Who knows…

Anyway, that’s enough on that particular subject. We were at Heathrow by about 11:20 am and found that we were unable to check our luggage until noon, so we returned our TEP and waited for noon, checked our luggage, and made our way to find some food. One last trip to Wagamama, conveniently in Heathrow (one of something like 20 restaurants), some duty free shopping, and we were at our gate and were ready to board. Then…. the delay… Right before they were going to start loading the plane, they found some sort of issue and had to switch planes, which means moving all of the luggage, food, etc, plus fueling another plane. Sigh… They estimated a two hour delay, “de-boarded” us from the flight (not physically, just systematically), and we had to go hang out for a while. Being the polite airline they are, British Air gave us vouchers for tea or whatever we wanted (we got some soda and snacks), and we had time to kill… Our TEP was already turned in, so no Internet. No free wireless at Heathrow… Pay phones cost £2 to connect and then £3.40 PER MINUTE for a call… Luckily “someone” gave us a code for local wireless so we could call and alert Amanda’s family of the delay (phew), so she hopped on Skype and started calling. I also contacted the place where our car was to let them know we were going to be late. Turns out that I had left one of the windows down on the car!!!! When we got to the parking structure, they were so quick to tell us where to park and start taking our luggage to their shuttle, neither of us realized it was down. Luckily, though, we were parked right by where someone was 24 hours per day, so they were keeping an eye on it.

A couple of hours later, we were loaded on the plane and ready to fly out. We left around 5:30 pm… And the flight was pretty crappy compared to the way in. Two seats in front of us, we had a guy who was completely OCD… Kept twirling a small patch of hair on the top of his head, pulling on it, rubbing his head, scratching his head, etc… You could tell when he got really nervous, because he started doing it frantically! Given how thin his hair was around there, it’s obviously an ongoing problem for him. Same guy also kept complaining about things… didn’t like the food, couldn’t get movies to work, didn’t like his seat, blah blah blah… Another guy in the same row kept trying to sneak up to Business Class to their bathroom, just to get turned around and sent back the other way. Someone turns their back and he makes a break for Business Class again! Then there were multiple babies. None in our section, but in Business class in front of us and in Economy behind us. Crying, screaming, blah blah blah… I have no problem with people taking their babies on long flights, but you need to find some way to get them to calm down, because it affects everyone on the flight. Behind us, we had someone who was sick, wearing a face mask, and complained about the cold on the flight. I believe they turned off the cool air in our section for her benefit, which made it hotter for the rest of us. I’m sorry, if you’re cold, get another blanket! There were some other complaints out of her I couldn’t make out, but one of the airline personnel basically told her if she wasn’t fit to fly, she shouldn’t be flying. Cheers for that!!! Anyway, flight was a little too warm without proper air circulation, a bit too much noise and activity, etc, we were exhausted and sore, and needed rest… Somehow we ended up in two seats that couldn’t get back as far as others in the area, which was unfortunate.

The flight was over 10 hours, so we landed in the US after 3:30 am London time AKA 7:30 pm PST. It took us a while to get off the plane (the make Amanda wait because of her chair) and then we had to have our passport checked here, ticket checked there, and then immigration… Sigh… Turns out our flight AND a Korean Air flight were delayed, so there were HUNDREDS of people trying to get through. We were directed by everyone to the disabled area and were in a line behind a number of disabled people from other countries and some various airline employees waiting to get to their next flights or rest or whatever… A while later, we were through (I pity the people in lines hundreds of people long) and then had to find out luggage. Found that, loaded it on a trolley, and played the train game… I pushed Amanda and Amanda pushed the trolley where possible. In some cases, she had to roll herself, and in some places I had one hand on the trolley and one hand trying to help her up ramps. A challenge!!!! We had to get to a red shuttle zone outside of the gate, which was a bit of a trek with the trolley and chair and was fine… until we got to the last leg. We had to get across the street and there were a TON of cars!!! A pair waited for us to cross and I start pushing the trolley and see Amanda losing control of the camera case in her lap. I reach back and BAM a bunch of luggage falls into the street in front of the cars. Crap! No one honked or anything, but I was both embarrassed and praying nothing broke. Once across, I called the shuttle company, who came and got us… Back to the car, which started without a problem. Loaded up and on the road! After driving on narrow roads through London, Wales, and Ireland, I was happy to be back on our roads. It was kind of funny, though… We left London and it was foggy and raining lightly. It was actually raining and cold in Los Angeles!

We got back to San Diego County after 11:30 pm, and met Amanda’s parents, who brought the pups over to our place to meet us. Greetings, hugs, and kisses (from the pups) later, we got ready for bed, and went to sleep. Home sweet home…

What a long day!!! We ended up sleeping for a good 8 hours (I was expecting more) and then were up wandering the hours like zombies, trying to get back into the swing of life in the US. I logged on to work and started getting caught up on emails (over 2000!) and preparing for a transition to a new job (well, same job, new owner), then catching up on some Arcana-related things that needed to be done ASAP, including a pretty AMAZING Cover for The Steam Engines of Oz Issue 2, HeadSmash courtesy of Tim Bradstreet, and some other random things.

So we’re home, resting, unpacking, etc… Last night, we had pizza over at Amanda’s parents’ house, showed some pictures to them, talked for a good while, and came back home to sleep some more. Today, we need to start filling the pantries back up with food, so we can eat, and we need to start getting caught back up on TV. Geez, our DVR was nearly empty and now about full. Last night, we watched the mid-season premiere of GRIMM, which was really good, and then off to sleep.

I think that’s it for now! I’ll get some more pictures up soon here. We need to go through and adjust the orientation on a bunch, so they can be shared without turning heads left and right to make sense of them.

Off I go!

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