It really was one of those “you might as well laugh as cry” moments. Because the car service really did show up 35 minutes early. And we really did forget the stroller and a dozen other items. Including the video camera, by the way. Despite our maniacal departure, we arrived at the airport right on schedule. The excitement kicked in, and I was ready to shove all the stress out the window and jump into the moment.
We checked in and checked our luggage. Two suitcases were expectedly just a smidge overweight, so we quickly rearranged things into our back-up carry-on. And then our seven bags were on their way. Make a note. That statement will become prophetic.
We stopped at the restrooms and I even treated myself to a book from the bookstore, and he headed to our gate. Cue the sound of screeching tires. Delayed. Indefinitely. Apparently, someone forgot to replace the oxygen canister on our plane. Which grounded the plane. Which meant our tight connection in Atlanta was out the window. Which meant our fairly tight connection in Seattle was out the window. Which meant we lost our economy comfort seats for the international flight. Which meant all those hours of pouring over flight schedules and seat reservations were a complete and total waste of time. Which meant Mindy and I each had a couple of tear-filled sleep-deprived moments.
Afraid that we’d miss our international connection all together and REALLY mess up our plans in Hong Kong and Beijing, we begrudgingly re-booked our flights through Detroit and Tokyo. Just after doing so, our original flight went back up on the board, but by then there was no way for us to make the Atlanta connection. Our fate was sealed. Which meant we sat in the Indianapolis airport for nearly SEVEN HOURS. Except for Caroline, none of us had even made it to bed. Our pick-up had been scheduled for 4:30 am, and we’d all had a truckload of things to do to prepare for being gone from work and school. While a nap at home in our beds would have been a lot more cozy, we had no choice but to make the best of it. Mick and Caroline were out cold in a matter of minutes. I first consoled myself with a breakfast of Nutter Butters and Coke.
Alex showed off his secret compartment of snacks in his carry-on, which I found in amusing contrast to the pink elephant that had made its way into his bag. It's been a theme in this journey, and it was continuing to play out that way.
"How do you eat an elephant?"
"One bite at a time."
Finally, we were on our way to Detroit. I think we all laughed out loud when it was announced that our flight was so short they wouldn’t be serving drinks. Of course not. And our last-minute re-booking put us in the back row of the plane. You know, the noisy seats that don’t recline? Yeah, those. I was really in need of a little caffeine at this point, and I admit that by the time we landed I was more than a little cranky.
Caroline instantly charmed the pilot, who offered his hat for a photo and gave her a set of wings!
We made a quick expensive McDonald’s run between flights and then settled in for the long haul. We’d only managed two of six economy comfort seats on this flight, so the kids insisted that Jon and I take them since Jon was spending the majority of his birthday on a plane. After much convincing, we complied. Poor kids were crammed in the sardine section, trapped by that breed of people who pick the aisle seats on planes and then never get up. I hated that the kids were all the way on the other side of the plane, too. Jon and I checked on them during bathroom breaks and leg stretches. Mick and Caroline made a visit to our seats at one point, and Mick asked to trade. Is it wrong that I said no?
Even though the shades were drawn for most of the flight, it was light outside until just outside of Tokyo. It’s so hard to wrap your mind around time jumping ahead a complete twelve hours. We were served dinner shortly after take-off, then a mid-flight turkey sandwich, followed by breakfast about an hour or so before landing. At 5:25 pm. In pitch darkness. HUH??
Narita International, Tokyo, Japan
For real. I don’t even know what day it is, let alone what time it is.
We paid homage to Japan - too bad we didn’t get a passport stamp – and went through security again to board our flight to Hong Kong. Their security team was delightfully pleasant. Because of the delay, Delta gave us six primo seats for this five-hour flight, and we were all happy campers. I will say the in-flight entertainment is about as good as it gets. Found a new sit com I liked – which is hard to do these days – and I’m sure I raised a few Japanese eyebrows with my belly laughs. After twelve hours in the cheap seats, the kids were in heaven. And I was happy because we were all together.
The Coke has turned out to be surprisingly good!
That five-hour flight really turned our mood around. Good thing, because we’d already hit the 24-hour mark in our travels. And, also, because when we giddily made our way to the baggage carousel, we found a luggage bin with our names on it telling us we needed to contact a Delta representative. Turns out that four of our suitcases didn’t make the transfer in Detroit.
ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.
Mindy and I secretly high-fived that our suitcases were not among the missing. We were assured they would be arriving the next day, just in time to make our flight to Beijing that evening. Make a note of that, as well.
One of our disappointments in being re-booked was that our arrival time in Hong Kong was three hours later than we’d planned. It was around midnight by the time we made it to the SkyCity Marriott. We looked a little rough around the edges to be checking in to such a swanky hotel. That’s the great thing about traveling in Asia. Most we’d consider staying in are far superior to their American equivalents. The night manager was good to us. Gave the boys room 1023 on October 23rd in celebration of Jon’s birthday. Our adjacent room had an equally magnificent oceanview room. We were sad to uave to check out the next morning.
We walked into our hotel room at 11: 58 pm, Hong Kong Time, approximately 31.5 hours after leaving our house, and collapsed gratefully, sleeping prone for the first time in over 48 hours.