Friday, April 5, 2013

The bucket's last day

Wednesday April 3rd 2013

The day arrived. After embarking on my 'Bucket List Trip' on February 20th - it seems a life-time ago -  it was now time, at last, to return home. In a sense, the trip was a life-time ago. That was the purpose - to recapture memories of places and people from bygone days. In that sense, it was sucessful. There were only one or two 'unfulfilled' items on the list.

[Shameless self promotion follows] - Go back and look at each blog containing the word 'Bucket' in its title; they start with 'Bucket List Trip' on January 28th. See if you can discover which items on the list were not addressed in any of the blogs - a 'prize' will be awarded to each correct response. Now that I am back where I have a greater ability to more effectively tinker with my various resources, I expect to be inserting more photos (maybe even some URLs - to save you with the JFGI task), especially in some of the earlier 'Bucket Blogs'. So, check them often; else you may miss an odd update or two. If you have any comments (or requests - maybe for photos of something I mentioned in any of the blogs) just respond in the comment section of the applicable blog. Be sure to 'share' with your circle of acquaintances.

My flight (from Heathrow to Chicago) was scheduled to depart at 5:15 pm - or in the manner in which I had become accustomed in the past 6 weeks or so, to seeing the time expressed, 'at 17:15'. [Note to those unfamiliar with 'miltary' time (aka, the 24-hour clock) - if the digits before the colon exceed 12, subtract 12 and append 'pm' to see the 12-hour clock time].

I assumed the standard '2 hours before departure' rule would apply, so planned to leave for Heathrow about 2:30 pm (oops, I mean 14:30) in order to arrive there at 15:15. A last minute check on Heathrow's website revealed thyat for 'long haul' trips, they advise 3 hours advance arrival. So, a quick revision and we're out of the door at 13:30. I arrive at the ticket check-in at about 14:15 (are you keeping up? That is right on the button for the 3 hour advance for my 17:15 flight departure time). As Murphy's Law dictates, I was through check-in and security in 8 minutes flat! So much for needing 3 hours to get through! Oh well, better to 'twiddle thumbs' for more than 2 hours before boarding, than to be running late and 'sweating bullets'.

Wheels up on time; flight AAL 91 was headed westwards into the cloudy skies. I looked out the left window as we passed over Swansea, but could not see the hoards of tearful folk looking skyward, bidding me farewell. Some blydi aeronautical engineer had stuck a blydi big sheet of metal outside window 28B - I think its technical term is 'a wing'! Luckily, they had stuck one outside the right window too, so at least the plane was able to fly in a straight line. With only one or two course corrections, it made good time for a little less than 8 hours, arriving into Chicago's O'Hare airport at about 7:40 - that would be 19:40 in 'UK-speak', but was 00:55 on the clocks in the UK. [Clock seminar review: 17:15 + 7 hours and 40 minutes =  24:55; more correctly known as 00:55 - almost 1:00 am back there in Heathrow]. I had watched an inflight-movie, walked around the cabin every 2 hours or so - to keep the circulational in my old arteries and veins moving - tried to snooze (no luck), stuffed plugs in my ears to drown out the howling brat 3 rows back, and enjoyed the two meals - including a complimentary can of Amstell Light by the time we touched down at O'Hare.

Next tasks: collect my checked bag, go through Customs and Immigration, recheck that bag for the connecting flight to St Louis, and spend almost 2 hours waiting for my 10:10 pm (that's 22:10, right?) flight to St Louis. During that time, I searched for a way to spend almost $7 worth of 'soon to be useless' British coinage. Two small sandwiches, two candy bars and a 10 ounce (well, it was 500 ml) ill-fated container of milk took care of that mission.  Next, I had to re-enter security and watch a 'lard-ass' rifle through my carry-on bag (it had no such 'hands-on, remove almost every single item disruption or scrutiny' in Heathrow) and gnash my teeth as 'lard-ass' confiscated my 'more than 3 ounces' (it was now about 6 ounces) carton of milk.

A quick 'text' home to say, 'I'm in Chicago, make sure there's at least one beer in the house, see you at 11:15 pm'. I thought better of saying '23:15', lest I'd never get picked up at Lambert Field. We arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule; I gathered my checked bag and dragged my bags and my tired body outside. It was now 05:05 Thursday in the UK - I had been up since 06:15 on Wednesday and travelling since 13:15 - a long blydi time in 'anybody's money (or time)'.  20 minutes later, my son arrived - after having patrolled the pick-up zone at the wrong terminal - and we headed off for the 30 minute road trip along I-70.

It was almost midnight, when he carried my bags into the house - I had opened the gargae door and rushed to the 'fridge for a more-than-welcomed 10-ounce MBI - Milwaukee's Best Ice, 5.9% beer. I was home - and glad to be there. I could have drank a bucket of it - but was too tired. There's always tomorrow!

As they might say in Wales, 'Duw, but its good to be home, mun!

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