Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The long trip from San Diego to home - 10th April

Having got everything organised the night before, we were up and away from the Bleakley's quite quickly, after some sad farewells! 
Unfortunately, my back felt worse than ever, and I needed help with getting up/down, in/out etc. Scott gave me a blessing, and I felt that although my back was going to be very painful, I would feel equal to it, and be able to just take the journey a bit at a time.

It was a couple of hours drive to Los Angeles, where we were flying from LAX. Another lovely sunny day!! We drove to the hotel where we'd got our lovey white Chevy from in the first place, and returned our red Chevy, after explaining what had happened. Fortunately that went smoothly, then we had to wait for a while outside the hotel for a shuttle bus to the airport.

We had a bit of trouble getting our passports scanned and needed to get someone to help us, then after our cases were checked in, we joined a queue to go through security.
Whilst in the queue a security guard came along and wiped random people's hands with a swab thing then put the swab in a machine. They did mine, and when they put my swab in the machine I could see it flash up an explosives alert. Straight away a guy was on his radio reporting it, and I was told to come with him. I had to go under the barriers and follow him. I could hear him saying he had the female {something like a suspect!} with him now. I asked a couple of questions (including - could root beer set off the alarm because some had just spilled on my laptop case?) but he wasn't very communicative! The rest of the family were removed from the main security queue, and I could see them taken straight to an empty security gate and doing the usual checks. I was handed over to two female security guards, and taken into a little room, where I had to stand with my feet on some foot marks on the ground, and was given a very thorough search! I just remember thinking I couldn't get in too much trouble, having not actually handled any explosives, and how amusing it was having this happen as well as having a ridiculously painful back!
I then had to wait while a man took everything out my hand luggage (mainly my camera bag and laptop) and tested it all over for explosives. I was slightly nervous that something would somehow show up, but it was fine, and I as allowed to go to the family, and out of security.

We then had a wait in a busy lounge for our flight. Scott was still having to help me get in and out of chairs etc. I couldn't bend my back at all.

We had a four hour flight to Vancouver, and I ended up sitting a row over from the rest of the family, next to an older Canadian woman. I think that was a real blessing. We got talking, and she's had an interesting life - married a business man, and travelled all over the world with him. He died when she was in her 40's and she took over the business and still runs it. She said she was thinking for the first time about selling it. We talked about life, belief in God, kids and all sorts of stuff, and it really helped distract me from my back and make the time go faster.

At Vancouver airport we had a couple of hours before our flight to Heathrow, and didn't have to collect our cases. We LOVED Vancouver airport! It was really quiet and calm, and everywhere was neat and clean and quite posh! We had lunch at A&W's and some other burger place, and spent the rest of the time wandering round. We all spent a while debating which Canadian fridge magnet to buy!

Proof the boys were in Canada!

We got our flight smoothly enough, and then had 9 hours of fun sitting in small seats!
When we got on the plane, we had four middle row seats, and two out of three seats across the aisle. We just quickly grabbed our seats in any order, thinking we'd rearrange ourselves later. For some reason it didn't happen though, so there was me, Jack, Scott and Lucy, then Tom and Harry across the aisle next to some poor guy on his own! I think Tom and Harry behaved reasonably well (I was too distracted, and sitting on the opposite side) but Scott said the guy sitting with them glanced over at Scott a few times!
The flight was not my most favourite experience (understatement of epic proportion...) I had a slipped disc, and for the entire 9 hours I couldn't keep in the same position for more than about half a minute - it was just too painful. I felt sorry for the guy sitting behind me, because my chair back would have been jolting the whole time.
Later in the flight I was seriously considering going and telling an air steward that I needed to lie flat on the floor. It was a really busy and cramped flight though, and I'm not sure where I could have laid flat. I managed to get a bit distracted by one programme about a guy who was given a difficult underwater challenge, and he had a few weeks to learn a lot of new physical, mental and emotional skills. He was trained in a number of ways, and the point of the programme was how flexible our brains are, and how our thoughts, and training our brains has huge impact on our physical bodies. It was really interesting.
Anyway, we finally arrived at Heathrow, and quickly made our way through security and out to the airport multi-storey car park. Our car was already parked there, but after loading everything up, the car wouldn't start!! I was really impressed with the service though. Within no time, a guy had come over with jump leads and got the engine started again.
Another very uncomfortable journey for me, then finally we were home!!! Everything was fine with the house (though our bedroom window was still open!) and I was so glad I'd left the house really clean and tidy - it felt lovely. Scott unpacked everything for the last time, and then everyone split off to do their own thing. (Lucy went out and painted the cabin! She wandered in later saying she'd been awake now for 30 hours... nutter!!!) For me, it felt wonderful to be able to lie flat! (In the end my back took three months to get better - a real nuisance.)

So that was our little American Adventure! In the couple of months since (I am, as usual, behind with my blog), all of us have had so many good conversations about our holiday - so many brilliant memories, and snapshots in our heads of incredible places. We're all just so happy to have done it, and I'm glad the kids loved it as much as Scott and I hoped they would. I don't think we would have changed a thing - it was BRILLIANT!

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Helen - I LOVED reading about your American adventure! We miss you guys.