In this installment, our intrepid heroine (finally) arrives in the UK for twelve days of visiting, touristing, and baby-sitting! But first…
My flight left Salt Lake City International at 2:15. It was a nice change from my usual travel plans; namely, leaving on one of the first flights of the day, which is cheaper and less crowded (yay!) but also requires getting up really, really early (boo!). Instead, I got to get up at my usual time, finish packing one or two last things, and have a hot breakfast before heading out to the airport.
After saying goodbye and going through security, I of course found myself at my two favorite places: the fast food restaurant and the bookstore. My flight wouldn’t start boarding for another 45 minutes, and I didn’t quite trust myself not to start feeling sad if I started thinking about how I was Leaving, so French fries seemed like a brilliant distraction. They were: a brilliant, hot, greasy, salty distraction. Then it was over to the bookstore, where I ended up buying Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. I had read her book The Happiness Project a year or two before, and it was great, so I figured I would enjoy the sequel (keep an eye out over the next day or two for a Reading Recommendations post about it). At this point, we were finally boarding for our flight to Dallas. This flight was only two hours, so I entertained myself by reading, trying to complete the in-flight magazine crossword, realizing I am terrible at crosswords, and repeating the entire process with the magazine Sudoku puzzle (yes, it was labeled “easy”, and no, it wasn’t). Sooner than I had expected, we had arrived in Dallas.
The Dallas airport is quite large, so my first task was to find the train that whisks you away to the correct concourse. My flight was on time (and not boarding for another hour or two anyway), so I decided to grab some dinner at the Asian fusion restaurant (yes, I did skip over barbecue for my Last Meal in America: in my defense, it wasn’t Carolina barbecue, which is the best kind). I also picked up a GoPicnic meal in a box, just in case I got hungry on the transatlantic flight.
I ended up sitting next to a really nice older gentleman on the flight over to London; he was travelling on business to Swindon, and we chatted a bit about why we were travelling, what books we had brought, which in-flight movies we planned on watching, and commenting on the saga of the person three rows ahead of us, who had tried to stuff an oversized zipless tote bag into the overhead compartment. The flight lasted about nine hours, and I only had the one book, so I was glad we had a decent selection of movies. I ended up watching Brave first (and I cried. It’s so good!), then Captain America (because I love it, and who needs sleep when you’ve got Stanley Tucci and a shirtless Chris Evans?).
In the end, I only ended up getting about two hours of sleep, and that was after I took two Excedrin PM. I was surprised at how generally not-terrible the flight was, considering that long flights usually seem like a special form of torture. That, though, was on its way.
After getting through border security with a minimum of waiting and fuss, I went to the baggage carousel. My bags were already on their way to the end of the carousel, so I grabbed the first one, then left it sitting on the ground to lunge after the next one. While I was under the maximum weight requirement, they were nevertheless quite bulky and difficult to maneuver. I grabbed the nearest trolley: big mistake. It was the single worst trolley in the history of mankind. The wheels were wobbly, and one of them didn’t even touch the ground, so it kept wanting to do counter-clockwise circles. Then, I couldn’t find my sister. She just was not there when I came into the Arrivals area. I parked myself where I had a pretty good view of the outside doors, just in case she was late. No joy. For an hour, I waited, and asked around at Information, and got some cash at the Bureau de Change so I could use the pay phones (terrible phones, by the way), and getting increasingly frustrated with everything, including the trolley, until we finally realized that she had been there the whole time, and the fact that we had missed each other was due entirely to the fact that she had been letting my nephew stretch his little legs inside the Marks & Spencer when I came into Arrivals. I would like to take this time to apologize to anyone who happened to be in the Arrivals area of Terminal 3 yesterday: I am not normally that much of a mess. I do not normally swear that much. I do not, in fact, hate your country.
In the next installment, our intrepid heroine storms an Anglo-Saxon fortress with a baby and some sandwiches!