Sunday, 23 January 2011

Up, up and away... Day 1 - Sat 22nd Jan

Managed to get sorted on Friday, thanks to our helpers (although drinking wine, eating chocs and rooting through our laundry was perhaps taking their role a little bit too far.... but much appreciated ;) and thanks to the Lees for the last minute suitcase loan. So, with just over 5 hours sleep, we woke up at 4:45 and set off to  the airport at 6:02. just about on schedule. 

We were really looked after by Terry from AA (thats American Airlines, not the cars or the alcohol people....) and, as it was a quiet flight, he set us up with 2 rows of seats so Ev could have a sleep if needed. He also pointed us towards Greggs where a bacon / sausage butty got us started. Once we were through customs, we were in duty-free - which Ev thought was America. Not quite...

The flight itself was a bit "booorrrrrring" (says Evan) and unfortunately the spare seats were lost to an American guy who took up squatters rights (he looked a lot like the guy from Toy Story 2 who stole Woody. He didnt have any toys with him, but I kept my eye on him all the same). It didnt really matter that we didnt have the seats as I dont think Ev would have slept. I'll let Loup tell her own tale about how she enjoyed the flight! In all, it took 8 hours - 40 minutes quicker than expected. 

We were met at the plane door by a guy from the airport with a wheelchair. He was called Ishmael, and I was kind of hoping he would introduce himself a'la Moby Dick.  But he didnt... Anyway, so far, so good - and our experience of the notorious US customs / immigration process was pretty good - everyone helpful and no body-searches or strange questions. However, we then found that our second flight from Chicago to St Louis had been cancelled. Ah, well - they put us on a flight an hour later and we were redirected to another stand. However, the guy had removed our luggage tags so, after some amount of trying to explain the situation, the lady from United Express had to go back over to get them, so as to save us another $200 charge. We then took the tram over to the gate and had an hour wait for the plane. However, Ishmael had had to take the wheelchair back with him so we had to carry Evan onto the plane. Which was sort of a mini-cooper with wings. Loup's experience on this flight was much better. It seems valium, wine AND being sat next to a marine works.... Not sure we can arrange that for the flight back. 

As, for us, it was nearly 11pm and Evan had been up since about 5am he fell asleep on the flight. Which was fine but as there had been confusion about the flights we didnt know where the wheelchair would be. So, I had to carry him off the plane - still asleep - and through to baggage claim. Which, when kn@ckered, big coat on, carrying rucksack, and it being about a half-mile away was "fun". Dont think I need to worry so much about the impact of US sized portions....

In the end, we got the bags and I managed to locate the wheelchair and walker. We had arranged a taxi already and they knew we had been delayed so that wasnt a problem. We spotted a few landmarks on the way - the hospital, the arch, the science centre, which helped us get our bearings and we then arrived at the hotel. The staff were really helpful and the room is really nice. Despite it being about 1am "our time" yet only 7pm "local time" we still felt hungry so ordered in a pizza and then crashed out about 8:30pm (2:30am UK time). 

Not much planned for tomorrow (Sunday). Unpacking and exploring mainly, as well as hopefully catching up with the others here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the update Andrew - glad to hear you all got there safe and well. Keep the updates coming - we'll be thinking of you in the coming hours Love, Leigh & Nige