Our flight departure to New York was at 10:45AM, so we got an early start in order to get to the airport by 8:45. We boarded the shuttle at 8:20. The rest of the people on the shuttle were Japanese, but our young Danish driver spoke English to us and Japanese to them — with ease. Sylvia asked him how many languages he spoke. He said he spoke seven (7) but was going to start working on Swahili within a couple of months. He was a very likable young chap.
We arrived in plenty of time, but had some difficulty because we could not get a boarding pass from the machine with our passports. So we had to go through this verbal interrogation that seemed to go on for about a half hour. All the questions were standard. There was no suspicion about us in a personal way. It was just the world we now find ourselves living in. After that we gave up our two big bags — which left us only fifty pounds (or so) to carry. Getting to the concourse was like another walk up the Stroget in Copenhagen. There were serious shops — more like a mall than an airport — and the distance was very long. Of course, the gate was at the very end of the concourse. We went through two more levels of security before we actually got into the boarding area.
The group in the boarding area was a disparate demographic (group). it made me think of Neil Diamond’s “…they’re coming to America….” It was an extremely diverse group of people. But everything went off pretty much like clockwork and we boarded once again in the Economy Plus area (for legroom). We took off on time and shed a tear as we left Scandinavia, Europe, the Baltic, and a few hundred memories. It had been a very excellent almost three weeks. When we left home we “feared” the unknown — having never undertaken anything of this magnitude — but the fears were basically groundless since almost nothing unplanned happened. If we were fortunate enough to do it all again, we might make a change or two based on this experience, but for a journey as complex as this one has been, we have no complaints as to execution or outcome.
The flight was the usual 7 hours and went off without incident. We spent the time reading, sleeping, listening to music, and watching a couple of TV episodes on my iPad.
The two hours spent in New York may have been the hardest two hours of the trip — right up there with the two hours spent in Paris. Getting through customs was nightmarish. There was a long way to walk with carry-ons to schlepp. The customs part of the trek happened in a tunnel that seemed to have neither ventilation nor air conditioning — the sweat was pouring off both of us — of course, we were wearing our jackets which made it all the warmer. Eventually, however, as my mother promised me with a news clipping she sent at the beginning of my mission in Germany — “the tallest mountain can be walked over one step at a time.” We made it finally to the boarding area and waited for the plane to Salt Lake.
The Salt Lake leg was a normal plane (Boeing 737) with normal (which is to say, way too little) legroom. So the 5 hours to Salt Lake from New York was tedious. The “carrot” on this leg was getting home to our own bed. So we didn’t do much during this part of the journey — no room to do much — we just closed our eyes and gutted it out until the end. The end came and we landed in Salt Lake a few minutes early — around 7PM — which is 3AM based on where we awoke this morning. We were getting a little frayed around the edges. Fortunately, (my son) Josh was there to pick us up and help us with the luggage, so it was a pretty soft landing.
He drove us home in his new Scion — which is small but by virtue of shape, accommodated the luggage very well. We stopped briefly at the grocery store (Smith’s) in Heber to get milk, orange juice, and bananas and got home around 8:30PM. We had been up 21 hours. It is a little blurry, but I was in bed by 9PM and asleep sometime between 8:30 and 9 — not sure when Sylvia came to bed. The next morning we got up around 7:30AM surprisingly refreshed. We went to Chick’s Cafe for breakfast with Josh, then sent him on his 12 hour journey back to Southern California. We went home to unpack and reflect upon all that had happened in the previous 21 days. Wow, it was great !!