Travelling early afternoon back east, losing time, jet lag and short sleep with four children’s confused bodies. This is what we had to look forward to on our last day(s) of holiday.
We tried to make the best of it, starting with a final US breakfast (I had to try the waffle machine and the children quickly followed suit!) and then we had a final swim about and relaxed in the pool.
However, there was no getting away from our impending transatlantic journey, which had been split again into two legs, from SLC to Atlanta early afternoon and then, having lost two hours due to catching up with the sun travelling east, a mid-evening flight to Heathrow.
We had picked up a fair amount of extra luggage during our 16 days of travelling the best part of 2,500 miles, albeit around only four of the States in America; Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona. So, as you can imagine, after packing our cases (… I don’t understand it; it all came out of there!) we had a few extras to carry! We managed to cart everything to the airport in the taxi and although I had checked in online earlier, we still had to verify our seats as they appeared all over the place on the layout.
After a final incident with a can of lemonade, which after the tight packing had been pierced and leaked all over my hand luggage, we quickly got through the security formalities and found our way through to grab some lunch before boarding the internal flight – the cost of the selection on the way out was rather high and the quality equally as dubious, hence our desire to be organised, and not be forced to purchase the in-flight offerings.
The daytime flight passed without event and we then only had a short wait at the other end, in Atlanta, after the monorail journey from the domestic terminal at one end to the international terminal at the other. Dad was glad not to to be subjected to more walking through the concourse as, I think were we all, given the distance involved.
Boarding was also a formality; it seems we have got our timings about right during this holiday. We did have to swap seats again with a mother and daughter, in order to ‘consolidate’ our party, but everyone settled quickly and all the movie screens thankfully worked to the best of their ability to keep our tribe entertained. We all, I think, managed to grab some sleep on the 7 hour flight, before arriving (12 hours later on the clock….) in Heathrow.
The officer on the immigration desk was surprisingly chirpy for so early in the morning (i.e. before 10am) and the pleasant welcome back to the UK continued when even our luggage came out in a whole bunch, to the extent I started to get embarrassed about pulling out our entire complement of 6 cases from the carousel while others were still waiting for their first! The luck of the draw, I guess 🙂
We had arranged a long term car park (Purple Parking) where you can elect to have your car brought straight to the terminal, rather than have to take an additional shuttle bus to a parking lot in the middle of nowhere, and it is at this precise moment that this service is percieved as of maximum benefit, since within 5 minutes of exiting the terminal we were on our way to Bracknell, to drop my dad off at my sister’s. Amusingly though, having driven our wobbly steering wheeled, high seated, wide berthed, under-performing, super-sized ‘bus’ for the best part of the last three weeks, it was hilarious to now be back in our Chrysler Voyager, which was like driving a Mclaren F1 on rails by comparison. Luckily, I only had to think a couple of times before slotting back into the mode of driving on the right side of the road 😉
So that was it.
30 minutes through the green and leafy English countryside (although I seriously doubt the journey from Heathrow, through Windsor, Slough, Maidenhead and the outskirts of Reading, along the M4 has been regularly described in such a manner) and we were in Binfield on the periphery of Bracknell town.
A quick cup of tea and the fellowship of the RV was beginning to disband. Dad proudly wore his Grand Canyon tee-shirt into the house, while we chatted (in slightly subdued, jet-lagged fashion) about all our adventures before we left for the final 20 minute journey of our adventure. The children became increasingly excited about seeing the cats again, although Liz and I suspected they might snub our attention, having been left on their own in the house with only the occasional visits from the neighbours for the final 2 nights, but in the end we needn’t have worried; they appeared just as excited to have us home.
It would take us a few days to finally unpack all the cases, and slightly longer to recover from the jet-lag, but we were home nonetheless.
What a fantastic expedition we had experienced, and the plans for next year are already underway 🙂