Tube, Tarmac, Tour Bus & Truck
Instead we spent the entire day returning home from our excellent adventure in England. We slept in as long as we calculated we could safely do without missing our flight. We fantasized about some change in the rules that would allow us to stay for as long as we wanted if we missed our flight, but decided we missed the dogs, and should head on home.
Contemplating how thankful we were that we packed lightly, we each took a pull bag and one to sling our our shoulder, checked out of the Pavilion, and dragged our slightly hung-over bodies to the Edgware Road tube stop a few blocks away. We stopped briefly at a chemist shop and purchased some Nytol to help me sleep on the flight.
We each got a tube ticket for Heathrow, and found a place to wait on the platform. After switching trains, we settled in to our seats on a packed train to the airport. The trip seemed to take forever, and we were starting to wonder if perhaps we should have splurged on the express. We were in no hurry to leave the country, but we could think of better places to be.
Checking in with Virgin was a breeze, and going through security was much less frustrating than our domestic experiences. After running through the duty free shop to avoid being overwhelmed by the perfume stench, we found a pair of seats and began the waiting process. For all our whinging, we had arrived quite early. Our flight had not even been listed yet, so we each took turns stretching our legs and looking around before deciding to kill time in an airport pub over a few pints and snacks.
When our flight finally was listed on the departures board, we walked a long way to the assigned gate where we were randomly selected to have our carry-on bags checked. The security personnel were courteous and respectful, and we were on our way after only a few minutes. Sitting outside the gate before the boarding process started we saw a man with a Pittsburgh Steelers jacket on, and I called “Go Steelers!” to him. He smiled politely and I thought I remembered the guy. While at the drink machine I spoke with his daughter and asked if they had been in Cambridge the Sunday before Christmas and she said they had. I told her that my wife was the one who had shouted “Go Steelers” at the sight of her father’s jacket that day, and she laughed. She returned to her family and relayed the story to her dad, who looked over and smiled.
It wasn’t too long before we boarded the crowded flight to Boston. We took our seats and waited, listening to various Americans stowing their luggage—and teenagers arguing over who got the window. We whispered to each other about our fantasy to stay in England.
Having popped my Nytol dose a few minutes before boarding, I adjusted my earplugs and read the sport page, hoping to sleep the whole way to Boston. I ended up being groggy and cranky, but thanks to much less turbulence than the previous flight, I wasn’t nearly as anxious. I realized we were on the same plane as our flight over when I tried to use the same dodgy entertainment unit in the headset. Naturally, the damned thing waited until I was on the last clue in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire!
Trying to sleep was impossible. Because the flight was going west the flight attendants were preparing people for the time change by constantly feeding and watering the cattle … errr … people.
Eventually we landed in Boston, got off the plane, went through customs, picked up our bags, and made our way to the area where we were to catch the Dartmouth Coach back to Lebanon, New Hampshire. It ended up we had missed the last bus by about 15-20 minutes, but we were on schedule for the bus we had planned to catch, which arrived about 40 minutes later.
The bus was quiet and dark. We set up the laptop to watch The Big Lebowski. The bus was playing a Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, of which neither of us had heard. As I glanced up occasionally it looked like a slow-moving tale, and one that had significantly fewer special effects as most of Will Smith’s films.
The bus rumbled on in the dark, and the battery on the laptop pooped out on us a few minutes before our film ended, but not long before we pulled into the bus station. Sarah sorted out our stowed luggage while I walked to the truck and cleared it of snow. The vehicle was already warm as I picked up Sarah and we embarked on the last leg of our journey home.
It was nearly half ten when we pulled up our steep drive and entered the house for the first time in a fortnight. We had been invited to two parties in Vermont this New Year’s Eve, but the long travel day coupled with jet lag kept us from going to either event. We turned the heat up, unpacked some of our stuff, and cuddled on the couch where I drifted in and out of sleep.
Sarah woke me shortly before midnight. I poured us each a snort of scotch from the gift set Sarah had given me for Christmas; and as Dick Clark and friends counted out 2007 we toasted the new year, and each other, before making our way to our bed.