Today, we were welcomed home to a country blanketed with snow. The "Blizzard of 2009" made for a great Christmas in Oklahoma, but apparently Cambridge has seen the same kind of arctic weather over the past couple of weeks, with more to come.
It's good to be home. I was very pleased to be back in our cozy top flat, not least because our bed had been freshly made with crisp, clean sheets. Leaving the cold snow outside and climbing into clean sheets is the stuff of journey's end. What's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for you? I'm not sure what I would have answered a few days ago, but today I would tell you that someone washed our sheets and made our bed for us while we were gone on holiday.
As a short summary of our trip, I think it would be best to portion the journey into legs. Who knows why they call them legs? I for one can't think of a very good reason to call part of a journey a 'leg.' Nonetheless, we had five of them, legs that is.
Leg 1 - Brenton Hunt drove us to the airport. Smooth, uneventful, and pleasant. Thanks, Brenton.
Leg 2 - Let me ask you something: if you've got an itinerary with a flight number and confirmation number for your flight with US Airways, wouldn't you go to the US Airways check-in at the airport? Yes, you would. And so did we. But you'd be wrong. And so were we. You'd also probably be a little hacked off when they told you to walk half a mile with your bags to get to the United Airways check-in desk instead. Yeah, so were we. Apparently US Airways is selling seats for flights that they don't operate, like the flight from DFW to Washington D.C. I have decided that I would also like to sell seats for random flights, so just paypal me the money, but don't expect me to be the one who actually flies you where you need to go.
Leg 3 - We arrived in D.C. in good shape, ready for a quick meal before boarding our overnight to London. That's when it hit me: walking through the airport looking for food is like gambling. Your connecting gate is pretty far away, and you have just enough time to stop at one place to eat, and there's a Subway right here that looks pretty good, but you have no idea if something better lies just around the corner, and you know you don't have time to walk all the way to the end and then come back to Subway, so you have to ask yourself, am I willing to risk it all and go all-in on the slim chance that the river card is going to make my straight? We did risk it, all the way to the very end. We passed up some good looking places, but we didn't settle, and our risk paid off in the form of Potbelly Sandwiches. Yum.
Leg 4 - When someone asks you if you'd like an exit row seat at the check-in desk, a lot of things might go through your head. "What's an exit row?" "Can I see the seat before I buy it?" "There might be extra leg room." And when we arrived at our exit row seat, there was indeed extra leg room, but that came at a price. The armrest between normal seats will raise up so that, if required, the beautiful girl sitting next to you can lay down and sleep on your lap if she gets tired. In an exit row, between the seats a chasm is fixed, forever separating you from the one next to you. So what do you do now? Gentlemen, let me tell you something... this is the type of situation where you prove just how foolish you will be and how far you will go for the sake of your wife's happiness. You see, there's a catch with the exit row seat, and that catch is that the people sitting in the exit row must agree to comply with the safety features of the aircraft in the event of an emergency. The nice Russian flight attendant asked us if we would do this... we nodded, but I could see the disappointment on Candice's face... so, I acted. Without thinking, I got up, found our flight attendant and said, "Sir, I'm sorry, but we feel very uncomfortable sitting right next to the door, especially considering our recurring dreams about being sucked out of an airplane, so if it's not to much trouble, we need to move to the seats that have a movable armrest." (This is sort of a paraphrase) Did I feel foolish? Yes. Was I a hero? Absolutely.
Consequently, of all the people on all the flights to London, our new seats landed us right next to the only American undergrad we know at Cambridge, a girl from South Carolina named Emily who goes to our church. Pretty cool, huh?
Leg 5 - The journey from Heathrow to Cambridge wasn't bad. In fact, one of my favorite things happened. We got to Kings Cross station in London, started walking towards the platforms when... all of a sudden, both of us saw the same thing on the info-board. The train to Cambridge leaves at 12:15... the clock, next to the board, reads 12:14 and 30 seconds. We exchanged glances that said, "Get to Platform 8 now you fool!" We ran, we hoped, we watched the clock, and then we saw her, the conductor blowing the last call whistle. We dove into the first open door. They closed and a man not ten seconds behind us was standing just outside trying to get in. I love catching the train at the last second. Too bad for "guy-outside," though.