It’s been a fun, fruitful 12 days to several destinations. But now I have to get home. What will it take to get from here to there? A lot frankly; too many friction points of contact to navigate while in motion—intersections where the best laid plans can quickly derail. Here they all are, and let the games begin:
-multiple backup walkup calls (04:33 UTC +1)
-shower & pack
-empty safe & final hotel room check
-Catalina, Sicily hotel checkout…it is 17 degrees Celsius outside
-print prechecked-in boarding passes for all 4 flights
-taxi to Catania–Fontanarossa Airport (CTA) = -40 Euros
-flight #1 check-in (required to check bag due to weight they say?)
-airport security line
-hit airport bar/cafe for oj & hair of the dog = -8 Euros (05:30am)
-final gate check
-shuttle to plane
-empty row window seat in coach on Airbus 320
-06:30 on time Air Malta #641 CTA-MLA departure (40-minute flight)
Mt Etna & Sicily Coast
Mosta Rotunda, Malta
-gaze at Mt Etna, coast of Sicily, African boat refugees, Maltese forts…
-on time arrival at Malta International Airport (MLA)
-shuttle to terminal
-exit through EU immigration
-hit airport terminal cafe for quick coffee & croissant = -3 Euros
-final gate check
-full row (ugh) window seat in coach on Airbus 320
-07:55 GMT 30-minute late Air Malta #100 MLA-LHR departure (3.5-hour flight)
-read a couple NY Times book review sections…mostly cloudy alps, gaze at white cliffs of Dover & English shire
-traffic flow congestion = circle London, England thrice
-gate arrival 20-minutes late at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) (10:40 GMT)
-breeze through automated UK immigration at T4
-collect checked bag
-notice luggage lock missing @ bag pickup?! (Should I worry? Look? Mention it?)
-pass through UK Customs
-airport train to T2
-long walk, elevators & auto sidewalks to UA departures @ T2
-automated check-in to get baggage tag
-Israeli-like security questions
-drop bag with live UA agent
-id & ticket verification
-LHR airport security (11:37 GMT)
-sushi & Guinness = -25 quid…small talk with in-love Welshman en route to Vancouver.
Perfection in a glass.
-long walk, elevator & auto sidewalks to boarding gate
-gate check security of passport
-gate check of tix
-full row empty of 3 seats in Premium Economy on 787 (Yeah!)
-text wife all on schedule
-13:45 GMT on time departure UA #935 LHR-LAX (10:17 hour flight)
-watch 2 movies: (After the Wedding & Kursk) & 2 documentaries (Living in the Futures Past & David Crosby: Remember my Name); and wondrously contemplate white vastness of Greenland & Nunavut too! …small talk with cabin crew in aft galley about the good old days of flying.
A bathroom window at 38,000 feet!?
Somewhere over Greenland
-input USA mobile passport data while taxing
-on time US arrival at UA’s Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) gate (16:30 PST)
-wait in USCBP line…Wonder: Is it the right line?
-asked to do a hard copy Customs form b/c CBP doesn’t have mobile passport tech at LAX?!
-locating luggage carrousel tricky b/c no sign or notices
-CBP inspector asks same questions exiting terminal & collects stamped Customs form
-find United Airlines baggage drop
-leave LAX terminal 6
-walk to LAX terminal 7
-id check to get in line
-official TSA id check
-TSA airport security (17:00 PST)
-secondary TSA screening of carry-on? (All good.)
-walk further to UA’s express flights in terminal 8
-espresso = -$3.29
-tuna sashimi salad & beer = -$32.29 (I was actually asked to prove my age!)
-2nd beer = -$11.50…small talk at bar with master of universe golfer on red-eye to Baltimore.
-19:51 PST on time departure UA #5614 LAX-EUG (2:20 hour flight)
-crammed Bombardier CRJ regional jet w/ full flight in coach…jerky sleep.
-aborted Eugene Airport (EUG) landing & circle due to low visibility (fog)
-on time EUG arrival (22:14 PST)
-text wife I have arrived
-wait for bag at luggage carrousel
-wife waiting curbside in warm car…it is 4 degrees Celsius outside!
-22-minute drive home…relive 12-day expedition.
-deposit bag unopened in laundry room
-thorough, long hot shower & bed (23:00 PST)…27 hours: 27 minutes & 12,274 kilometers later.
Wake up after 3 hours of hard sleep because my body thinks I have napped too long!