How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

Day 2: Are We There Yet?

124 Comments


The Flight

I had no preconceived notions regarding the long trip ahead. The Malaysian disappearance, still fresh in the news, I refused to ponder the distance, time, or mystery of sufficient fuel to complete such a long flight. No point in dwelling on what I couldn’t control. I refused to mull over anything—numerous times. Had I allowed my apprehension to take hold, I might have never taken the wild limo ride to the airport.

We boarded a United Airlines Boeing 777 (I think), Flight 851, a direct to Beijing. My seat: 41E in economy (centre aisle, middle seat), When Sue slept, I begged the guy on my right to allow exit for a bathroom breaks and strolling. When they both snoozed, I climbed over Sue. I watched three or four complete movies (whose titles escape me), began others but lost interest, and read to pass the time. I could not sleep. I’m the type that needs to stay awake to make sure everything is copasetic. The sandman peppered grit into my eyes. Eye drops helped clear them.

United_787_800_RR

We had two babies or pre-toddlers who fussed little for which I am grateful. How the mothers managed is beyond me. The couple in the seats on Sue’s and my left were difficult to ignore. By their appearance and attire, we guessed they were Amish or Mennonite. One seat was empty, which afforded the wife to lie cross the seats and her husband’s lap. She had the nastiest head cold and coughed and sneezed the whole way. It’s a wonder her ears weren’t plugged for how could she fly?

Juggling my purse, the offered pillow and blanket, a light jacket (it got cold off and on), my book and / or my iPad, I had little room to manoeuvre. No surprise. Sardines don’t have elbows either. I’d worn full body compression wear beneath my yoga pants and top as a precaution again swelling. My feet sweat in my running shoes, though. Had I been born double-jointed, it might have been less complex to untie them.

Microsoft Clipart

Microsoft Clipart

As the engines roared, I crammed the pictures and stories from the movies into every corner of my brain to restrict anxious thoughts. The fellow on my right watched our flight progress on the screen instead of movies. I noticed our flight path headed upwards to Alaska instead of due east and assumed we were lost. My seatmate noticed my near-panic and explained, but what I heard was garbled. My brain refused to process the information. I believe he said something about gulf-stream.

We’d eaten three meals and downed countless glasses of water. An hour or two before Beijing, I speculated the water tank (rain barrel?) must have ran low for the water tasted swampy. I cut myself off. It stuck in my throat.

Thirteen hours and 35 minutes elapsed. Beijing airport materialized at last and our imminent descent announced. All window shades were thrown up with enthusiasm but no-one clapped on landing. I wanted to applaud and then kiss the ground. The time difference threw me. I hadn’t expected daylight although I knew we were to land at 3:40 p.m.

Has our luggage made it from Toronto?

Has our luggage made it from Toronto?

We deplaned with the couple we’d met in Chicago, Russ and Bonnie from Wasaga Beach. Russ, who had memorized the layout of the humongous airport, helped us find the baggage claim. Shortly afterward, we met Jim and Carolyn from Ottawa. Our tour guide, Robert, with a sign held high: English 8, awaited us. Ernesto and Lorena from Mexico arrived a half-hour later. Sue and I made eight. By 4:30, we headed to our hotel by tour bus.

I never slept a wink. Hours without sleep: 44

* * *

Next installment, Friday May 23rd: Beijing at Last

* * *

Previous related posts:  

  1. /2014/05/02/day-1-getting-to-the-airport/
  2. /2014/05/09/day-1-contd-killing-time-at-chicago-airport/

 

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

124 thoughts on “Day 2: Are We There Yet?

  1. Tess I loved your descriptive post and I could visualize it. ‘The Sandman peppering grit in your eyes’ describes the feeling perfectly. Since none of us flying sardines are double jointed I keep essentials like eye drops in my pocket. 🙂 Will you be upset if I tell you I sleep like a baby on long flights?

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  2. I guess I forgot to tell you…..sleep on the plane even if you have to take something, sleep on the plane. Sleeping on long flights is the best way to overcome jet lag.

    I can’t wait to hear about your first day!

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  3. “No point in dwelling on what I couldn’t control.”—That’s exactly how I feel when I fly. It’s definitely not my favorite activity, but there’s nothing I can do, so I might as well try to relax and get the thing over with. I’ve never had a flight that long though. Yikes. Especially in the middle seat!

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  4. OMG, 44 hours without sleep. Have you caught up yet?

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  5. What an adventure! 44 hours without sleep – wow! Looking forward to Beijing.

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  6. Popped in from Sue’s blog as I was fascinated to see where you were headed. Loved your flight description, you sure have a way with words, I couldn’t have put it better myself and I know exactly how you felt as I can never sleep on a flight either. Perhaps I just want to check that we are still flying! I’ll have a horrendous flight at the end of the year London to Sydney, but needs must and a new grandson awaits. I shall join you on your journey if you don’t mind.
    Jude xx

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    • Thank YOU, Jude. I haven’t traveled in almost 20 years and have never had a flight over 4 or 5 hours. This one was a fluke but I believe I’m better for it. Not planning another long one like this for a long time.
      Welcome aboard. Glad to meet you and congratulations on the new grandson. ❤

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  7. Wow. you are a brave soul.

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    • Brave? Maybe ignorant of the ways of travel may be closer? ❤

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      • No. I wouldn’t say that. Probably innocent is more like it. I know one thing, when I used to travel to Europe and Asia, I always took a roll of toilet paper with me!

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      • I did mean as in ignorance is bliss kind of way but you are sweet. I was innocent and now I am no longer.

        I brought 4 rolls and came back with 3. We were lucky a lot.

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      • You were very lucky! Used to be, toilet paper was like thin tissue in Europe and in Japan, like thin wax paper…awful stuff. but one roll ususally did me well. I’d leave it when I left, hoping to inspire them about real TP, LOL. I’d take the cardboard roller out and then sit on it to flatten it so it didn’t take a lot of room up.

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  8. Isn’t it amazing how you can go without sleep? We did something similar and when we got to Beijing were were buzzed with excitement and went for a walk and had a beer the size of a volkswagan in a karaoke place till midnight. I’m excited to read more.

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  9. 44 hours on only eyedrops?? You are amazing, Ms. Tess!

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  10. I can’t sleep on planes either. I doze, I wake up. I doze again…you get the picture. not exactly sleep. I bought some of those sleeping aids, one recommended by a friend who travels a lot. but I never took them because I was worried about dehydration even though I always drink lots of water on a plane. maybe my next long flight I’ll take the sleeping aids. we’ll see. but yea, 44 hours w/o sleep: yikes!

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  11. When I went to Florida once, in front of us were two families each with two screaming and always running about creating mayhem. The hostess had several words but to no avail. Apart from noise they did not affect us too much, but the ones in front got their wrath…. My daughter can sleep but I cannot… Nice account seems you had a good time. 😉

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  12. You are now a seasoned traveller I salute you. ❤ ❤ xxxx

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  13. Oh I remember the grit in my eyes well and the lack of sleep. You have done well though, I’m on this flight and journey with you and wait for the next instalment. 🙂 it’s crazy, it’s abnormal, but at the same time exhilarating …kinda ❤ xx

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  14. The peppering sandman is wonderful! Whenever I fly part of me envies the sleepers but I never do and to be honest I don’t want to miss a moment, I’m too excited 🙂

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  15. When I took my oversea flights the movie, Boeing, Boeing would run in my head. You should, the days when long flights were with Champaign and Steak (that is according to the movie).

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  16. HaHa Love the sandman and the sardines! I try and sleep but if that fails I turn to Suduko. I have never flown on a flight as long as that though!

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  17. Loved to read this. Very visual your style of writing which I really like. I’ve never done a long flight and I think I couldn’t bare the long hours inside a plane.
    Next installment please! 🙂

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  18. Was it wrong of me to laugh out loud at your description of the sardine without elbows?
    I thoroughly enjoyed the read. 🙂

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  19. You are doing a great job of building anticipation to actually arriving in China. I could practically feel the landing gears come down! I am also a trip tracker. Love watching the plane make its way to the destination on screen, although it’s not very entertaining when your journey is mostly over water. Looking forward to the next instalment.

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    • That was my first experience of tracking our flight. My daughter surprised me when she described how she tracked our flight on the internet. What WILL they think of next. Nothing like this available 18 years ago when I last traveled. +(+_+)+

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  20. Tess – You are indeed a gifted story teller. I don’t find those long flights fun and I’ve never enjoyed them. I had to travel so much with my work, I finally arrived at that blessed place where I went to sleep before we left the ground and often someone would have to wake me up to leave the plane. Of course, I also often went to work immediately after landing.
    I’m loving your story. Have you decided where you are going next? My partner often carried a box of chocolates laced with liquor. He liked to say that he got on as a passenger and off as baggage. Actually, the alcohol allowed him to sleep about 10 hours without a hangover. I probably would have indulged myself if I hadn’t finally gotten the hang of sleeping on the plane.

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    • You are so full of compliments, Sheri, I have to blush but I thank you.

      I can’t even sleep in a car as a passenger and never could. Seem to need to stay away to keep an eye on things. If there is a next time, I hope to try some of the suggestions I’ve been given. ❤ ❤ ❤

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  21. Oh dear! You must have been tired when you landed! I too am amazed at how mothers and fathers manage on flights with babies and infants! This is so well written tea, with you all the way! 🙂

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  22. Wow. I can’t stand being on the plane 7.5 hours from NY to Rome. My Aussie cousins always beg me to visit them Down Under, but a 22-hour trip is a strong deterrent. Glad you got through and that you’re sharing about it 🙂

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  23. Had to check in on the next instalment. Hope the first trip hadn’t put you off, there is a lotta world out there. 🙂
    Just love how you describe everything.

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  24. Tess….I love your life!

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  25. I can’t believe you didn’t let yourself sleep! I’d be feeling so ill to go all that time without sleep, 44 hours! Weren’t you feeling really ill by that stage? I love flying, but not long flights. 2-4 hour flights are fine, any more and I’ve had enough. I do find I’m a bit more nervous flying these days than I ever used to be, but not enough nerves to dampen the pleasure.

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    • I’ve never been able to sleep while in motion, plane or car. I WAS somewhat floating but not exacting tired. My brain didn’t process properly, I did notice. 🙂
      I wanted to sleep. I did but could not. Next time will try some of the suggestions supplied here.

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  26. 13-and-a-half hours in a middle seat? Dang! You’re a stronger person than I am. The longest I’ve ever been on a plane is 6 hours and toward the end of that flight I was so antsy, I thought I’d might prefer leaping out of the emergency exit.

    This is a great series, Tess. I look forward to the next installment!

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    • You do give me smiles and warm my heart. 🙂
      Maybe the delivery comes from my ‘ignorance is bliss’ position. I wonder if my next trip might still feel like I’m a country mouse.
      Thank you for reading and commenting. ❤ ❤

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  27. 44 hours without sleep. You had to have been in another dimension!

    I have gotten quite adept, while on a plane, of lifting my leg straight up in the air to stretch and prevent blood clots. Thank goodness for martial arts.

    I have sympathy for the woman with the head cold. I’m anticipating these stories. First, I want to know how you adapted after no sleep for so long!

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  28. I also have trouble sleeping on planes. Don’t know how you managed with so little sleep though, Tess, I think I would have gone bonkers.

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  29. I once had the misfortune to be stuck in front of a child who constantly kicked the back of my seat and used the fold-down tray like a drum. Now I’m not a violent person but…

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  30. Tess, I was right there with you, gripping my arm rests and sweating under my shirt, each little nuance of the planes performance dissected. Long flights wear me out. When we went to Europe I considered slapping on a parachute and taking my chances in the Atlantic several times. Glad you had a safe trip.

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  31. You are such a natural storyteller. You’re going to make me brave enough to go on one of these trips soon!

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    • Jacqui, you give me h.o.p.e. Thank you for your kind and generous words.

      I have a big birthday party to go to at the end of the month. I won’t drive (5 hours) but I could take a train or a bus. Both complicated and I’d be alone, no girlfriend with experience with me. What to do?

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  32. Oh Tess, reading this brings back memories of all those long haul flights I used to take with my three kids across the Atlantic and just like you, I never slept a wink. Still can’t. You know what I end up doing? Staring at the sky map the whole way. It helps me zone out and put out of my mind things like the missing Malaysian flight. I felt like I was with you on that flight by the excellent way you tell the story. Your relief upon landing is palpable…can’t wait for the next installment 🙂

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  33. Personally, I think the key to sleeping on long flights is DRUGS…lots of them! They have the added advantage for the nervous traveller of rendering you incapable of worrying about the impending crash you know will happen!

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  34. How on earth did you manage on so little sleep? I sleep like a baby on an aeroplane! Keeps people from blabbing in my ears when I have my head phones on, book open and off I go 😉
    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip Tess!!

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  35. FUN to read and commiserate. I found you via heylookafellow’s blog. I knew I’d like your writing as soon as I read the word: copasetic. LOVE that word, and I’m the same way – won’t close my eyes no matter how long the flight, in case the pilot needs me to hold the plane up.

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  36. Tess, I can’t sleep on a plane either. I just came back from a quick jaunt to Germany and I did not sleep going or coming. It’s my need to be in control in case something happens. So glad you made it. I don’t envy your middle seat position, however. Can’t wait to see pictures.

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  37. That was a very long flight. I’m like you, find it difficult to sleep on a plane. I know that terrible jetlag feeling I get flying overnight to London, getting there in the am, yet it is still wee hours in the morning on my body. As for the water … I never board a plane without purchasing a few bottles of water beforehand. I like to keep hydrated and don’t chance where the water being served is being kept. 🙂

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  38. Whew…I’m exhausted, as you took me right along with you, Tess! What a great narrative. Truly enjoyed this read! 🙂 ~Karen~

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  39. Pingback: Beijing at Last! | How the Cookie Crumbles

  40. Pingback: Bejing at Last (Part 2) | How the Cookie Crumbles

  41. Ooh, I can relate. I can’t sleep on flights, and intercontinental is terrible.

    I think the planes fly north, as the shortest route on a sphere is always via a great circle. And as the earth is fattest at the equator, the shortest route is probably even more pushed towards the poles…

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  42. You made it to land! Yay, Tess! So: 44 hours w/o sleep – do you get cranky? I get silly. 🙂

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  43. 44 hours !!!??? oh my god, is it humanely possible ? I’m very lucky to be able to fall asleep without even noticing it 😀

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