How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


Packing Up and Homeward Bound

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Breakfast was a disappointment. Again:  dry buns, squashed croissants, and small stale Danish. I loaded up on cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple, a piece of toast, and coffee. I decided not to gorge on our last day.

After breakfast, Ernesto and his wife entered an elevator with two Chinese businessmen. It stopped part way to their destination and wouldn’t budge. One of the businessmen began to sweat, his face beet-red. Ernesto’s wife hit the red button and someone answered at once with instructions but nothing worked. After a moment or two—that’s all it took—the elevator stirred to everyone’s relief, especially the Chinese man.

~ * ~

Time to leave for the airport, Sue and I towed our luggage to the elevator at 8:25 a.m. Though it appeared too full, the occupants insisted we get on. We stopped on almost every floor and with much shifting, more people squeezed on. I laughed inwardly because this felt like the Volkswagen commercial where endless lines of people pile in. Nobody thought the elevator was too full to get on and no one considered waiting for the next one. By the time we’d reached the first floor, we had enough Chinese people to start our own small village with a population of a million or two.

~ * ~

After we’d settled at our boarding gate at the airport, Sue and I went in search of bottled water to take on the plane. Before boarding, we passed through another security check, opened our bags and carry-ons, and lost the untouched water. Other passengers had also purchased water but were robbed of their bottles as well. A female passenger argued with the stewardess.

“There should be a sign if we’re not allowed to bring water on board.”

“Madam, we are not allowed to do that in Hong Kong.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know my new water bottle will be confiscated?”

“You will know for next time.”

United_787_800_RR

I tried wifi at the airport without success. The plane before us had been delayed; the passengers moved to another gate after much dithering. Our flight wasn’t announced. Tick. Tock. The clock snuck past our boarding time with no updates offered. Finally, another gate became available. We were 35 minutes late boarding. Thank goodness we didn’t have to run to the other end of the airport, but I worried about the prearranged limo we’d paid for to pick us up in Toronto.

The aircraft was puny: two seats on either side of a narrow aisle, not unlike the one we had taken from Toronto to Chicago at the beginning of our trip. The door closed and—nothing. We waited. The passengers shifted in their seats and looked at each other across the aisle. Coughs and sneezes echoed throughout the cabin. Drat. Disease incubator!

1st announcement:

“We need to fuel up so we have enough gas to get you to To-ron-to.”

2nd announcement after a long spell of twitchy waiting:

“We’re trying to locate the guy who’s supposed to fill us up.”

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

(Is that enough fuel? Are you kidding?)  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

3rd announcement:

“He went to the wrong…”

W-h-a-t?

My heart danced the Nitty Gritty. So close to home—yet would we even make it?  The air in the cabin grew stale and stifling. Susan’s stomach had been queasy while we were still in the airport. I now had a scratchy throat and stuffed sinuses.

Credit:  SOUL of the North : tolpuddleman’s channel

~ * ~

Finally soaring, the flight proceeded without further incidents. My eyes didn’t itch nor burn from lack of sleep though it was the middle of the night. By 1:00 a.m. breakfast arrived, but I wasn’t hungry. I had half the omelet, a taste of the anemic pork sausage and two toonie-sized hash brown coins. The drinks cart came around once. I would have loved more coffee. Finally, a second offer was made.

I watched a lot of movies, and read a complete book I’d borrowed from an avid reader in our group. Touchdown in Chicago didn’t require five or six hours to proceed on a flight home.

We arrived in Toronto ahead of schedule and in one piece but had to trudge forever across the tarmac to the airport. I felt like a rag doll. The airport is huge; it isn’t easy nor forgiving. There are no walkalators nor airport treadmills. Not a washroom in sight for miles and miles.

I noticed something interesting at the baggage carousel. A female police officer and a sniffer dog checked the incoming luggage. I’d have expected a German shepherd, instead, a beagle named Lucy sniffed and wagged.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

We waited about five minutes for the limo driver. The deal was if the plane didn’t arrive on time, the driver would only wait for an hour. Phew! Almost home.

Soon we sped towards home-sweet-home, the great adventure over. I couldn’t wait for a hot shower without watching the clock and to snuggle in my own bed again.

The End

Next on February 2nd: North to Alaska

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

~ * ~

I plan to drop in for a visit and a short update Monday.

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47 Comments

25 Ways to Kill Time at Chicago Airport

I thought I’d revisit the China posts. Some of you haven’t seen them. Enjoy.

Warning: This is longer than my usual posts. Also Note: Newbie person traveling. Some of this may be old hat to you.

We didn’t need to worry about our luggage as it flew ahead direct from Toronto to Beijing. What a blessing, yet this causes me discomfort not knowing exactly where it might be. A whole string of what ifs torment me anyway. The most nagging: what if my luggage goes to the wrong destination? Pul-eese. It’ll be fine. I’d packed two changes of clothing in my carry-on thanks to advice from my blogging friends.

It turns out we’re a long way from the main building and a shuttle arrives as we land in Chicago. We jumped aboard in a fine spring mist, hoping for delivery to the correct terminal. We then jogged in the now drizzle to the entrance. First stop a washroom.

What is this? I feel like a country mouse. The toilet had unusual self-sanitizing seats. Think ultra-soft (memory foam). This video shows better than I can explain:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cokBht49qt8

Only five hours and 45 minutes to kill.

Now, what? We saw Starbucks and MacDonalds; a kind of deli; various health food shops; tons of neck pillows and sunglasses;  books and magazines, and a bar or two. Maybe we should have considered sampling our way through the food shops to keep busy.

25 Ways to Kill Time in the Chicago Airport:

  1. Walk, limp, stumble. keep moving.
  2. Learn to avoid lineups around boarding and arrivals gates on both sides of the building.
  3. Dodge weary travelers more concerned about their wheelies than who’s in front or behind them.
  4. Gape at the zillions of people (I don’t get out enough), from all parts of the world, who arrive and depart in giant waves like schools of fish—big ones— with luggage
  5. Close your mouth time and again and do your best not to stick out as if you’d just left the cabbage patch. Isn’t the world a big and confusing place?
  6. Make a deposit at each washroom you wander past. When the opportunity presents itself, you might as well grab it. Best keep your tank empty.
  7. Hang around the unusual new-fangled toilets. What will they think of next? (refer to Youtube video). I wondered how often the plastic covers were replaced and asked an attendant, but she didn’t know either.
  8. Stand in long lines to buy food/water even though not hungry
  9. Fight the crowd to buy coffee.
  10. Search for an empty table to rest aching feet. Why were all the tables occupied? Pull out my now soggy pizza out of your carry-on.
    At Chicago O'Hare Airport killing time

    At Chicago O’Hare Airport killing time


  11. Take pictures of a plane through a restaurant window, not exactly proof you’re in Chicago but what the heck.
  12. After tiring yourself out walking around the gargantuan airport, sit and try to read or people watch.
  13. Comb the gift shops for a Chicago fridge magnets but don’t buy one. They were too expensive at $5.99 each (U.S. dollars of course) and tiny—the width of two of today’s postage stamps.
  14. Check the screen for your gate early. Why is the waiting area full already. Lucky to find a seat each.
  15. Count tall people / short people. If they keep shifting up and down. start over and give up.
  16. Survey couples in boarding area to guess which ones might be going to Beijing. (Sue spied a couple from our Toronto flight).
  17.  Without hesitation, strike up a conversation and ask if they are on your tour.  knows how to peg them. They are going our way.
  18. Stare at the time in two-minute intervals, which doesn’t move it any faster. One hour and 25 minutes to boarding.
  19. Notice a planeload of pilots attached to wheelie carry-ons, who mill about purchasing food. Have you seen so many at once? Why are they hungry? Are they arrivals or departures?
  20. Gawk and wonder how all these pilots happen to be so good looking, but much more important, fret if they are indeed old enough for the job? Most look around fifteen.

    Someone's tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

    Someone’s tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

  21. Shift and re-shift from one numb butt cheek to the other and blink faster than a turn signal to stay awake. Eyes too dry to read? You wuss. You’ve only been awake 29 hours. Fifteen and a little bit to go.
  22. Evade running and screaming children
  23. Stew over whose toddler is wandering around alone. Not your responsibility, but where are the parents? You want to know, don’t you? Where ARE they? No one’s paying attention to the little guy. Nobody.
  24. Line up as directed with visa and boarding pass to get the visa to China stamped. This takes five minutes. One hour and 15 minutes to go
  25. Spy a female pilot. Wow! She looks about 40, old enough and experienced compared to the fifteen-year-old male pilots. You could trust her but where’s her crew?

The clock clicks one mouse whisker at a time. Time’s up. Boarding is announced by a distorted male voice. Not unlike unconscious sleepwalkers, you funnel into lines and shuffle forward, necessary papers clutched and eyes begging for toothpicks.

*  * *

Next on December 23rd – A Pause for Thanks and Christmas

©Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on China tab above


57 Comments

Homeward Bound

Breakfast was a disappointment again:  no fresh buns, dry, squashed croissants, and small stale Danish. I loaded up on cantaloupe, watermelon and pineapple, a piece of toast, and coffee. I decided not to gorge on our last day.

After breakfast Ernesto and his wife took the elevator with two Chinese businessmen. It stopped partway and wouldn’t budge. One of the businessmen began to sweat, his face beet red. Ernesto’s wife hit the red button and someone answered at once with instructions, but nothing worked. After a moment or two—that’s all it took—the elevator stirred to everyone’s relief, especially the Chinese man.

* * *

Time to leave for the airport, Sue and I towed our luggage to the elevator at 8:25 a.m. It appeared too full, but the occupants  insisted we get on. The elevator stopped at almost every floor and with much shifting more people squeezed on. I laughed because this felt like the Volkswagen commercial where endless lines of people pile in. Nobody thought the elevator was too full to get on and no-one decided to wait for the next one. By the time we’d reached the first floor, we had enough Chinese people to start our own small village with a population of a million or two.

* * *

After we’d settled at our boarding gate at the airport, Sue and I went in search of bottled water to take on the plane. Before boarding, we passed through another security check, opened our bags and carry-ons, and lost the untouched water. Other passengers had had the same idea and were robbed of their bottles as well. A female passenger, who’d boarded our plane, argued with the stewardess.

“There should be a sign if we’re not allowed to bring water on board.”

“Madam, we are not allowed to do that in Hong Kong.”

“Well, how was I supposed to know my new water bottle will be confiscated?”

“You will know for next time.”

United_787_800_RR

The overall flight seemed better than the one into China. My eyes didn’t itch nor burn from lack of sleep. By 1:00 a.m. breakfast was served, but I wasn’t hungry. I had half the omelette, had a taste of the anemic pork sausage and two toonie-sized hash brown coins. The drinks cart came around once. I would have loved more coffee and finally, a second offer was made.

I watched a lot of movies, and read a complete book I’d borrowed from one of our group. We finally arrived in Chicago and didn’t have to wait five hours to get on a flight home.

I tried wifi without success. We waited. The plane before us had been delayed; the passengers moved to another gate after much dithering. The clock ticked past our boarding time. No information was offered. Finally another gate became available. We were 35 minutes late boarding. Thank goodness we didn’t have to run to the other end of the airport, but I worried about the arranged limo we’d paid for to pick us up in Toronto.

The aircraft was puny: two seats on either side of a narrow aisle, not unlike the one we had taken from Toronto to Chicago at the beginning of our trip. The door closed and then, nothing. We waited. The passengers shifted in their seats and looked at each other across the aisle.

1st announcement:

“We need to fuel up so we have enough gas to get you to To-ron-to”

2nd announcement:

“We’re trying to locate the guy who’s supposed to fill us up.”

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

(Is that enough fuel? Are you kidding?)  Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

3rd announcement:

“He went to the wrong…”

W-h-a-t?

My heart danced the Nitty Gritty. So close to home—yet would we even make it?  The air in the cabin grew stale and stifling. Susan’s stomach had been queasy while we were still in the airport. I now had a scratchy throat and stuffed sinuses.

Credit:  SOUL of the North : tolpuddleman’s channel

* * *

The plane arrived in one piece but we had to walk across the tarmac to the airport. I felt like a rag doll nobody cared about. Toronto airport is huge; it isn’t easy nor forgiving. There are no walkalators nor airport treadmills. We trudged for miles.

I noticed something interesting at the baggage carrousel. A female police officer and a sniffer dog checked the incoming luggage. I’d have expected a German shepherd, instead a beagle named Lucy sniffed away.

Credit: Google Images

Credit: Google Images

We waited about five minutes for the limo driver. The deal was if the plane didn’t arrive on time, the driver would only wait for an hour. Phew!

Soon we sped towards home- sweet-home, my great adventure over.

~ * ~

For more related posts, click on China tab at the top of the page

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.


137 Comments

Day 1 (cont’d): Killing Time at Chicago Airport

Warning: This is longer than my usual posts. Also Note: Newbie travelling. Some of this maybe old hat to you.

* * *

We don’t need to worry about our luggage as it flew ahead direct from Toronto to Beijing. What a blessing, yet this causes me discomfort not knowing exactly where it might be. A whole string of what ifs torment me anyway. The most nagging: what if my luggage goes to the wrong destination? Pul-eese. It’ll be fine. I’d packed two changes of clothing in my carry-on thanks to advice from my blogging friends.

It turns out we’re a long way from the main building and a shuttle arrives as we land in Chicago. We jump on in a fine spring mist hoping we’re delivered to the right terminal, then jog in the now drizzle to the entrance. First stop a washroom.

What is this? I feel like a country mouse. The toilet has unusual self-sanitizing seats. Think ultra-soft (memory foam). This video will show you best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cokBht49qt8

Only five hours and 45 minutes to kill.

Now what? We see nothing but Starbucks, McDonalds, a kind of deli, various healthy food shops, tons of neck pillows and sunglasses on offer, books and magazines, and a bar or two. Maybe we should consider sampling our way through all the food shops to keep busy. Instead, in no particular order we:

  1. Walk, limp, stumble. keep moving
  2. Learn to avoid lineups around boarding and arrivals gates on both sides of the building
  3. Dodge weary travelers more concerned about their wheelies than who’s in front or behind them
  4. Gape at the zillions of people (I don’t get out enough), from all parts of the world, who arrive and depart in giant waves like schools of fish—big ones— with luggage
  5. I close my mouth time and again and do my best not to stick out as if I’d just left the cabbage patch. The world is such a big and confusing place.
  6. Make a deposit at each washroom we wander past. When the opportunity presents itself, I figure it’s best to grab it. Best keep the tank empty.
  7. Hang around the unusual new-fangled toilets. What will they think of next? (refer to Youtube video). I wonder how often the plastic covers are replaced and ask an attendant, but she doesn’t know either.
  8. Stand in long lines to buy food / water even though not hungry
  9. Fight the crowd to buy coffee
  10. Search for an empty table to rest aching feet. Why are all the tables occupied? Pull out my now soggy pizza out of my carry-on.
    At Chicago O'Hare Airport killing time

    At Chicago O’Hare Airport killing time


  11. Take pictures of a plane through restaurant window, not exactly proof I’m in Chicago but what the heck
  12. After tiring ourselves out walking around the gargantuan airport, sit and try to read or people watch
  13. Sue combs the gift shops for a Chicago fridge magnets but doesn’t buy one. They are $5.99 each (U.S. dollars of course) and tiny—the width of two of today’s postage stamps.
  14. Check the screen for our gate too early but the waiting area is full already. Lucky to find a seat each.
  15. Count tall people / short people but they keep shifting up and down. Start over. Give up.
  16. Survey couples in boarding area to guess which ones might be going to Beijing. Sue spies a couple from our Toronto flight.
  17.  Without hesitation, we approach them and Sue strikes up a conversation and yes she knows how to peg them. They are going our way.
  18. Stare at the time in two-minute intervals but it doesn’t move any faster. One hour and 25 minutes to boarding.
  19. Notice a planeload of pilots attached to carry-ons on wheelies, who mill about purchasing food. I’d never seen so many at once. Why are they hungry? Are they arrivals or departures?
  20. Gawk and wonder how all these pilots happen to be so good looking, but much more important, fret if they are indeed old enough for the job? Most look around fifteen.

    Someone's tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

    Someone’s tired of waiting and waiting and waiting

  21. Shift and re-shift from one numb butt cheek to the other and blink faster than a turn signal to stay awake. Can’t read. You wuss. You’ve only been awake 29 hours. Fifteen and a little bit to go.
  22. Evade running and screaming children
  23. Stew over whose toddler is wandering around alone. Not my responsibility, but where are the parents? I want to know. Where ARE they? No-ones paying attention to the little guy.
  24. Line up as directed with visa and boarding pass to get the visa to China stamped. This takes five minutes. One hour and 15 minutes to go
  25. Spy a female pilot. Wow! My guess is she’s about 40. Old enough and I expect she has lots of experience under her belt. I could trust her but where’s her crew?

The clock clicks one mouse hair at a time. Time’s up. Boarding is announced by a distorted male voice. Not unlike not conscious  sleepwalkers, we funnel into lines and shuffle forward, necessary papers clutched.

*  * *

Next Friday: Are We There Yet? A Long Haul to Beijing: 13 hours, 40 minutes