How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


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Are We There Yet?

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, non-stop as in direct to Beijing. My seat: 41E in Economy (center aisle, middle seat). Sue asleep, I begged the guy on my right to allow exit for a bathroom break and for strolling to keep my blood moving. When both he and Sue 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 but. not enough.

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 aisle side was 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 across the seats her head in 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?

Smushed in the middle seat, I juggled 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. Arms tucked in close to my body, I realized why 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 easier 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. Yuck.

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,  holding a sign: 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 hadn’t slept a wink. Hours without sleep: 44

* * *

Next on  January 13th: Beijing at Last

©Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles 2017

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


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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


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Recuperation and Shopping

Though tired from the long haul from Thetis today, Mary and I stayed up to watch the Magnificent Marigold Hotel DVD, Part 2. The original is still vivid in my mind, but I cannot remember the second part at all.

The New Year had already slipped into day three. I had lost all track of time. The day overcast, everyone tired and sluggish, we voted to sit around, read and relax. No one thought of television till after dinner when Jean or Michael suggested Sherlock Holmes with Benedict Cumberbatch.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01p6j8z

Another day of drizzle. Monday, Michael returned to work after two weeks’ vacation. The rest of us took our sweet time lollygagging along, finally headed to the village of Deep Cove shopping area. I looked up from the bottom of the inlet to this breathtaking view of the mountains. Straight ahead in the center is Mount Seymour.

Mural on a building in Deep Cove

Mural on a building in Deep Cove

About twelve years ago when I last visited, the area thrived and bustled. Now businesses had moved and premises were empty with slim pickings.

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Supper offered a new treat: vegetarian shepherd’s pie. Impressive. A fantastic facsimile in look and taste. You wouldn’t believe the complicated recipe. Know the price of pecans? This is an expensive recipe because you need a cup each of hazelnuts (filberts or pecans, well chopped) and walnuts.

Tuesday, it drizzled. I hate shopping anytime, but I wanted to bring gifts back for the family. We headed to downtown and Commercial Drive following a late breakfast. I hustled up one side of the street and down the other. Neither Mary nor I was interested in classy new stores. Jean showed us fantastic second-hand stores because we find them more fun. By 2.30 p.m., having skimmed every store, I found wonderful earrings for my granddaughters, necklaces for my daughter(one a blue Swarovski crystal) and a new ring for me. In Newfoundland, I saw a ring that called to me, which I wear on my right hand. This time I had bought one for my right (both coasts covered). We stopped for coffee and a sit in a favorite Italian restaurant Jean raved about.

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Exhausted, we headed back to Jean’s for a snack. The sky opened. Rain sluiced the windshield hard, then slowed to a drizzle again.

After dinner, Jean played jazzy tunes on her baby grand. Wish I’d taped at least one. We’d saved the second half of Downton Abbey from the night before and watched the ending.

L-R: Jean, Mary, me

L-R: Jean, Mary, me

Morning began at 4:00 a.m. Jean drove us to the airport while Michael slept. He had work in the morning. Traffic non-existent, we fast-tracked to WestJet Departures. Kiss-kiss. Hug-hug and it was goodbye.

Mary printed the boarding passes with a transfer in Calgary. Neither of us had brought credit cards in hopes of spending less. We were in Vancouver, after all. No one deals in cash anymore. How were we to pay for our luggage? A friendly attendant took our luggage, tagged the bags, and accepted our debit cards. Yay.

My purse set off an alarm. Did I have any liquids or aerosols in my carry-on? The security employee was polite. “Please open your bag.”

“Oh!”

I’d forgotten stowing a mini bottle of water inside while removing laptop; electronic devices; loading trays; removing shoes; showing boarding pass; dragging my handbag, and carry-on. Whew. How many hands do I have? Not enough.

“Would you like me to pour out the water and return the bottle?”

“If it’s not too much trouble.” I sagged with relief.

“No trouble.”

I’m surprised my bag didn’t need to be x-rayed again. I’d made the same mistake on the way to Vancouver. No bells went off. I walked through with an almost full, regular size bottle of water in my purse. Not thinking, Mary had carried foaming hand soap for sister Jean in her carry on. They confiscated it, of course.

Through security, we had ten minutes to board..

I should have nodded off on the plane but watched the sun come up instead.

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In Calgary, our gate changed at the last minute and boarding delayed 16 minutes. Three hours and twenty minutes to Toronto. Homeward bound.

 

Next time on December 16th A surprise

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver

 


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An Abbreviated Vancouver Adventure

Last December, sister Mary and I flew to Vancouver for sister Jean’s 60th birthday. The direct flight took four hours and forty minutes. The snack and refreshment cart rattled down the narrow isle after the first class passengers had been served—just three or four rows behind the cockpit ending the seat before us. No curtain of separation divided first class and the rest of the passengers. We ordered coffee. I received mine first and made a face. Mary noticed and tugged on the airline steward’s sleeve to change her order to mint tea.

“No, you cannot,” he said. “You’ve already had a turn.”

Of course, we thought him serious and therefore rude, until he grinned and giggled, laughter reaching his eyes. He was a rosy-cheeked, round fellow, with a belly which hung over his belt. The tousled-hair blonde female flight attendant was a larger woman than hired in years gone by. How refreshing life is becoming more realistic these days.

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I cannot believe I passed up a free, like-new book left on a brown refuse box inside the airport. My fingers itched for the thick Nora Roberts hardcover novel, but I was already weighed down enough.

After experiencing the Camino-like trek through Toronto airport, we loved Vancouver’s. The baggage claim located close to ground transportation, Jean and her husband met us as soon as Mary texted our arrival. The first rain clouds in a month hung mean and leaden, keen to greet us. This was to be a family get-together with no time for sightseeing.

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Jean served a lovely snack at the house and later a late supper. The time to catch up turned to night. Weary from travel and excitement of seeing family again, we fell into bed midnight Vancouver time (9:00 p.m. in Ontario). The next morning, Mary and I slept in as Jean slipped out to a Yoga class and Michael dawdled in the kitchen assembling breakfast.

A day of eating, drinking, and talking till we were hoarse (necessitating more drinking) followed. After supper, Michael prepared a cauldron of chili (maybe it was a large pot). I threw together a filling for Jean’s petit choux (like one-bite cream puffs): artichokes, softened sun-dried tomatoes, cream cheese, and feta into a food processor for a coarse blend. These were in preparation for the festivities New Year’s Eve.

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A day of accomplishing little, we finally called it a night around 11:30 p.m. I tossed and turned, bolting upright at a thunderous crack. I reacted by checking the shelves of books around us in the great room were intact. For a split second, I thought they’d exploded around us. The report sounded once and no more. My heart hammered on. Mary said it must be the wind.

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/overnight-quake-the-strongest-felt-in-14-years-on-b-c-s-south-coast-1.2717808

The household was awake at 6:10 a.m.—ten minutes later than planned—to catch the ferry to Nanaimo. Seniors get a discount but only if they are residents. Michael paid for the tickets. No one mentioned half of us were from Ontario.

The early morning proved knuckle bleeding and foot stomping cold. We ran across and down the road to use the facilities due to our early arrival. Hurry up and wait, but that’s the unwritten rule. If you want to get on, arrive as close to the front of the line as you can before space runs out on board for your car.

The mountains striking and the water calm, we enjoyed breakfast on board at around $10.00 each for eggs, home fries, toast, and choice of ham, sausages, or bacon. Our crossing across the Georgia Straits on the Coastal Renaissance transpired without incidence.

 

Next on November 11th – Penelakut to Thetis Islands

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Abbreviated Vancouver


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Tying up Loose Ends – Homeward Bound

During summer in St. John’s, you can catch a tour bus for $5.00, which stops at all the sites for an hour each. Schedules are available at hotels. What a steal. The opportunity was lost on us as the season had closed.

Tired after our stroll on Duckworth Street, we trudged uphill all the way to the hotel. The drizzle followed us, fading in and out. One moment we snapped our umbrellas shut and open the next. Once we arrived in our room, nothing mattered more than putting my feet up and grabbing my book. I apologized to the novel for awarding it second place. Mary had other ideas. She’d heard about the sauna and prepared to unwind there instead.

The afternoon drew to a close. We had  time to kill before our last dinner with the tour group and decided to check out the atrium. A tall ladder took prominence in one area for some kind of maintenance in progress. The rest unfolded for our pleasure to amble through and explore. It was a large area.

All good things must end. Thoughts of going home struck us with a mixture of regret and relief. For dinner, we had pre-ordered Newfoundland Screech Glazed Salmon and heart of Romaine Caesar. The women dolled up, but the men dressed in casual attire. Our numbers had dwindled over the last few days from thirty-two to about twenty-four. Two servers and a Maître d’ attended us in a private room. Francis wore a suit and brought his wife. I was impressed the tour owner’s warm, down-home speech. Francis became sentimental. Can’t help but love the guy.

Sneaked a photo in art store at the Sheraton

Sneaked a photo in art store at the Sheraton

The next morning after a posh breakfast (this is the Sheraton after all), Mary wanted one last run downtown before Francis dropped us at the airport at eleven. No rain in sight. The sun smiled and the sky glowed pastel blue, a smear of clouds here and there. Yes. Believe it or not. I took this through the hotel window. Trees obscured the view of the ship in the harbor but not the clear horizon.

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Nervous as a cat, I prowled the room waiting for Mary. We had 20 minutes until transfer to the airport with Francis and a few others of our group. Seven minutes to spare, Mary arrived. We collected our bags and as soon as we hit the lobby, found everyone already on the bus, their bags already loaded.

Mary had checked us in for the flight the night before. The machine took our information but refused to spit out our luggage tags and boarding passes. No one around to help, I ran to grab an attendant some distance away though St. John’s airport isn’t huge. A desk person helped but we noticed too late she’d only printed boarding passes to Halifax and not transfers from Halifax to home. We soon sorted this out upon landing. The airport huge and obviously international, we walked for miles and miles as. Mary searched for a fish store but they had no fresh lobster. Stomachs rumbling, we checked out places to eat and shared a late lunch of salad and maybe mussels—I can’t recall— but still paid almost $50. For lunch.

* * *

Next up on November 4th – A Surprise

© 2016 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles. All Rights Reserved.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page


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Gander

Drizzle again on the agenda, we bused for about an hour-and-a-half to the sounds of an easy-listening CD. In Gander, I spotted a child on the sidewalk with a white and brown Shetland pony. A rope around the pony’s neck, the child turned round and round, allowing the pony to run in a circle. Both were cute. I’ve never before seen a pony this tiny.

At Gander Airport, Francis regaled us with stories while we crowded around. On our way to the upper level, we stopped at a framed collage of stars who have passed through over the years.

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The view from the upper level provided a full, though distant view of this famous mural.

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In 1985, soldiers returning home for Christmas from Afghanistan crashed in Gander. The deadliest crash since WWII, 253 lives were lost.

On September 11, 2001, 39 planes landed in Gander (Operation Yellow Ribbon). Passengers were not allowed off the planes for 13 hours, information about the New York tragedy withheld until they deplaned. An American journalist, Jim DeFede, contacted and interviewed about 180 people from those flights and published a book.  (The Day the World Came to Town).

  • The population of Gander 10,000
  • 6,600 (passengers, pilots and crews)
  • Lewisporte took 800 passengers
  • Mayor of Gander talked with all the passengers
  • Walmart, Canadian Tire, drug stores—every store—supplied whatever was needed at no cost
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJskIhGbDq4
  • All toiletries / everything gone from all shelves
  • 87-year-old woman needed underwear, clerk suggested thongs
  • Hundreds of thousands of meals prepared
  • Passengers organized together with their own group
  • Returning from Lewisporte to Gander and home, one Nigerian missing. Gone fishing with ‘the boys.’ Comes back every year
  • Shirley Brooks-Jones collected money from the passengers on her flight home
  • Set up a scholarship fund for the school where passengers had been housed and fed
  • Fund is 1.3 million dollars
  • Took out $850,000 life insurance policy in the event of her death to fund it

Gander Quick Facts

  • The Gander Airport mural (72 feet long) embodies the history of air travel.
  • No aircraft illustration were allowed to be used in the work
  • Opened in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth
  • Talk of a new airport, but this one is still busy
  • When planes fogged in in St. John’s, they land in Gander
  • You can at least drive 4-1/2 drive to St. John’s if need be
  • Was no direct flight to Europe from Gander. Now there is.
  • Had to go to Toronto first instead
  • Population over 11,000
  • Cubans defected to Canada, using Gander as jumping off point to Florida, to join their families

Close off the parking lot to airport, we spied an Irving gas station. Needing to replenish our spirits, Mary ran ahead so we wouldn’t hold up the bus but returned immediately because they didn’t carry anything stronger than coffee.

On the way to the hotel we passed a golf course, which is split, half on one side and half on the other. Players use golf carts underneath the highway to cross over. Terra Nova Park was on our agenda, but it was not mentioned and we did not stop.

Our room had a balcony we would not have the opportunity to use. The dining room in the restaurant had extra low lighting. When we paid for our meals, the cashier had no change for the couple before us and then not for us either. Each time she wandered off and was gone an unusual length of time.

By ten, I was a goner. I plugged in electronics to recharge overnight and slept like the dead until the alarm went off.

* * *

On The Light Side:

An 85-year-old man, in a red Ferrari, was stopped by a policeman who had ten minutes left in his shift. “Give me a good reason why you were speeding.”

“About 20 years ago, my wife ran off with a cop. I thought you were him.”

The cop let him go.

Next on June 3rd – Trinity and Port Union

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

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page


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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.


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#BlogBattle Week 11

Rachael Ritchey is the originator of this challenge

The prompt this week: …news…

To join in click:  http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

News

Susan hadn’t been away since her honeymoon twelve years before. Her excitement about the cruise roiled inside her like a pressure cooker ready to blow. There were so many details, concentrating wore her out.

“Harry, you printed the tickets, right?”

“Yes, I said I did.”

“And our passports?” She fumbled in their suitcase rechecking the contents yet again. “I made a list, but can’t find it. Have you seen it anywhere?”

“You worry too much. Come. I think you need a drink. “

“I’ll check on the twins first.  Scotch. Neat. See you in the living-room.”

Long-legged Harry reached her in one step and squeezed her elbow. Dark velvet eyes searched hers, luminous and gentle. Soot black curls hung over his forehead. “Two more days.”

She leaned into his lanky frame and breathed him in, then sighed. Dear Harry. What would I ever do without you?

He found her chin, lifted it with a finger, and caressed her mouth with a feathery kiss. Her face glowed pink. Before she found her voice, he patted her bottom and veered away. “Downstairs.”

Susan closed the twins’ bedroom door. A cell chimed downstairs. Who can that be? She massaged her neck and drifted down the steps, her husband’s side of the conversation muffled at first.

“Right. Yes. Of course. See you then.” He tossed the phone on the sofa.

“Who was that?” She stared wide-eyed at his now furled forehead, curls pushed back. “What’s wrong?”

“That was your dad. They missed their connection.”

“You’re doing that pulling-on-your-lip-thing. What else?” She rubbed her neck again.

Harry shifted his gaze to the tray of liquor bottles on the buffet. “Sit,” he said, “How about that drink?”

“What else?”

“They have an hour’s wait, but may turn back home. Your mother’s feeling unwell.”

“What’s the matter with her?” Hands crossed on her chest the words came out dry and hoarse as if she’d swallowed sand.

“Sounds like flu—they think. A nurse on their flight couldn’t confirm.” He handed her a drink and studied her face.

“But their connection is less than two hours away. They’re almost here.” Tucking wayward blonde hair behind an ear, she stared deep into her glass, as if unsure what to do with it. The errant wisps sprang back.

“Your dad will call when it’s sorted.” He threw an arm around her shoulder. “Take a drink. It’ll calm your nerves.”

Susan raised her glass. Half-way to her lips, the cell chimed. In a couple strides Harry seized the phone and set down his glass. His wife wiped her chin and patted her blouse where it had spilled. She pulled a shirt tail out of her jeans and dabbed at the wet spots.

“Good idea. If you’re sure, Peter… I’ll get a pen.”

She banged down her drink and raced to the kitchen for a pad and pen. Harry whipped them out of her grasp. Phone tucked against his shoulder, he nodded as he wrote. “Fine, I’ll see you before nine. Which terminal? Fine. Fine.”

“Tell me.”

“Where’s your drink? Tut-tut. First take a swallow.” She threw her head back. Harry grabbed the hand with the glass. “Not too fast.” Still she sputtered afterwards and he whacked her between the shoulder blades.

“Your Mom and Dad took a room at the airport hotel and will fly out in the morning. I’ll pick them up myself and cancel their limo for tonight.”

“So, Mom’s better?” Susan rubbed a temple and closed her eyes. “Now that we aren’t waiting up for them, maybe we should call it an early night.”

“My thoughts, exactly. Off you go, I’ll make that call and shut off the lights. Be up in a jiffy.

* * *

Susan crawled out of bed, mouth dry as cotton balls. Bleh. Cheerful birds chirped and tweeted outside the window. She padded to the bathroom to brush her teeth though she had done so the night before.

“Want pancakes for breakfast?” asked Harry, face buried in his pillow. No answer offered, he sat up and surveyed the room. The sheets and blankets were twisted and half on the floor. He checked his cell on the night table. No messages. Good.

Susan gargled and the water in the sink gurgled. She stuck her head around the open door. “You’re awake? Want pancakes? After I shower?”

“Go ahead. I’ll start in the kitchen. No texts. No news, which is good, right?”

* * *

Morning rush hour traffic brutal as usual, Harry arrived in plenty of time. The slip of paper wasn’t in his pocket. He pulled into the first parking lot and punched the number for home.

“Everything, okay? The school bus will be here in a minute.” Susan’s voice squeaked.

“Forgot the paper and can’t remember which terminal, one or three?”

“Where’s the paper? Boys don’t move. I mean it.”

“Living-room or night table.”

“Living-room— It’s two. See you soon.”

* * *

By ten o’clock, she’d paced and length of the living-room half a dozen times, peering out the window every few steps. Where is everyone? I’ll give them five more minutes.

Before Susan snatched the phone, it sprang to life. She blinked, startled. “Harry, where are you guys?”

“This is the drugstore. Your prescription is ready for pickup.”

“Oh! Thanks.”

The phone dropped on the coffee table, she continued to pace. A cruiser crept up the driveway. She was struck stock-still.

The End

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


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Day 20, Part 1 – Flight to Guangzhou

Luggage had to be outside our rooms at 10:00 p.m. the night before. The wake-up call jangled at 5:15 a.m. and we rushed to breakfast soon after 5: 30.

Breakfast

  • fried eggs (had to wait for hot steamer refill: were rubbery)
  • Coffee, watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas
  • buns, strawberry jam
  • sausage (no knives for sausage or jam)

Breakfast is normally at 6:30 a.m. Who can eat this early in the morning? I suppose the offerings weren’t bad (though limited variety) considering the English eight and the French group (about 30 people) were the only early risers. We had to leave for the airport by 6:20 for an 8:00 a.m. flight. I guess the next breakfast crowd will have our leftovers.

I noticed the landscape changing on the way to the airport: less mountainous or maybe just smaller mountains.

Lily, our guide, has an apartment in Guilin where she lives with her husband and nine-year-old daughter. They must be doing well enough because she mentioned she bought an apartment in town for her parents. Her husband works at the airport, she didn’t specify his job, but confirmed he is not a pilot when someone asked.

Quick Facts

  • Nissan: most popular Japanese car in Guilin (light and good on gas)
  • Costs less than $20,000 USD
  • Insurance per year: $800.00 (imagine that)

The flight was uneventful this time. Upon our arrival at Guangzhou, a new tour guide awaited by the name of Helen. We guessed her age as fifty-something.  She later introduced our bus driver as Mr. Li though he appeared to be in his mid-thirties or so. After landing, the ladies needed the Happy House, but the first two washrooms were full. We continued towards baggage claim and found one which wasn’t busy.

Guangzhou Quick Facts

  • Population: 20 million
  • Area: 11,000 square kilometers
  • Third biggest city in China next to Shanghai and Beijing
  • They have no winter
  • Three seasons
  • Spring all year round
  • Also known as flower city / spring city
© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles  (Stairway to Five Goats Sculpture)

  • Agricultural city and market: fresh fruits, vegetables, chickens etc.
  • Restaurants crowded with local people / prefer eating out to cooking
  • Many restaurants
  • Tea enjoyed three times a day
  • Eat two meals a day
  • 100-year old lunch restaurant is best restaurant
  • Lots of steps because the building here are old
  • Busy shopping area
  • Have best wood for coffins
  • Long ago locals had a poor life / lived and slept on the river in boats
  • Main occupation was shipping
  • Pearl River is the fifth longest: 2,129 km

Another full-sized bus for us. Of course, I agree, we’re special. Off we drove to Goat Park

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The story goes: five goats from heaven brought five types of grain, presented it to the locals, and taught them how to grow them. Grateful, the people built the Five Goats Temple. Read more about it here.

~ * ~

Next on April 10th, Guangzhou, Day 1, Part 2

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

 

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Chongqing: Day 17, Part 2 – to Guilin Tea Plantation

I felt rushed through the zoo and we were. Next on the agenda was a local flight to Guilin. We had to get our luggage checked and be ready to board by 11:10 a.m. for an hour flight. There were no unexpected surprises at the airport this time: no wands shrieked, nor gongs rung; no high-pitched voices nor thumping feet. Everyone had packed properly and wore no heavy metal.

A boxed lunch was served on board again, but I don’t recall what had been on offer.

Upon landing, our new tour guide, thirty-something Lily, met us at the airport. She was an attractive young woman, who appeared reserved, but approachable.

  • Population Guilin: 1 million, includes 5 urban districts. Total equals 4.7 million
  • Lots of Limestone mountains
  • Yao Mountain only earth mountain, also the highest

IMG_0615

  • Small buildings only up to five storys high
  • Lakes and two rivers
  • Have 4 seasons
  • Living standard is okay
  • Tourism main source of revenue
  • Tax-free for business
  • Minority regions, tax tree
  • Good transportation
  • Major fashion manufacturers: Shanghai & Kenton
  • Southern port of China

We were surrounded by limestone mountains from the airport to Guilin. What a sight to see.

  • Specialty chili paste: local taste is hot
  • Herbal medicine
  • Fermented tofu
  • Persimmons, kumquats, oranges
  • Local wine (53% made from rice), named: Three Flower
  • Natural wine quarry
  • Local beer: Lee Cham
  • Hometown of local painting
  • Ocean pearls about 300 miles (km) from Guilin
  • 10 army bases present because close to Vietnam border
  • Rice has two crops a year. Ninety percent of rice farmers suffer rheumatism and arthritis

IMG_0603

Frolicking in a tea field. I couldn’t balance the hat on my head.

Tea Quick Facts:

  • Guilin area known for Chinese Tea
  • Tea Institute does research on tea properties (founded in 1965 near Yao Mountain)
  • Same tea bush, different tea from different parts of the bush
  • Tea picking is in the morning
  • Osmanthus tree, a relative of cinnamon (use only flowers not bark for tea)
  • Flower tea: Jasmine, Osmanthus
  • Green tea has caffeine, radiation-resistant for people use computers for long hours
  • White tea regulated and produced in limited quantities for export
  • Oolong tea, you must have clay pot (colour is red but like black tea) but different taste

Tea Disruption

  • Most popular tea? Depends on age and type of job (social standing)
  • Tea for modern people: “Puer” tea compressed into a hard block
  • Puer tea (expensive) you cut off a piece to make tea
  • Puer tea: good for stomach, detox high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism and good for losing weight

We were invited to a tea tasting after the tour. I wasn’t fond of much of the tea. One couple liked the Puer tea and bought a box.

~ * ~

Additional Information:

Tea farm outside Guilin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Bzr8s45i8

How do they make it? Puer Tea Production:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6mewXlWlmY

 ~ * ~

Next on February 13th, To Yangshuo: Day 17, Part 3 – Countryside

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

© 2015 All Rights Reserved Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles