How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE


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North to Alaska: Where’s the Easy Button?

A garbled voice announced boarding a half-hour later. Flying time expected: four hours and 28 minutes at 40,000 feet with a few bumps along the way. We had three flight attendants for our 113-seat Boeing 737.

Had I glanced back, I’d have been dumbfounded how few passengers followed. Heads bent forward and shoulders raised, Mary and I scuttled across the tarmac. The weather was cold, the sky overcast, and the air damp. The two-level approach to the plane was longer than the distance from the building to the bottom of the walkway.

                                                  Transporting a two-level boarding bridge on the left

Airlines overbook, don’t they? We noted many empty seats, only 37 occupied, which meant seventy-six stood empty. How often does this happen? “If there are only two people on board, we will still fly,” the flight attendant said to Mary’s inquiry. This airline must be making good money ‘cause they’re still in business. This brings to mind a news story of the opposite happening and a man was removed from a flight to accommodate a crewmember. This is not allowed in Canada.

We enjoyed complimentary satellite TV, movies, and drinks, but the water for tea hadn’t been boiled. Yuck. Is it ever? I know the difference and couldn’t finish it. We ordered no bland, over-priced airplane food as I packed fruit and sandwiches from home. Tired, I managed to kill a couple hours dozing but felt I hadn’t closed my eyes at all: they burned, I felt light-headed and punch-drunk. Promising myself I wouldn’t, when nature called I gave in to visiting the loo though I avoid airplane bathrooms with a passion. People have nasty habits. Why do they leave a mess like children in public facilities?

Always a relief to arrive safe, our touch down on Mother Earth was quiet and uneventful, likely due to the absence of passengers. We deplaned fine but baggage claim proved nerve-wracking. No flight and carousel numbers posted for long minutes. After a couple walkarounds to all three carousels, the first one showed our flight. Last one on, first one out. The luggage soon pounced through the chute lickety-split. Let the adventure begin.

 As females will, we found the Ladies and rushed through Arrivals with our bags. Sunglasses-and-light-jackets weather, a cool breeze greeted us outside the airport. A clear view due to few cars parked at the curb, Mary said, “I wonder where Jean is.” Pacing after the cramped sit, Jean and Michael arrived about ten minutes later. Tight hugs and hurried catch-ups, Jean’s hubby loaded the luggage into the van.

As previously arranged, we had other plans and did not head for their house. By prior arrangement, Belcarra Regional Park beckoned instead. The clock read approximately 8:45 a.m. Vancouver time—three hours behind Ontario.

Had we left from Jean and Michael’s house, our destination would have taken less time. If a road or bridge traversed the water, we’d have made it in minutes, but Michael had to arc a long way around from the airport. As he drove, Jean, prepared as ever, surprised us with mouth-watering Greek mini pocketless pita sandwiches. Mary and I grinned. I can’t recall the delectable fillings snuggled between the slices, but I devoured the treats like a little-used Hoover put to work. Michael suggested a coffee stop but we passed. Good thing, too, because we arrived late for the appointed time as had a number of others joining us.

The park covers a vast area with a number of trails and parking areas. It took a couple of misses before we found the right carpark and picnic area. Turned out we weren’t the last to arrive. Someone pronounced everyone present and Jon arranged a digital remembrance of the moment.

                                                                  Belcarra selfie ©Jon Nightingale

One trail, considered moderate, stretched (was not circular) 5.5 kilometer forward and back and another one, an additional 5.2 km. A democratic group. You could do one or both. Hadn’t Mary and I just flown four and a half hours from Ontario? The hike sounded fun a month ago when we planned it. Was joining this group a bizarre idea?

~ * ~

Next on February 16: North to Alaska: A-Hiking We Will Go

© 2018 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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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.


Flight to Guangzhou

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

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 even earlier in the morning? Still, I managed to stuff myself. The offerings weren’t bad (though of limited variety) considering the English eight and the French group (about 30 people) were the only early risers. We were 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 how the landscape on our (English Eight only) bus trip to the airport changed: less mountainous or maybe just smaller mountains. The French Group was nowhere to be seen.

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, considering the number of daily accidents

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, who he appeared to be in his mid-thirties or so. Mr. Li? 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
  • Only 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, who prefer eating out to cooking
  • Many restaurants
  • Tea enjoyed three times a day
  • Eat two meals a day
  • 100-year old lunch restaurant is the best restaurant
  • Lots of steps because the building here are old
  • Busy shopping area
  • Has the best wood for coffins
  • Long ago locals had a poor life / lived and slept on the river in boats
  • the main occupation is shipping
  • Pearl River is the fifth-longest

Another full-sized bus for us. Of course, I agree, we must be 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 November 10th: Guangzhou

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. I hope to return but when is the question. Thank you for your faithful reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support far beyond my capability to express. Please bear with me.


To Yangshuo: Countryside

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I had to catch my breath as we rushed through the zoo. 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 rang; no high-pitched voices nor thumping feet. Everyone had packed properly; no one wore heavy metal except for one tour member’s knee implant.

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, dressed in cold weather fleece pants and jacket. She appeared reserved but approachable.

IMG_0615

Guilin Quick Facts

  • 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
  • Small buildings only up to five storeys 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.

Known for:

  • 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 is 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 (color is red but like black tea) but different taste

Tea Disruption

  • Most popular tea? Depends on age group and type of job (social standing)
  • Tea for modern people: “Pu-Erh” 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 most of it. One couple liked the Pu-Erh tea  and bought a box. It wasn’t cheap and looked like a block of tar.

.

~ * ~

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 September 22: To Yangshuo -Countryside

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

* * * 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.

 


Suzhou: Part 1 – Jade Tour and a Flight

The day began at 5:00 a.m. and not on a good note. Sue hadn’t slept well and we had no hot water for showers. I didn’t bother, but Sue did. My hair needed washing so I stuck it underneath the tap. Brr. Cold.

We’d been instructed to leave our luggage outside the door before 7:45 a.m. As Sue pushed hers against the wall I rolled mine over the thresh-hold and—slam—locked us out. Down to the front desk and back up again. We were relieved to return with the assistant manager and her life-saving master key. Our purses with passports and money were still there. Whew. We reported the cold water situation to save the next visitors the headache.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Taken from 10th floor on our way to breakfast)

The pieces carved out of jade were fascinating; the workmanship astonishing with delicate and intricate detail but too expensive for me. I don’t need jade jewelry either and certainly don’t have room for anymore dust collectors. I’m trying to down-size collectibles. Bonnie and Russ bought a tricky jade piece featuring five (or seven) balls, one inside the other, which were all movable, but do not come apart.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Jade carving)

        Click for stupendous photos of  Jade Carvings in Ancient China

We headed to the airport after the Jade romp to catch our one-hour-and-forty-five-minute fight to Souzhou. At securit,y two suitcases from our group set off alarms. Jim had one of the problem suitcases and Russ the other. Scanning revealed 15 or so ‘A’ batteries stored in his luggage were the culprits. The last flight he’d been told to store them there. This time, they were pulled out and he was advised to them into his carry-on. I’m not sure what problem Jim had. A screaming baby must have fallen asleep. We finally boarded at 12:30 p.m., taxied and lifted skyward.

Lunch was served on the plane. The Stewart threw (not dropped) the boxed meal onto my table. He moved so fast, some noodles spilled into my lap and he didn’t even notice. Not a good day for him either. Other than the spilled noodles, I don’t remember eating.

Upon landing, I reached for my carry-on in the overhead. By accident, my hand landed not on top of the seat in front of mine, but on the head of the man who sat there. What a fuss he made. You’d think I’d assaulted him. The Chinese language, when the speaker talks loudly sounds enraged to me. I used my most soothing voice to apologize. He didn’t need to understand the words. Wouldn’t you know, I had him on my radar all the way into the airport. While Chinese people appear to invade your space in a crowd and fill any available space, they do not touch anyone around them.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We were met by, Jackie, a new guide, a tall, attractive man of thirty-eight with an easy going style and a great command of English. The bus ride to Souzhou took a couple of hours. The city is known as The Garden City or Venice of the East because of its many canals.

~ * ~

Next on May 19 – Suzhou: Part 2 – Old Town Market (lots of pictures).

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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

 


Luoyang, Part 1 – Domestic Flight

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

So far, our English 8 Gang has traveled from Toronto to Chicago to Beijing, approximately 7,041 miles (give or take). This does not include the bus trips in the three days since our arrival in Beijing to Tiananmen Square; Forbidden City; Temple of Heaven; The Great Wall; Ming Tombs, Summer Palace, and old Beijing Hutong.

IMG_0792

The night before we scrambled to assemble our suitcases and sort out what we’d need for the morning and left our bags in the hallway for pickup as instructed. It seemed odd the next morning when the bags were in the lobby–sitting there looking abandoned and crammed together for protection. We could have brought them down when we met in the lobby after breakfast. What a headache for nothing. No tour was planned for the morning.

Bikes galore

                                                                            Bikes galore

We were off for the first of our domestic flights to Luoyang. Robert, our guide, came with us to the luggage drop-off and as far as Security, which made it easier to find our way through the airport.

Someone brought up tipping (the tour guide) at dinner the night before but no conclusion had been reached. A new tour guide waited in Luoyang. Before Robert said goodbye, there was a scramble to cross his palm with Chinese money.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luoyang_Beijiao_Airport

I stood behind Sue at the Security Check and was yelled at to step back behind the yellow line. Scared me silly. Okay, unnerved me because I don’t understand Chinese. When my turn came, the (young) clerk looked so stern, I was nervous, but I also felt she was milking it. You know, a power trip? I waited while she took her time before returning my passport and boarding pass. Once through, the body scanning wand went off. What’s going on? Deep breath. The problem:  my purchased-in-Canada-made-in-China earrings.

Russ waited in line behind his wife who cleared in no time though she has knee replacements. She carries a letter in the event the Gong Show starts. We waited and waited for him in consternation. Finally, we watched him being escorted to another Security Desk. When his carry-on had been x-rayed, they couldn’t figure out what set off the alarm. Turned out, he had a camera charger which wasn’t labeled with voltage information (there is a maximum allowed) and it had to be turned in. The security guard, who escorted him, laughed silently. I saw his animated face and shaking shoulders. Even the fellow at the desk, taking possession of the charger, was apologetic, but rules were rules.

Our arrival at the airport was 10:00 a.m., too early for 12:30 boarding. Take-off was 1:00. Would you believe we were given a meal on such a short flight (about an hour and a half)? Then again, it was time for a mid-day meal. The boxed lunch consisted of rice with scrambled egg mixed in and a piece of chopped ham; a dried fruit bun; coffee; water, and cookies. A lot of Chinese were on our flight. One guy, I watched across the aisle, wolfed down his food as if he were starving.

We arrived around 2:30 p.m. I estimated we’d flown 420 miles on a ticket worth about $143.00 USD. We did not pay this. Our trip was all inclusive.

Another new home

                                                                   Another new home

 

Lots of fantastic pictures next time.

Next on April 7, Luoyang, Part 2 – Longmen Caves

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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


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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.

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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