Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back Home!

There's nothing like almost three weeks in Asia to reveal the many virtues of home. And there are many virtues! [If you haven't read about our trip to the Himalayas (and you would like to), read the previous 18 posts, starting with this one from August 22nd.]
Oh how I love that our airport has wooden rocking chairs! It
just says, "Welcome home."
The trip back was long. Busy airports, many lines and searches (we traveled on 9/11!), and crowded planes. All was relatively smooth until, yes again, Chicago. Sorry folks, they've got problems. My daughter got stuck there in June and had to spend the night in the terminal, our luggage got lost there on the trip to Asia, and the people who work there are particularly cantankerous. Chicago, surely you can do better than that. This time we had a bit of a layover there after flying in from Abu Dhabi. After being told our gate, we saw it was changed shortly after we arrived, and after going to that gate, it changed again. We were sitting where we could watch the Thursday night NFL game on TV, right across from our gate. Madison laid down to sleep, while Jesse and I stayed up. Three times, Jesse went over to check to make sure the gate didn't change and the flight was on time. We saw no personnel, so we figured it was delayed. We were even watching pilots we tagged as ours dawdling and taking their time. There was no announcement over the intercom, except for a few individuals who were called to check in at the desk. Our boarding time came and went. Jesse went over again to ask what was going on and then we got the news: We missed the boarding. The plane was still sitting there and they wouldn't let us get on. What!? After all this time (over 40 hours) of travel and we miss the last leg!? The American Airlines (yes, I'm naming names), particularly the "supervisor" with whom we tried to reason (who's last name, printed on his name tag, was, appropriately, "Butt") would not budge. And the plane was unmoved, right outside. We watched helplessly as it was towed out and rolled away. I'll spare you the rest of the story. Madison called his new bride (from whom he has been separated for almost as many days as he has been with since the wedding) to break the news (not good). Jesse was too upset to rest and spent the night trying to get us a quicker way home (he did). I laid down on the floor and went to sleep. It is what I do best. I awoke the next morning to find that we were booked for a USAir flight to Charlotte and then to home (thanks, Jesse). That part went by quickly with a friendly USAir staff that got us home a little earlier than scheduled. Finally, about 51 hours after we started the journey home from Nepal, we had arrived. There are few sights I have learned to appreciate more than looking down on the Smokies, and the wonderful little Knoxville McGhee-Tyson Airport. Ahhh.
A petty, emotional list of things I really don't want to think about for a while might include: American Airlines, Chicago, rice, curry, lentils, and body odor. A petty, emotional list of things for which I am thankful would include: beef (yes, I ate a Five Guys burger after coming home), clean water out of the faucet, clean restrooms, MY [clean] BED, ice cream (yes I went to Marble Slab after coming home), southern hospitality, traffic rules that are actually obeyed, and air conditioning.
On a not-so-petty (but still emotional) list of things for which I am profoundly thankful, I would start with my family. In particular, my beautiful and wonderful wife. I missed her sooooo much. When I got back, we just talked. It was so good. It was like a very thirsty man downing a long drink of water.
I also look forward to sharing with my church family. It is going to happen this Sunday. I pray this will be more than just a trip report. We learned a lot, and have much to share.

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