Entry for 20 December 2009:
Up at 3.30 am, dead of night. At 4.30 we go out to meet the taxi; overnight, the slush has turned to ice, but main roads are fine. Long lines at the airport. We find out that our Amsterdam-Glasgow flight no longer exists (retrenchment in the airlines) and we’ve been booked onto a later flight without having been told. It’s snowing in Amsterdam, unusual for December, and everything is moving in slow motion. We end up spending 8 hrs in Amsterdam, as long as our flight to Detroit: waiting to board our flight, sitting on the plane waiting for to permission to push off, waiting for 2 hrs in a queue to have our plane de-iced, and finally an hour taxiing to our runway. After finally taking off, more than 3 hours late, our captain comes on the intercom to say that he’s been flying this route for 19 years and this is longest taxi he’s ever experienced.
We both have sleep deprivation headaches. I alternate between working my way throught the draft of John McLeod’s brilliant book on case study research, reading Fantasy & Science Fiction, napping, and eating. The entire flight happens in the dark, hour upon hour.
In Detroit, at immigration, we notice two things: First, US citizens no longer get their own lines/queues; we share the long lines with everyone else. Second, over our heads on the monitors, instead of warnings, they are playing a video of happy Americans saying, “Welcome!” Apparently, we are no longer in the Bush Era of Fortress America… and, with the economy still in a mess, Americans have finally realized that it would be a good idea to encourage more tourists. Even the immigration person is friendly. It’s nice to be home!
Diane has put down that we’ve been on a ranch or farm on the general assumption that we must have run across some sheep during one of our Saturday adventures over the past 4 months, so as usual we are diverted to agricultural inspection. The x-ray machine detects what looks like a contraband piece of fruit in Diane’s suitcase, and the customs guy goes rummaging around until Diane asks him what he’s looking for and then shows him... a chocolate orange. He lets us keep it.
Our housesitter Linda is waiting for us when we emerge from customs and go out to the curb. She offers to share her family’s dinner with us, but we are too exhausted to socialize more than a couple minutes, so we leave her where she is staying and head home to collapse. We’ve been up for almost 24 hours, and are happy to be home again, like Mole in The Wind in the Willows, coming upon his old home on Christmas, exhausted, overwhelmed, and happy.