Thursday, September 23, 2010

One last One Year Ago Today

   On September 23, 2009 we flew home from China.  It was literally the longest day of our lives!  China is a fabulous place and we loved visiting but getting there and back is an ordeal.  Here is what the Day That Never Ends was like:
   Got up early to get the girls dressed and fed and finish packing.  (We had, of course, bought another suitcase to haul home our new purchases.)  All three families in our group crammed our luggage and our selves onto the mini bus for the long drive to the Guangzhou airport.  Our guide waved us off and we were on our own.  I played kid wrangler while Steve and Dad negotiated tickets and baggage checks.  Went through security.  Walked to our terminal and went through security again.  I had Rachel, but they wouldn't let me carry her through.  Argued in English with the Cantonese speaking worker.  The worker insisted that Rae walk through on her own.  She did and promptly took off running.  Thankfully Granny had already passed through and was able to catch her.  We found our gate and settled in.  Spent two hours chasing Rachel around the terminal - thank goodness for those fascinating moving sidewalks and a toy store with lots of push-the-button type toys!  Boarded the first flight of the day.   Rachel fell asleep before we wer even off the runway and slept most of the flight.  Woohoo!  Katherine happily swallowed some Dramamine and slept, too.  Landed in Beijing.  Went through security.  Walked across the huge airport to the international terminal.  Steve and Dad went in search for something for lunch and came back empty handed.  Apparently there is no food in the international terminal.  The waiting area was fairly empty, so we let Rachel run.  Bought water for the flight.  Heard our flight called and headed for the gate.  Had to go through security again and they made us dump the water we'd purchased 30 feet away.  Settled in for a 13 hour flight.  Miraculously, both girls slept through most of the flight.  (I still can't believe Rachel, Miss I Hate to Sleep did that!)  Landed in Chicago.  Went through security.  Waited in the immigration line for 45 minutes - fascinating people watching.  Handed over Rachel's immigration documents.  Stood in line again.  Had our papers checked.  Waited a few minutes more.  An immigration official waved us over and congratulated Rachel on becoming a citizen of the United States.  Went through security.  Collected our luggage.  The luggage area was under construction and it was a madhouse - easily the craziest scene I've been in at an airport!  Went through security.  Walked perhaps fifty feet and went through security again.  The worker insisted that I remove Rachel's shoes in case we were hiding a bomb in them.  I was NOT happy or patient by this point! Hauled our immense pile of luggage onto a train and rode to the domestic terminal.  Walked the entire length of the terminal to find our gate at the far end (all while carrying Rachel and lugging my share of the suitcases).  Found a McDonalds for supper- yeah, food we reconize.  Spent two hours trying to corral Rachel, who was in a manic mood, in the crowded waiting area.  Boarded the fourth  and last flight of the day.  Both girls again slept most of the way to Wichita.  We were in a small plane and had to climb down the portable stairs and on to the tarmac to get inside the terminal.  Went through security one last time.  Katherine announced "I hat security!"  Ditto.  Met up with Steve's parents and my sister.  Collected our piles of luggage.  Climbed into the van and let someone else drive us home.  Rachel screamed the entire hour-long journey.  Arrived home at 11:30 at night.  We'd been up for over 36 hours and it was STILL September 23rd!  By then jetlag had kicked in, so we ate supper again and let the girls play until 2 AM.  Was I ever glad to be done with the day!
   And now I can't believe that it's been a whole year since then...

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Park Pictures
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Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

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Park Pictures
The little one leads the way