I'll be starting here with our homeleave between posts (Helsinki, Finland to Amman, Jordan), so it's only appropriate I begin with leaving! :)
One of the most exciting parts of moving (and this is where you can't hear the sarcasm in my voice) is packing your bags. Ugh. No matter how far in advance you've been planning the bags and the workings of them, you will ALWAYS end up with more than you have bags to accommodate. It's a rule. And it's especially aimed toward those of us who are moving, as Andrew says, to a different world. Overseas moving is literally and figuratively painful, and is only made worse by all the restrictions that keep popping up with international and intercontinental flights. We used to be able to have 2 checked bags each--and international checked bag could weigh 75 lbs!!--and 2 carry-ons (with no weight restrictions). Not anymore. Now, we can have one checked bag each--weighing no more than 50lbs, and only one carry-on each--weighing no more than 8kg. Oh boy. And for a family of six that is not only moving, but going to be 'homeless' for 3 months, this is super tricky. We try really hard to travel light, but even then, it's just plain difficult.
So, one hour before the drivers were coming to pick us up and take us to the airport, we realized that we had enough stuff left over for another entire checked bag! Doh! That's sure cutting it a little close! Luckily, we had a wonderful, lovely friend (Georgetta, I hope you're reading this--I'm talking about YOU!) who had offered previously to lend us a bag or two if we needed it. So, I made a phone call, and as luck would have it (although, Obi Wan doesn't believe in luck--and I don't really either), she was actually just on her way out and could drop it by in a few minutes! Wow! So, we had 1/2 hour to redistribute the wealth, and we ended up with our limit of 6 checked bags and 6 carry-ons. Whew. The drivers came and had to wait around while we ate some lunch (they came about 1/2 hour early--I'll miss the punctuality of the Finns!) and then we were on our way!
We found that this time was substantially easier in the airports/transitions, as the kids are much older than they've ever been. It is SO much easier to get your bags checked or to drag all the carry-ons if everyone call pull their OWN! The kids were such troopers--pulling huge heavy bags through multiple airports: over bridges, on trains, in elevators, through hotels... They did awesome! The flight from Helsinki to NYC was very uneventful. Eight and a half hours of the kids watching tv and playing video games. They were pretty much in heaven. We landed in NYC, went through customs (can i just say how WONDERFUL it is to have diplomatic passports when your kids are cranky?? makes it so much easier to not have to wait in that super long line if you can just go to the diplomatic line where no one else is!!), found our checked bags, dragged them around for miles (this was the 'over bridges, in elevators, on trains and through hotels that I had mentioned earlier), found our hotel shuttle, dropped our stuff off at the room, went to the hotel restaurant for dinner...and the kids almost didn't make it through! We all crashed. (Well, I actually went to the fitness room and took advantage of the treadmill for a few miles. I needed some exercise!) The next morning, most of us were up at 2am. Lovely. We managed to keep the kids mostly under control until about 5 am when we saw they were setting up for the buffet breakfast, so we took advantage of no one being there, so we could eat without scaring away the other guests.
After that, we packed up our bags (Peter is helpful in unpacking), and went upstairs to wait for our shuttle to take us to the airport. The night before, someone (shuttle driver? loud speaker at airport?) had said we should arrive 3 hours before departure time, as it is a very busy airport. So, we were obedient. We arrived at the airport 3 hours before...and made it through all the security and check in process in 1/2 an hour. Doh! Now, we had 2 1/2 hours to kill with some pretty crazy kids. Luckily, there was a returning missionary hanging out, and the kids attacked him and it helped blow most of the time. :) Mr. Bean took care of the rest (via laptop).
Now comes the fun part. This flight still had some lovely amenities that I wasn't anticipating--like the individual tvs for everyone that included satellite tv! Hooray for cartoon network! However, as we started to fly over the Rockies, we hit some serious turbulence. Now, I've been in turbulence before. We fly fairly often, so it's nothing new. Most of the time, it's pretty fun! It's sort of nice to have a change and feel the bouncy air. This time, however, I have to admit that I was scared. Have you ever gone on those free-fall rides at amusement parks? The ones that shoot you straight up in the air, then let you go and you drop? It was like that. Over and over. Most of the time, they were quick little drops--probably 20 feet or so. A few, though were some serious free falls. We're talking 5-10 second falls. You could see people rising up out of their seats a little because their seat belts weren't cinched tight enough! Whew! We got to the airport, went in for the landing, and then the plane started heading back up again. What? We did a bunch of circles over Salt Lake and tried to land again. No luck. The cross winds were too fierce. Instead, we needed to refuel before we ran out of gas and just crashed. So, we flew to Boise, Idaho!! We landed safely in Boise and had to sit on the tarmac and wait our turn to refuel--we definitely weren't the only ones re-routed! Luckily, around the time the severe turbulence started, Peter conked out. He slept for the entire 4 hour detour! Which wreaked havoc on sleep that night BUT sure made the flight and unanticipated detours much more endurable!
So, we sat in the airplane for 2+ hours. We were all seated in the very back row (right by the bathrooms!) and while we were stuck, EVERYONE had to go to the bathroom. We met a lot of people! Ha! Then, finally, we heard the captain ask everyone to return to their seats and we were on our way! Woohoo! We hit some turbulence on the way back, but it was nothing compared to earlier, and we landed safely...3 1/2 hours later than we were supposed to. Oh well. We got our bags, pulled everything over to the shuttle to get our rental car, and got our car (they were out of mini vans, so we got an 'upgrade' to an SUV...it's pretty nice, but there is NO storage room--so when you're a family of 6, moving overseas, and on homeless leave for 3 months, we have a lot of luggage), and drove over to the Hendriksen's for dinner. We were all pretty loopy, so it was pretty much an 'eat and run' experience, as Devin and I were both sort of walking sideways, but we made it! We are now safely in Utah and ready to play!!