Tuesday, May 22, 2007

18 Days, 17 nights

You've heard of the movie - "6 Days, 7 Nights"....well this trip could be a new blockbuster film!

We were up at 4:30 AM to set our luggage out in the hall - then we left the hotel at 6 am. Never would I have guessed at this point what lay ahead in the next 33 hours. Utter chaos.

We got to the airport in Guangzhou- loaded our luggage onto carts and headed towards the check in counter. Our group divided into 2 lines among the 8 lines or so available. It took FOREVER for us to get through this line. Mom went on ahead of us. We didn't see her again until we got to the gate to board the plane.

Then we had to go through the departures line. Between the time mom had left us and we got to this line - about 300 Chinese people had gotten in line in front of us. It was one of those weaving roped off lines like you stand in for 2 hours at 6 Flags. When we FINALLY made it through this line... we had to go through security. The lines were unbelievably long for 8 am on a Saturday morning. I had packed UNOPENED baby Tylenol in case we needed it on the plane and diaper rash cream. They made me go to a counter and buy a Ziploc bag to put these items in. By the time we hoofed it to our gate there was NO ONE left except my mom who was insisting that they not leave until her daughter made it to the gate. The Jordan's from North Carolina caught a cart to the gate and got there right after us. Our group applauded when we boarded the plane - we made it!

This first flight was from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong we had to go check in at the United counter. There were 2 ladies working this line - and about 30 people in line. We were down to one hour before our flight left. Everyone else lives on the east coast and their flight departed an hour after ours. We went through security AGAIN and found our gate. Then we bought a couple of cokes but I decided it would be easier to drink as soon as we got on the plane instead of trying to carry an open drink and all of our stuff while loading. Bad call. They confiscated my drinks when doing a final bag check right before loading! Wasted money! And they were more than $2 each!

On the flight we were once again - seated at the back of the plane. These big huge international flights carry like 500 people I think. Fortunately the guy seated in our row of 4 seats (Brad, me, and Mia and him) offered to move to another open seat so that our family could have more room. I am not sure if that was his motive - or if he saw the new baby and dreaded what the ride might be like! It was a blessing except for now that there was a seat open - Macy wanted to sit with us instead of Noni. Noni and her had 2 seats in front of us. It wouldn't have been too bad except me trying to keep both a 4 year old and a baby happy on a 13 hour flight....was a little much. Both of them were squirmy. But they did AMAZING! I can't tell you what a miracle it was. They did GREAT! Especially Mia who had cried every time we took a cab anywhere b/c she didn't like enclosed spaces. She never cried more than 15 seconds the entire day - and that was b/c she was either hungry, wet, or sleepy. Thank you to all of you who prayed. I know it was God's favor. I am so thankful.

I tried to close my eyes every time Mia was sleeping just to rest and conserve energy. And boy did I need it! San Francisco Airport was a NIGHTMARE! When we landed we had like 2 hours to go through immigration with Mia, retrieve our luggage, go through customs, recheck our luggage and make it to our gate. First of all - I am trying to go into the left line for US citizens and mom insists that we have to go through the "visitors" line. She says that is what the lady at the American consulate said to do. I am not too sure about this - but trust her. After standing in this line for about 15 min - she asks a security person and they say "Oh, no - you need to be over here in the immigration line." I tell mom we are not trusting her anymore! We finally make it through this line and now Mia is OFFICIALLY A U.S. CITIZEN! Wooo hoo!

No time to celebrate though - Mom swears that the stewardess announced that our connecting flight from San Francisco to Denver would be departing an hour early. So we are stressing to get to our gate. So.....we go to the luggage console figuring ours will once again be the only luggage left....but there is NO luggage. Mom asks - and they had switched our flights luggage to console 6 instead of 2! Ugghhh! We wade into a couple of hundred people, get our luggage, but there are NO luggage cars anywhere. And we are down to an hour before our flight supposedly leaves. Mom is fanning herself - having a part hot flash/part meltdown/part nervous breakdown...and we are looking everywhere for a luggage cart. I find this big cart thing - we load our luggage - and some employee comes up and says, "You can't use that."

About this time Brad snaps. He throws all of our luggage off into the floor with exasperation. I ask an official looking employee how we can find a cart - our flight leaves in an hour....and he calmly says -"There are just a lot of flights coming in right now. They are bringing up more carts. Should be here in a few minutes." To which he then turns away. No helpfulness. No care. I am just an ant that got lost on his hill.

So....we commence to dragging all of our luggage ourselves! If you could have seen this on video! Ohhhhh myyyyyyy gooodddneeeesss! I had Mia on my hip in a carrier, diaper bag on other shoulder, pushed Macy in the stroller with one hand (with bags hanging all over the stroller), and dragged one large suitcase behind me with my other hand. Mom put a small suitcase on top of a large one and somehow pushed 3 bags?? Brad took the remaining 4 - 5 suitcases and cave man style DRAGGED them through customs. you could see the FIRE in his eyes! Then we had to wait in yet another line to recheck our luggage to our final destinations.
By this time we are all sweating bullets! We find this huge line in front of us going through security that we are sure we don't need to go through b/c we are a connecting flight. Wrong. I asked the girl working the line of about 300 people where we should go to get to our gate - and she just says -"get in line". I informed her very nicely :) that our flight leaves in an hour....but there was no compassion. Fortunately a "higher up" employee - and the ONLY one that showed kindness to us at the SF airport - waved us over and put us straight through to the front of the line. God bless him. However mom gets held up in security - b/c there is some "substance" in one of her bags. She says - "I promise it is just pillows...I will take them out and show you"...to which the security people answer "No, do not take anything out of the bag. There is something in the bottom of it." They acted like there might be a bomb in it or something. She lifts the bag up and sees that it is her bottle of water they gave us on the flight earlier. Thankfully they believer her, feel sorry for her, confirm and confiscate the bottle of water, and let her pass. We then hoof it to our gate to barely make it by the supposed 10 am departure time to see it posted at 11 am as our tickets say.

But the extra time gives mom time to buy soap and a new shirt. I had packed two extra shirts in my backpack in case of spit up - not knowing sweat would be the reason I needed them! We have just enough time to freshen up and then load our next plane to Denver. Mia and Macy both slept this entire flight! But by the time we reached Denver - I was about to cross my eyes and pass out from exhaustion. I think it was just the accumulated emotional, mental, and physical stress of the trip. Both mom and I look like druggies with bloodshot eyes! Brad just goes back and forth between being pale and being flushed.

When we get to Denver the walk to the gate we need for our flights is literally like a mile. We are trying our best to make it when a cart driver offers us a ride. He drove us from like Gate 58 to Gate 80. Our flights left from 91. God bless him. After getting a sandwich I spread Macy's blanket out and lay down on the floor. I told mom and Brad that after you have been traveling over 24 hours - there is no shame. We looked like a homeless family -our stuff and us all spread out. After I slept about 30 min to an hour I felt like maybe my eyes would quit crossing. We moved to seats closer to our gate. So many people would stop to comment on how beautiful our girls were. I thought it was sweet since I think we all look like beggars at this point.

To sum up the last leg of the trip - we board our 4th and final flight of the day at 8:20 CST, 25 hours after getting up this morning. We make a quick 1 1/2 hour flight to Fayetteville. Both girls sleep again. As soon as we get off the plane Brad has me video tape him kissing the ground! We then give Mia her American flag to hold as we walk out of the last airport of the day! She waves it so proudly! Brad's mom and dad, John & Lesia, Krista n Tina are all at the front waiting for us. How wonderful to see faces that we love and have missed so much!

We arrive home about 12:30 AM and it takes us about 1 1/2 hours to get everyone a bath and ready for bed. 2 AM lights out. 34 1/2 hours after getting up this morning! Whew! This has been worst than a youth Lock-In! ;)

Since our flight came in so late and the airport is so far - we are planning on having a "Welcome Home Mia" party sometime next week for people to meet her and visit with us. Maybe by then we'll have pics developed and some video produced!

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