|Of course, one suitcase was lost in transit! |
But was delivered the next day. Phew.
It was getting dark in Fiji the night we arrived to the airport shlepping our carefully packed and weighed luggage. I’d filled a few bags with finished schoolwork, acquired souvenirs, and the kids’ prized rock and shell collections to bring back with us and leave in the states. Mark was happy to see the excess weight leave the boat, and I was glad to make space for whatever treasures we’d find in future travels. We had decided to visit home in the summer months, so that we wouldn’t have to buy warm clothes or deal with cold temperatures and winter germs. Visiting in the warm summer months also meant less bulky clothing items to pack, which would prove to be VERY important at the airport.
At the check-in desk we had a run-in with the ‘baggage nazi’ who made sure we weighed each piece of luggage and even made each of us place our carryons in the tiny metal measuring frame. We hadn’t expected such strict check-in, but luckily, with a bit of juggling we were able to get it all worked out by and shrink-wrapping two suitcases together to count as one bag. Somehow, we avoided getting Mark’s backpack weighed, which would have easily exceeded the 15-pound limit with two laptops, kindles, and the iPad tucked inside. If you are traveling on Fiji Airways anytime soon, make sure you read their baggage requirements and adhere - they don’t mess around!
|Window view descending into the clouds over Los Angeles|
|Catching a few zzz's during our layover in LAX|
In LAX, we met the grown children of some of our dear sailing friends, Theo and Wanda, who happened to be flying home on exactly the same flight we were on. Then we gorged on California Pizza Kitchen and I got my Starbucks iced green tea fix. Ah, it was good to be back in the land of American food!
|Indulging in Giordano's Stuffed Crust Pizza while visiting Chicago - only in America!|
As we waited for our next connection, I found it strange to hear so many American accents in one place, and enjoyed not being the foreigner for once. But even Elizabeth noticed the disconnect among the bustling passengers. “Mom, everyone’s just looking down at their cell phones!” It was odd to see so many people in one place not speaking to or even acknowledging each other.
As much as I wanted to dive into Facebook and Instagram, I resisted the urge and started a conversation with a new mom sitting next to me instead. Her stroller was loaded down with every gadget her little one might possibly need on the flight, and she was trying to time the next feeding to coincide with take-off. Oh, how I remember those days and am SO glad to be out of that pack mule, plan-for-every-worst-case-scenario stage of parenting! As we walked toward our next flight, I had to smile. The kids were pulling their own rolling backpacks (a traveling MUST for us are the Jansport versions that fit perfectly under the seat in front of them). Meanwhile, I was carrying my small daypack and NOTHING ELSE! My conversation with that new mom had brought me an enlightened perspective and newfound thankfulness in the midst of our grueling 24-hour travel itinerary.
Our time away has helped us resist many technology temptations because we don’t have access to internet or television in so many places, but our time here would really put us to the test. I wanted to maintain the disconnect, but I also found myself wanting to get plugged back in. It would prove to be a real struggle for each of us to keep our noses pointed anywhere other than at a screen.
But this trip was all about making connections. Logistical travel connections, learning connections, and heart connections. That’s the connectivity I was hoping for in our trek back home. Thankfully, our flights have gone seamlessly so far, and we have had wonderful opportunities to connect in our learning and relationships. Here are just a few of the memory making moments we've been blessed by...
|Our cross-country extravaganza would bring us |
through seven states from the east to the west coast!
|First stop was to Great Grandma's wall of generations. Oh, the stories she had to tell!|
|Cherokee ladies weaving belts much like |
the ones we saw in Colombia
|Learning about the sacred legends of the eagle|
feathers in the Cherokee culture
|We watched the inner workings of an old mill house run by a water wheel, |
and even bought some freshly ground cornflour!
|Michael was intrigued by the 3D printers that kids were using at a summer tech camp put on by our friends, Steve and Debbie, of Table Top Inventing|
|Elizabeth learned about her teeth X-rays from her Poppy during our dental visit, |
and even helped to make my bleaching trays in the lab!
|Bowling with cousins|
|And more family silliness with family!|
|Girl cousin time enjoying the Indiana sunshine!|
|Even celebrated Fourth of July with a good 'ol American parade|
And the U.S. adventures continue...