Back in the U.S. of A.

Well, we made it.  I am writing to you from our hotel room in Chicago, Illinois, USA.  It has been a long day of travel for us, and our last flights and train journey.  All we have now (aside from our weekend in the Windy City) is the ten hour drive home with Nikki and Brad.

Our day started in the wee hours in London as we said goodbye to Matthew.  He really was a splendid host and we were extremely fortunate to have his assistance; we would’ve burned through SO much more money had it not been for his generosity.  We dragged out of the house at 7 AM (I couldn’t sleep the night before, it was just like Christmas Eve!)  We bussed to Heathrow, checked in (bumped to an earlier flight, go us!) and flew to Dublin without much fanfare or to-do.  London to Dublin is a short flight similar to the Tulsa/Dallas flight.  Once in Dublin, we had to go through security again.  No big deal.  I even stopped off to have one final Guinness in native lands.  But when we got to the special ‘Departures to America’ gate, things got more complicated.

Most of the airport is just like all the others we’ve seen in our travel:  Check in, get your boarding pass, go through security (x-ray, scan, take off belt, etc), travel through the duty-free shops, arrive at gate.  Well, if you’re flying into America, there’s some extra steps.  We had to fill out additional arrival cards (haven’t had to do that since S.E. Asia), a customs form, go through two Passport control kiosks, and an additional search/scan in the airbridge to the plane.  I appreciate the extra attention, but after traveling so long it gets tedious.

So, after all that, we settled into our plane for the eight hour flight to Chicago.  Aer Lingus (Ireland’s National Airline) had a robust offering of in-flight entertainment, which helped time pass much faster than expected.  We landed, went through another checkpoint, customs, etc etc…and finally made it out of the airport.  I sat on the train heading downtown with my packs and grinned.  I’m in my home country again.  And it feels great.

Our internet is not free here, so I’m going to cut the blog a little short.  I have so much to write about already (my first time in Chicago, after all) but it’ll have to wait till Monday.  Rest assured we are safe, sound, and plan to have a fantastic weekend on the home turf.  Oh, and our hotel is right next door to Gino’s East Pizzeria.  I am quite excited about this.

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