We tried to get to bed early, but with going out to dinner and wanting to get the last few items packed for the morning, we didn’t make it. I still had trouble falling asleep, even though I was tired… too much adrenaline in me I guess. I finally did get some sleep, but it wasn’t enough because June 26 started at 4 a.m. for us. We ran around that apartment making sure that things were put away for the Robertson’s who will be coming to replace us in two months.
We finally looked around and David said, “I guess we are ready to start taking our bags down.” At that moment, we heard a knock on the door and it was John Tian and the car driver ready to help us take our bags down. John kept saying he was happy to take us, even at the early hour of 5 a.m. He apologized for not meeting with us more during the time that we were there. We understood because he was in the middle of his doctoral program and very busy with that.
We arrived at the airport the same time that the Clarke’s were dropped off by their driver. John stayed with us while we got our tickets and our bags checked and we went through the area for security. As we got to the counter for the security to check our passports, she indicated to us that we had to go back to counter 31, where they have us wait to until our bag had gone through security. We went back to the counter and one of the “ambassador” girls that are there to help you told us that everything was okay with our bag and to go ahead and go through security.
When we got back to security, we went to the same girl and she wanted us to go back again, but we told her that they had said we were okay. She looked down at David’s passport again (it was David’s bag that had to be scanned twice), shrugged her shoulders and let us go through. Now we just had two hours to wait for our plane.
The first leg of the trip from Jinan to Shanghai had some turbulence, but was otherwise uneventful. We had to find our way around the Pudong airport, which has a lot of construction going on, and ask for directions a few times. We had to go through immigration and hand in our exit cards. We didn’t have to wait long after that for our plane, but then we sat in the plane for a long time waiting for clearance to take off. That delayed our flight almost an hour.
Once we got in the air, we just had to settle in for the 12 hour and five minute flight as best we could. Our seats were way in the back, only three rows behind us. Clarke’s were behind us but it was hard to carry on any conversation with the way the seats were. We watched movies, read, and slept. The sleeping was the hard part, but reading was difficult also. I wanted to read and they decided to dim the lights in the cabin. I couldn’t reach the light so that I could read, so I either had to watch movies or sleep. It seems I would just get to sleep and they would turn on the lights again to feed us something. Other than that, the flight was as good as could be expected.
Arriving in LAX was a relief of sorts. We were on US soil, but we had to go through customs and then find our way through this airport that also has a lot of construction going on. That was a little stressful for us because we had to say good-bye to the Clarke’s before we got to our terminal. We didn’t know where to go, so we asked a man that was standing around that looked like he worked there. He pointed us in the right direction which was back the way we had come.
We got our tickets for the last leg of our journey home, turned in our luggage and then went through security. Because of the worry about the weight of our suitcases, we had put some of the heavier gifts in our carry-on luggage. One of those gifts contained some lead crystals and so my bag needed to be looked at in depth. The man was very kind and first asked if I had crystals in my bag. I didn’t think that part of that gift had anything in, but they were paper weights with Peony flowers in them, so that was the problem. He swabbed the crystals and then sent my bag through again. The man came back and said that we were okay to go, but not until they had also swabbed David’s bag to make sure his was okay.
The flight to Salt Lake City took off early and arrived about twenty minutes early. Rachel and Alisa were caught in slow traffic because of an accident, so we had to wait at the airport for them to get there. I went home in Alisa and CJ’s car and David when home with Rachel, who had also brought Elisabeth along. We didn’t have time for long hugs there, so we waited until we got home for the big hugs from everyone.
Kadie had planned a dinner for us and we gave out some of the gifts that we had brought home and shared some of the candy that my students had given me to show my grandchildren what some of the Chinese candy was like.
It is great to be home! It was a marvelous adventure! We may do it again in the future if that is what we feel the Lord wants us to do. Now to get back to living on Utah time, not Beijing time, and get ready for more adventures here at home.