Trip Start Oct 06, 2006
49Trip End Dec 06, 2006
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Today's the day. Awoken by Simon and was made aware of my frailties by the previous night's indulgences. I had to make certain that everything was ready despite a fuzzy head telling me I really needed to sleep for another couple of hours. Wash, brush teeth, get my act together and soon I was following Simon into his place of work where I could leave the car in his company's secure parking for the next eight weeks. The length of the journey through Stockbroker belt and the traffic hold-ups started to make me nervous about getting to the airport but Simon would get me there in plenty of time. I was able to check my suitcase in (paying excess as I was very much over the weight limit). I was now left with a good couple of hours to fill, supping cappuccinos and hovering around the area designated for us saddoes who are addicted to nicotine. Entertainment was provided by a fire alarm going off in my area and I was able to see first hand how a new security minded Britain reacted
Eventually my flight was ready to be boarded and I could join the lengthy queues snaking their ways through the security areas. It was mind numbingly slow but eventually I arrived at the x-ray machine and piled jacket, shoes, contents of pockets and hand luggage onto the little conveyor belt. I myself was summoned through the arch that always beeps when I walk nervously through but as I did so this time, not a sound! Surely a first. I wasn't even frisked as were most who passed through prior to me. This is a good sign.
The flight itself was uneventful. I brought some reading material and was able to test out something new to my life......reading glasses! I fought the increasing blur that my writing had become for long enough and had to give in to the admission that I was getting older.
I had a window seat and plenty of leg room thanks to my friend in Newark, Jennee who works for Continental. Once she knew all my flight details, unbeknownst to me she ensured that I had a comfortable seat that would allow me a view of Manhattan as we approached Newark
On arrival at Newark, I went through customs swiftly and through to the next section of the airport I could see Jenn all smiling and waving. She had actually finished work a couple of hours earlier but kindly waited around for my arrival. I walked what seemed miles and could see Jenn in her red work jacket heading purposefully in the same direction below me.
I collected my case quickly from the carousel (another first as mine always seems to be the last to come through), left it elsewhere for the connecting flight to Columbus, Ohio, and strode towards Jenn throwing my arms around her. We've only met once before but even on the first meeting we were like old buddies who hadn't seen eachother for years catching up on the gossip.
We 'met' via the internet at the end of 2005 and during the following months we were a couple of rocks for eachother during a time when we both were going through a thoroughly miserable time in our lives. She is one of a small, select group who I can say with confidence will be a 'friend for life'.
Smiley, greetings over with, we set about having a 'cawfee' and talking about everything in our short couple of hours together and being taken for a tour of her former workplace, the control tower. I was expecting the place to be a hive of frantic activity but it was a very calm, mellow place more resembling the lounge in a gentlemen's club.....but with louder T-shirts
After a good chin-wag whilst waiting to board the connecting flight, I eventually headed towards the plane and was delighted by the comparatively luxurious seating and spacious leg room which very much compensated for the flight being about an hour late!
Less than two hours later, I am at Port Columbus International Airport, Ohio and am soon at the baggage claim area. I try my mobile phone to see if I can use it here and have a message from Virgin Mobile welcoming me to the USA and informing me that calls cost £1.40 per minute to make and 80p to receive. Guess this phone will remain switched off for the duration! Sent Laura a text (35p a shot!) saying I had arrived and got a reply saying, "FuCK they said your plane wouldn't land until 9!0" I make typos when I'm over-excited too! ;-) Laura would later point out that she was in fact driving at the time.
I waited and waited for my luggage to appear, during which time the diminutive Laura suddenly appeared behind me. A sight for sore eyes, to be sure. A big hug and a smile seemed to say we weren't disappointed and she was exactly how I imagine her to be. Many weeks of chatting on webcam didn't lie.
As the claim area was turning into a ghost town, my case decided to put in a fashionably late appearance minus the strap that I put around it before leaving the UK. That done, we headed of to the high-tech vehicle that Laura calls 'The van' and sped off to my hotel, The Ramada Inn East Airport where I could unpack a few things, relax for a moment and then take my first tentative steps in taking in American culture. We went to a 'Sports Bar', and then to Kroger's to buy chips, dips & beer. Mission Accomplished!