5 September - London Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare
We're on it!
Have to admit, it was a bit of a grumpy start, not that Wifey didn't expect it.
Dale picked us up at 05:45 BST. Said goodbye to the kids and hit the journey.
For the first Monday morning after the school holidays both the M3 and M25 where very quiet. Got to Heathrow Terminal 3 in about an hour. Brilliant for any Monday morning.
Then Mr Angry Head started to take over.
Jobsworth at the Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy check-in started to raise the blood pressure:
- You have to check your helmets in. Why? Because you have to! Hmm.
- You'll have to check your camera bag in. Why? because it's heavier than 6kg and might fall and hurt someone. But the bag splits in two. You're only allowed one piece of hand luggage. Why? Because you are. I'm not checking it in I'm carrying it on. Ok then. - How and why did this conversation need to take place? Dunno.
So now I'm calming down. Hand over the helmets clearly tagged as fragile, to the trolley people. More on the helmets later.
Very quick through security, again surprising for a Monday morning. One old man was being quized about his medication. Obviously it triggered some sensor. Bless.
No Rugby magazines in WHSmith, a surprise with less than a week to go to the World Cup. (The reason we're doing Route 66 is that we were originally going to go to the World Cup but the week the tickets went on sale the price for hotels, flights etc in NZ went up significantly - don't like being ripped off, so here we are Route 66ing)
The Servisair executive lounge was full of an oldies tour group. Some talking very loudly down the phone to their friends telling everyone where they were and what they were going to be doing over the Grand Canyon. Lounge was OK. Toilets very dated. But it was better than sitting in the departure lounge.
Boarding very quick. Glass of "sparkling wine" as the rest of the flight boarded. Seats very comfortable and plenty of leg space. However, if the person in front reclined, it was best to recline as well as the seat of the seat, if you get my drift, moved back to increase leg room again. Push back was 15 minutes late due to cargo. Can't have everything.
Food was alright. Chilli beef is what I had. Wifey had chicken in a cheesey parsley sauce whih she enjoyed - must have been good then.
- Pirates of the Caribbean 4 - OK, but half the cast was missing. Not the best in the franchise.
- Hanna - Good, but will what until I see the uncut version before passing full judgement.
- Super 8 - actually very good film. Won't spoil it, but it is ET and the Goonies on steroids.
Arrived at O'Hare 25 minutes early! That is the earliest any flight I have ever been on has been early. More used to 25 minutes late. Stand was at the far end of the terminal though, long walk.
ESTA worked. Very pleasant immigration officer wished us well on the ride. We were afraid he was going to give us a hard time because as we were queuing he gave one woman the third degree. Thought she was going to cry. But he was nice as pie with us. Immigration can be stressful, so a smile and wish for a nice stay does go a long way.
Back to the helmets. Remember the ones clearly marked as fragile? Handed over as fragile? Whilst I was waiting for the checked in bags Wifey went to find the special pick up point. While she was gone the helmets turned up on the carousel with the big bags. Not happy. Won't be checking them in on the way back.
No airport hotel bus so had to take a taxi. $40 including tip was reasonable. Thought the guy was muttering to himself the whole way. Wifey later told me he was on the radio giving traffic updates. Quick and clear run in
The Holiday Inn Mart Plaza starts on floor 15. Check in efficient. Not sure about the breakfast vouchers. Only $20 per room. Pancakes appear to be £13. Hmm. See tomorrow.
Views from the room are simply fantastic.
More later. Just chilling now. Need a beer.
After walking 5 blocks down deserted streets and at least 27 closed bars I came to the conclusion that something's up. Of course. It's the Labour Day holiday weekend.
So, after some wandering we came across a typical US eating establishment that was open: The Klay Oven. OK, so it was more typically Indian, subcontinent rather that Native American, but it was food. And very good food it was to. My Rogan Josh beautifully tender. Wifey's Madras was just right. Garlic nan that never ended. The starter was a mixed kebab and lovely. Funnily, the waiter asked how hot we wanted it. Hot, medium or mild. My man Javed would have laffed. I asked for hot, should have asked for, on Javed's advice, "Indian hot". It was very mild even to an English palette. Obviously marketed for North American tastes. Very nice still when all said and done. Worthy of more than 10% tip.
That's it, end of day 1 knackered and it's only 19:30. Night night.