On Saturday morning we were not yet ready to leave. The TO DO list was of marathonic proportions.
Now there is only one thing that really really has to be done – pay the US for the privilege of being on a plane that touches down on its soil. Even if you don’t leave the airport, it will cost you US$14 to land. The good thing is we are thinking we might make it really worth our while and get out of the airport. Even though we have had our flight times for months, it was only last night that we went online to work out how much time it will take to get from here to there and how much time we’ll be waiting anywhere. And it appears we’ll have quite some time in LA.
If all goes according to plan, our flight up to Paris takes only 34 hours. We’ll arrive at 9 in the morning, and even though everyone will be feeling like it’s midnight the day after missing a night’s sleep, we’ll encourage them to stay up and come to the local Carrefour to find a petit brie. On the other trip we were enamoured with the enormous rounds of brie that cost only 5 euros and we’re looking forward to the next one. We are also a little nervous about it all as we have other memories of Carrefour supermarkets. One memory is good – we walked out of Carrefour in Calais and discovered an aeronautical acrobatic display overhead to celebrate 100 years since Bleriot had crossed the channel. But other memories predominate. After driving round and round and round following CARREFOUR signs that led nowhere on many many many occasions, we are left with a still-lingering feeling of desperation that we will never find the supermarket. Many times we didn’t, despite the signage that declared one was near. This time I’ve already seen it on googlemaps, I’ve already looked at the streetview. I’ve printed out the directions of how to get to it from our hotel (which funnily enough are incorrect!) Surely it will be there. We’ll find out. We’ll buy French food. Then we’ll take the metro to Montmartre and hopefully keep everyone awake with the awe of being where Picasso and van Gogh and Dali all hung out until we feel like the sun should be rising (as it will be in NZ), but in reality it will be setting in Paris.
If that goes according to plan, we’ll have a little more faith that the return trip might not be the horror story it could turn into.
When we wake up on our final morning in England, we will know that it will be eighty hours before we settle into a bed again! Writing that now, it seems so silly. Crazy even. But lots of adventure will happen in those eighty hours. We’ll deliver a canalboat back to the wharf, we’ll take a train to London, we’ll have a last day seeing last-minute things there including taking in evensong at Westminster Abbey, we’ll take an overnight bus back to Paris, we’ll fly 12 hours to Los Angeles……and yay, when it’s midnight the day after the night on the bus (according to our body clocks) we’ll touch down on American soil. Only it won’t actually be midnight – it’ll be early afternoon local time and so we’ll hop on a bus or a train or something and do something. Coz we’ll have nine and a half hours to do it in, and we don’t really want to just sit in the airport. Not when it’s cost $140! Most of the kids think we should go to the beach. A couple are voting for Hollywood. We’ll see when we get there. Then we’ll fly another nine hours to Tahiti, wait another nine hours and then there’ll be a final flight to get us home.
And we’re nearly ready for it. Rob still has to go to work every day and I need to finish knitting one mitten. But apart from that and eating up the rest of the food in the freezer and washing the sheets one last time and having haircuts, we’re ready. The tickets are all booked, walking tour directions printed out, chicken carers organised, backpacks filled, sandals worn in, cheapest accommodation found, museum opening times recorded, commitments cancelled, euros purchased, journals chosen, camera batteries charged……..yes, there’s just that payment to be made to America, and we could go.