Awoke at 6:15am Dublin time (that's 12:15am Independence time) in order to dress, finish packing in time for the bell hops and have breakfast. Part of our group left really early, like when I got up, but most of us took the bus together for one last time to the airport. At the airport we collected our luggage and said goodbye to our driver, Darius, who had been with us since we left Galway. Then the lines began. First came check-in, here to discover my bag was too heavy and I had to take out all my newly purchased goodies (luckily I had packed the shopping bag the shop packed it in.) Next came goodbyes to Mark our cute little "make sure they are all here and where they need to be at the proper time fella." Then it was SECURITY which wasn't too bad as they didn't make us take our shoes off! They did open all the umbrellas though, I'd never seen that. Once inside our terminal I had to hit the House of Ireland to leave the paper work for my value-added tax refund, done. I had some Euros left and having fallen in love with Jameson's and gingerale I stopped at the duty free shop for a bottle of Jameson's, managed to fit that in my backpack but was instructed to put it in my checked luggage in New York. Then it was get organized again, get the passport out and fill out the paperwork for customs before getting in that line. Once through there it was wait in line for US customs officers. There was a sign out front saying how they would be courteous etc as the first face of America - hogwash. No hello, welcome home, nothing, granted I didn't have everything as she wanted it but really I'd never done it before! Finally, making it through there I bought a drink(non-alcoholic darn it) and found a seat at the gate for my flight home. The flight left Dublin right on time, a 767 this time and much more comfortable (note to self: book this next time.) Arrived at JFK one hour early. Earlier in the week I had asked a lot of questions and had discovered that my "very tight" layover of 55 minutes was not going to let me clear customs etc. Road Scholar's travel service had booked it to Chicago and I had booked my flight home from Chicago based on that, they booked me on a later flight to Chicago which meant that I'd miss my flight to KC. Once I had gathered up my luggage and cleared customs, a snap, I headed for a Delta ticket person to try and change back to the original flight since we'd arrived early (or to any flight that would get me home on time.) She insisted that I would make the connection in Chicago-I was skeptical-and while I could make the earlier flight my luggage didn't have the required 1 hour to make the flight and US federal regs now require your luggage to be on the flight with you, urgh. (Flying used to be so much easier.) Basically, I had no choice but check my luggage and hope for the best (oh yeah, I put the Jameson's in the suitcase.) Left the terminal I was in, finally found the right terminal and had to clear SECURITY again, sigh. This time they did make me take my shoes off. There were three other ladies heading to Chicago so we took a deep breath, I got a cafe mocca, and tried to figure out where our gate was. We had a long walk to the gate where we waited. Boarding went okay, and the flight wasn't full but we sat and sat and sat at the gate. Turns out we were waiting for the luggage guys to load our stuff (which they only got partly right as two of the ladies got there without their luggage! So much for Federal Regs!) After the door was closed, we sat some more and with every minute my chances of making that flight were lessening. Finally, we took off and two hours or so later we landed in Chicago at 10:00 Chicago time (4:00am the next day in Dublin.) I had to find the charging station to call Expedia to get another flight as my phone was dead, of course. Once I had a little charge I started walking towards baggage claim, remember it's a long walk from the gate at O'Hare. Got there to find my luggage in security and had to dig out the actual claim check (how often does that happen?) All while listening to the Expedia guy find me another flight--tomorrow. I had to buy a new ticket, but I had travel insurance so I should recover some of the extra. Having finished all that I pulled my suitcase over to the Hilton and got a room. A room I would have to leave at 4:00am Chicago time the next morning to catch a flight that boarded at 5:30am. Called Rob with the new flight info only to find them almost to KCI, darn it. I fell into bed having been up and traveling about 22 hours! I was so tired I could hardly see.
My 3:30am wake up call came and I packed up and headed back to O'Hare, at least it was only walking. The ticket people finally opened and I checked in, only to find my luggage over weight, again (that bottle of Jameson's) when it was finally light enough it was on to clear SECURITY, which I did with no problem. Once I found my gate I then found a Starbucks, coffee was required! Flight loaded and landed no problem. I was finally home. I was so glad to see KCI I seriously considered kissing the ground. No Joke.
Tomorrow, will be a wrap up entry and photos of my goodies.