First of all, we DID arrive home on Thursday night!
The car arrived at Shelly and Garett's at about 8:15 am for our noon flight. That was a bit early, but gave us a few minutes to get the car loaded and the estimated hour to go AROUND London to get to Heathrow. What nobody knew was that our driver was Mario Andretti! We went down Finchley Road and past the following Tube stations: Swiss Cottage, St. John's Wood, Baker Street, Marylebone, Hammersmith, and through Chiswick Park. Once we were on a highway he switched lanes constantly and drove about 80 mph! John was glad that the two Ferraris we saw on the way weren't going the same way we were - he figured that Mario would have tried to keep up! Anyway, we were at Heathrow shortly after 9 am.
No issues at Heathrow - we had a lovely time with coffee and smoothies. A different way to do things - they don't assign your gate until one hour ahead of departure at which point they start boarding. Plane ride was fine.
Arrived 30 min. early at O'Hare - about 2:45 Chicago time. No issues with Passport Control or Customs, but that's when the adventures really started. As we headed to the train to transfer terminals, we turned on our phones to discover that our 5:40 flight was already cancelled and all the United Express flights that day had been cancelled. Terri was finally able to find an agent who could help figure out what was going on. They had rescheduled us on a flight on Sunday, January 5! The agent got the kids seats on the flight at 9:18pm, but John had to fly stand-by and Terri still had no seat on the flight at all!
Mom and Dad were extremely helpful - figuring out what time buses and trains left Chicago for South Bend. Ultimately, we took the Coach Express bus. (Put "express" in quotes!) The bus left O'Hare at 5:15 and was supposed to arrive in South Bend at 9:00 SB time. We left late, hit rush hour traffic, and the lake effect snow was terrible. We finally arrived in South Bend at 10:30 last night! Just over 19 hours of traveling. Fortunately, everyone was calm and patient.
We've had a good night's sleep and everyone is enjoying coffee and hot cocoa with breakfast. Thanks Mom and Dad! It will be a slow day doing laundry, starting to put things away, and getting our lives back in order. Menu planning, groceries, taking down Christmas stuff, and figuring out Elizabeth's weekend tournament will take up most of the time.
Weather note: it was 5 degrees when we left London. It was 5 degrees when we arrived in South Bend. It's was 5 below when we got up this morning, but the bottom is about to drop out. The high for Tuesday is only 2 degrees. Please note that the only Celsius temperature there is the one in London. Time to locate all those SmartWool socks!
Shelly, Garett, and Ryan - thank you so much for everything! Thanks for the fun, the window into your lives, and your flexibility and patience having 5 extra people in your flat. It is a trip and Christmas holiday we will definitely remember! I hope you had a nice relaxing day reclaiming your space.
Love to all,
Terri, John, Paul, Elizabeth, and Grace