The long trip home

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
1
4
9
Trip End Jun 30, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, January 25, 2008

Saturday, Jan. 26
That evening we got the email we dreaded. Daddy died but it was the best possible way-he died in his sleep, next to Mother, peacefully. He lived a long, full life and was a wonderful father-both my parents were wonderful and always there for me.  Daddy was smart and always fascinated with history-because of him I grew up loving books, loving history.  He gave me the foundation of history that took me into the study of history in college and later, he gave me to push and the confidence to pursue my PhD In history while he and Mother stood behind me and the kids and always gave us every kind of love and support we needed!  We knew we wanted to be there for Mother and told my brothers that we were coming.  They agreed that the funeral would be put off til we could get  there.  After a lot of scrambling around, we found cheap fares from Shanghai so that we all three could travel together-sounded like a great idea, eh?  Travis and I would leave GZ Monday midday and get to Shanghai mid-afternoon and then we'd take off for the US the next day. GREAT PLAN!!!  We also planned to stay only a week and get back to Shanghai on Feb. 4 so that we could see Chinese New Year there. 
Sunday, January 27
Well, obviously, this day was spent in frantic packing esp. since we planned to stay in Shanghai until Feb. 13 and then Travis and I were going to fly to Australia for a week's visit with my friend, Lizzie, who runs a holiday resort with her partner, Bob, in Narooma which is a small coastal town near Sydney-fares for Australia are MUCH cheaper from HongKong than the US and we have until the 21st of February off.  So, we had to pack for San Antonio in the winter and Shanghai but also plan for Australia in the summer!  There was lots of thinking-rather muddled thinking considering the circumstances but we did pretty well.  Our plan (again, a great plan) was to leave the Australia stuff in Shanghai so that we weren't too loaded down going to the US and back. 
Monday, January 28
This day began our great "adventure."   It was 60 hours of the longest, hardest things I've ever done.  Travis and I left the apartment and took a cab to the airport.  We got there about 10:30 and had about 2 hours before boarding and taking off for Shanghai. Melissa had said it was rainy but nice and all the reports of bad weather east of Guangzhou didn't worry us.  However, it quickly became obvious that Shanghai was also affected by the growing winter storm.  China was hit by the hardest winter storm it has seen in years.  It especially hit the areas north and east of GZ but everywhere was affected by weather stoppages and hold-ups just as folks began to go home to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  It was awful-there were hundreds of thousands stranded at the GZ train station for days.  So, I know weren't the only ones but boy, it was bad!  The time for departure came and went-the airport was FREEZING-there was no heat.  Shanghai Airlines did a terrible job of updating folks-by which I mean, they didn't update and in fact, there was no one at the desk at all.  The departure time was changed to 2 and then 4 and then back to 12:25-when clearly it was NOT going to take off since there was no plane. 
They did bring out free food but gave no information and by the evening, folks were beginning to get very unhappy-there was yelling at other counters.  We did get to talk to one of Travis's students who was leaving with his father-in fact, they got out almost on time and from our gate-we figured they stole our plane!  But first, Sam bought us some yummy cappuccino so it was ok.  But then a Shanghai airlines plane landed and taxied to the gate in the late evening. Everyone got very excited-but no word.  People started
milling around the desk and when an employee or two showed up they started asking what was going on-at least that is what we think they were doing. It became a screaming yelling match with upset Chinese yelling and one lone Frenchman urging them on yelling "we just want news!"  Apparently there wasn't enough news because about 1am, they suddenly just walked around the desk and boarded the plane-it was amazing.  Travis and I along with the Frenchman who we called the revolutionary went along.  We all sat down and waited. IT was WARM in the plane so we were happy with that if nothing else!!!

Once on the plane, the Shanghai Airlines folks took our boarding passes and then apparently thought differently and announced the flight was cancelled and that we should get off.  Everyone refused especially since they had our boarding passes!  So, they gave us dinner.  Then they tried again-no dice. No one would leave. Then they said, basically, ok, fine -go to sleep! And turned off the lights so everyone went to sleep for a few hours. 
About 6 Tuesday morning, they came on and said that they had boarding passes for a new plane.  About of us believed them and got off-got the new boarding passes for another plane.  But they still had to lure the others off.  They wouldn't come-they even took the boarding passes onto the plane to show them-a few came then. They got the rest of us on a bus to go to the other plane and FINALLY the others straggled off the first plane but it took forever.  It made the take off at least an hour later than it should've been. Once on the plane there was a long delay while the plane had to wait to be queued into the line of planes waiting to take off.  By that time it was too late for us to make our flight to San Francisco!  OR it was very close.  Melissa, bless her heart, was in the airport in Shanghai trying to decide what to do. United Airlines was lovely and completely reconstructed a trip for us-leaving later from Shanghai and now going through Chicago (uh oh-bad news there) and getting into San Antonio later that evening but still in time to get in, rest and then go to San Angelo for the funeral on Wednesday.  So, it would seem.
We finally got to Shanghai and took the shuttle to the other airport-that took an hour.  Remarkably, our luggage made it to Shanghai with us which stunned us both.  By the time we got to PuDong Airport, it was exactly 1:45-the time our first flight was supposed to take off. We might have even made it but Melissa had already switched us to the later one so we met up with her, got food and waited.  We took off (on time) to Chicago about 4 in the afternoon and settled in-rather exhaustedly-for the long flight which went just fine.  We landed in Chicago about 5 in the afternoon (same day ) and got to our gate feeling pretty good-the plane had several hours before take off but the weather looked fine!  It was a little raining but nothing bad.  Suddenly we look out the window and it's a blizzard! Things went down from there-flights cancelled, stress, worry.  But our flight continued to be listed and we were kept updated (a novel concept) as to the conditions and all.  About 1 in the morning, the plane arrived from San Antonio! It was a amazing.  They had to find a crew which took a while but suddenly about 2 we were put on the plane and waited for de-icing and take off!  I couldn't believe it. We were going to get to San Antonio about 5 in the morning and be able to drive to San Angelo in time for Daddy's funeral. I felt so relieved-I had promised him I'd be there for Mother and I was so sure at more than one point that I was going to break that promised and I didn't want to do that.
Wednesday, January 30.
We got off the plane-it was so good to see Tom! We raced home-I heard Aloysius yelling Hello! to me when I walked in-it was so good to see all my birdies and dog and kitties (and Tom too!)-Aloysius climbed out onto my hand and said "Are you ok???"  We all showered and got in the car to drive to San Angelo.  We got there about noon and the luncheon was at 1 and the funeral at 2:30! WHEW.  What an ordeal.  It was a lovely ceremony for a lovely man-I got to sit with Mother and I was SO happy to be there with her.  We will all miss him a lot. 
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Where I stayed
Airports, several airports

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