Micah’s second, my first
One of the first questions I am often asked after telling people in America or meeting other foreigners here is “Where else have you traveled?” The answer to this is sadly lacking. Let me tell you why. Before moving to China I had flown once to Denver, Colorado to present (as a group) some research I was fortunate enough to work on with the team. Then in 2010, I flew with Micah to Miami, Florida (via a short layover in Atlanta) for our honeymoon cruise to the West Caribbean. As for my experience traveling internationally, well, that is actually more of a lack of experience than its presence. One year in high school, I traveled with one of a few groups from a humanitarian organization that was tasked by their connection with a sister organization in Mexico to help rebuild some homes that had been destroyed and work with spreading information to pedestrians and the homeless. This town was close to the Texan border so I didn’t get to see much of Mexico. As for the rest of my glamorous international traveling….can you count the honeymoon cruise? Yeah that would be about it.
So as you can imagine preparing to move to China was a bit of a jump outside my comfort zone. Actually, I’d say it was a blazing blind gigantic leap off the precipice but call it what you will, too soon and not soon enough the day to board that plane was upon us.
Micah’s excited stories
For weeks before that big day and even scattered throughout our traveling time, Micah would regale me with stories of when he had gone before. He had traveled to China as a teen as part of some sort of teen world touring group. He absolutely fell in love with the country and the people.
So he would tell me stories of chatting with people in Hong Kong, riding rickshaws in Guilin, hiking in the parks of Guangzhou, or even climbing mountains in Guilin. He would always smile and seem even more at peace when he spoke about the mountains of Guilin. Ever since he got back he made sure to carry a picture of the mountains he took and later that became his screen lock photo on every smartphone.
Tornado and escape
So the day finally came, we were shoving things in suit cases up till the last moment when we loaded them into my in-laws van and headed off. I remember thinking how if the butterflies got any more confused or fussy I was not going to have a good flight. I was ping-ponging between excited and nervous and I wont lie, a bit scared. So we get to the airport say our teary goodbyes, check our luggage, head through security with one last wave and turned the corner to head to the gate.
We had gotten there 2.5 hours before the flight departure, so we now had an hour and 45 min to wait. We chatted, Micah thought or played on his phone, I read, and we both watched the people. I started noticing some angry people, but didn’t think anything of it until I happened to look out the glass wall of the terminal to see ominous black clouds. Micah and I both look at the flight itinerary to see a dreaded word plastered across the screens in red: Canceled. Putting two and two together, I so the angry people and the now slight lateness of our gate attendants quickly made my stomach sink. The line for the nearest desk with people was too long. Micah took his bag and I took my carry on and we both tried to figure out what to do now. He called his parents and I jogged to a different desk a few gates down that had relatively few people.
Now here is where I relearned that being nice and polite can get you quite far in some situations. I waited politely not even griping when a rude self-entitled business man pushed me aside. So when it was my turn I could see the woman preparing herself for what I imagine she expected to be a butt-chewing from me. I smiled at her and paused when she balked a little. I calmly explained what my problem was and also told her I’ve never really flown much so I did not know what the protocol was. She gave me a big smile and told me that they had to cancel incoming and certain flights because of a storm that landed the entire area in a tornado warning. She took my boarding pass and asked if I would wait while she tried to figure something out for me. She had several moments when she was put on hold while the person on the phone looked up what they could. In those moments she either chatted with me or attended to other people or answered her colleagues’ questions. She needed Micah’s information so I ran to go get that and returned. I again waited in line, but when she saw me looked at me with this silly expression and waved me in front of the others. Finally, after a while she told me that they were getting people completely out of the airport due to the danger, but that because she liked me she was able to get me on a Dreamliner (upon not reacting to the news as she’d have liked she chuckled and explained that this was a more luxurious plane and that we would like it), she was able to get us a room at a nearby hotel, hotel transportation arranged, a new flight path booked and $40 for supper. She thanked me and I thanked her. It took me a second to realize that she was thanking me for being courteous and kind to her instead of acting like a fool and griping or yelling.
Leaving the Storm
So after parting with the very nice lady and her wish for the best in my new life, I found Micah explained the situation, our new flight path (which the woman formed as she hated the old one) and gave him his new boarding pass. Then we headed to our new gate and waited for our new flight to take us out of the “flight” path of the tornado.
Best friend for best friend
Before all of this happened, we were going to rendezvous with a good friend of mine, but because of the change we ended up in Houston, the city where Micah’s best friend lives.
So he came and ate with us as we used our complimentary supper tickets. The hotel room was probably the MOST expensive and extravagant room I have every stayed in. In the morning, we met the hotel transportation people and were once again back at the airport and awaiting our flight to Chicago. We had 2 layovers but the woman had changed that to just one in Chicago.
Aerial views & Clouds
The flight to Chicago was only a 3-4 hours but it wasn’t bad because she was right the Dreamliner had indeed been quite comfy (as planes go). We had great seats and lots of room with our own TVs. I couldn’t even imagine what the better seats were since we were in economy.
Stay tuned for the continuation of our journey to China.
Below I will include some of my favorite aerial photos from flights to Houston and from Houston to Chicago. To continue on with the next chapter of our journey in this series Arriving in China please go to Part 2, International Flight and Hong Kong & Part 3, Shenzhen.