Jul 212013

For two weeks, my husband, father, brother and brother’s friend traveled in the British Isles in June. Our once-in-a-lifetime trip was at times, amazing, and we saw tremendously beautiful and interesting sites. All five of us were grateful for such an experience, particularly spent with my 82-year-old father.

As many of our ancestors came from Scotland as well as the Ulster region of Ireland, the trip was so meaningful and compelling. We ran across places and people with surnames close to ours, and we could not help but look people in the eye, wondering if we were kin. (I didn’t bother to take my sunless tanner for my pasty, white legs; everyone there looked like me.)

When we were kids, my parents took my brother and me on many summer vacations. When we arrived home, Dad always said, “Now back to the grim realities of life.” Vacations, he believed, were a wonderful opportunity to broaden our horizons and learn about the rest of the world.

But the “grim realities” always waited at home.

On this trip, we got the “grim realities” in the airport on the way home.

After flying from Dublin, Ireland via London Heathrow Airport to Dulles International Airport in Virginia, we were dog-tired. The departure point from the Dublin Hotel until touchdown at Dulles was almost 18 hours.

I read in Sunday’s “New York Times” that airlines have removed eight inches in economy seating in the last ten years. I don’t want to read this in the paper; I can verify that my knees were in my chin most of the longest leg of the trip, the seven hours over the Atlantic.

The good news is that each seat has its own little movie screen so I could watch reruns of my choice to take my mind off the searing pain in my bottom and lower back.

After a unusually long seven hours and three movies, we landed near Washington DC.

We went through customs and passport control at Dulles, and after leaving the international terminal, had to go through security again on the domestic side. Both my brother and I were detained for some time. Our crimes? Neither of us put our medicines in the proper plastic baggie. I had a 2.5 ml dropper of ophthalmic solution for eye pressure and my brother carried something equally innocuous. While the other three members of our party sailed around us, we stood there waiting for further inspection like two bumps on a log.

Finally, we both passed inspection, and were given our medicines back in the prescribed approved plastic baggie. I recognize the need for security, but what strikes me as odd is that this was the domestic security. We were inside the airport, never having left the confines of the international terminal with no access to outside influence. I’m still scratching my head over this one.

Now exhausted, we dragged ourselves and our overstuffed carry-ons to gate 49 in our terminal, the farthest gate. The sign at the beginning of the terminal gave the distance to gates in times. Gate 49 was a twenty minute walk.

Feeling like this might be my last chance for civilization; I bought an overpriced cup of Four Bucks coffee. We passed three more Four Bucks stores on the way to the gate.

At gate 49, we learned there was a ground stop at the airport due to lightning in the area. We waited and finally boarded our plane for the short flight home.

While I am grateful for the blessings and opportunities of travel, I’m like Dorothy at the end of “The Wizard of Oz.” There simply is no place like home, no place like my own comfortable bed in my own comfortable home. That is a “grim reality” I can handle.

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