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Sunday / Monday
Days 19 and 20
Amsterdam / Home
Neither of us slept well last night. The usual "Last Day in Europe" depression setting in perhaps (we get terminal cases,) or else it was the all Saturday night revelry in Vondelpark below our window.
Appropriately, the morning is gray, overcast, misty and drizzly, not unlike our last day in London in 1999.
As we sit at breakfast, the wind has kicked up, it is cool and it is lightly raining. We sit here and wish we could bottle the weather and take it home - we are going back to a 100-plus degree furnace, and dry - in the dictionary under "dry" it says "see Tucson…" This breeze and rainy mist is beyond delightful and will be missed intensely. We sit here and marvel at how great the weather had been during most of our visit… Just before checking out, we decided to walk in the gray mist through nearby Vondelpark, which runs all the way from Leidseplein all the way to Museumsplein. There is a lake in the park, and everything is green and fresh. The rain on our faces feels delightful and we try to drink in the cool fresh air, so different from what awaits us at home at the end of today. We will miss the color green. At home, all is brown.
Carol, as usual, has astounded me yet again by managing somehow to pack everything we brought with us, plus all of the souvenirs, trinkets, t-shirts and books we have acquired during the trip, ever so neatly into our carry-on bags. We travel lightly, taking only two small carry-on bags and two daypacks, but somehow it always is obvious that we have brought too much "stuff" with us. We both wore about half of the clothes we had packed…
At around 10 AM we caught the Amsterdam shuttle that took us from the nearby American Hotel to massive Schiphol International Airport. The fare was 35 Guilders for both of us and the trip took about 20 minutes. At the airport we queued at the ticket counter for several minutes, then spent even more time in the rather long queue for passport control, then the final queue for the most rigorous airport security check we have ever seen. But the flow through each queue was smooth and we soon found ourselves at gate G6, and with tears in our eyes we prepared to say Auf wiedersein, Dag, Au Revoir, goodbye, farewell to our beloved Europe until next time. Ciao for now…
Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport
The Continental 757 took us northwest from overcast Amsterdam and out across the North Sea. We entered British air space above Norwich, flew across the Isle and out across the cold gray-blue Atlantic nearly six miles below. We will fly 3800 miles from Amsterdam to Newark.
Sat next to Cynthia Van Dusen (Shanti) who is on her way from India to the Omega Institute at Rhinebeck, New York. Coincidentally, my brother Jim was Executive Director of the Omega Institute in the 80s.
David, Carol and Shanti
After a quiet eight hour flight with good movies (Proof of Life and Family Man,) we knew we were back in the U.S. when we could see below us the Empire State Building, the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty through the clouds.
Welcome home...
The systems in place for crowd control at Immigration and Customs were impressive. The lines moved fast and all along the way were guides to point us in the right direction. On the way to baggage claim we chatted for a while with the pilot of our flight, who was very friendly and informative.
Said farewell to our new friend Shanti and took the fast monorail to Terminal C and found ourselves on a Continental DC10, more comfortable actually than the 757 that had brought us to Newark from Amsterdam.
We prepared for the 1400 mile, three hour flight from Newark to Houston, but we sat for an hour on the tarmac due to air traffic, and then the captain announced that due to traffic and bad weather around Houston we were actually going to head EAST, down to Florida, then west to Houston, adding nearly an hour to the flight. We would never make our connection from Houston to Tucson. We were not happy campers but, C'est la vie…
Tired, unhappy campers...
Yup - we missed the Tucson connection, the last one out tonight. Houston, we have a problem… Since we originated in Amsterdam and are thus classified as international travelers, Continental is paying for our room at the Houston Sheraton.
In the hotel lobby we met a young couple who had been on the same flight and had missed their connection to Austin. They had traveled to Hong Kong for less than 24 hours (but that is a whole other story - they had actually done this twice in a month as a matter of fact…) Next flight from Houston to Tucson is at noon tomorrow. Now is when your ability to go with the flow is tested. We consider all of this to be a continuing part of the adventure…
The room at the Sheraton was a typical American hotel room (but freezing.) We slept from around 11 PM until around 4 AM, which to us still feels like 1 PM Paris/Amsterdam time. It will take us a few days to readjust to "American" time and to the American culture in general.
Our room at the Houston Sheraton
We do have to say that after the small European bathrooms and at times low pressure, lukewarm showers in tall deep tubs that could be quite dangerous entering and exiting, the shower this morning at the Sheraton felt luxurious…
The large and expensive Sheraton breakfast was delicious and filling. We are still thinking in terms of Guilders. It was actually a blessing that we missed our Tucson connection, since we would have been beyond exhaustion when we got home. I dreaded the thought of boarding yet another plane as we landed in Houston and I was very relieved to learn that shucks, we had missed our last connection and would have to stay at this large and comfortable hotel... I can not sleep on airplanes and being 6' 2" I find the seats cramped and uncomfortable no matter what I do. Carol and I have often felt, on this chapter of our Magnificent Journey, that we have had an angel watching over us, and this angel provided this hotel and the king-sized bed for us just in time…
Took the Sheraton shuttle back to the airport, caught up on the news on CNN on the terminal TV, had popcorn and reminisced about our Magnificent Journey.
Boarded the Continental MD80 for the pleasant two hour, 950 mile flight home to Tucson. Cody, we're comin' home…
A familiar site...
At last, familiar Mount Lemmon loomed on the horizon. Soon we were back on home turf, in 100-degree heat, glad to be home, thankful for this most recent chapter of Our Magnificent Journey, and dreaming of the next one…
Stay tuned…
Stay tuned for the next chapter of Our Magnificent Journey...

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