Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Rejoining the Group

The fourth member of our family had some catching up to do in order to join the Great American Western Road Trip already in progress.
LCA-FRA-DEN-FCA
I had stayed behind to tend to the dog as well as several home improvements that had been lingering on the To-Do list for nearly half a year. Oh, and I suppose that I also had to keep showing up at my day job. Since my project is still in the mobilization phase, this will be the last time in the near future that I'll be able to get away for an extended period of time. Of course, it should be no surprise that less than 12 hours before my flight is scheduled to depart, I -- along with several of the embassy management team -- would be called into the Ambassador's office to discuss a design improvement to the representational space.

So, after the meeting and between taking our dog to her boarding house, finishing my packing for 20 days away, and general pre-departure preparations, I was also sending emails back to DC to figure out the best way to implement the Ambassador's design changes. Fortunately, it's a common-sense change that is also acceptable to the designer's intent...so now I get to bring in our contractor and architect to figure out how much it will cost and what details will change. So yeah, after-hours email fun time!

I departed the house at midnight, and the last thing I remember before falling asleep in the back of the cab was that we were about to get on the highway to the airport about 30-45 minutes away. After a really long blink, we were at the airport. No lines anywhere. I had gone from my house door to the gate in under 45 minutes. But since it's 12:45 am, I wasn't entirely sure that I wouldn't fall asleep in the lounge and miss my 3:30am departure, so I made sure to set an alarm. I didn't end up needing it. As I boarded the Frankfurt-bound Lufthansa flight, the flight attendant was greeting the people in front and in back of me in English, but she addressed me in German. Was it because I wasn't smiling?
The sun was rising before the plane landed. While in Frankfurt, I got a text from the woman who was cat-sitting the stray kitten we’re planning to adopt at the end of summer. Sadly, it had some sort of severe intestinal blockage and the vet’s best option was a risky surgery that would cause the animal to suffer, so the caretakers chose the humane option and they were with the kitty when it died at their place on Monday. I don’t really want to count it as the fourth pet we’ve lost in Cyprus, but we had already chosen a name, Meze, and had plans to bring it home. So it still kind of feels like we've lost another pet.

The flight from Frankfurt was rather uneventful, and I caught up on some of the movies I'd missed in Cyprus: Black Panther, Star Wars Episode VIII, and the third installment of Maze Runner. I think there was another one, but I kind of dozed off every so often. Arriving in Denver, I was quite glad to have the Global Entry option and bypassed I-don't-know-how-much time standing in the immigration entry line. Grabbed some Chinese food for dinner, some US cash from the ATM for my cab ride, and then tried to figure out what gate my plane was leaving from. I knew I was flying into FCA, which is Kalispell, Montana. But Kalispell wasn't listed on the departures board. After double checking my itinerary, and some online searching, I realized that it was listed under "Glacier", and since "G" was far enough away from "K" on the departure board, my sleep-deprived brain didn't consider looking at that variation.

There was no in-flight entertainment on the Denver to Glacier leg of the trip, other than what was playing on the back of my eyelids. The sun has been up ever since I left Frankfurt, plus the eight hour time zone difference. At some point your body just says "enough is enough" and turns itself off.
The plane arrived in Kalispell at 9pm, and the sun had still not yet set. Outside the terminal, I found a lone cab sitting there. It was waiting for a reservation, but still headed in the direction I wanted to go, so it was easier to wait than call another cab. On hindsight, I really should have made the reservation prior to arriving late on a Wednesday night. Since it's not a very busy airport, we could tell when the reservation's plane was landing...it was the only one in the sky. I chatted with the driver while we waited for the reservation (Bethany), who was flying in from Wisconsin to meet up with friends who are driving around the US for 6 months and camping in Glacier National Park.

What she didn't mention until we got to the Apgar campground was that her friends were touring the US in a school bus that they had converted especially for that purpose. That's pretty cool. The taxi driver mentioned that the Apgar campground has some of the prettiest views of the lake, as well as some delicious huckleberry ice cream at the outpost there.

I think I arrived at my hotel, the Belton Chalet in West Glacier, around 11pm. So that was like 31 hours in transit: 23 hours of travel if I left my house at 12:01 am and arrived at 11 pm, plus the 8 hour time difference--Eastern European Time (GMT+2) to Mountain Time (GMT-6). And maybe only a couple hours of poor-quality sleep at best.

So, I got to sleep around midnight and slept until 7am, but then I napped until 10am before forcing myself to get out of bed before places stopped serving breakfast. The lodge doesn't do breakfast, so I walked down the road to the Glacier Highland restaurant where they were serving huckleberry pancakes.
Breakfast of hungry travelers
I spent the rest of the day just relaxing at the lodge and waiting for Kacey, our girls, and my in-laws to drive up from the National Bison Range.



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