Tuesday, 25 October 2016

St Louis Adventure, Day The Last

St Louis => Chicago => London => Stratford

The end of a holiday, maybe -- but there had also been many new beginnings.

Not a lot to say about the city of St Louis on this day. My flight to Chicago was at around eleven o'clock. Chuck, as generous as ever with his time, drove me to Lambert Airport and we reached it at about 10 a.m. We hugged and he suggested that he might, just possibly, be able to put up with my antics again next year LOL. Anyway, i had ample time to search for a gloriously greasy breakfast, which i needed after all of the beer i'd consumed yesterday. Alas, the airport didn't seem to have one available. I had to settle for a croissant instead, and then it was time to board the plane.

The day before, there had been a terrorist bombing at the airport at Istanbul, so security was considerably tighter than it had been on my way down. I hadn't had to take my shoes off then; i did now. Glad my socks were clean. (They were, in fact, new -- i'd bought them at the Wal-Mart in Belleville a couple of days earlier -- the first and only time in my life i've ever been in a Wal-Mart.) And the agents were a little doubtful about the bottle of sunscreen in my carry-on bag, but ultimately let it go.

The flight to Chicago was very smooth, and i was able to supplement my croissant breakfast with some United Airlines pretzels, and we arrived at O'Hare actually a bit early -- which meant i had a couple of hours to wait for my flight to London.

O'Hare is huge, O'Hare is magnificent. Hordes of people everywhere and usually hordes of people intimidate me but i loved the experience, so many smiling happy faces. And again, as on my first day, i could see, away off in the distance, Chicago's skyline, and it looks like an extraordinarily beautiful city. I may stop over there for a few days when i return to St Louis next year.

Also, at O'Hare, i did something i hadn't done in maybe twenty years -- i went into a McDonald's. And had a Big Mac! Well, i recalled immediately why i hadn't had one in two decades -- it was a grease bomb! But it was also exactly what i needed. I was gasping for a cigarette, too, but asked the lady at the exit door if i went outside, would i be able to get back in? She replied, "Sure, if you have your ticket and your boarding pass. And you'd have to go through security again." I skipped it....

Flying over Lake Michigan was an amazing experience, and i hadn't noticed it on the way down, but, looking out of the window, literally all i could see was blue. From that height, it's impossible to see boats or foam or anything but blue. It's really quite disorientating, and i was glad when the shoreline of the state of Michigan hoved into view -- it gave me something to fix on.

United Airlines landed me safely at London International Airport and, going through customs, i discovered i had yet another problem, thanks to the fact that i hadn't traveled anywhere in so long. Apparently, as a British citizen residing in Canada, i need a Permanent Resident Card to prove that i actually live here. I'd never heard of a Permanent Resident Card! All i had was a forty-year-old paper document indicating my status. So i'm not in a computer database anywhere.

Fortunately, the customs lady was an older woman who recognised my paper document, but she said that some of the younger agents would not have known what it was and that i could have had a major problem getting back into the country. She suggested i apply for a PRC right away. (Which i did and that has turned into another bureaucratic fiasco along the lines of my passport application... But that's a story that can wait for another day.)

Peter met me at the airport and drove me home. I have to thank him and his wife Sandra, who drove me to the airport on my departure date, for making my path to St Louis that much easier.

And that was it. The end of one of my best holidays ever. And i shall definitely return to St Louis.

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