China2011 travel blog

Artic Ice Sheet

Somewhere north of Alaska – July 11th

The first day has been... interesting. We got up at 7:00 and had a bit of breakfast, then I turned on the computer for one last look. There was a message that our flight had been canceled. Not a good start.

I called the airline and we put together a flight to JFK from Lynchburg that would get us there on time, with a 35 minute window on the transfer in Charlotte and a 2 hour one at JFK. I let that settle in a bit then realized that if we came back through Roanoke as planned there would be no car. Hmmm. Called them back and they rescheduled a flight back to the burg that should work well.

Called a taxi and off we went. At the airport we paid our baggage fee then, in conversation with a most friendly clerk I mentioned we were headed to China. He made a call and not only refunded our baggage fee but checked the bags all the way to Beijing! That would save us a lot of time.

The flight to Charlotte was problem free, and we made it to the next gate with time for a $5 scoop of gelloto prior to boarding. This was a bit more difficult in that Alice and I were sitting seven rows apart on a completely full plane. No problem though.

Got to New York and got on the air train – the wrong one... Then back again and arrived at check in with ten minutes to spare! Custoims/security were no problem and we made it to our gate in time for Alice to get a cheese pizza and a drink.

We boarded with no problems and got a nice back row seat. Of course, almost immediately they served dinner – a nice rice and shrimp/scallop meal but Alice was full. We also found out that it was an older plane and there was only one screen for the in flight movies – a 13 ½ hour trip... So far there have been four – three in Chinese and one in English. I should note that there are about six Americans on the flight and over 300 Chinese. Quite the experience to have everyone look different and hear everyone speak a different language.

We're flying the great northern route so flew over Hudson Bay and very close to the north pole. Flying at about 580 mph at 32,000 feet. Very interesting to see the barren land and the ice flows. No solid sheet of ice was seen – all broken up.

Also very informal on the plane. You can go into the galley and get a drink or tea, but no snacks. Everybody is real friendly even though we just smile and nod a lot.

Pretty soon it will be the 12th as we cross the international date line. I'm trying to stay awake as long as I can – Alice is sleeping though, and I can't put on the overhead light, so I fear I will soon follow. This will be very difficult to adjust to the time change. It's 11:45 PM according to my biological clock. In China it is 11:45 AM.

So far an adventure! Many more to come. Pictures to come.

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