Circling Japan - Summer 2014 travel blog


The media often refer to the summer solstice as the longest day. For us this was doubly so. After a ten hour flight we landed two hours before we took off from Tokyo thanks to crossing the International Date Line. We traveled across the Pacific at lightening speed cruising on 110mph tail winds. Once we got near O'Hare things slowed down considerably as we flew all the way over Lake Michigan and fooled around waiting for permission to land.

The contrast between our two airport experiences was quite dramatic. At Narita airline personnel stopped to help us when they could tell that we were uncertain about where to start. Once we printed our boarding passes with their assistance, the check-in line was short and moved quickly. Unlike at O'Hare we were able to pay for the extra bag at the counter rather than having to go stand in yet another line. At security the line was also short and moved quickly. We did not have to take off our shoes and a polite person asked for my permission to scan my bag twice.

At O'Hare the lines were long and slow moving. We had to stand in line for the passport scanner machines which are supposed to speed things up. Then we had to stand in another long line to see the agent. The baggage took forever to arrive. The line to go through customs was about three blocks long. I don't think the O'Hare staff were incompetent. Rather there were not enough people on duty to handle everyone who was passing through. Staffing has been cut well into the bone.

But lest I complain too much I must also add that it was so great to see our neighbor Chuck waiting curbside to give us a ride home. After we fell into bed huge thunderstorms passed by and now we understand that we landed at exactly the right or the waiting would have been far more significant.

We went to bed at 10:30pm and by 12:30pm I was done sleeping for the night. Jet lag does crazy things to the body. Since I can only recover about one time zone a day it will be two weeks at home before I feel truly present. But when you are retired it doesn't really matter. We can shop for groceries at 3am as easily as 3pm. All in good time.

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