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The Odyssey (part II)

Thursday 19th August 2004

When we woke this morning, I looked out of the window and although the sky looked a little ragged, I thought that maybe the weather was clearing. And indeed for the first hour or so it seemed quite reasonable, but then again the weather closed in and although there was no repeat of yesterday's experience, some of the periods of rain were long and very heavy indeed, and it rained virtually the whole day. By now in east Texas, the landscape was softer and pleasant with undulating low hills, light vegetation.

We crossed the State line into Louisiana at Shreveport and just as we went over the Red River bridge, I glanced downstream and saw a river-boat tied up. This, I had to see and film, so I made a couple of right hand turns and got as close as I could but unfortunately it was located on some kind of private property and I couldn't get a good shot at all. However, just as I was turning away and manouevring to get back on route, right along side me was a small street sign which said 'Robert E. Lee' - so I filmed that instead, as compensation to myself.

Way down on the levee in old Alabamy,
There's daddy and mammy, there's Ephraim and Sammy,
On a moon light night you can find them all,
While they are waitin' the banjos are syncopatin'
What's that they're sayin'? What's that they're sayin'?
While they keep playin' they're hummin' and swayin'-
It's the good ship Robert E. Lee that's come to carry the cotton away

Watch them shufflin' along; See them shufflin' along.
Go take your best gal, real pal, go down to the levee, I said the levee
And join that shufflin' throng, hear that music and song.
It's simply great, mate, waitin' on the levee, waitin' for the Robert E. Lee.

The whistles are blowin', the smoke stacks are showin',
The ropes they are throwin', excuse me, I'm goin'
To the place where all is harmonius.
Even the preacher, he is the dancing teacher.
Have you been down there? Were you around there?
If you ever go there you'll always be found there.
Why doggone, here comes my baby on the good old Robert E. Lee.

Watch them shufflin' along. See them shufflin' along.
Go take your best gal, real pal, go down to the levee, I said to the levee
And join that shufflin' throng, hear that music and song.
It's simply great, mate, waitin' on the levee, waitin' on the levee
Waitin' for the Robert E. Lee.

Way down on the levee in old Alabamy,
There's daddy and mammy, there's Ephraim and Sammy,
On a moon light night you can find them all,
While they are waitin' the banjos are syncopatin'
What's that they're sayin'? What's that they're sayin'?
While they keep playin' they're hummin' and swayin'-
It's the good ship Robert E. Lee that's come to carry the cotton away

Watch them shufflin' along. See them shufflin' along.
Go take your best gal, real pal, go down to the levee, I said to the levee
And join that shufflin' throng, hear that music and song.
It's simply great, mate, waitin' on the levee, waitin' for the Robert E. Lee.

Watch them shufflin' along. See them shufflin' along.
Go take your best gal, real pal, go down to the levee, I said to the levee
And join that shufflin' throng, hear that music and song.
It's simply great, mate, waitin' on the levee, waitin' on the levee
Waitin' for the Robert E. Lee.

We looked around Shreveport in the immediate vicinity for a likely eating place and found quite a nice Shoney's diner. The young waitress was a delightfully friendly girl but I was now in the deep south and to my amazement I was totally unable to understand her!! I just don't know why - after all I've seen 'Gone with the Wind' enough times! We enjoyed our meal and her conversation

The weather was really beginning to clear gradually although it did give us one last burst as a farewell, while we were eating - so much so, that thinking it may last a long time and even get worse, I decided to rush out to the parking lot and bring the car closer to the entrance so that neither Elisabeth nor I would get too wet when we left. Just as I went out of the door, the heavens opened and in the twenty or thirty yards that I ran across the lot and got the door open, I was soaked through as if I had fallen in the Red River itself! However the weather was improving and I was able to drive more normally and in my usual relaxed fashion.

Elisabeth in the meantime had spoken with her cousin Danielle in Navarre Beach and explained the unhappy situation of us not being able to visit this time. It was disappointing to all of us but nothing could be done........next time!

As the afternoon drew to a close and evening approached, we crossed ''Ole Man River' - the 'Mighty Mississippi' himself, at Vicksburg. And there, just across the bridge on the right we found a La Quinta motel for the night:-

You can see the La Quinta - the long, narrow building facing north, just below the storage tanks.

During the day, I had tried several times to contact the clients to whom I was delivering the car but there was no reply so I left messages. I needed to inform them that I was, indeed on the way and getting close to delivery, although there was a possibility that I may be an hour or so later than I should have been. It was as equally important to update the office in Hayward and keep them informed as to my progress. This, too I did.

It was now getting dark and thinking to try to get down to the banks of the Mississippi (we were that close), I went down the stairway at the end of the terrace running the length of the building. A man was just coming up and I asked him whether there was access to the river and he a said no and then added: "Doggone 'skeeters!'" I hadn't actually heard him because he had already passed me, but Elisabeth behind me burst out laughing - and so did I when she reproduced his 'suthern' accented comment!

Friday 20th August 2004

We woke up this morning to a slightly friendlier sky and although there was still a lot of cloud about it was cumulus rather than cumulo-nimbus or even worse, nimbus. We have to cross three states today! Mississippi, Alabama and part of Georgia. Can it be done? As we pulled away, I made a wrong turn at the intersection complex and found myself driving north along the river for a couple of hundred yards. I'm pleased! As I was turning back, I had a view of the river and there, tied up along the bank was another River Boat being used as a casino - and this one was approachable. Out came the camera and I got my video clip of a River Boat!

Something had been bugging me about the Mississippi.......The section I had seen in the vicinity of our motel and the bridge we had crossed was nowhere near the width that I had expected it to be - I knew that for hundreds of miles north from the Gulf it was at least a mile wide. What I had seen was only a couple of hundred yards wide! Only when I stopped the car to video the River Boat did I understand why - we had just happened to be located at a narrower section of the river, which broadened out considerably both to the north and south of the bridge - perhaps that's why the bridge was placed at that location in the first place! And there right in front of me was the 'real' mighty Mississippi in all its glory!!

We went on our way, the weather improving all the time - although there were one or two light intermittent showers.

For the next fifteen miles or so were treated to the most wonderful scenery - an unending forest (I've forgotten the name) which was protected as a nature reserve, all along the highway, mile after mile. It was marred only by one thing: I don't recall ever seeing so many accidents in the twenty-four hours that we endured that extreme weather. Some of the accidents (or the results of them) that we saw along the highways were really horrendous, sometimes involving four or five vehicles, including massive cross-country rigs. The visual picture of one of them still remains with me, with two rigs and three or four cars, strewn across the central reservation. Several ambulances, either already on the scene or on the way; wreckage removal trucks and lifting gear - the whole works! If more than 50% of the number of people who were involved in that nightmare tangle of wreckage came out alive, I would be most surprised. We crossed Mississippi and arrived at the State line of Alabama where we had a pit-stop at the State welcome station.

Oh, ma honey, Oh, ma honey, better hurry and letís meander.
Ainít you goiní, ainít you goiní to the leader man, ragged meter man?
Oh ma honey, Oh ma honey, let me take you to Alexanderís
Grand stand, brass band, ainít you cominí along.

Come on and hear, come on and hear Alexanderís ragtime band.
Come on and hear, come on and hear, itís the best band in the land.
They can play a bugle call like you never heard before,
So natural that you want to go to war;
Thatís just the bestest band what am, my honey lamb.
Come on along, come on along, let me take you by the hand,
Up to the man, up to the man, who is the leader of the band.
And if you care to hear the Swanee River played in ragtime,
Come on and hear, come on and hear, Alexanderís ragtime band.

Come on and hear, come on and hear Alexanderís ragtime band.
Come on and hear, come on and hear, itís the best band in the land.
They can play a bugle call like you never heard before,
So natural that you want to go to war;
Thatís just the bestest band what am, my honey lamb.
Come on along, come on along, let me take you by the hand,
Up to the man, up to the man, who is the leader of the band.
And if you care to hear the Swanee River played in ragtime,
Come on and hear, come on and hear, Alexanderís ragtime band.

Oh, ma honey, Oh, ma honey, thereís a fiddler with notes that screeches,
Like a chicken, like a chicken, and the clarinet is the leaderís pet.
Come and listen, come and listen, to a classical band whatís peaches,
Come now, somehow, better hurry along.

Come on and hear, come on and hear Alexanderís ragtime band.
Come on and hear, come on and hear, itís the best band in the land.
They can play a bugle call like you never heard before,
So natural it will make your spirit soar;
Thatís just the bestest band what am, my honey lamb.
Come on along, come on along, let me take you by the hand,
Up to the man, up to the man, who is the leader of the band.
And if you care to hear the Swanee River played in ragtime,
Come on and hear, come on and hear, Alexanderís ragtime band.

The rest of the State was crossed uneventfully in a couple of hours and we stopped at a Pizza Hut in Bessemer for lunch (any relation to the German chemist who found a good way to manufacture steel in the 19th century?).

It was like meeting a familiar 'old friend' from my weeks of map-gazing when we got to Birmingham and I recognised the IH 65 - the same IH 65 we would have joined at Atwood from Pensacola, had we kept to our old original route. Well before Gadsden - which we would also have passed through - the IH 65 left us and we continued with the IH 20 getting ever close to Atlanta. Both Mississippi and Alabama were beautifully green and lush with Alabama a little more undulating - at least, the section we were crossing.

We were at last in touch with Jennae in Atlanta and I felt much easier in my mind that our 'client' knew where we were and that we were on our way. Apparently she herself had only just arrived from the west coast and picked up her answer-machine messages. I let her know that we would be a couple of hours later than programmed and she was quite content with that. (In fact, we were even 'later' than that: I had not yet realised that Atlanta was one time zone further east which made her one hour 'further away' than I had thought!). Shortly after, we entered Atlanta and I found a car wash and had the car cleaned thoroughly inside and outside - as I was obliged to do. I was in contact with Jennae several times trying to get accurate directions from her but with little success - she herself was not all that familiar with the city, she had only arrived there to attend University. However, the car-wash manager was able to give fair directions and although it was a peripheral route all round the city from south west to north east it did at least get us to the correct section of the city and two other enquiries brought us to Briarcliff Road. All that was necessary was to drive down it and find the 1400 block. On the way we passed a traffic intersection and there, occupying a prime site was an immense supermarket with only the word 'KOSHER' emblazoned across the frontage - and immediately after the crossing on the right were some iron gates leading into some kind of an estate. On the wall near the gates we caught a glimpse of a name-plate telling us that this was the local synagogue.

1400 proved to be an estate of about fifteen to twenty apartment blocks. We delivered the car, had Jennae check it and sign the necessary release. We had driven a total of 3,122 miles through 12 different states.

We asked her to help us get a cab to the airport which she did and about ten minutes later we said bye-bye to her and her flat-mate and were on our way to a hotel close by the airport. We checked in to a Comfort Inn and discovered to our pleasure that we were entitled to a considerable discount as legitimate dependents of an airline employee. There was no restaurant in the hotel for an evening meal but the desk recommended a Ruby Tuesday close by AND a courtesy driver there and back. It was a wonderful meal and with a wonderful atmosphere; I think - without offending the proprietors of our previous 'watering holes' - probably the most interesting of all our stops.


Mammy mine, Your little rollin' stone that rolled away; strolled away;
Mammy mine, Your rollin' stone is rollin' home today; there to stay.
Just to see your smilin' face, Smile a welcome sign;
When I'm in your fond embrace, Listen Mammy mine.

Rock-a-bye your baby with a Dixie melody;
When you croon, croon a tune, from the heart of Dixie.
Just hang my cradle, Mammy mine, Right on that Mason Dixon Line,
And swing it from Virginia, to Tennessee with all the love that's in yer.
"Weep no more my lady," sing that song again for me;
And "Old Black Joe,"* just as though you had me on your knee;
A million baby kisses I'll deliver, The minute that you sing the Swanee River;
Rock-a-bye your rock-a-bye baby with a Dixie melody.

Any time, I hear a Mammy sing her babe to sleep; slumber deep;
That's the time, The shadows 'round my heart begin to creep; and I weep.
Wonder why I went away, What a fool I've been;
Take me back to yesterday, in your arms again.

Rock-a-bye your baby with a Dixie melody;
When you croon, croon a tune, from the heart of Dixie.
Just hang my cradle, Mammy mine, Right on that Mason Dixon Line,
And swing it from Virginia, to Tennessee with all the love that's in yer.
"Weep no more my lady," sing that song again for me;
And "Old Black Joe,"* just as though you had me on your knee;
A million baby kisses I'll deliver, The minute that you sing the Swanee River;
Rock-a-bye your rock-a-bye baby with a Dixie melody.

* Later editions and recordings used the less offensive "Sing soft and low,".

Back at the hotel, we checked our e-mails on the courtesy computer and booked our standby flights to Indianapolis, via O'Hare, Chicago, for the following morning. We had finished our cross country drive; I had 'managed' it successfully, despite my many doubts concerning imagined disasters and potential difficulties - I had driven over 3,000 miles best part of the way across the United States. I was quite pleased with myself and after a shower was ready for bed and a good night's sleep.

Saturday 21st August 2004

We woke up at what we thought was a good hour, only to discover (thanks to Elisabeth, who noticed it first - I had forgotten to reset my watch!), that it was one hour later than I thought. We had to really rush to get downstairs in time for breakfast and the 08:30 shuttle to the airport! There was quite a long queue for check-in and I thought we stood a very good chance of losing our flight. I tried to check-in using the computer but that didn't work either, so there was nothing to do but wait............We made it, as it happens, nice and comfortably with not too much hanging about. The change of aircraft in Chicago meant a ferry across the airport from Terminal 'C' to Terminal 'F' and with only 10 minutes to spare - we had barely sat down in the waiting area when the boarding proceedure began - we were on our way to Indianapolis. In 29 minutes we were there.

After a little confusion about where to find Randy, we eventually found each other and after the greetings were over, we started the one hour drive to Muncie. It was really pleasant to meet the family - Dede, Randy's charming wife and the four children - Jared, Heather, Hunter and Jilliane, and we relaxed. We had stopped on the way for a pizza, so we weren't all that hungry for another meal and Randy took us for a sightseeing tour of the immediate neighbourhood. I found it very beautiful: the style of NOT having boundaries between the homes along the street but having the houses 'planted', as it were, on continuous spacious lawns, was very attractive. I made friends with the children and we seemed to get on very well together.

Sunday 22nd August 2004

We spent the morning resting up and in the afternoon Randy took us on a more 'formal' tour of Muncie and later in the afternoon we went to the local club pool for an hour.

This was Elisabeth's home on Holly for about 20 years.....

I had my first experience of root beer - something I had always heard and read about as being an integral part of American culture but never tasted. I'm afraid I was totally unimpressed by this famous American 'institution'. If anything the taste reminded me of Wintergreen - methyl salicylate - (a well known aromatic oil used in pharmaceutical preparations usually as an ingredient for liniments and ointments).

Monday 23rd August 2004

This morning, at an appropriate hour, we went into town to start proceedings for obtaining Elisabeth's pension via the Social Security office. First we went to the Bluebottle Cafe for buttered toast and coffee. At the Social Security office, we discovered that we had left Elisabeth's birth certificate in Israel. We tried to figure out a way of overcoming this difficulty by offering an authenticated photocopy of her U.S. naturalization certificate the following day - if that would suffice.

Randy took us home and later we drove with him to his place of work and took over the car. At that same factory, we went to meet a dear friend of Elisabeth's whom she had known when she, too, worked there. We had intended afterwards for Elisabeth to go to the hairdresser but we spent a little more time than anticipated and then it was too late, so we went home. In the evening, when Dede was home she and I went for a walk round the quiet streets of the neighbourhood and I found myself becoming more and more enchanted with the style and ambience of the homes - some of them appeared quite luxurious. Jilliane joined us for the first part of the walk but the pace we set was a little too much for her and we took her home. It was the first time I had exercised properly for the best part of the year and I only just managed to keep up. We watched some TV during the evening - some of the programmes really brought back memories - like "All in the Family"!

Tuesday 24th August 2004

This morning we returned to the Social Security office in the hope that the photocopy would be sufficient. Unfortunately it was not and so we will have to go to Indianapolis and get a fresh copy from the Office of Immigration. After that we spent most of the day at home looking after Jilliane and Hunter. We 'chatted' with Eric and booked our flight to Paris for September 1st - next Wednesday. Heather and Jared came over and we baby-sat the four children while Dede went to a short PTA meeting.

Wednesday 25th August 2004

Today we went into Indianapolis to try and get a copy of Elisabeth's naturalization certificate. The centre of Indianapolis is very beautiful with many fine buildings. After a short search we found the office on North Meridian and waited our turn to be seen. Apparently we need further documentation plus a search fee of U$210!! We were also informed that the search itself can take as long as 90 days. Clearly the continuation of the proceedure can only take place when we are already back home. For instance, Elisabeth's birth-certificate can only be obtained from the French authorities in Nantes and we will probably initiate that part only when we arrive in Paris on the way home.

On the way home, we stopped at Anderson where there was a good western store and I chose what I had been looking for all the way across the southern states - a really typical stetson.

The store also had a saddle-makers and it occured to me that they may have the special screws that I needed to shorten some belts we had bought in Berlin - they had indeed and we bought a couple. A little further on I took an exit for Muncie but discovered it was an early turn off; I should have taken the next one. This one took us too far south and into the east side of Muncie where I had never been before. I was completely disoriented and it took a while to get myself back to West Jackson.

Thursday 26th August 2004

This morning, we went out with Randy and Jilliane, dropping her off at school and continuing on to the bank so that Elisabeth can open an American account. Here, again, things did not work out as simply as we anticipated: in order for Elisabeth to open an account she must produce current proof of being a state resident. This simple document is obtainable from the Bureau of Vehicle Registration. Randy would also need to provide some authenticating document. From then on, things went smoothly; Elisabeth got her resident's card for U$9, Randy picked up some documentation from home and we went back to the bank and she opened her account. From there we all went to a genuine Mexican restaurant for a terrific lunch! Randy took us home and leaving Jilliane with the neighbour until her PT class, he rushed off to work.

After a brief wait, Rex and Ilena Howell - old and dear friends of Elisabeth came to pick us up and drove us to their home in Parker City for the evening. It was delightful. The drive there was through real 'heartland America' country and its meaning was brought home to me by Rex's enthusiastic comments and description of his locality along the way. This visit will remain one of my warmest and cherished memories. Rex, for me is the epitome of what 'America' is all about - warm, homely, a man of the earth, living a wonderful peaceful 'evening' of his life in deep rural middle-America. Here is a piece of that rural 'Americana' from way back....

This photo of Rex with Ilena was taken just after we were there, when they were on a visit to Las Vegas and met Michelle and John :-

He was so interesting and warm. Their home, and his collection of so many bits of memorabilia - agricultural and otherwise - was fascinating and full of history. They later took us to Parker City for a pizza and then drove us home. A truly warm interesting visit with wonderful people.

No - this is Rex's, not mine - but I can dream, can't I?:-

...........and I was almost as proud of the Stars and Stripes as I am of the Star of David...............!!

Friday 27th August 2004

Today is the day we drive to West Lafayette to meet Joyce and Les - family friends of Eliezer and Ilana Lerner. The route was really easy, driving first west and then north - quite straightforward and through very pleasant scenery - agricultural land growing corn, corn, corn and corn! Getting to West Lafayette was, as I said, quite easy. Getting through the urban tangle was another matter but at last we got it right. It was a pleasure to meet them after having been in touch with them only by e-mail for about 8 years - and then only as the amanuensis of Eliezer. Only afterwards did the friendship develop on a more personal level. Of course the Wabash plays a big part in the story because of its association with the filmed biography of Al Jolson - it being the first song we hear him sing as a teenager in a burlesque theatre. And at last I had found a good legitimate reason to come all the way to West Lafayette and exploit the situation to photograph AND film the Wabash!

Here it is.......

Round my Indiana homesteads wave the cornfields,
In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool.
Oftentimes my thoughts revert to scenes of childhood,
Where I first received my lessons, nature's school.
But one thing there is missing in the picture,
Without her face it seems so incomplete.
I long to see my mother in the doorway,
As she stood there years ago, her boy to greet.

Oh, the moonlight's fair tonight along the Wabash,
From the fields there comes the breath of newmown hay.
Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
On the banks of the Wabash, far away.

- sorry, no moonlight, no candle-lights gleaming and no sycamores! Dunno where Paul Dresser saw them! (Actually - my sources of information say that the words were written by Paul's brother Theodore (Dreiser - of 'American Tragedy' fame) and that Paul wrote the music).

When we reached Muncie, we went directly to Elisabeth's friends, Bill & Miriam Bales, who live on Weir Drive - a lovely area in north Muncie, about three miles from Randy's home. We spent a lovely couple of hours there and then just as we left a sudden, violent storm broke out and we just managed to cover the five yards to the car before the heavens opened. Fortunately it didn't last long and by the time we got home, it had already stopped.

Saturday 28th August 2004

Dede's parents, John and Sandy, live on a large country estate called Shamrock Lakes with fine houses dotted over quite a few hundred acres. There are a number of lakes joined together.

Some of them are natural and some created, all joined together by the original, natural stream. I had long been looking forward to meeting John and Sandy; they had been consistently lauded by Elisabeth and her praise was not misplaced. They are charming lovable people and we spent a delightful number of hours with them - John and I doing some fishing in the lake thirty yards from his back door. It was the first time I had done any fishing since 1987, when I had gone back to England for a holiday with my sons, Alex and Arieh.

John and Randy in the background

Then John took me for a 20-minute drive round the whole estate in his golf-cart. Just before leaving he presented me with a real silver Bullion American Eagle Dollar - what a wonderful flattering gift for someone to receive!!

  

John was excellent company and I spent most of my time there with him and Randy, rather than with Sandy who was, nevertheless very hospitable. Dede's sister, Christina, was also there with her 'beau' and it was a very pleasant visit.

Sunday 29th August 2004

We had planned to visit the synagogue this morning. It had been closed on our previous visit a day or so after arriving and we supposed that it would be open today. Not so - so I didn't get to see the congregation and its synagogue this time. Another plan that didn't quite come off - simply because of the cost - was the idea of back-tracking part of the route and travelling south for a total of two days, there and back, to Kentucky - or even Tennessee - to visit a couple of the places we had missed because of our changed    itinerary .

In the afternoon, we went to one of the large local Malls to keep Dede company while she shopped with the children, Heather and Jilliane. Elisabeth took the opportunity of having her hair done and unfortunately the girl made a mess of it, turning part of the hair on the forehead a somewhat orangy colour. Elisabeth was distressed about it (what woman wouldn't have been?). We spent the evening quietly at home; our visit is drawing to a close and perhaps the 'need to see and do' is slowing down a little.

Monday 30th August 2004

This morning, with Elisabeth still understandably upset about her hair, we decided to return and make a serious complaint to the management. This we did and the duty manageress was most apologetic and undertook to redo Elisabeth's hair at no cost, which she did. It wasn't exactly the original shade, being a shade or two darker but at least it was uniform and a more sedate colour. In the meantime Randy and I wandered around the Mall looking at the stores before driving to pick Jilliane up from school and then returning to pick Elisabeth up.

Afterwards we went to the Long John Silver fish restaurant for a meal and in the evening went with Dede and Jilliane to drop the MPV off at the garage for servicing and repairs and then go and watch Jilliane at her dance class.

Tuesday 31st August 2004

Things are definitely winding down now and most of the day was spent preparing for our departure tomorrow and our return home via Paris. We dropped Randy off at work with Dede's car. Hunter, the third in line of Randy's children, came by later and we all spent some time together before we said our goodbyes to the kids - Jared, Heather, Hunter and Jilliane. It had been a wonderful visit and I enjoyed every minute getting to know the rest of Elisabeth's immediate family and friends. Dede had been wonderfully hospitable and I found her a truly competent and dedicated mother to the children; it was - as it always is - sad to say goodbye, but it was good to think about returning home as well. Tomorrow morning we will be leaving for Indianapolis and the flight east...............

Wednesday 1st September 2004

In good time we left for Indianapolis with Randy and an unexpected traffic diversion caused us to take a route with which Randy was not entirely familiar. It proved difficult to find a cross street which would take us back to the IH 69. We had to travel quite a bit directly south until getting to a westbound highway for Indianapolis.

At the airport we said our farewells to Randy and went into the airport. The flight back to O'Hare was uneventful although the check-in clerk had warned us that the eastbound flight to Paris was looking seriously over-booked. Maintaining an air of confidence, we got to O'Hare and went through the process of checking-in and began waiting for the flight to be called. As usual the tension rose as we watched the passengers checking in - some of them dangerously close to take-off time. As it had been at Frankfurt, so it was here: quite a few airline staff turned up at the last minute and, together with other standby passengers who also had preference over us, they took the last available places and we realised that we were not going to get on this flight.

When it became clear that we had no viable alternative - say, through London - we began looking for an overnight motel after having our reservations transferred to the following day. We found a motel with a courtesy shuttle and reserved a room. We arrived too late for a meal but there was an excellent Chinese Red Sun help-yourself across the street, the same chain we had been taken to on one occasion in Muncie. We went there and had an excellent meal.

Thursday 2nd September 2004

Back to the airport for another five to six hours of wait. The thought of being so close to Chicago, where there were many places I would have liked to see, was enticing, but the weather was so very hot and muggy, that the thought of wandering round and getting all hot and sweaty and then having to spend many hours in close proximity to others on an international flight was not very attractive so we just waited it out for the second day and again we were disappointed, even after being transferred to two alternative flights: as the last minutes ticked away, we saw the last available places taken up. So we chose another motel the second night having been a little disappointed with the maintenance of the first. This one was much better especially the breakfast facilities which were in a proper hotel dining-room. Yesterday's breakfast was in a very slip-shod undecorated room that had no appearance of being maintained; there was also a faint smell of mildew around the place and in the hallways.

For the third day we returned to O'Hare International - we were becoming quite familiar with the place by now; the biggest bother was having to go through quite a stringent security check. Of course, as an Israeli I am very familiar with these proceedures and fully understanding and am in favour of them - but not when you have to do it three days running at the same airport! Again the hours of waiting, wandering round, hoping....... and again the disappointment of not getting on the flight! It was beginning to be somewhat frustrating.........Back to the same motel for another night.

Friday 3rd September 2004

This is the fourth time we arrive at the airport and I really do hope that somehow we manage to get home to Paris for a short visit with the family, and on to Israel - the Jewish New Year is on the horizon for us and I need to be home for the Festivals; I planned it like that....

Again the waiting. The ground staff now knew us quite well and were very sympathetic but none of this was new to them and there was nothing they could do. However, wonder of wonders - as the flight crew checked themselves in Elisabeth suddenly gave a cry of recognition and rushed over to one of them - it was Jim, Eric's closest friend with whom he spends an annual fishing holiday. Even so, this in no way guaranteed a place for us: if all the places were to be taken by passengers waiting according to the criteria laid down, that would be the end of it again for another day! But this time an extra effort was made and with Jim, as senior flight attendant, offering - in extremis - a jump-seat, if necessary, we at last managed to get on a flight to Paris on our fourth day of trying!!

So it was that one of the most exciting and memorable journeys of my life came - for the time being - to a close. I hope, indeed, that whatever Agency it is that controls our destinies, will smile on us and grant us the opportunity of continuing with an Odyssey that - while excellent in itself - has only just begun! What was accomplished was simply.....FABULOUS!

Next time........................?

Please continue on to America Revisited - undertaken in 2007 right  Here

or......

Return to the Introduction  Here

or

Go to my working website at Holylandtours