Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Trip Home

The day started at 5:00 am. Our plane wasn't scheduled to leave until 9:50 but we were unsure of the traffic and the last thing we wanted to be was late. The news in the morning about the volcano was not good. It seems there was a cloud of ash over Spain that was drifting right for Rome. The ash is spread by however the winds happen to blow and now the winds were directing the ash in our direction! A previous day's flight had taken off but some of the passengers had been bumped due to the additional fuel required. With all the uncertainty, we figured better early than late!

The cab was on time at 6:00 am, great! We all jumped in and headed out. There are cab rides and then there are cab rides. I've ridden in NYC, in Paris and several other cities but we were in for a real "treat". It started out innocently enough with a romp through downtown Rome city streets at 60 mph. True enough it was early and there wasn't much traffic but there were plenty of side streets for cars to appear from. Gradually, the speeds between stop lights gradually grew, 65 then 70. Hummm, kinda of fast for the route I thought - but that was only the beginning. When we had first arrived, we took the high speed train to Rome from the boat terminal and were amazed when it reached 98 mph. I was in the back seat and watched the speedometer climb as we reached the arterial to the airport, sort of like our route 9 but four lanes mostly. We peaked out at 102 mph (the readout was in km/hr but I was doing the math as we sped along)! Going around corners, I held the strap above the door and Ann held on to the edge of the front seat. The G-forces required attention. So on the way to the airport, we were faster than the high speed train! In case you're wondering, we made it okay.

At the airport we were deposited at Terminal 5 and waited for it to open, we were real early - but not the first ones there! We later found out that the ones there even before us had been bumped yesterday from their flight. They were even more nervous about getting out. After passing through three security screens, we finally reached the main terminal with food and had breakfast. Then the long wait came and the interminable wait as wait listed names were called, every seat was to be filled!

Our plane was late in loading and we later found out that the airport was almost closed due to the ash cloud headed in our direction. It apparently was a close thing and we were lucky to take off at all. In fact, the plane did not follow the usual path to NYC. Instead, the pilot took us due north over Europe and took a turn west and then north of Iceland, over Greenland (pictured at left) and then down over Quebec and into NY. The northern route added 1.5 hours to our flight time. Finally we landed and it's great to be home, how sweet is the USA!