A Hard Journey Home - South of France Spectacular Day 7

August 10, 2012

We we ready to go home. I've found I can last in a hotel for about four days before I start getting squirrelly. It's not that there isn't anything left to see after four nights. It is just that I need something else. I don't always know what it is, but I know it's something. That's what made some of the last foreign trips work...we took of after a few days. Sure, I might have been able to last a few additional days in Paris earlier this year, but for the most part...four nights.

The journey itself wasn't a huge deal. We went to the Nice Airport (NCE - not that it was a nice airport. Though it was nice. You get it...), flew to Heathrow without incident. There was a screaming baby on the flight though. Poor baby.

At Heathrow, there was a bit of power shopping. Apparently, since we didn't end up purchasing a lot during the trip we needed to make up for it at Heathrow. It wasn't much, really. But a few gifts were purchased. And I found the tea I normally order, but in bulk form (seriously), so it would have been dumb not to buy it.

Afternoon flights from Europe are not easy. There's never a great time to sleep. And flights are never comfortable. We flew British Airways from Chicago to London. There was enough space and TV screens on the back of each seat. The flight from London to Chicago was on American Airlines. We seemed to have less space (especially Mom on her leg room) and they were playing the same movie on every screen...not on the back of every seat. Bright side, the food on AA was much better than on BA. Though I did feel a bit judged when I got wine. Meh...didn't care.

We blew through Immigration and Customs without too much of a hassle. This was the first time the Immigration person told us, "Welcome Home." Hey, TSA...this is appreciated. And the best moment came from the Customs guy. Customs is the place where Mom and I got into trouble one time (a day trip into Vancouver...will try to remember to recount that story soon). Turns out Customs guys don't entirely have a sense of humor. I always struggle when I check the "yes, I have food" box on the form.

The Customs Guy: "What kind of food do you have with you??"
Me: "Wine. Tea. Cookies. Candies."
The Customs Guy: "You know, some of those aren't food."
Me: "Wine isn't food??"
The Customs Guy: (laughing) "Nice try, babe. Get outta here."
The Second Customs Guy: (turning around as we start walking down the hallway) "It should be!!"

Dad and Elias had already been hanging out at the O'Hare Oasis and made it to us pretty quickly. We loaded the heavy luggage into the car and started our way back home. Here's where it got hard. Mom asked how puppy-face was doing.

Abby was an old puppy. We knew she was fading. And we hoped she would be ok for just a little while longer. Unfortunately, Dad and Elias had their own horrible adventure while we were gone. Abby couldn't hold on long enough for us to come back. They had to take her in on Wednesday and she wasn't coming home. Everyone in the car cried the whole way home. Mom was devastated that she didn't have a chance to say goodbye. Dad and Elias had to deal with all of this by themselves while we were blissfully unaware. I think I was mostly silent, because I didn't trust my voice.

We had so many wonderful things happen over the last week that the loss of our little friend couldn't cast a cloud the trip itself. There were fireworks and castles and cruises and Medieval villages. We had wine and fois gras and super rare steak and macarons. We got sunburned and wore sweat bibs and walked a lot and were exhausted. Mom said, "We can't really call this a vacation, because we didn't have time to rest." We traveled. We toured. We saw everything. Resting comes when we get home. And probably over the next week (Hello, Jet lag!!). I know I'll spend the next several days and weeks working like crazy to make up for being out of the office for a week. But I also know I can take a moment when things get overwhelming (as I know they will next week...and for a few more weeks) and realize what all we did during this vacation. This trip. This tour. It was a blast.

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