21-hour day (and counting)

My computer clock shows 2:49 GMT as I begin typing this post. My day started over 21 hours ago, at 5.30 GMT, in London. It is now coming to an end several thousand kilometres to the west, in the small town of Granville, Ohio, where the local time is 21:49. It’s been a day of travelling interspersed with lots of waiting. Perhaps most surprisingly of all, I still don’t really feel tired.

My day ran something like this:

05:30 GMT: The alarm goes off. I’m instantly awake and ready to get up—a clear sign that today’s a special day, because when my alarm goes off at 07:00 on normal work days, I still very much feel like getting another hour of sleep.

05:55: I check out of the hotel and lug my 25+ kilos of luggage (one suitcase and one backpack) onto a quiet London street for a short walk to the nearest underground station. The London underground is a splendid way of getting around, except when there are power outages or other problems, as has happened already thrice this year. Things are fine today on my line, and I’m soon zipping towards Heathrow.

07:05: Heathrow Airport. I already checked in online the other night, so I’m well on time to check in my suitcase for the 08:50 flight. Security is a breeze, leaving me plenty of time for some breakfast.

08:50: In an unusual case of timeliness, we depart at almost exactly the scheduled moment. The weather is good all the way to Detroit, the captain tells us, and we’re expected to land half an hour early.

11:45 EST: We must have had some extra push, because we actually arrive forty minutes early. Great! Now I’ll have a layover of almost four hours.

13:40: Almost two hours after arriving in Detroit, I’m finally at the gate where my connecting flight to Columbus is scheduled to depart. Immigration took forever, because a ton of people in front of me seemed unable to fill out the forms correctly. The immigration officer looked positively relieved when I got to her counter and had everything in order. Getting my suitcase rechecked and myself through security again also was anything but a quick affair, but it seemed like only a few minutes compared to the infinite slowness at the immigration desk.

14:20: The 15:26 flight to Columbus is delayed because the incoming plane hasn’t arrived yet. The new scheduled departure time is 15:47, with the plane only expected to arrive at four-something. Clearly, that’s not going to work.

16:15: We board the plane. The departure time by now is listed at 16:30. Some red lights go off during pre-flight checks, and our captain informs us it may take some time, as all mechanics are already busy fixing other planes.

17:45: After sitting idly on board for an hour and a half, we are sent back into the terminal building. I’m not sure whether they’re still trying to fix the original problem, or something else came up, but clearly the plane isn’t going to fly to Columbus anytime soon. Back inside the terminal, we are sent off to another gate to be booked onto another plane.

18:30: We’re boarding a slightly larger plane with a different flight number, but with the same destination and the same group of people. By 18:47, we leave the gate to be de-iced and take off for Columbus.

19:52: We hit the tarmac at Columbus Airport, three hours and eighteen minutes after we should have. Steve Doty, my host here for the next three weeks or so, soon arrives to pick me up and bring me to the Bed & Breakfast in Granville.

22:31: After stopping at the local supermarket for some groceries, I check into the B&B and hook up to the wireless internet to check the latest gossip from home and write this post. Now that that’s done, let me get some sleep. More stories (including London, and what I was doing there) tomorrow.

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