Much has been written about round the world travels, with one of the earliest being the late 1800’s Jules Verne’s classic “Around the World in Eighty Days”, which details the wager and travels of Phileas Fogg. If it was possible to complete the journey in 80 days in the late 1800’s, surely we can beat that, but no, we are gone for a total of 262 days. However, in our defense, we are completing an easterly trip by flying and an additional westerly trip by cruise ship, plus 3 months in Australia.
Our flight was a late evening departure, so today was rather busy tying up loose ends, finishing the packing and getting those last minute cuddles and feeding with our grandson, who will be 11 months old when we return in December.
Today’s activities were further compounded late last night when Andy tried to check in on the normally reliable British Airways website, but received an error message stating online check-in is not available for the flight. Oh well, a minor inconvenience and figuring it will be all fixed in the morning, we headed to bed for our last sleep in our own bed. Andy, up at the crack of dawn, tried to check in again, but got the same error, so next up was a call to BA. Rather than the usual excellent call centre in UK he was directed to somebody in India and what a complete waste of time that was. He got the same message and probably trying to be helpful explained how to check-in online. Andy then explained that to get the error message you have to go through the online check-in and as a regular customer has completed the process many times. Still unresolved it means we should arrive early at the airport to hopefully still get seats together on the plane.
Packing Means Unhappy Dogs
When the suitcases come out, the dogs seem to have that 6th sense as to whether they are coming, or not. Of course their worst fears are re-inforced by the fact that they haven’t seen the 5th wheel appear at the house for packing prior to departure. They already know that when the 5th wheel is involved they are also coming, but no 5th wheel means they stay behind. Here is some shots of dejected dogs.
They might be leaving us, but at least we have each other.
Really unhappy dogs
Off-Loading The Truck
Although the truck is a maximum GVWR F350, it is only a single rear wheel, which basically means we are close to the maximum when towing the trailer. Keeping the weight down, our pin weight is about 3,000 lbs, which puts us within about 100 lbs of the maximum load on the rear axle. The truck can also tow up to 16,100 lbs and our trailer GVWR is 16,500 lbs, although we keep it light at 15,500 lbs. Therefore, basically for a level of comfort we really need a bigger truck.
Being away for 9 months is a perfect opportunity to make this happen. Last week we headed down to Hallmark Ford and made the deal. This is our 5th vehicle from this dealer and Sales Manager, so we got top dollar for our truck and in August during the Employee Pricing sale they will submit the order for a 2016 F350 Dually with 14,000 lb maximum GVWR, which will be delivered just before our return in December. Therefore, enroute to the airport we stopped at the dealer and signed the truck over to them. Really great people to work with.
We arrived early at the airport and were able to check in at one of the electronic terminals. No baggage drop stations were open, so we headed for dinner with our daughter Heather and to spend our last few minutes with grandson Owen.
Judi giving Owen a bottle while waiting for our meal to arrive
Final cuddles before heading to security
After dinner we headed down to the check-in counters to drop off the bags before stopping at the Starbucks for some tea. Then it was time for the tears to flow as we said our goodbyes just outside the security entrance. Yes, we are excited and looking forward to our travels, but will miss seeing the wee chap achieve a number of firsts.
British Airways Lounge
A quick transit through security still left us with almost 3 hours before departure, so we headed to the BA Lounge. While we have visited this one before, Andy was reviewing comments and he noted a gradual decline in the feedback from most BA lounges. However, we can happily report the Vancouver Lounge is 5-star, with the staff the primary asset. The lounge was spotlessly clean and the furnishings comfortable. On arrival, we were met by a very friendly and pleasant hostess, who welcomed us, checked us in promptly and directed us to a member of the staff, who again welcomed us and took us to some seats. She was brilliant, giving an introduction to the lounge and frequently stopped by to clear dishes or ask if we required anything else. Food was soup and sandwiches, which we didn’t try having just finished a meal and the beverage selection was extensive.
Judi relaxing in the Lounge with rum & coke, well after the tearful goodbyes at security
Andy watching the planes take-off and landing while enjoying a glass of Tetley’s
British Airways Flights Vancouver to Edinburgh
The two flights were the classic examples of the two extremes of modern day air travel. The long haul Vancouver to London was aboard a 747-400 in Business Class, but the London to Edinburgh shuttle was a single class A320 that didn’t have an empty seat. Embarkation commenced in Vancouver about 21:40 and we boarded immediately, quickly getting settled into our seats. We had barely sat down when they came around with the champagne.
Judi enjoying the welcome aboard champagne
Andy checking out the menu while sipping champagne
The flight departed on time and once at cruising altitude they came around with the pre-dinner drinks, followed by dinner. Both of us were impressed by the quality of the catering as the meals were tasty, well cooked and served hot.
Prawn appy and steamed cod main course
We graciously declined desert, cheese & crackers, tea/coffee and liquors in favour of some well earned shut eye.
Judi with the seat flat and reading her Kindle before getting about 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
The London to Edinburgh flight was not as comfortable, being a cattle class A-320. Every seat was taken so overhead storage was at a premium, so all small carry-on items were required under the seat, leaving little leg room. Oh well it was only an hour before we got to Edinburgh, where we picked up a hire car for the 50 miles up to Strathkinness, a small village close to St Andrews.