Journeys home are always tedious but this one has excelled. We boarded in Chicago slightly ahead of time, with the pilot clearly wanting to get away before the promised thunderstorm. He failed, and we sat in the plane for an hour watching lightning strike all round the airport, and once very close to the aircraft, and then for a further two hours until we were able to pull back from the gate. The flight itself has been uneventful, but we will have missed our connection at Heathrow.
…. As we have. But full marks to Virgin: new tickets for another flight were printed and waiting for us as we got off the plane. Thereafter, no marks at all to Terminal 5. The transit from T3 was by a cramped bus, immigration was not lengthy, but is bizarre: why two passport/ photo checks? Security screening was awful, with long delays waiting for the X-ray scanners, with no apparent reason and certainly no apology. The terminal itself was vastly overcrowded, with most of the space allocated to named-goods stores and the food and drink outlets hidden between advertising hoardings. No tables to eat at or put your drink, inadequate seating at the gate. No easily-accessed free wifi – slow to respond and tedious loginin. This might be Heathrow’s latest and best but is comes last after all the other airport terminals I have flown through in the past few years. And this on a day where nothing particular went wrong in the world – just an ordinary wet Monday lunchtime.
I would not like to end on a negative note when we have just had the most wonderful holiday. We had new and interesting experiences on every day of the trip and so many things will stick in our minds. These include the Florida coast, longhorn cattle, Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the fiesta and riverwalk in San Antonio, the Galveston Ferry, houses on stilts along the gulf coast, the Mississippi at Natchez, some great TexMex food, alligators and – more especially – the bird life in the Louisiana swamps, Ole Miss in Oxford, Memphis and Jackson (we could have stayed days more), St Louis Union Station son et lumiere, Chicago architecture, Eudora Welty, Larry McMurtry, William Faulkner, Ida B Wells, The Blue Man Group, Medgar Evers, lots of meals, even the slow train to Chicago.
All these and we didn’t even go to Graceland, or on a Mississippi steamboat, or to an opera or a concert, or out onto Lake Michigan, or into Kansas or Oklahoma (and only very briefly into Arkansas). So much left to see and do another time!