Return to the Red Rocks. Day 17: The longest shortest day.

(Las Vegas, Nevada – home, UK)

10 December 2022

The flight from Las Vegas went to plan. We settled in with a drink, departed over the bright lights of Vegas and then, after take off, dinner was served. It was tasty, but filling, so I skipped the dessert and cheese courses and decided to go to bed. Although I didn’t sleep much, I did doze a bit, and was entirely more comfortable lying down. At one point I noted that the moon was up. Ten minutes later, I realised that it was actually the sun, but the windows dim the light su will it looked like the moon above the ocean. Andrew, meanwhile, watched three movies.

I didn’t want to get up for breakfast, so while Andrew had a full English, I sorted myself out in time to have some yogurt and lighten the window tint to allow in some daylight and get accustomed to the light again. I didn’t really want anything else to eat at that point anyway.

Once off the plane we had to get the shuttle bus over to terminal 5, go through border control, boarding pass checks and security over again. Border control was swift, security, not so much. Andrew got frisked about as much a is possible without taking someone to a private room, and we were both swabbed and scanned.

Eventually we were cleared into the terminal, where we bought a couple of bottles of Coke, and found a quiet place to sit. We had in theory just an hour until our flight would depart. By this time i was getting a bit low on energy, so delved into my bag to find that emergency Mars bar that I bought in Manchester two weeks ago. It was a bit squashed, and strangely melted, but I managed to eat half of it to tide me over.

The first sign that things might no longer go to plan were that, at 1610, the 1525 flight to Manchester hadn’t yet departed. The second was when I checked the news and discovered that chaos has reigned at MAN earlier in the day.

Nevertheless, we headed to the gate and waited. And waited. It turned out that our flight crew were delayed getting to our plane, having been late flying to Geneva and back. And all because of snow in Manchester., which had left planes in the wrong locations. Looking at the forecast, it was still snowing, so I hoped that we would get there sooner rather than later. We were amongst the last group to board, but when we did so, neither of our boarding cards worked. It turned out that we had been allocated to different seats, much further back. Still, at least we were getting on the plane.

We were last to board. Not that it mattered, as we still sat on the ground at Heathrow for another 45 minutes. While we waited, I was really hungry, so ate the last of my hiking lunch snack bars that we had brought with us. Eventually all the bags were loaded, which was why we were still waiting, and the captain gave a thumbs up to the crew. We departed for the predicted 35 minutes airborne flight to Manchester at 1910, 90 minutes behind schedule.

In the end, the flight crew did it in 28 minutes, wheels up to wheels down. And then we waited for luggage to be unloaded…

And waited. After such a rapid flight, it was a shame the same expediency wasn’t applied to the luggage. More to the point, there was no communication either. After 80 minutes, we registered a delayed luggage claim and left, to find the w taxi driver who we had already spoken to twice and who was waiting out in the cold somewhere. After he remembered which floor of the car park he had parked on (in his defence, the escalator upwards misses out the floor his car was on, which isn’t at all obvious), our ride home was thankfully uneventful. And yes, there is snow here.

We arrived home at 10pm, roughly three hours later than we expected and too late for the chip shop to be open. The decision between whether to eat or shower was solved by shoving some food into the oven and showering while it cooked. Both were important. We hadn’t really had any proper food today and, while this was theoretically a very short day (it only started at 1.30pm when I surfaced from the horizontal), due to the lack of proper sleep, we’ve sort of been going since 0730 on Friday in Vegas – and that’s now about 32 hours ago…

So on that note, I’ll stop now and do a proper close out in a couple of days time.

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