As with all stand-by flyers (i.e. airline employees), our travel day starts with checking the loads on our upcoming flight to Hong Kong on United’s internal computer system. The loads didn’t look good. We opted to wait a day when the computer predicted we’d have a better chance of getting on the airplane. I still remember during our early days of stand-by flying when one wag commented: “Stand-bys get on the plane after they board all the paying passengers, load all the freight, and put on Shamu the Killer Whale.” I still don’t quite know what that means, but it sounded like a great comment on the perils of stand-by flying.
|Meryl is thinking "this is the last thing on earth we need to be eating," but it had been six months since a US-style burger.|
And since the sole of my only pair of leather traveling shoes decided to part ways with it’s upper as we cleared U.S. Customs the previous day, my second priority was to find some place to buy Shoe Goo, the most tenacious (and hard to find) glue on earth. What are the odds that only one block from our hotel was the famous Orchard Supply and Hardware, the venerable California hardware store that carries everything under the sun. Not only did they have Shoe Goo, but they had it in several variants and colors. We were in the USA now and living large!
Just being in a nice hotel (even though it was one of the rainiest weekends in history in Northern California) was like being on vacation for us: a big comfortable bed, wide screen TV, fast Internet, and great restaurants nearby. We enjoyed ourselves and unwound a bit after the long travel days. On Sunday morning we awoke prepared to take the 1:15 pm flight to Hong Kong, only to find the loads looked even tighter than the previous day. On to Plan B (or was it C at this point?).
|The Millbrae Pancake House, packed at even 2:00 pm on a Sunday.|
|The California Omelette. It was maybe even healthy since it had lots of avocado in it.|
|This was most likely our last flight to Hong Kong after years of traveling there and we wanted to enjoy the experience.|
Since this was about our 30th trip to Hong Kong, we have the arrival routine down pat and soon found ourselves standing in the taxi rank for the 40-minute ride out to our daughter’s house near Clearwater Bay. I was amazed that I even remembered the driving instructions in Cantonese, at least enough to get us close to her house.
Just about then the “messages” bell rang on my phone and I got an urgent note from my daughter saying that a venomous snake was loose in their front yard and “to not go through the front gate under any circumstances.”
Just as we pulled up our daughter arrived from a nearby house and explained that Nash had seen the snake slither across the lawn and was now hiding (the snake, not Nash) on a small ledge (right where I would have put my hand through the gate to open the lock). The police were there illuminating the snake with a flashlight. Christa and Nash escorted us through the neighbor’s yard where we jumped the low fence and ran inside the house. Just about then the “snake catcher” arrived and captured the snake in a white flour sack. It was bright green, about three feet long and called a bamboo pit viper, one of the more poisonous snakes in Hong Kong. They come down out of the hills during cold weather looking for warm places to nest. Nothing like an exciting end to a long day.
After all the drama we were escorted up to our second floor guest bedroom. While it had been a crazy day, it was so nice to be back with our family after almost five months. It was now about 10:00 pm and we were very tired, but are really looking forward to seeing the grandkids in the morning.