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2024 - January - Travel Day(s)

'Bula' to this trip.

Almost a year in the detailed planning and booking stages (although the first route was etched out by Karen on our way back from New Zealand in 2020). It was booked as yet ‘another holiday of a lifetime’, of which we now seem to be having a few each year.


Yet I was dreading it.


My anxiety levels grew exponentially as soon as we had Christmas out of the way. I was losing sleep over it and internalising all ways to try and get out of it.


I knew that I was being ridiculous and had to work through it. There was no rational behind it. I wish I could say it was down to one thing but it wasn’t.


Yes, I will miss the boys. Yes, I worry it’s a long time to be away. Yes, I worry about all the dozens of logistics I have put in place with connections etc. Yes, I worry about the 2 long layovers we have at LAX each way. Yes, I worry that Karen and I may be bored at time. Yes, I suddenly think my life at home is perfect and all the events I may be missing. Yes, I worry about how much it is all costing. But none of these really justify not going especially since it would waste loads of money by not doing so.


So why do I keep putting myself through these big trips? Simply because I really love them once I get into them. It’s a bit like taking that horrible tasting medicine because you know no gain without pain. We should be doing this whilst we can. All too close to me I see family and friends who can no longer do things like this


In the run up to leaving I was stressed and my fuse was quite short with everything. Now couple that with Karen as usual getting herself worked up over her packing for any trip meant 14 WVC was a fraught household for the days leading up to us leaving. Karen belongs to the old school of ‘Just pull yourself together’ and ‘man up’ rather than having real empathy for these things. I do suspect that attitude only applies to me though.


One of Karen’s cunning plans to distract me was to hold our rescheduled Cheese & Wine Soiree the night before we left for the airport. We had a cracking night with 12 lovely guests and thought it all went quite well. There was lots of laughter and lots of empty bottles to dispose of afterwards.


And so, to our day of departure. As we had been fortunate enough to book the first part of the journey from London to LA in Virgin Upper Class again (with points and upgrade vouchers) we had decided to drive down on Sunday evening to make sure we could enjoy the Upper-Class Lounge for as long as possible beforehand. As we were going to be away for such a length of time, we emptied our fridge of everything that would be going out of date whilst we were away and prepared food bags for both boys for delivery to them.


Then at 6pm we started our journey to Heathrow. Now my anxiety normally passes when we get going. Today it didn’t, which worried me more about why I was still worrying.


The traffic was light and we were soon picking Sunny up at his house so that he could take us to the Thistle Hotel for the night. He really is a nice man and provides such a good service. I really should be on a commission for the number of new customers I have put his way. He did say that I only seem to recommend him to ‘lovely people’ which was good of him to say.


I didn’t sleep great but we were ready for when Sunny returned again to take us to the Upper Class wing to check in. It was still classy but not such a novelty as we had done it before.


We made our way to the Lounge where as I was not going to be driving for several days decided to see if multiple glasses of champagne would alleviate my stress with the trip. All I can say is that it helped but I did have one anxiety attack about half way through the first flight. After that I did settle down and just had normal worries about connections as anybody would.


Boarding was easy and we settled into individual cupboards for the 10+ hour flight. Ironically on a day when any delays would mean less time spent having the layover, the captain announced we should get there early.


The food was excellent again (as it should be for the money). I watched ‘Barbie’ which I thought was OK, followed by ‘Blackberry’ which I thought was excellent, followed by The Repair Shop and Mortimer & Whitehouse fishing somewhere.


The time passed relatively quickly and we were soon getting off the plane. Yet again it was ridiculously easy getting into the USA bypassing what looked horrendous queues at Immigration. We both consider the Global Entry cost money well spent.


Our bags were soon off and we had to make our way out of the airport to get back into departures. Here we found it would be another 4 hours before we could check our bags in for our next flight. It would have been far easier if we had been able to check our bags all the way through but the tickets we were travelling on were separate as it had been a few thousand cheaper that way.


My next task was to buy another Apple Air Tag for my large to be checked in bag. I realised I had foolishly left the other one in my old suitcase at home. As we had another 7 flights to go this trip and I like to be reassured where my bag is and at what airport!


Then we managed to find a seat and waited. The Tom Bradley International terminal is small and basically not very nice. It desperately needs replacing.  Karen got herself a drink and the time didn’t seem to drag too much. We joined the check in queue 45 minutes before the desks were due to open and were pleased when they opened 30 minutes early.


Once through security we headed to the newly opened Centurion Lounge. It was busy. The food was not great and by now we had had enough alcohol for the day and stuck to tea. When our flight was called, we had a 15-minute walk to the gate to join the scrum getting on.


This time we were in cattle class although I had paid extra for 2 seats on their own on an exit row. I was not amused when Karen said she wasn’t sure if she was happy with them as we were too close to the toilets and didn’t have TVs on the back of the seats in front (as there were no seats in front). I was too tired to argue.


I was by now totally exhausted. My body clock said that it was 7am and I had been up for 24 hours. I was asleep before take-off. I missed the meal service (not that I needed another meal). I slept for about 4 hours before then starting another book on my Kindle whilst half watching the old classic ‘High Society’.


Just before landing we were served a breakfast of sorts. The service was a little rough around the edges. Interestingly most of the crew were men for a change with just a couple of ladies who seemed to be in charge (as it should be commented Karen).


The Fijian blogs to follow as overnight we had crossed the international date line. I will never have a Tuesday 9th January 2024. I wonder what I missed.

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