Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chicago's Welcome Back?!

Girls in travel mode - I think this is O'hare waiting for the deluge to end so we could get our luggage.

Quite surprisingly, everything went very smoothly until we landed in Chicago, and then we were presented with a flood of challenges, literally and figuratively. Our overweight bag worries ended up all for nought as the nice JAL check in guy waved each back thru with nary a concern, even when I hefted up the behemoth which was obviously overweight. There was no line at immigration, an absolute first and we didn't have to pay any exit fees - another first. The plane was on time, I got a window seat, their was plenty of overhead space for our carry-ons and the plane had plenty of open seats. We arrived in Narita, Japan 5 hours or so later, had a nice dinner/breakfast/lunch and then boarded the next plane for the long haul from Japan to Chicago. Unfortunately, the carrier was one whose service was lacking especially after flying JAL but the flight was uneventful, for which we are always grateful. I watched about 5 movies and ate all the meals just to keep myself occupied as rarely can sleep on these long plane rides, especially with two not so little ones anymore draped across my body in a jumble of legs and arms and headsets, blankets and other various travel sundries.

We disembarked into the international terminal at O'Hare and things went downhill rather quickly from this point. Our luggage was delayed for over an hour as a massive storm had settled over Chicago not allowing the baggage handlers to unload the planes. the entire international terminal came to a standstill. finally we got our huge amounts of bags, met Mom and Dad Collin who had driven in from Freeport to collect us, and headed off to the cars. In the torrential downpour, we loaded up the van, which Alicia and I were driving to our new rental in Elmhurst, IL and said goodbye to the girls who were going home with Grandma and Grandpas to get some spoiling and allow us to get some settling in stuff done. So good and soggy, we drove off from Ohare in the pouring rain to our new place. As we were exiting from the highway on to North Ave we noticed a WGN TV van pulled over on the shoulder and realized the reason it was there was not a good one for us. The exit was flooded and multiple cars were stranded in the flooded area. We had no map in the car and our cell phones were not wired yet fro the US so we had no idea about an alternative.  We did know we were close so just drove on towards some streets that I was familiar with figuring we could get ourselves oriented. I went into a gas station and they had a map of Elmhurst on the wall and it showed realized we were just a mile of so away from our house. That mile would take over an hour to navigate. We found the north - south street that our house was on but as we approached our block, an east - west running road was flooded, roped off and impassable. So I back tracked and tried other north-south roads in an attempt to get around the flood along with loads of other cars trying to do the same thing. This dance resulted in some epic traffic. In the meantime, I had dropped Alicia off so she could go to the neighbors who had the key to the rental. She had to wad thru knee high water to do so, and know idea where I was or why I was taking so long to go a few blocks. she figured it had to do with the flood so no panic but it did take me over an hour to go about a mile. This entire time of course I am thinking that our first experience with our new rental is going to be with a flooded basement - or worse as some of the houses had water up their their front porches. Thankfully, the house was high and dry and we were able to begin our settling in. We had about 4 days to get things in order before heading off to Ross and Danielles' wedding and my first taste of Detroit, about which I was quite excited.

Feeling the effects of jetlag - second day dinner back at 9 pm.

Back in action at the helm of our cool minivan.

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