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Omens and Waiting: Asheville to Knighton
Before a journey, the ancients waited for an omen to tell them if their luck would be good or bad. We booked this trip back in February and the travel company said they sent us the guidebook and maps in early March. On a hiking trip through the country, maps and guides are slightly important. We never got the package, so the travel company sent a set to our first inn. We’d have liked the key documents sooner so we could read up on the trip, but we believed them. Thirty minutes before we headed to the airport our mail person dropped off the package that had been sitting in US customs since March 16th! We decided that was a good omen.
When we got to the Asheville Airport, we had another omen. Like we’ve done on every of our hiking adventures we brought along our hiking poles in our carry on bags. Alas, the Transportation Security (Theater) Administration has now outlawed hiking poles as “dangerous.” The airline tried to find a big enough box where we could check them but didn’t have any, so we had to leave them at the airport for pickup when we get home. This had bad omen written all over it.
The big question is which omen will win out in controlling the rain over the next week. Right now, it looks like the TS(T)A is winning so we are going to get wet all week.
This was a long 26 hour travel day. Asheville to Charlotte to London to Manchester by plane. Absolutely nothing of interest occurred on the flights. Though after nine hours in the air, I marveled at the almost mystical, yet mundane, experience of being whisked so quickly to another side of the world. We owe the tens of thousands of people that make our magical transportation possible our gratitude after 120 years of flight. We had plenty of time to marvel at this futuristic experience as neither of us could sleep a wink the entire time. Will it take another 120 years to design a comfortable airplane seat?
At Heathrow we had to go from terminal 3 to the new terminal 5. That involved a 1.7 mile walk that included customs and a security check as well as a bus ride that drove us all the way to Scotland and back. To add to the enjoyment the British must be a very cold people because both Heathrow and Manchester airports felt at least 85 degrees, so I especially enjoyed sweating the entire time.
In Manchester, we switched to trains to take us the last chunk of the way. We were happy because we were able to catch an earlier train south to avoid a two hour delay at one of the train switches. Yay for us!
We were to call the hotel if we were going to be early so, we pulled out my phone and could not get through no matter what we tried. We are using my AT&T international plan and we had no trouble using it in other countries. It was weird, we’d dial and in two seconds the call just ended. Occasionally, a fast disappearing error message would say something about not being connected to the internet. As I’m surfing every page on the internet looking for help, which means I’m connecting just fine, I’m starting to seethe. Pam eventually grabbed the phone and took it to the station café and asked the ladies working there for help. They quickly figured out that the number no longer worked! We were given the wrong number. We can laugh about that, but only now.
With the hotel called we start our train portion in good spirits. Except that there was a signal breakdown down the line, so the entire rush hour train was dumped a couple of towns short of where we were supposed to be. They said a bus service was going to shuttle us between the towns. With two busloads of people and no bus everyone was trying to call a taxi. An hour later, a new notification said the signal problem was fixed so back to a train we went.
We got to Crewe, and we had missed our earlier connection, but at least the later train was still running. Now we had an hour and fifteen minutes to kill so we decided to do something quintessential British: we went out for dinner at an Indian restaurant. It was a good meal, too!
We both succeeded in the battle to stay awake on the warm, gently rocking train. We managed a few laughs waiting for train connections. After 26 hours we are in the George and Dragon Inn and are about to collapse. At least tomorrow we only have 9.5 miles of walking, so we don’t have to rush getting started.