Leaving town on Day 1 took a little more effort than I planned. I had been working on my packing for DAYS and DAYS. I just hadn't done anything about it. In other words, all the hard work came the night before we left town.
And, as usual, my packing turned into an all nighter. When I do something right, I like to do it really, really right and for me this meant packing 12 hours before we departed AND not sleeping the entire night.
You cower at the genius I display, don't you? I mean it wasn't like I had 17 hours of nonstop travel ahead of me or that I was jumping into a time zone 8 hours ahead of my own with no chance of sleeping horizontally for 36 hours straight. Ooops, I guess actually that was exactly what I was headed into.
Surprisingly, for not sleeping from Tuesday night until Friday night, I was more chipper than I expected for the first days of our trip. European travel does that to me. It makes me smile.
And this trip was a real keeper. I knew it was beginning well when I touched down at my parents' house at 10:30AM sharp and was the first sibling present for the round up. Auspicious, auspicious beginnings for one such as me.
And then I walked in to find my mother not only packed and ready but undertaking the tiny little task of prepping food for a whole crew.
Only a mother like ours would take the time before we head out on vacation to make sack lunches for ALL SIXTEEN people. It was a true act of love. This was the line up of sandwiches. You had your choice: turkey and cheese, egg salad or tuna fish. Then there were chips, grapes, apples, 2 little candy bars and chocolate chip cookies.
She was in flawless hair and make up as well. I forgot to put on any make up this morning until several hours later I reacted badly after seeing my face in a mirror. I also was in "wet head" mode.
We packed up all the lunches and headed over to meet the rest of the group at Rus and Jenny's house. This is the crew gathered for prayer before we depart. There were 12 of us driving up together in two vans. We are waiting on one family member to show up. Any guess who it is?
Brandon was one of our very kind drivers and he hammed it up with Spencer and Megan. I think the theme music playing in the car at this point was "Let's get this show on the road."
The drive was uneventful and we arrived in record time at the ticket desk and checked in for our flight. It takes a very long time to process this many people. And we only checked 2 bags!
Meanwhile Adam and Michelle were already inside the airport saying goodbye to Elle who was leaving with Grandma Mellor on an earlier flight. Elle was staying with Michelle's family for two weeks and her daddy had a very hard time saying goodbye. I would too if somebody this cute lived at my residence.
Heroically, they survived the parting and were actually smiling when we met them on the other side of the security line. Our group was now 14.
At this point--far too early in the journey--Spencer's carryon bag bit the dust in a final last gasp. His zipper had broken at the ticket desk and Mom pulled duct tape out of her bag. She said she brought it because just the morning before she woke up with a start thinking "Take a roll of a duct tape with you." So, we duct taped Spencer's bag but it caused an alarm to go off in the security line. They opened his bag and inspected its entire contents and broke the zipper even further. Now the duct tape was the only thing holding the bag together.
Poor Spencer. His trip was just beginning and all ready he was going to have to lay out some cash just to continue it.
Dad made it through security without a hitch. He was our tour leader on this trip and did an incredible job. And I will point out in the future where his preparation and foresight saved us alot of money.
Rus and Jenny saying hello to Adam and Michelle. Rus just kept the jokes coming throughout the trip and you can see in his face that he is about to lay his first one on Adam.
We made it to our gate and opened the lunch bags. Yummo!
Spencer couldn't sit down and really enjoy himself though until he had said goodbye to his old bag,
And hello to a fancy, new silver hardcase. Sadly, his relationship with this bag would be suspended in just a few short minutes. Look at what is in his hand. See the duct tape? This would be an important piece of evidence that would assist us in reuniting Spencer with his new luggage.
Here is some of the crew loaded on the plane. The gate agent had just taken my bag and Spencer's bag because there was no room left in the overhead compartments of the very full plane. That look of concern on Spencer's face reads something like this: "Why did that NORTHWEST gate agent not give me a claim ticket for my bag? Why do they insist that they CAN'T gate check my bag? How is my bag supposed to arrive in Copenhagen when the gate agent (read: wing nut) ripped the bags out of my hands without so much as asking my name? Why don't I have a claim ticket again?" (read: someone didn't do HIS job. Same someone who will insist 14 days later that it was EVERYONE else's fault but his that our luggage takes nearly 10 days to be located. Same someone who will not answer our very expensive international calls until we have called him a total of 23 times. Yep, just remember. Don't ever let a NORTHWEST gate agent take your bags from you. They will fall into a dark abyss that only said wing nut will be able to locate. Because he is the ONLY ONE in the UNIVERSE who knows the claim ticket number. And no airline, airport, or lost luggage agent will begin to assist you without first asking, "What is your claim ticket number?" You mean the one I NEVER RECEIVED?)
Rus at least could keep us in laughter if we couldn't be kept in luggage. He and Jenny are showing their "we just love to have our picture taken" faces.
We arrive in Minneapolis. I think the journey took a little more out of Matt than he expected so he is off on a little snooze.
Except when you have narcolepsy sometimes that snooze extends to the time when you have to make the next plane. This is the wheelchair assist for him. Could I get one of those?
Ric and Tami are running through the Minneapolis airport with Megan, Spencer and I hoping against hope that our luggage can be located at the luggage terminal. It was a good hope, but a vain one.
Spencer putting on a brave face.
After our attempt, we get to the Icelandic Air ticket desk and see Brock and Julie! Now our group is complete with all 16 people. And yes, Mom gave them the sack lunches she had packed for them several hours before.
What we didn't know about Icelandic Air is they don't allow bags over 13 pounds in their cabin. We had to gate check every carryon because, let me tell you, all of them exceeded that weight limit.
And we fly to Iceland. This is us arriving. It was a bit chilly but oh-so-welcome. This is the flight where the flight crew decided to trick us into believing we were flying to the Carribbean rather than an island that is an ICEBERG. They did this by notching up the temperature in the cabin a few degrees every hour until we reached 98 degrees Farenheit. It was HOT. We finally started requesting they cool the cabin as we were all sweating like crazy and people were dropping like flies around us. Thank you for fresh, cool air!
And we make our flight to Copenhagen. This is Megan sharing her "I'm a little queasy and I may throw up on you" face. Lovely, lovely motion sickness. My mother has it in abundance and NOT one of her eight children escaped that particular gene. It resides in all of us in varying degrees of severity.
And we have ARRIVED! Patiently waiting through our first international bathroom break. We are in Copenhagen, the location we've been dreaming and planning and scraping and saving for these last few years. Yeah! Let the party begin.
Just as soon as everyone gets out of the bathroom.
We don't have any photos of the next two hours. These were spent collecting luggage, filing lost luggage claims, calling NORTHWEST three times trying to find our luggage and finding the rental car place. I wish I had a great photos of Michelle on the phone (very expensive phone calls) with NORTHWEST (I can only use capital letters to describe them from now on. You know, for emphasis. As in DON'T EVER LET THEM TAKE YOUR LUGGAGE FROM YOU). She is one tiny little person with a whole lot of savvy. She spoke to three different customer service agents and two of them HUNG UP ON HER. This is not a woman who employs swear words or a nasty attitude when talking to people. She is simply persistent, professional and unwilling to listen to a bogus no. After thoroughly explaining our luggage situation to three different customer service representatives and being told that it wasn't NORTHWEST's problem (whose problem is it then?), Michelle asked to speak to a supervisor. This must be some unspeakable offense in NORTHWEST language. When she asked that question, the customer service representative would hang up on her. Pretty great customer service, wouldn't you say?
Finally, we leave the insanity behind us and head to our rental cars. Here are most of the guys (and me) huddled around the rental car representative listening to him explain our rental agreement. At least the guys were listening. I was just enjoying the first pretty sight in Denmark.
Check out the vans we get to drive! These babies seat 9 people and were true road warriors and escorted us around lovely, lovely Denmark for the rest of our trip.
We were trying to get situated. Who is riding in which car? Who is driving? How does this gear shift work? Which side of the road am I driving on?
And then a quick 20-30 minute drive to downtown Copenhagen and our beautiful hotel, the Kong Arthur. Or as Mom called it in one bleary-eyed moment "the King Kong Arthur." It is about 3:00PM on Friday in Copenhagen time and about 7:00AM in Utah time. We made it!