Delayed - Again

In the article How I plan a road trip I have explained how this year’s trip developed from the very beginning to what would be the final plan that we first reached in after having changed it nine times. Contrary to previous plans, we only made two minor changes after our departure and that was towards the end of the trip, of which at least one change was beyond our control but was due to decisions made by Florida authorities, but I will return to that in later articles. Initially, however, we had to get underway, and the first goal of the trip was Los Angeles. We were not going to stay there, but that was where out plane landed. The actual goal of the first day of travel was the small town of Yucca Valley north of the Joshua Tree National Park in California, where we expected to arrive at around five or six pm local time. But that was not to be.


Since all potential family drivers were either busy, or did not want get up at 4 am to drive us to the airport, we had called for a taxi to pick us up at my address at 5.00. The taxi arrived at exactly the arranged time, and when we had loaded all our baggage into the car we departed. In spite of the time, there were a lot of people in Terminal 2 in Copenhagen Airport, which is where British Airways passengers check in, even though it was a very ordinary Wednesday morning. Most people seemed to be going on a charter holiday. At least it was at the charter counters that most people gathered. Even at British Airways, who otherwise tend to be relatively quiet, there were much more people than usual. Our flight was to depart at 7.20, but it turned out that there another flight was departing at 6.00 and a lot of passengers for this plane had for some reason not checked in yet, even though there was only half an hour to departure. Of course, these passengers were allowed to check in first, and then we had to just wait, but when it finally got our turn, everything went just as quickly as it normally does. So using fast track through security, we had plenty of time to get to the lounge right next to our gate.


In the lounge we had breakfast and when the departure time approached we went to the gate, and at 7.00 am everyone was aboard the plane that would bring us to London, from where we were to proceed to LA. When it was time for departure, ie 7.20, the captain came out of his cockpit and told us that when he had been doing his security check of the plane, he had noticed that liquid was dripping from the aircraft and he had therefore called a technician to investigate the matter. 45 minutes later, he came back and told us (he would like to do it in person and not just over the speaker system) that one of the hydraulic systems had a leak and that the technicians one would try to get a new gasket, but he knew not whether it could be obtained in Copenhagen or if it was to be sent from London! At that time not only we, but also other passengers, began to get a little nervous as there were limits to how much delay we could tolerate before getting to London. A little later, the captain returned and told us that they had found the right gasket at one of the other airlines flying Airbus planes out of Copenhagen, so it just had to be installed, and then some paperwork had to be completed and then we would be on our way. When we finally left Copenhagen about 3 hours late, there was only 45 minutes until our flight to LA was leaving London, so we knew that we would never get there on time as the flight takes about an hour and a half.


When we were about half way across the North Sea the captain, this time through the speakers, explained that they had contacted London and they had started rebooking all the passengers who could not reach their connecting flights in time. It turned out that 90 of the 135 passengers had to continue to other destinations, but some of them had so much time between flights that the delay would not cause problems. However, we did not have the luxury as our aircraft had already left, so when we landed and left the plane, we were asked to contact transit check-in, which we did. Here a very kind lady could tell us that we had been rebooked for a flight to Los Angeles departing at 4.10 pm, ie approx. six hours after the original departure. The plane was an Airbus A380-800 which has two decks throughout the length of the aircraft and unfortunately they had only a single free seat on each deck so Tim and I were seated one on the upper deck and the other on the lower. This didn’t really bother us as we are both adults and not afraid to be on our own and also we expected to sleep during most of the flight anyway. We therefore walked to the "usual lounge" at Heathrow terminal 5, where we spent the next few hours reading and using the internet. As departure time approached, we took the small train that runs from A-gates, where the lounge is located, to C-gates, from where the plane would depart. When we were boarding, we were told that our seats had been switched so we would be on the same deck, but not next to each other. We didn’t mind at all as the most important thing was to get across the Atlantic.


There is not much to say about the flight to USA. It was as boring as those things normally are, but we both managed to sleep for a few hours along the way. It is one of the advantages of the flat-bed seats on business class on British Airlines’ overseas routes, at least for me, who otherwise have trouble falling asleep on airplanes. When we landed in Los Angeles, we of course had go through immigration, and since it was the first time I went to the US on my present passport, I could not check in using the self-service machines, as Tim could, but had to stand in line with everyone else. It didn’t take too long though. Instead of arriving at 1.05 pm local time as originally planned, it was now 7.15 pm. When we had completed immigration, our luggage was ready, and unlike the last time we landed in Los Angeles in 2014, all our suitcases were present. We got through customs rather quickly and found the bus, which should take us to the Avis rental office. Here we only had to stand in line for a short time, so we got our car without any significant delays. We packed all our goods in the trunk of the car, which turned out to be a Mazda 6. Before leaving, however, I had removed my gps from my bag and we now entered the address of our hotel, and then we departed for our 130 miles drive to Yucca Valley north of the national park. It was 10.30 pm when we left the airport, and then we just headed for Interstate Highway 10, which should be the "through" road for large parts of the rest of the road trip, although we of course left it several times along the way.


From London, Tim had called the hotel and told them that we would be arriving late and it turned out to be at 0.45 am. We got our room and then it was just to bed as we had to get up early the next morning. In our original plan, we had expected to see some of Joshua Tree National Park in the afternoon, but for natural reasons we had to postpone this, and then we still had to go to Phoenix in Arizona or rather to the Phoenix suburb, Gilbert next day.

The drive was actually 135 miles, which would be one of the shortest distances on the first half of the vacation.


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