Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Travelogue-Day 1

Ah, a flight to China.  Those of you who have spent more than half of a day on a single airplane know what a delightful prospect this is.  A few days before our departure, I was talking to Christi about how much I had to do before we left on this trip.  How I was unlikely to get a full night's sleep prior to embarking on our journey.  Jessica happened to be listening and she suddenly chimed in with this gem, "but you'll be able to catch up on your sleep on the plane, right?"  With a sincere and caring smile on her face she shared this joyous news, "You'll be on the plane for so long and you can just sleep and sleep and sleep!"  I smiled and thanked her for making me aware of this very relieving fact.  I declined to point out to her how a somewhat overweight, 6' 2" old man with a bad back might have just a bit harder time sleeping on the plane than a nine-year-old girl (Jesi's age on her last trip).

In a nice development, we ran into Conner's best friend at the airport.  Conner's friend Tanner has been such a blessing.  He loves Conner and is always looking out for him.  He helps him at school social events and often aids him in navigating the school.  He is a wonderful person and we are so grateful he looks out for Conner like he does.  Tanner is in Conner's junior high Chinese class.  The teacher of this class is leading a spring break tour of China for any students who wanted sign up.  Tanner was going on this trip, and as we were boarding our first flight, we realized that this student tour had the same itinerary as we did all the way to Beijing.  I love little tender mercies.  It was great for Conner to have a friend during our Seattle layover and to talk to until we parted ways after immigration.

True to form, I slept poorly on the flight.  Conner slept a little better than I did, but even he got a bit grumpy.  He turned to me at one point somewhere over Alaska and asked, "are we almost there?"  I replied, "just seven and a half more hours."  "What!?!"  He wasn't too pleased.  The flight had many movies to choose from, and I watched Citizen Kane (not exactly sure why that one continues to be ranked as the number one film of all time by critics.  Haven't they seen Guardians of the Galaxy?) and The Good Dinosaur.  Conner has some books loaded on his iPod, so that kept him somewhat entertained.  Finally we got to Beijing and parted ways with Conner's schoolmates.

On the plane!  (Conner's friend happens to be photobombing us above Conner's head.)

Trying to catch some sleep
Chinese culture does not seem to have an inhibition against staring.  Everywhere we go, a caucasian giant and a Chinese boy with a white cane, we garner a lot of stares.  Sometimes I ignore them.  Sometimes I like to play with the situation a bit.  Out of the corner of my eye I see somone blatenly staring us down.  I glance quickly over at them and then straight ahead again.  They look the other direction for a moment.  Then they begin to stare again.    We repeat this cycle once or twice, then I look directly at them.  GOTCHA! They turn away, flustered.  Except when they don't.  Sometimes they just continue to stare.  Like I said, it's a cultural thing.

Once we had cleared immigration in Beijing, we had to go back through the check in process, get our boarding passes and go through security again.  After security we stood in front of the "departures" listing trying to find our gate.  A rather determined starer started to look us over.  A young woman in her 20's, she did not relent.  For a full two minutes she stared at us as I we stood there.  Finally, she approached and with a thick accent said, "Excuse me, is this your son?"  "Yes."  Her response was obscured by her accent.  When she saw my blank look, she spoke to Conner in Mandarin.  He turned to me, "She wants to know if she can take our picture."  (Conner's first experience with interpretation.  He's pretty good at it!)  This is not an uncommon request for us in China, although it usually happens when Parker (fiery red hair) or Jessica (long barbie colored hair) is around.  So we let her take our picture.  She gave Conner her qq address so they could keep in touch.  

As we walked away we stopped to get a drink.  Conner ordered a Sprite and we meandered towards our gate.  As we were walking, I turned to him and asked, "Do you know why she wanted our picture?"  "No," he replied.  I told him:  "Because I am so handsome."  Sprite about spurted through his nose as Conner cracked up.  "I don't think so!" he said.  Apparently he doesn't even have to see me to know that wasn't tue!
Made it to Beijing!

It's OK, though.  He had a rope to tie down the trunk.

We caught a taxi for an hour-long ride to our hotel.  It was 3:00 am local time, and we crashed hard on the marble slabs that pass for beds on this side of the Pacific.  We made it!



  1. What a great father and son time ;)

  2. You are a great writer! "Everywhere we go, a caucasian giant and a Chinese boy with a white cane, we garner a lot of stares." Love this sentence!


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