Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday, 8 September 2007 (Atlanta to Amsterdam)

I had been smiling non-stop all day long. It started with a Weight Watchers meeting, where B and I had our pre-safari weigh-in. We thought it would be neat to see how we did after two weeks of African safari food. (Little did we know exactly how well we would eat during our journey.) We had our friends witness our living wills (always a good idea to get an update before traveling overseas), and they wished us luck, happy pictures, and happy eating.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 4:45, so we spent the day relatively quietly. This was going to be very hard, saying goodbye to Momma and the Three for two weeks. I expected it to be hardest on Noble. Abby and Angus tend to stick together, whereas Noble, being the Alpha, is most comfortable when the entire pack is together. And they know the difference between a weekend in Tallahassee and a major trip (though either way Angus enjoys a good nap on the clothes.) I don't remember how many times we kissed the furries between wake-up and lunchtime.

After going through the bags one final time, we had a light lunch, then headed to the airport around 1:00. They say give about 3 hours for an international flight out of ATL, so we made sure to get there around 1:45. I wish we could have spent more time as a family, but usually it's easiest if we just say our goodbyes at the curb. Again, it was very hard, handing out the hugs, and best wishes. But all the time I have been reminded of how great this gift was, and would be, to be able to make this safari, when I never in my life thought it could happen. So we said goodbye, thankful for the chance to come home and share memories, pictures, videos, and to celebrate being together again. Backpacks on our shoulders, Micato bags rolling behind us, through the doors and off we were.

Thankfully the typical ATL experience was not typical this time. From check-in, through security, and to the gate, under an hour. Really not too shabby at all. B went and got a Starbucks, and I started listening to my safari mix on my iPod (for the first of a zillion times on this trip). We spoke to Momma two or three times before boarding KLM flight 622. We had some nice folks sitting all around us, including a young gentleman with a look of purpose on his face. I wondered where he was off to in Europe, but figured I'd never find out. Sitting in seat 20B, I couldn't help but look around us and wonder to myself "who else on this flight is going on safari?" I guessed we wouldn't find other adventurers until we got on the next flight. We were scheduled for 12 in our group, so there seemed to be a good chance to have at least two others on our next leg.

It was a very comfortable plane, comfy seats, with those neat side-folding headrests and a cornucopia of choices with the in-seat entertainment. The dinner was good, with chicken, curry cous cous and a light sponge cake. Of course I followed that with a brownie, a Butterfinger, and a mint patty, all from home. The lights didn't go off until very late, and although I liked the idea of choosing from the movies, I brought my sleepmask for the purpose of actually sleeping, so I figured I should go ahead and get a few hours, but not before enjoying some more iTunes. I had loaded Toto's Africa, and it wasn't until recently that I realized the line " sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti" was a complete myth - Kilimanjaro rises over Amboseli, thank you very much. I should write a letter to VH1. Time to get a few winks, just enough to make it through the layover at Schiphol.

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