Day 75 - Tuesday, 23 February, 2010
8am departure from our luxe country style lodge accommodation. Very sad to say farewell. The day was extreme - large blue skies from here all the way to over there. Just like being in the outback where the sky is so very big.
When we were at the airport we sat in the gate lounge in awe of the view. The airport is in a bowl of a valley and all around, every side, there loomed enormous cliff-faces of Colorado escarpment. We arrived late at night a week ago so we had missed this. Lovely big snow encased rock faces with the clay red covered sharp bits poking forth intermittently. Red, white and blue ... oooohhh I get it!
What a very, very long day. The kids have been excellent. It's especially long as we lose an hour each stop - putting our clocks forward.
But is was fun waiting for two hours at Vail airport watching the little boys try and fish money out from under the game machines. We were doing our parenting best of ignoring them meanwhile Elliot invented a money grabber. Here it is:
It's a straw, glad-wrapped to a spoon which was able to reach a penny. I think the materials may have outweighed the profit.
And also, it was and especially long day as we flew American Airlines - Bev and Doug may remember many decades ago when they swore never to fly AA again, this is what I'm talking about.
Actually, to be truthful these airlines are so much lovelier than they used to be. We've flown Canadian, United and American Airlines on this trip and they are all wonderful. (Especially Canadian - it's as good as Qantas and easily the prettiest planes, graphically speaking, that are in the air).
United said, when I arrived with 6 of us 45 minutes prior to take off, 'oh sorry, you've missed it, but here you go have 6 standby seats on the next flight to Eagle airport. Brill.
And American, today, didn't yell at the little boys toooo much when they kept bashing the computer terminals as Ian and I were distracted doing ten pieces of luggage and checking in to international security.
Again we got Homeland security open and check our luggage, leaving us a flyer telling us they'd been fossicking. It was my toilet bag again - this time with no suspicious laundry detergent! What is the go there?
Then we landed in Toronto and it occurred to us that we might have to be schlepped to Immigration again with the whole - 'what the hell do you lot think you're doing hanging in Canada for 12 months with no work visa and no exit strategy?' - thing.
So, during our very brief stop-over in Chicago I ran to The Admiral's Club hoping I could possibly gain entry to use their printer to print off our electronic TO-LA tickets showing we have an intention to depart later in the year.
Mum is the first to tell you how odd the policy is in US airports. They switch and change their international lounge policy like nobody's business. It has happened in the past that Mum and Dad, Qantas Club members, First class passengers have sometimes gone for entry in various lounges around the world. Too often they come up against 'No Go'.
This time I turn up with fifteen minutes to my domestic flight, not a part of a Qantas International trip at all and say, do you accept Qantas Club members? Sure, she replied. I gave her my Qantas card, but she needed my boarding pass. 'Oh, no!' I say 'my husband has it, he's with the four children.' Which is usually a death knock in the U.S. 'No problem, I'll just print yours off here. And they're all invited in,' the AMERICAN AIRLINES EMPLOYEE says,' you should have your family come in, we have a kids room and food for them.' Lovely. Wish we'd had time.
So the bottom line is US domestic has truly picked up their socks. Both airlines seem to be very nice to fly.
But my Heineken was a frozen solid Slurpee and when I opened it, it exploded all over me and the floor. So they sure don't know beer like Qantas does.
Very sad children during the last 24 hours. Francesca and Elliot have been in sobs of sadness over missing Australia. (Funnily enough, it did coincide with leaving their Snow Ski Heaven holiday and going back to school but let's not be cynical.)
Dear Elliot - 'I miss Jack P, I miss Tracy, she's the best teacher.' then tears.
and Francesca - who has this week completely ditched her family and has been living in the Clift apartment very comfortably ensconced in-between their 10 year old Lily and their 8 year old Chloe said to me this morning in the car going to the airport - 'It's so hard now that the Clift girls are here - I remember how great it was in Australia and how nice my Australian friends are. I can give it another month if you want Mum, but can we go home then?' And then she burst into tears.
So sad. It does, however, coincide with five full days of straight skiing powder and late nights so the children are shattered.
It has been a draining day and when we arrived in Toronto we were so lucky that our darling Steph was there to pick us up. After this terrible teary-ness from Ces and Elliot it was wonderful to have their Toronto 'Aunty' be there with her lovely smile and warm greeting, it made all the difference. It suddenly became not so bad they were in Toronto not Melbourne. Thank you so much Steph for that.
Steph is a very beautiful woman - rare cos it's both outside and in.
So it has been a tremendous holiday. Really wonderful. Again, we are lucky, lucky people and not a day goes by where we don't thank the powers that be.
I wonder where our next holiday will be?
As soon as we got home, before dinner, before the car got unloaded Elliot launched into his knitting.
PS - Rick Cuny
is the owner of the bottle shop at Beaver Creek which is called 'Beaver Liquors'.