- Dec 6, 2017
- The year of 1868
Never would have believed I’d be sitting in the top deck of a red double decker bus in London!
It was a year ago when my daughter first emailed me asking if I would be willing to meet her in London. “YES!” was my reply. She’s my oldest and it’s been over two years since I’ve seen her. Yes we did Facetime and emails but it wasn’t the same as hugging face to face. She works for the Federal government with a job that she isn’t allowed to talk about. She spends a year or two in a foreign country before reassigned to another country. She loves the different cultures. Me? I’ve lived in the same Indiana county my entire life. This is going to be an adventure!
Daughter has a million zillion credit card air miles so the my flight would be free. I would be flying out of Chicago O’Hara airport, a change of flights in Dublin and then on to Heathrow airport in London…
The double decker bus has stopped. Must be changing Driver’s? That’s what they did once yesterday. End of shift for the Driver. They announced it yesterday. I was too busy with my thoughts to hear their announcement today?
…First thing I had to do was to update my Driver’s License to the federal approved “Real ID”. Without it I couldn’t fly. Throw me for a bit of a loop when the Daughter asked if my passport was up to date? She couldn’t believe that I’ve never had a passport. She sent me a online link on how to apply.
Drove to the County Health Department to get my Birth Certificate. Feds had rejected by hospital issued Birth Certificate. Then Walgreens Drug store to get my passport picture taken and buy a manila envelope. Last stop was the Post Office. Put the passport application, required documentation and payment in the envelope. Addressed the envelope and hand it to the Clerk to weight for postage.
My next step was to decide on how I’m getting to O’Hara airport. It would be a three hour drive. Leave my 1968 pickup in a airport parking lot for the ten days? Chicago so would I find my truck stripped or stolen when I return? Took me a long time to find a non-electronic truck for SHTF, I don’t want to lose it. Definitely couldn’t take the get home bag along. Well if I take the AR-7 out, knife and a few other things but then I’d have to leave the bag in the truck. Truck is mechanically sound I just don’t feel comfortable driving it to and leaving it in Chicago. I decide to rent a car…
I would think the bus should be moving by now.
…The time has come. The alarm clock has sounded. I’ve packed the rental car the night before. Trip to O’Hara was uneventful. Followed the signs to return the rental. Shuttle took me to Terminal Five for the beginning of my adventure. Check in went smooth. Flight was on time. Aer Lingus flight was seven hours and twenty minutes to Dublin (plus I gain five hours in time change). The hour layover just gave me time to get through security and get my passport stamped. Another Aer Lingus flight (this time just under a hour and a half) to London.
As we arranged the Daughter met me at the the baggage claim or baggage reclaim as the Locals call it. They don’t have “EXIT” signs either, they have “Way Out” signs. Restrooms are either “Toilets” or “WCs”. And they don’t “Rent” they “To Let”. Daughter use her smart phone APP to get a Uber Driver to take us to our hotel.
The next four days the Daughter took me site seeing. Big Ben was closed for remodeling but I did get a picture of the scaffolding covering the exterior of the tower with the clock face. Two hour bus ride took us to Stonehenge. Stonehenge was a lot smaller then what I had pictured in my head. Self tour of HMS Belfast was great. How the sailors could maintain and perform repairs during battle in those cramped quarters seemed impossible to me. Celebrating Christmas Eve in Saint Paul's Cathedral..
Have you noticed that when you are dreaming there is no sounds? You know what people in your dreams are saying but their lips don’t move and there are no back ground sounds.
…Today I’m unsupervised. Daughter’s superior has called her. He halfhearted apologized for bothering her on her vacation but there was a report due tomorrow that he thought he had given to her. He found it on his desk this morning and it would only take her just a little time online (most of the day) to refresh and update it for him. She shows me how the APP “Citymapper” on her iPhone works. You put in the designation and it will tell you what train (Tube) you should get on, which busses and stations to get on or off. She hands me her cell as we hug. Me on another adventure and her looking at me like will her retired father ever find his way back?
Surprises me that there are so many Asians in London. A few of them are wearing surgical face masks. I’ve watched NHK World Japan news on TV. I’ve noticed in the video backgrounds a few are wearing masks too. Must be a culture thing. I like watching NHK because it gives me a completely different (and more accurate I believe) news viewpoint…
I wonder if I have dozed? It’s dusk because everything I see is in black and white. What has happen to the replacement driver and why aren’t we moving?
…I found my way to the Churchill War Museum with only minor difficulty. One wrong bus. Churchhill conducted World War II from a basement under the Treasury building. One direct hit from a Hitler bomb would have taken England out of the war. They had given each Tourist a player device that hung from a lanyard around your neck. A plaque of a brief description of what you were looking at also had a number. You punch that number into the player and a recorded narrator would give you a detail description. Fantastic!
I didn’t want to stray too far from my known route so I found a pub close by for a late lunch. I order Fish and Chips. Wasn’t sure what Chips were until they brought me my meal. Chips are large French fries. The fish was the size of a small whale! The only pop they have in the entire of London is “Classic Coke”, “Coke Zero Sugar” and “Sprint”. I went with the Classic Coke.
Long day. Sun sets around four o’clock and it would be better if I find my way back to the hotel before dark. I was glad when I had advised my credit card company that I would be traveling overseas. Daughter had told me that almost all of Europe was cash free. I had two hundred American in tens and fives split between my wallet and left shoe for “just in case”. Waiter held the portable credit card machine towards me and waited for me to stab my card in the slot chip first. Payment went through and I pulled my card back out. They don’t take your card like they do in the States.
Jet lag, time differences or the different food, I don’t know. Started out the day with a mild headache that has steady grown worse. There is a Chemist’s shop (Drug Store to you non-world travelers) next door to the Pub. A couple of Aspirin will take care of my headache.
Three streets that way and another to the left should be my bus stop. Confirmed with the APP on the daughter’s phone. Perfect timing. I arrive at the stop just as the bus pulls in. I swipe my prepaid Oyster card as payment on the reader. Up the stairs to snagged a front seat in front of the huge windshield. Perfect elevation to view the sights on my way to the Tube.
Fog. Black and white and now fog. Silence. No not complete silence. Even though I can’t see it I know where it is by the sound. Without a conscious thought my head slowly turns towards the sound. I hear meat. I let out a loud moan as I try to break the windshield with my fists. I have an overpowering lust to get to the meat. I try to stand but something I no longer recognize has me belted to my bus seat. I let out a louder moan from my frustration and start beating on the windshield harder.