I'm home at last…although the last night did have one more nasty surprise to throw at us. Our rooms in the Hotel St. Georg were located next to each other in an alcove on the fourth floor, and because the place was so blazing hot (with no A.C., of course) we had all the doors and windows open. Then a gust of wind blew closed Mom and Dad's door…with them outside and the key left inside. In a U.S. hotel this would be an easy fix; just walk downstairs and explain to the night desk what happened. But in a small downtown Düsseldorf hotel at twelve o'clock at night, there is no night staff. Everyone has gone home. My parents were trapped outside their hotel room, with all their luggage and clothing inside. To get by, my parents slept in C0lleen and Armin's room, and Colleen and Armin crowded into my room on the same bed. My brother slept on a comforter on the floor. For our last night abroad and just before an early morning flight, it was less than ideal. Fortunately, the kitchen staff arrived early the next morning and my parents were able to get to their suitcases.
Mom, Dad, Reed and I said goodbye to Colleen and Armin, who would fly back to Munich later that day, then we packed into a cab and headed to the Düsseldorf airport for our 9:30 a.m. flight to Atlanta.
There isn't much more to tell. The flight to Atlanta went smoothly, and we easily passed through customs there during our four-hour layover, which certainly prevented a hassle if we had to do it when we arrived in L.A. I felt a massive pang of relief when I saw my bag in Atlanta—at least it had gotten that far, doing a much better job than it had getting to Europe. The bags got rechecked, we ate lunch at the airport (re-adjusting to the American style of food service, so different from the European one, in a Chili's), then took a flight to Salt Lake City. This is the price you pay for frequent-flier tickets: odd routing. This flight was miserable, filled with fidgety kids and one baby who screamed the whole way while the parents did nothing. From Salt Lake City, it was short but somehow exhausting jump to Los Angeles. I got to my apartment just after 12:30 a.m.
And that, for the moment, is that.
(Join me for the 2008 trip to Bavaria and Solvenia!)