Monday, November 01, 2004


Our day of traveling home from Rome (October 31) was worth writing about. We had reserved a cab for 4:30 a.m., so we got up at 4:00 in our hotel, dressed, packed and ready to go. When we went to the hotel lobby, the clerk said “what are you doing? It is only 3:20 – the clocks were set back last night!” We didn’t know, and so we had an hour to wait for our cab. Going back to bed was out of the question, so we drank tea, read emails and waited. Finally our cab arrived and we set off for Fiumincino airport. The cab ride was truly hair-raising, as we drove at warp speed down the autostrada. The driver never spoke one word as the speedometer needle passed 140 km per hour and disappeared from the dashboard screen entirely. We flew past other vehicles on the road as if they were standing still, all the while straddling the white line between the two fastest lanes. I’m not sure that the front wheels even touched the street after awhile, as it felt like we were lifting off the pavement. But we survived, only to find that our flight to Paris was delayed for about an hour.

Hence we arrived quite late at the dreaded Charles de Gaulle airport, just in time to see our connecting flight close its doors and leave without us! We were to have been on a nonstop flight to SF, arriving home early Sunday afternoon. Instead we had to wait several hours in Paris for a connection to Chicago and then change both planes and airlines there to continue to SF. We drifted around the Paris airport, spent our last Euros on cheese and chocolate, and finally boarded another plane to Chicago (also delayed). We arrived in Chicago with less than an hour to spare before our next flight left. We had to go through customs with our luggage, re-check our luggage, switch airlines, get ticketed and checked in there, etc. We ran through this process, only to be pulled over by airport security for a thorough search of both of us, body pat-downs, unwrapping everything in our carry-on bags, etc. The clock was ticking alarmingly, and we ran to our terminal in time to be the last people on the plane just as it was leaving. Stress! Of course we did not get to sit together on any of these flights, due to the changed plans.

Phil and Megan had generously offered to pick us up in SF, and had been phoned in the middle of the night to hear of our changed plans. When we arrived, we did not see any sign of them. We were waiting by the baggage carousel when I noticed a strange man standing at a distance holding a sign that read “Tyler/Woolf”. He wore a mustache, thick glasses, a nerdy tie and shirt, pocket protector, white sneakers, etc. I stared at him for several moments wondering who he was, what had happened to Phil, and what was going on? Suddenly I realized that is was Phil, in his Halloween outfit to fool us, and it was a wonderful surprise! His photo is the last one in our trip album.