Saturday, October 15, 2022

The 4th time is the charm.

 Well it has only taken 4 tries and several years, but we have finally managed to get back
across the pond and I'm writing this from London.

We departed Tuesday morning and took a flight from Tucson to San Francisco.
We spent the night in SF, and then Weds hopped on United 901 to London.

But before I get ahead of myself...

This might be old news for some but there might be some of you who might not have
heard about "packing cubes" yet.

Simply put they are nylon bags of various sizes.   They can be regular cubes or
"Compression Cubes"

You basically stuff your junk into the cubes and then put the cubes in you luggage.
What's the purpose you ask?
Well for starters, the cubes make it super easy to get at your things without having to
dig thru your clothes making a mess.

The compression cubes even squeeze your stuff a bit to make it smaller and fit easier.

You can organize them however you wish...
By purpose:  (cold, warm, dressy, casual etc)
However you find most convenient your your trip.

Rather than have to dig to the bottom to find a sweater, I took out the cubes, got my sweater,
and put the cubes back in.   No muss no fuss. 
It really makes staying organized and keeping your clothes handy quite simple.

Now that that is out of the way...

We hit the road at 0545 and drove down to TUS where we met
our flight to SFO. 

It was a small CRJ200.
Tiny and tight - but it was less than 2hrs so we can survive.

Getting on the plane we were finally starting to feel like the curse has been lifted and we are
really going to make it this time.

As I sat in my seat, I watched the action (or lack thereof) in the cockpit and I told Kate that
something is not right.
Sure enough a couple of minutes later the pilot came on the PA and said:
"Folks - I have some bad news for you"
Not what you want to hear.
Long story short - the copilot had called in sick and they were looking for a replacement.
Fortunately one was available in Phoenix and 2 hrs or so later we were airborne.

Of interest to my RV readers:
We flew directly over Quartzsite.
In the photo below you can see I-10 going from the lower left (east)  to upper right (west).
Take a look - do you see the fairgrounds and where the big tent would go?

Below you can see the Coachella Valley and Greater Palm Springs area.
Again - left is east.
You can see where I-10 crosses San Gorgonio Pass and drops down into the LA basin.

Our 2 hr flight concluded, we now landed in San Francisco, collected our luggage,
and headed to our hotel.

We were staying at the Grand Hyatt Hotel at SFO.
It it literally right on airport property and is a stop on the "Air Train", the great
set of trains that operate between all terminals, parking garages, rental cars etc.
It's a really nice system.

Next stop - home for the night.
It you see the yellow arrow in the picture - that is our room.
It occupied the whole end of the hotel and had floor to ceiling windows on 3 sides.
We had at least a 270° view from our room.

You arrive at the station and take an escalator down to the lobby

Our door at the end of the building.

A sitting room with TV and light refreshments, Nespresso, etc.

The bedroom with TV and spotting binoculars to watch the planes arrive and depart

Looking from the bedroom back into the sitting room.

I did not get any pictures of the bathroom but it was amazing.
It had this Japanese toilet with a bidet function that was 
your very own "Groom of the Stool".

With heated seats, automatic rise and close of lids, self cleaning...
 not only did it wash you,  but the toilet cleaned itself too.

I told Kate that more than 5 minutes riding that thing...   
You are playing!

The view of the airport and the runways was a big draw for me.

We could see all 4 runways and it was fun to watch all the big birds come and go.

Night adds a different perspective to our scenery.

Here was our flight departing on the day prior to us.
Tomorrow will be our turn!

UA 901 departs SFO

Many airlines are changing their long-haul services from a coach, business, economy model,
to a business, premium economy, economy model and United has followed suit.

We were booked in United Polaris, which is their premium service.
Included with that ticket came privileges for the Polaris Lounge at SFO.
A super premium facility - it is not even available to people passing thru in 1st class domestic.
You must be booked on a Polaris flight.

It had a sit down, order from the menu, restaurant...

As well as hot and cold buffet services and the selection was substantial.

Over 22,000 sq ft spread over 2 floors,  there were shower rooms, sleep rooms, and
all sorts of work spaces and private get a ways where one relax or get work done.

After some breakfast we retreated to a more private location where we relaxed and waited
for our flight to start boarding.

Our aircraft, first one below - was a 777-200ER

N78008 at gate G1 SFO

At 11:40, our United App told us it was time to board so off we went.
It's starting to look like this might actually happen!

Soon we were seated in our individual "pods"

The layout in Polaris is a staggered herringbone layout in a 1-2-1 configuration.
One seat is next to the window, the next behind is next to aisle, and so on.
Since we both wanted a window, I sat in 3a and Kate was in 5a

We departed right on time and soon was at 37,000' winging our way east.

Below you can see Donnor lake with I-80 as it climbs over Donner Pass.
Donner Lake is where the Donner Party spent the snowy winter of 1846-47 marooned
due to snow making it impossible to climb the pass just to the left of the lake.
Having to resort to Cannibalism to survive.

Of 87 who arrived at Donner Lake at the end of October - only 48 survived the ordeal.

There is a California State Park at the lake with a campground right
at the right end of the lake tucked under the narrower part of the lake.
We stayed there a few days in the doghouse while we were doing some "trail ratting"

Further east we crossed right over Mt Grand Teton.
You can see Jackson Lake below and the front range of the Tetons.

And further along - Yellowstone Lake, with west thumb peeking thru the
clouds towards the left.

After a sleepless night - we arrived at LHR right on schedule.
I usually take a sleeping pill on these flights, but did not this time, and could not sleep.

I had anticipated long lines at Heathrow,  but amazingly we breezed right thru customs 
and immigration, and in just a few minutes we were clear and waiting for our limo.

Upon arrival at our hotel, we were greeted by our friends Mark & Karen who took the train down
to visit with us Thursday into Friday.

The Thames at night.

Mark and Karen were here for 2 days, then headed back home  Friday around 4p.
As Mark & Karen left town, our friends Craig & Vicki arrived on the train.

But again, I'm getting ahead of myself and I'm running out of time to write.

The next post will start to cover London.

Gotta go for now.
Stay tuned.


  1. So glad to hear you made it there. Have a fabulous time! Looking forward to your blog posts!!

    1. Hey Margie! Hope you and Bob are doing well.

  2. So thrilled for you guys! Four tries but looks like it’s finally paid off. Love the details of your flight, especially the photos of the landscapes you were flying over. I love the window seat just so I can peer out the window the entire time. I can’t wait to hear more and see more from your magnificent adventure!

    1. Thank you Linda. I thought my fellow RV'rs might enjoy seeing some of the places they know by heart - but from the air. Hope you and Dave are well. 😘

  3. You never gave up!!! We have to hand it to you both! Perseverance paid off…and in style! We congratulate you and will look forward to your updates. Enjoy! Tally Ho! XXOO

  4. Love the mountain photos! Enjoy, this has been a long time coming and so glad you are finally on your way!


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