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Published: January 14th 2010
Ok so first things first I'm here safe and sound in Pheonix but not without its dramas of course!!! I'll start from the beginning, be prepared because as you all know a Caz tale is never a short tale.........
The original plan was to leave Blackpool on Sunday morning to catch my flight to Heathrow from Manchester but on Saturday morning Dad so kindly informed me that all flights between the two airports had been cancelled!! In my naivety I thought it wouldn't affect me because I was flying on Sunday but when I checked the British Airways website sure enough my flight was cancelled!!! Great! So after speaking to the girl from STA Travel she suggested I get to Heathrow another way and asked if there was anyone I could stay with down there? I immediately thought of my friends Caz & Hel who live in London and Reading so after a panic phone call to them both my wonderful friend Hel said I could stay with her that night!! Lifesaver! So I then booked at train to leave Preston station at 5.20 that night and I turned into 'whirlwind Caz' (as Lou so affectionately calls me!) and managed
to make sure I had all my stuff ready for then!
My bro dave and his wife Beth came round just after 3pm and we had a last minute check to confirm I had everything then at about 4.15 we left for the station. That afternoon Dad had taken me into the nearby town of Cleveleys to see if I could get my phone unlocked to use on other networks but I failed miserably 😞 The problem was I'd taken my big winter coat and put my purse in the pocket and about 10 mins away from Preston station I realised I'd left the purse at home!!! Only I could do something so ridiculous so we had to turn round and I missed the 5.20 train! Luckily I was ok to use the ticket on the train the following hour, which subsequently was delayed by 20 mins and if this had been the case the hour previous I'd have caught the first train!! Again typical!! So after lots of hugs and a few tears I was on the train to Birmingham!
I thought my luck was changing when the conductor said there was a connecting train I could
get 10 min after we were due to arrive in Birmingham......don't be silly Caroline that could never be the case! The connecting train to Reading was delayed by over 45 mins which meant I had to wait in the freezing cold of Birmingham New Street......my most hated train station by the way! I'm not sure if it was just me being pessimistic but I'm sure that train was going slow on purpose, it seemed to take forever but I eventually made it into Reading station at 11pm on Saturday night and made my way to Hel's who welcomed me with a brew and a bagel......again lifesaver!
So come Sunday morning we got up and caught the bus into Reading, which by the way had the worst snow I'd seen on my journey across the country......even worse than Leeds but we made it to the coach station which was easier than the train and cheaper (always a bonus!) and after my final Costa Creme Brulee latte of the year I said bye to Hel (with a tear in my eye!) and got on the coach to Heathrow! From here things were much smoother, I got rid of the rucksack weighing
in at a rather heavy 15.8kg.......much heavier than I thought it would be but still a hell of a sight better than my usual 1 week holiday suitcase weighing an average of about 23kg! I wandered around Heathrow Terminal 5 which has its own Harrods along with all the other fancy shops but I decided to stick to my usual standard of shops.......Boots and Accesorize!
Ended up having a long wait at the gate to get through security what with all the American bomb scare stuff but I got on the plane ok, despite being stuck in the middle of 3 seats with a guy either side of me 😞 We left about an hour late due to the security job so when we were in the air I decided to make the most of the movies on offer & I watched The Ugly Truth first which was quite funny then after the meal (chicken curry - nice!) I stupidly watched The Time Travelers Wife!! Now what the hell was I thinking, this journey is probably the most emotional one I will ever embark on and I decide to watch one of the saddest films I've seen in a
long time.....the guys either side of me must have thought was some kind of freak crying all the way through!! So to cheer myself up I watched an episode of Friends before trying to get some sleep! Managed about 3 hours before we landed which was ok but man was it uncomfortable......bring back South African Airlines!
Due to the fact I was at the back of the plane I was then near the back of the queue at immigration! This was a ridiculous exercise, there must have been over 250 people in the 'foreigners' queue with 4 members of staff on the desks! The US/Canadian queue was practically none existant due to the fact they didn't have to have finger prints and retina scans etc and there were 5 people on the desks.......talk about knowing how to look after your own!! Anyway I was so fuming by the time I got to the end of the queue I can't even remember how long I was stood in it but it was way over an hour!! I grabbed my rucksack and made my way through to arrivals where I could see Ruths friendly face smiling at me through the doors!
Ruth is the sister of Beth, my brothers wife, she lives in Phoenix with her husband Andrew and their 2 kids John and Christina. They have so kindly offered to put me up for the first week of my trip and I can tell you its been a complete relief knowing I've got somewhere semi familiar to start my trip!!
This is now my third day here, the dramas have ceased and the weather has been great! Its similar temps to our spring......when its nice, so the sun is warm but the evenings are cool! Due to the fact I arrived in the dark all I could see were the lights below me on the plane and its a bloody massive city, the guy next to me said it was something like 80 miles by 80 miles! Its very flat and sits in a valley with mountains surrounding it, most of the buidlings are one or two stories and everythings is really spread out......the houses remind me of something you would see on Rosanne, mainly one storey and open plan! Ruth and Andrew have a real fire and we've had the wood burning at night, its really nice!
The first couple of days I was adjusting to the time difference and spent most of my time with Ruth whose been showing me the sights of Pheonix.......which mainly involved shopping, not such a good thing for a shopaholic like myself! I've hired a car so I can drive up to Flagstaff and visit the Grand Canyon tomorrow and Friday so today I drove us up to Sedona which is about an hour and a half away from Pheonix. It was a pretty impressive place, it was like something out of a wild west movie with the red mountains and dessert landscape! Think I've just about mastered the American roads but I must remind myself to drive on the left......no wait the right!!!
So hopefully I'll make it to the Grand Canyon ok by myself and I've got my first hostel experience to look forward to for the next couple of nights! I'm hoping I can give you an update when I arrive in Figi at the weekend but not sure what the internet connections will be like and I'm sure the sun, sea and sand will be calling me so I'll do my best!
Hope the snow
and ice isn't too bad.......don't want to rub it in too much but its looking like temps of about 30 degrees in Figi!
Missing you all lots xxx
PS Hope I haven't sent you all to sleep!! Lol!
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