B67

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The constant drone of the airplane engines added no comfort to my restless state. I was unable to slip into a normal rest, but instead was eager to hear the words “final approach.” I had endured the seven-hour flight thus far but my endurance was beginning to weaken. The small kid with a thick Liverpool accent, who had passed the last four hours by throwing chicken nuggets at the back of my seat, had finally fallen asleep. I contemplated the experiences of the week ahead as the dull whisper of the history channel rang in my ears. The special on “How tea is made” was beginning to test my patience and I was not interested in surfing the menu for another show. My Dad and I were beginning a trip that was for the most part unplanned. He had abandoned the tradition of micromanaging every minute of our trips and opted for a new experience. We would spend a little more then week in England and Scotland with no more than our carry-on luggage and a rental car. As I went over these ideas I drifted into a needed sleep.

The small slivers of light that framed the airplane window shade were the first things I saw as I awoke. The sun was rising into the sky as we made our approach into Manchester Airport. A gradual awakening of passengers made its way through the cabin as the plane made its final descent. This was the beginning of our journey. My Dad and I would board a smaller commuter flight for the short trip from Manchester, England to Glasgow, Scotland.
Our short layover in Manchester was the first sign that the day of travel would not be simple. Restrictions were stringent due to the terrorist attacks that had taken place in the U.K. only days before. These new rules meant that we would have to re-enter the airport and check our carry-ons with the airline.

When we finally arrived at our gate we were informed that the aircraft that we were flying on was a “wee bit small” and our small bags might not even fit on board. As we descended the stairs onto the tarmac from the airport we were able to see our aircraft in all of its glory. This twin-engine pack of gum was dwarfed by the legitimate aircraft that surrounded it. I was one of the first ones to board and noticed the unusually low ceiling. After stuffing my small bag into the overhead cubby I took my seat at the front of the plane. This was a unforeseen advantage due to he fact that I was able to view every other person bounce their head off the low ceiling as they attempted to take their seat. This was entertainment that would not have been as funny had it not been for my sleep deprivation. This was indeed the highlight of the trip due to the fact that our plane seemed to be in danger of a gust of wind through out the flight.

After forty-five minutes of trepidation we finally landed in Glasgow. My initial excitement was quickly subdued after collecting our luggage. The pungent smell of burnt gasoline and rubber still occupied the air. The hole where the burning truck had entered the main terminal was boarded up. One of the few signs of the attack were the distinctive scorch marks on the outside of the terminal left by the propane-fueled blaze.

We dragged our belongings towards the rental car lot where our silver chariot awaited. We had rented stunning Chevrolet Lacerrto that served its purpose as simple transportation. The initial discomfort of driving on the left with the steering wheel on the right wore off as we navigated our way out of the parking lot. Our mission to escape the city and find our way to he main highway was our next hurdle. My dad lessened our likelihood of ever leaving Glasgow by missing the first street we needed to turn onto. He made a quick correction and pulled into a strip mall parking lot to check our many maps. This was followed by a surreal inability by both of us to find the exit. We spent at least five or ten minutes circumnavigating the KFC and its confusing parking lot. An exit was eventually discovered and we were able to return to the street. Two turns later we made our way onto the M6 and away from the city. We were finally on our way now, heading south into England where my father was going to attend a conference at Durham University.

One facet of our own country that is commonly overlooked is our interstate highway systems. This is unmistakably apparent when traveling long distances in the U.K. Although the speed limit is 60 mph, it seems that the roads are not built for it. Their windy routes and slim girth make for a different experience on the road. My inability to watch as we entered corners eventually wore off and an appreciation for the beautiful sloping countryside began to kick in. Yet this enjoyment was soon brought to a screeching halt. As we entered a small village my father moved closer to the shoulder to allow room for a large truck that was barreling through town. The front tire of the Chevy struck the curb with a frightening thud. The clunking of the tire was a signal that we had blown the tire. As we pulled over and began to remove the luggage in the trunk that covered the spare it began to rain. A day filled with little sleep and too much excitement had come to its climax. We both stood in the rain and jacked up the car. There were no words as we coaxed the blowout off the car and into the trunk. The feeling of exhaustion was mutual and words were not needed to finish changing the tire.
Fortunately, our soaking car ride into Durham was indeed the low point of the trip. In fact it set our expectations at such a low level that the trip from there on could have been nothing but improvement. In hindsight that was a day that tested our patience and strength, yet was an integral part of a valuable experience.





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