Sunday, 23 September 2012

Day 25 - Home and Deranged

It's over.  Not happy.  Our American Adventure finished as we left San Francisco and both Rachael and I had mutinous thoughts as we packed our cases and took the trip to the airport. We daydreamed about getting on the "wrong" flight to Chicago and starting the whole trip over again.

We did have a lovely breakfast in SF at Lori's diner - a last taste of 50s Americana which sealed our trip nicely.  Then we buzzed Macy's in Union Square to get Rachael some Levi's and for both of us to raid the MAC counter.  After that difficult shopping we felt we had to reward ourselves with a last trip to the Cold Stone Creamery just to make sure it was still as good as we had experienced the first night.

But inevitably British Airways took us away from such delights and transported us across the pond.  Thankfully the entertainment system on this flight was the "on demand" variety so we could watch what we wanted.  Sadly the max volume available was insufficient to make out dialogue on any of the movies so the whole thing was basically useless.  Thank god I took movies on my ipad this time because otherwise that would have been a very boring 11.5 hours.  On the subject of British Airways... *sigh* We tried to check in online the day before the flight only to be told that we couldn't.  We tried several times but it wasn't working on any of them.  So we arrived at the airport 2 hours before our flight and got told we could get on the flight but couldn't sit together.  There is only 2 of us ffs. /o\ Then as we checked in they made Rachael remove 1kg of stuff from her big case because it was 26kg and therefore too heavy.  This despite her having a 2 x 23kg allowance and only one bag being checked. *sigh* The staff were utterly meh about the whole thing - as if checking in for a flight we'd booked for was an imposition.  Not impressed at all.  Will be flying Virgin next time. (Who aren't perfect but I've always found their staff good even if something goes wrong).  We were also told that the flight was oversold by 5.  Why? The flight was completely full - how do they get away with that? I understand letting a seat go for standby if the booked person doesn't check in on time but to actually book at 5 over? MADNESS.

As we landed at Heathrow, Rachael and I looked out the window in horror at the grey sky and drizzle on the window. Something told us we were not in Kansas anymore - or any of the other 8 states we visited for that matter! And also horror because we would shortly have to part.  It was horrible to be honest.  I headed for baggage reclaim and Rachael for 5 hours in an airport lounge for her connecting flight to Newcastle. Goodbyes suck and this was only made worse as we were both exhausted from getting no sleep on the flight.  I say "were" but I've not been to bed yet.  This is why this is the rambliest most shambolic blog post so far.  And there are no pics because we didn't take any today. I am attempting to make jet lag my bitch and this is always a mission fraught with danger.

So here is a piece of advice if attempting this trip - make sure you have a couple of days off when you get home to readjust.  Unlike many other holidays, route 66 is a demanding mistress.  You really have to keep moving in order to make it and after running full pelt for almost all of the 24 days we are tired from travelling as well as facing jet lag.  Both of us are back at work tomorrow.  Bad planning. LOL.

We will be finishing this blog with some big picspam posts and a lessons learned type review of how we would change our trip if we had the chance to do it over.  Hopefully this will help people from the future embarking on this epic journey.

But for right now we both have to get through a whole week of work without falling over or being useless.  Lets see if we make it.  Thanks for sticking with us - especially if you made it all the way to the bottom of this post.


  1. Just found this blog and will definitely take the time to read it through! See, my husband and I spent 4 weeks in the US in June-July, starting from Chigago and ending in L.A., via Denver and San Francisco! We took the Amtrak train from Chicago to SF with a 4-day stop in Denver, and had a rental car from SF to L.A. We drove the coastal Highway 1. Our trip was a blast, although just like yours, pretty demanding with all that traveling. Having booked our trip 6 months earlier, just by pure accident and luck, we happened to spend a weekend in SF right when they had the annual Pride Parade AND a certain Adam Lambert happened to perform at Alice's Summerthing picnic concert :D Things like that only happen in the movies, right?

    Unfortunately our travel blog is written in Finnish but if there's something you'd like to know about our trip, go ahead and send us an e-mail! Hope your jet lag won't bother you for too long. Cheers!

  2. Love you guys - and have loved reading this bog every day. Nice to have you home. Sorry the weather's pants. xx

  3. Awesome read guys, I have spent the last hour or so reading this, fatigued as I am after an 11 hour night shift lol, but me and a mate are planning a trip identical to yours mid 2013. I'd love for you guys to add me on facebook to talk about some of the cool things to do!

    Thanks! :)

    1. That's awesome, you guys are going to have an amazing time!! Feel free to ask if there's anything you want to know :)

  4. Hey I've just discovered your blog as I'm doing a very similar trip in September this year. Reading this has made me even more excited and relieved that we have left 2 days before going back to work after we return, even if this is 2 days less of a holiday :-(. I'd be very intrigued to hear anything that you would change now looking back? Also, how did you find the driving? Hope to speak soon! Laura

    1. Hey! I'm thrilled our blog is still proving useful to people :)
      The thing I would most want to do differently is to allow more time, but sadly that's something we don't always get to control. It's a lot more fun to drive the actual road (where it exists) than to cheat and use the interstate, as it makes it easier to stop and take pictures of cool scenery, and that means you go reeeeeeally slowly. The more anal you can be about planning the better (although also, be prepared to throw all that planning out the window!). Have a complete list of things you definitely want to see and either mark them on your map or add lines to your directions, otherwise you find you've gone straight past something and can't go back. Also consider how many daylight hours you have and whether there are some places you really want to be when it's light or at sunset or whatever; that's something we didn't factor in, and we ended up getting to a lot of the really (supposedly) pretty places after dark.

      We actually found the driving fine, because although they're long days we never went very long at a time before stopping to gawk at something. If you're not from the US then the initial part getting out of Chicago is tricky, but you spend large chunks of the trip on completely empty roads so you can't do much wrong :)

      Have fun on your trip! I'm very envious, would love to do it again someday!

  5. Hello! I may be one of the most-future of future people that have commented on your blog! So far. But then, I guess that's how time works.

    I've just finished reading the whole thing across many days worth of tea breaks at work (engineering is hard... and often boring.)

    My wife, stepfather and I are planning to do Route 66 in May (but we're doing in LA-Chicago on Harleys) and I've basically been absorbing everything I can find about it! So unfortunately most of your blog I already knew about, but it's an entertaining read for a fellow geek and road-trip enthusiast, and the pictures were great! And I added a couple of things to our epic custom Google-map of attractions (such as Ted Drewes frozen custard in St Louis!) So thank you for that!

    I'm also planning to blog our trip, once we're done (though not as we go along), so I'm enjoying seeing how other people do it to give me ideas for my own.

    I work in aerospace, with family history in aviation, so I also just wanted to take a moment to clarify a couple of the things you mention in this blog post:
    1. All airlines overbook their flights routinely. There's always a certain percentage of people who don't show, so overbooking a small amount means they will still fly full. Very occasionally this does bite them in the arse though, if the no-shows do show. They serve customers on a first-come basis and then re-route/re-book those who don't make the cut. Of course, it's frustrating if you can't check-in online to get in there first, but that's actually often the USA's fault, as they have restrictions on international travellers, travelling internationally, and checking in online in advance (security restrictions). You can blame 9/11 for that.

    2. The luggage weight is not to do with your allowance, and all to do with the individual weight of each package. You may have 2x 23kg allowance, but that doesn't mean you can bring one 46kg bag. Basically there's a limit to what the baggage handlers are allowed to be expected to pick up, for their own health and safety. That's why sometimes you can have a suitcase that is bang on the allowance, and they still put a "heavy" tag on it. After all, it's humans that have to carry your cases, pick them up and load them onto conveyors and trucks, and the check-in staff aren't allowed to let bags that are too heavy for a person to lift, to pass through.

    Hopefully that's enlightening, rather than condescending.

    Anyhoo, my Facebook should be attached to this message, so feel free to add me if you want to swap any other stories on the road, or have any other questions before other trips (I like to travel a lot), or just make a new friend! I live in Bristol, so not too far away if you are still around in England.

    All the best,