Val dropped me at the airport in Colorado Springs early in the morning, and my first flight took me to Dallas. On the flight they read out boarding gates for connecting flights, gate B24 for my flight to Newark, New Jersey. At Dallas I made my way to the gate, and with time to spare, bought a coffee and did some writing on the computer.
About twenty minutes before departure time I realised that there had been no boarding calls for my flight. I looked at the gate, and there was nothing happening. I went and re-checked the departures info, and was horrified to realise that my gate was A24, not B24. Like I had in May a year earlier, I found myself sprinting through the airport, and once again was lucky enough to make it with seconds to spare. I was the last person aboard.
In New Jersey, Linda and Brian collected me at the airport, and took me to their house. I stayed with them when Linda took me to Six Flags New Jersey to ride Kingda Ka, and Moe and I met up with them again more recently in Florida to see the space shuttle launch.
We went out to dinner to a wonderful Italian restaurant, where Linda and Brian were very well known as popular regulars. The first bottle of wine went down very easily, and we ordered a second. That also disappeared easily. Brian then insisted on a whiskey or two at the bar before we left. Four large whiskeys later we headed for home.
Now, bear in mind that over the last five weeks I have drunk a grand total of four pints of beer, so am very much out of practice! Apparently we had more whiskey when we got back home, but my memory of this is very vague!
Now all of this would be fine, if I hadn’t had an interview with BBC radio in England. Just after midnight my phone rang, and I do have a hazy memory of an almost incoherent interview. I must have sounded terrible. It was being recorded for later transmission, and I have no idea if it was used or not – I really hope not!
The next day I took it easy, recovering slowly, and declaring miserably, “I am never drinking again!”
In the afternoon I took the train to Penn Station in New York, and from there another train out to Long Island, where I am staying for the next couple of days with Lilly and her family, husband Leo, and kids Nicole, Chris and Leo.
I first stayed with them back in October 2008, and they all came along when we went to the Statue of Liberty. It feels very fitting to be back here again to complete my journey.
Thanks once again to Brian and Linda for their hospitality, and patience with my drunken state. And once more to Lilly and family, it is wonderful to see you all again.