Aaahhh. Nothing like being the first (and only) people walking across the Brunel campus a 5:15 in the morning. Robin walked me to the U3 Heathrow Central bus stop in the middle of the campus, to catch the 5:24. I started getting nervous when 6:00am rolled around, but finally, bus headlights appeared. Thanks, Robin, for waiting with me.
The bus trip took about 30 minutes, winding through small towns (and I really mean "winding") and traffic circles. No more than a half dozen riders that early in the morning.
At the Heathrow Central bus station there's a tube station that connects to all terminals. Thank goodness the signage is excellent and it was relatively easy to get to my gate destination (easy, except for my two overstuffed carry-on bags, full of clothes, cameras, laptop, external hard drive, cables, adapters, batteries, battery chargers, and other random devices and accessories).
Everything went smoothly until, at take-off time, the pilot announced that flight control was having problems and there would be at least a 4-hour delay. That sounds bad enough, but the "at least" part was pretty freaky, especially considering a non-delayed flight is going to take 8 hours to get to Houston. I wanted to call Robin, but I'd taken the SIM card out of my iPhone, and I didn't have a pin or anything small enough to use to eject the SIM card holder, so I could re-insert it. I asked the woman next to me if she had a pin. She said no, but then said "Wait, try this." She took the earring out of her ear and I was able to use the pointed stud to eject the SIM card holder, then call Robin and tell her what was happening.
I was very relieved when, one and a half hours later the pilot announced that we could leave Heathrow. The almost two hour delay meant I'd miss my Albuquerque connection in Houston, but Continental automatically rebooked me on a later flight and sent an email notification to Robin. When I got to Houston, I called her and she told me the good news as I stood in a looooong Customs line at Bush International, Houston.
I'm sitting at the Albuquerque gate in Houston International now, three hours early. But the hard part of the trip is over.
Update: I arrived back home around 9 pm to a warm welcome from Rosetta and Pumpkin, who had lots of nice stories about the nice people that had been here taking good care of them for the past two weeks. We talked for hours before going to sleep.
Thanks Jim'Bo and Janet for a job well done.
I'll post some more Oxford photos today, and soon I'll post a blog address for Robin, as she keeps us updated on An American At Brunel.