Our return trip was not simply the reverse of two weeks ago . . .
It was not what I would have called ideal flying weather in Keflavik. If the combination of almost freezing temperature, steady rain and strong winds had been whipping around Atlanta I believe that our flight would have been canceled. But I guess it was nothing unusual for Icelandic pilots so there was not even a hint of that happening. There was, however, a short delay as the stewardesses came to the back of the plane and cleared out the last 3 rows of seats. The passengers there had to be relocated to other open seats at the front of the plane, then warning tape was put across those last 3 rows so they could not be used. Since the Hills and Howards were sitting across the aisle from each other on the 4th row from the back, we were definitely wondering what was going on. Jimmie was very happy with this development. "Great! Now there won’t be anyone kicking the back of my seat," was his reaction. I was thinking more on the lines of, "Are they expecting the tail to fall off?" Finally, I heard a stewardess explain that the pilot wanted to redistribute the weight for better balance. Apparently waiting for better weather was not an option so moments later we were zooming down the runway. It was a very rocky, rough takeoff - the kind that rattles your bones – but we made it into the air and watched Iceland fade away behind us.
Turbulence followed us for much of the flight. It often felt like we were on a very rough, gravel road above the clouds. And one patch in particular took first place as the roughest turbulence I have ever encountered on any air trip. But balance that with some incredible views and yesterday’s flight was wonderful.
We actually got to see Greenland! (Coming out most of our trip was in the dark. ALL of the flight home was in daylight.) Greenland is most definitely not green. From the air the world’s largest island looked like a vast, frozen wasteland covered in ice and snow. Of course, most of the 50,000+ people live along the western coast while we were flying over the southern tip, but the part we saw looked like one huge iceberg.
A bit later as we neared the northern coast of Canada Jimmie pointed out the ocean below us. It was beautiful swirls of white and pale blue that appeared to be painted into place as far as my eye could see. As we continued toward land the white became thicker, choppier chunks of ice, and finally icebergs. Even after we reached land, though, the fascinating geography display continued. We crossed stark, gray mountains where all of the cracks, crevices and lakes had been filled to the brim with solid white ice. Unfortunately, shortly after that the clouds closed below us and we didn’t get to see much again until we dropped down for landing in Boston. But the harbor and lighthouses there were quite a view. And our landing was considerably smoother than the takeoff.
Being our point of entry into the States we had to go through immigration and customs before we could exit the terminal. When we did get outside the first thing we noticed was the heat. Keflavik had been in the high 30s with a sharp wind when we left. Boston hit a record high of 93 Tuesday. We found the shuttle to the hotel, had a quick supper, a hot shower, and then sleep. We had to be back at the airport by 8 this morning, but I awoke way too early – about 4. My body is obviously on Iceland time right now so it may take a few days to get over that 4 hours time difference.
The final leg of our journey home had one interesting difference. The lady who sat next to me was someone I recognized from our Icelandair flight. She is from Akureyri in the northern portion of Iceland. Her daughter lives in Norcross (just south of Duluth) and she was on her way to visit a new grandson born yesterday. I learned a few interesting things from her – like rock trolls are not in north Iceland. She had never heard of them. She also asked me how I found the people of Iceland. When I said "Very nice" she actually looked surprised. She told me that she never thought the Iceland people were nice. People from other countries were always much nicer than her countrymen. To that I had to reply that I had noticed that people walking through the street or in the shopping malls were always very solemn-looking, even glum. They also tended to wear black to match their expression, to which she immediately concurred. An Icelander had told me that it was because of the long, cold winters. Everyone feels oppressed by the gray skies and weather, but when summer arrives then spirits lighten and the bright colors come out. But even if they looked glum at first, when I spoke to them they immediately became friendly. She told me that it must have been because I was nice. They are not so friendly with each other. It was a surprising conversation.
Not a surprise was to find Thomas Reid waiting for us at the baggage claim area. He was a very welcome sight.
We got to our house a bit after 2 this afternoon, so the return journey took us almost 29 hours. But tonight when we went to New Hope Road for Bible class there was a welcome home sign by the street, a welcome home banner in the foyer, and lots of welcome home hugs and kisses. It is good to be home.