Friday, September 17, 2010

I Love America.

Well, we arrived back from China late on September 10th after a lot of traveling!  Our destination in China from our house was: a 1.5 hour drive, then a 2.5 hour flight, followed by a 12 hour flight, followed by a 4 hour flight, followed by 10 hours of driving (and lay over time in between!).  We were a long way from home!  When we made it back into the country after our trip to the San Francisco Airport from Beijing, we learned while waiting for our luggage at customs that 3 of our 4 bags did not arrive with us.  Lovely.  After going back and forth with employees of Air China, informing us that this was ridiculous (I agreed) and that we should go look AGAIN (the 6th time for both of us), and no bags appeared, they took our luggage tags and looked on a sheet and confirmed that 2 of our bags were in Beijing.  Alright...not a problem, we just needed them to get to our house, which we were ensured they would arrive in San Francisco the next day then fly out to Denver and finally be delivered at our house in Estes Park.  The 3rd bag was still missing.  After the trip through customs I enjoyed a wood-fired oven baked pizza and a smoothie (things I had been dreaming of - literally - since day 4 in China).  Tommy and I had separate flights home and met at the Denver airport to be picked up by his parents and home to Estes.

We rallied Saturday morning to enjoy the Scottish-Irish Festival Parade and felt chipper after only 5 hours of sleep.  We were determined to kick jet-lag in the butt and conquer it.

Tommy got right to climbing and I got to settling us back in at home.  My trip to the grocery store was so wonderful.  So many amazing options and so much produce!!  We are so blessed here in the States with the food variety and choices that we do have!  I vow to make an effort to never take that for granted again.  The next few days ended up consuming hours of time trying to get our luggage to our house.  Air China sent our bags to United in Denver and expected them to ship our bags to us.  However, since Air China lost the bags and there is not an Air China desk in Denver, United and the delivery company in Denver refused to pay for our bags to be delivered since it was not their mistake.  Finally I caved and took the day to pick up our 2 bags.  On the way down, I received a call that notified us that our 3rd missing bag was still in Urumqi (our original departure city in China) due to the bag containing a "Lithium Ion Battery".  This was a possibility because we brought a drill and 2 batteries with (having no problem westbound), but I thought I would wait and sift through our bags after I picked them up.  Good news...the drill was in one of the bags that arrived and the batteries, which meant that there was NOT a lithium ion battery in our luggage in China and there should be no issues with shipping it.  I then proceeded to inform Air China and was told that I should call Beijing in the middle of the night (my time) and let them know.  At this point...I got a bit frustrated with Air China and refused.  I was then asked to fax to our liaison at SFO a letter requesting our luggage and information on the contents of our luggage.  We have a Goal Zero battery (NOT LITHIUM ION) in our luggage, along with a small bouldering pad and a solar panel and a coffee mug.  This was successfully faxed, and we are still waiting to hear something from someone...anyone.  Ahhh, the joys of traveling.  :)

On the bright side...besides getting sick for a couple of days, nauseating breakfast every morning, and red tape galore we had a blast in China with such a great crew, got to go rock climbing and see some amazing cultures!!!  I will let Tommy give the updating on that, which he is currently working on typing up a trip report for Patagonia's Cleanest Line Blog.  There were 2 updates posted on the trip already, so check it out!  Since this trip was sponsored by Patagonia, they get first rights to all of the photos and so photos are to come eventually!

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