Smooth Travels

Hello from London! I’ve had a wonderful past few days abroad – there’s been time to settle in, see the sights, and start my research. I’m less than a week in and already discovering that this whole adventure is passing by too quickly for my tastes.

Monday evening I departed the Madison airport on a 26-minute flight to Chicago. The plane fit only three passengers across and just a third of the seats were filled. Needless to say it was not the largest (nor longest) flight I will be boarding this summer, but was made quite memorable by the hilariously entertaining flight attendant. She told jokes over the intercom, encouraged passengers to press the blue button above our heads if we got lonely (she wanted to come chat), and walked through the aircraft giving one-on-one gate information because she preferred adding that personal touch.

Flight #1: Madison – Chicago

Upon arriving at O’Hare, I checked in at my new gate to reserve a seat. The woman asked for my last name, looked at me quizzically, then asked, “You’re not Scott Althaus, are you?” To which I responded, “No, that’s my father.” Luckily there was not a problem with my reservation (my initial fear), as both a Scott and Catherine Althaus were registered for the 9:45pm flight to London. With my seat now reserved, I sat down to wait. The flight attendant subsequently started to page Scott Althaus’ name over and over, as he was late for the flight and needed to check in. I called my father to ask if he secretly bought a plane ticket to follow me around the world. Luckily, he had not.

Flight #2: Chicago – London

As I couldn’t be assigned a seat until I arrived at the gate, I ended up with 38E: the very middle seat in a five-person section of a row that held nine people. I couldn’t sleep for any long duration during the flight, which unfortunately contradicts my notorious claim to fame of being able to fall asleep anytime, anywhere. (Luckily I have fourteen more flights to prove my abilities). I landed at Heathrow 11am London time and passport control asked to see proof of my research. Upon presenting him with the letter from the Circumnavigators Club, he inspected it and then needed to show it to the official in the next booth. For a second I was worried there was a problem, but he simply grinned and said to his colleague “Look at this letter. It’s so official.” He then turned to me, commented, “that’s a nice letter,” and handed it back. Apparently the Circumnavigators Club letterhead and statement of purpose should be an example to all.

Three trains later, I finally arrived at my destination in the southeast portion of the city. I am lucky enough to be spending the week at the home of Dominic and Suzanne Spalding, friends of friends, who live in a lovely home in the Ladywell neighborhood with their two-year-old daughter Imogen (“Immy”). I spent the rest of the afternoon settling in and fighting off the urge to fall asleep for the night. The entire trip went incredibly well and I couldn’t be happier to begin the first leg of my journey!

Immy, 2 yrs old