Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Day 1 - Gatwick to JFK International

I am blogging at 40,000 ft on our 8-hour flight to New York.   We left Gatwick at 18:00 BST and are due to arrive at JFK International Airport in New York at 20:31 local time.

Usually, when we fly, we only take carry-on bags but this time, as we going to be away for nearly 3 weeks we needed to check in extra luggage.  This made going through security much quicker as there wasn’t a great deal in the carry on bags – also I wanted to leave a bit of space in my suitcases for any shopping I might be doing at the end of our holiday.

Check-in went well and we were asked if we minded seats by the emergency exit , I couldn’t think why this would be a bad thing so we said ‘yeah why not’.  Really glad we did as there’s loads of legroom and even though I’ve got a window seat I don’t have to get anyone to move so I can get out of my seat.  That’s the one thing that concerned me, having to sit down for so long.  Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not very good at sitting down for long periods of time.  When I'm at work I have to take regular breaks away from my PC so I don’t go stir-crazy.

This is the first long haul flight I’ve been on (not for Mark though) and it has to be said I’m quite impressed so far with Norwegian Airlines, although the ‘meal’ left a little to be desired, to be on the safe side we opted for the vegetarian meal, it consisted of a very small amount of rice and what seemed like tomato and aubergine sauce – where was the protein?? – luckily we had made extra packed lunch for the journey down to Gatwick so had that as well.

Within minutes of taking off I was engrossed in a movie – WILD as it happens, which was good because I have recently read the book.  The plane was a fairly new 787 Dreamliner, which seemed very modern compared to the planes we are used to.  It has mood lighting and windows with magic dimming switches instead of shutters –  all very hi-tech.  In each seat there’s a screen and charging points.  On the way onto the plane we picked up a few complimentary magazines and newspapers, also I have a book I need to finish so plenty to keep me occupied on the 8 hour flight.

Magic windows

This trip has been quite a while in the planning.  We had the idea a couple of years ago but with one thing and another we decided to wait until this year.  We started planning the trip around last October – the plan being to go to the North Eastern area this year then next year in 2016 go to the Pacific Coast and either start or finish in Seattle for the Geocaching block party.  Soon after booking our flights to New York we heard rumours that 2015 would be the last ever Block Party!  NOOooo!  This couldn’t be happening.  We contacted Bryan Roth who confirmed it was true and August 2015 would indeed be the final one.  So that was that..... or so we thought.  We resigned ourselves to the fact that we would just have to miss it so we continued with our plans until we decided that at a stretch just one of us could go, not ideal and far from perfect but that’s what we decided and the rest as they say is history….. so on with this trip.

Here’s a little about what we’ve got planned.  Fly into JFK airport, hire a car and make our way to Niagara Falls (Canada side) stopping off at all the possible North Eastern states on the way.  Also we hope to complete the Jasmer Challenge - this will be brilliant if we can do this as we’ve been gradually working our way through the grid since 2010.  For anyone that is not aware of it, the Jasmer Challenge involves finding a cache that has been set each month since May 2000. We have 2 caches still to find out of the 184 in total.

We landed at 20:30, it then took an hour before we could disembark and then another hour to get through passport control.  Mark had visited the US previously so could fast-track but as I was a first-time visitor I had to wait to have fingerprints taken etc, the queue was long and very disorganised.  Eventually we found our way to the car hire place, this was thankfully problem-free and we were soon on our way to the hotel – I rang ahead to say that our ETA was now going to be nearer to midnight.

Manhattan Bridge
We then had an hour’s drive to get to the hotel – the route took us across Manhattan bridge and through traffic which quite frankly was hair-raising – if you’ve ever played Crazy Taxi on the Playstation  you’ll know what I’m talking about - we got our first insight into why this is called the ‘city that never sleeps’ too. We soon arrived at Ardsley Acres Hotel which reminded us of so many American movies we’ve seen – seemed really weird having the bedroom door open out onto the car park – sorry, parking lot.  By this time we had been awake for nearly 24 hours but still not feeling very tired due to all the excitement.
Day 1 - 43 miles

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