what we’ve been doing

first we got a taxi to Edinburgh air­port and then we took a tiny pro­peller plane (which kept doing pro­peller exer­cises before going on to the run­way) to Dublin.

The plane that we went onthis is the plane that we went on

Then we had to go through secur­ity again and they threw away a bottle of water that I had bought past secur­ity at Edinburgh! Then we went through a US pre-clearance were they scanned our fin­ger­prints and made us look into a little cam­era. Then we had to wait for the big plane to take us to America.

Our flight was com­plete with lemon soaked paper nap­kins so we weren’t delayed for mil­lions of years (see The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Secondary Phase/The Restaurant at the End of the Universe) and I “Wasn’t as scared as I was scared I was going to be scared!”

This is The Plane That We Went on to America!

When we got to Chicago air­port we didn’t have to go through any more secur­ity checks so we col­lec­ted our bags and got the bus to the hotel.

It was the wrong hotel.

When we finally got to the right hotel we dis­covered the very cool ice dis­penser and that there really was, as advert­ised a TV in each room (pure excitement.)

The next day we went to the Chicago field museum and saw Sue (the largest and most com­plete Tyrannosaurus rex in the world) and  went on the under­ground adven­ture (a very dis­ap­point­ing sim­u­lator which showed you about the soil and “made you seem as though you were 100th of your size”).

After that we took the Amtrak to Grand Rapids. We went over a lot of level cross­ings so we got to hear the train whistle a lot!

The next day, at Debbie and Mike’s house we had blue­berry pan­cakes for break­fast and swam in the pool all morn­ing. in the after­noon we went to the lake near their house and swam there.

The next day we went to a steam and motor fair and saw lots of old tract­ors and steam boats. then we went in the lake again to cool off.

Yesterday (10÷7÷11) we went kayak­ing and canoe­ing on the Thornapple  river and saw lots of little fish and turtles (ter­ra­pins). Then we went in the river and  the lake (yet again!) to cool off.

Today we were going to to go camp­ing by lake Michigan earlier but there was a huge thun­der­storm with thun­der and light­ning so we are going to go later.

sorry that  this post was so long

sorry that I haven’t blogged enough recently (there’s been so much to do)

sorry that I say sorry too much

bye by

CalluMullac  ;):):D

Canoeing down the Thornapple River

1 Northern Cardinal

1 Crayfish

2 White tailed deer

2 Turkey Vultures

3 Great Blue Herons

3 Turtles of unknown species

5 Muskrats

5 baby Turtles of the same unknown species

16 Belted Kingfishers

Ebony jewelwing damselflyEbony jew­el­wing dam­sel­flies dart­ing every­where, rest­ing on our paddles, hats and arms. Many mating.

Innumerable dragon­flies

And racoons screech­ing in the Silver Maple at 4am this morning

This flying lark

Up at 4am after very little sleep. I’m really nervous about fly­ing so far after so long — this mys­ter­i­ous and magical pro­cess over which we have no con­trol and which seems to work on trust alone — and not look­ing for­ward to the bur­eau­cratic, unwel­com­ing and offi­cious immig­ra­tion pro­cesses. Also full of the dilem­mas of hav­ing chosen to emit so much car­bon.  All a bit emo­tion­ally exhaust­ing, and yet wildly excit­ing — and we’ve not even left the ground yet!

Edinburgh air­port at 5.30am is fright­en­ingly busy — far busier than Waverley train sta­tion would be at this time.  This is the norm for so many.  It’s far too easy, and too much fun.

Up above the clouds over South-East Scotland, the Irish sea and the Irish shores the magic is palp­able.  The won­der and delight of the skies, the sparkle of the sun on the clouds.  The mag­ni­fi­cence of human cra­tion and abil­ity — we can do it! We are won­der­ful! It is our birth­right to excel and suc­ceed and to push the bound­ar­ies in all mat­ters.  Progress can only be good.  Onwards and upwards!

Whizzing through the air at 500km/hr at 40,000feet both ter­ri­fies and exhiler­ates.  We are def­in­itely the fly­ing novices here, and yes, as pre­dicted, soci­ab­il­ity rat­ing so far is minimal.

As Naomi Klein says, just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should.  But how do we change that mindset?

Pre-clearance

Arrived in Chicago last night after a reas­on­ably stress-free jour­ney. The sys­tem in Dublin is that you get grilled and fin­ger­prin­ted in “US Pre-clearance”. We thought this just meant the first stage of the pro­cess, but actu­ally when we go here, we found that we had already cleared cus­toms and immig­ra­tion, and that it was actu­ally treated as a domestic flight. It makes sense I sup­pose — bet­ter than fly­ing people across the Atlantic if you’re not going to let them in. It was a bit odd to see Obama’s pic up on the wall in Dublin air­port though.

So we got out of the air­port quite quickly, and found the place where the shuttle minibuses to take you to hotels were. We spot­ted the one for Comfort Inns and jumped in and a friendly driver with an incom­pre­hens­ible accent whisked us to a hotel. The only prob­lem was that it was the wrong hotel — we ought to have been at the Comfort Suites. It seems that like domain names, names for hotels are in short sup­ply. Nobody wants to be Heartbreak Hotel, Irritation Inn or even Mild Annoyance Motel (though I have stayed in some of those places, believe me).

Mike came to res­cue us any­way and we were soon cor­rectly installed. Nature encountered so far includes poison ivy (seen but not touched!) and fire­flies on sub­urban lawns, which are a delight.

Be patterns, be examples

Be pat­terns, be examples in all coun­tries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your car­riage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheer­fully over the world, answer­ing that of God in every one.

George Fox, 1656

That fam­ous Quaker quote seems appro­pri­ate as we set off to new coun­tries, places, islands nations. We’re in the air­port, about to board our flight for Chicago and catch­ing some time to blog. Last time I wrote, we were busy not fly­ing around Europe, and writ­ing about why plane travel is such a bad idea. So why are we about to waste over 2 tonnes of CO2 each on this trip?

Well of course we’ve a good reason: the main pur­ose of the trip is to visit Jane’s sis­ter and her fam­ily in Michigan — we’ve not been to visit in the 12 years she’s been there. Mike, her hus­band hasn’t been well and we’d like to give the fam­ily a wee bit of sup­port and of course to spend some pre­cious time with them. A clas­sic example of George Monbiot’s love miles. As he puts it:

If your sister-in-law is get­ting mar­ried in Buenos Aires, it is both immoral to travel there, because of cli­mate change, and immoral not to, because of the offence it causes.

When I told our friend Julian that we were going to break our no fly­ing vows, his response was that the prob­lem was not so much the actual car­bon diox­ide emis­sions, but the example. People will think “if Chris and Jane — who seem to think care­fully about these mat­ters — are fly­ing, then it’s OK if I do too”. I thought that was a really good point, and I sup­pose I hadn’t really thought before that people might be tak­ing me as a pat­tern. But since we did our over­land trip to Greece, quite a few people we know have been inspired to make sim­ilar travel decisions, or at least to think very ser­i­ously before they jump on a plane.

If we aspire, as George Fox put it to “be pat­terns, be examples”, then we need to real­ise that that is quite a ser­i­ous under­tak­ing, and that people might actu­ally fol­low our examples, pos­it­ive or neg­at­ive. It’s not that we should feel guilt, more that we need to be mind­ful in our choices for action as we walk cheer­fully over the world.