South Africa: Day 1 (The Shoes and The Airport)

Our flight was scheduled to depart from Salt Lake City on Wednesday at 11:55 pm, so we needed to be dropped off at airport by 9:00 pm. We spent the day frantically packing, working on our to do list, and trying to convince the kids to put down their iPods and iPads long enough to help. (We mostly failed in that department.) Thankfully, Steve's parents came and saved the day. 

I probably should have included this with my last post on planning, but I think it's a decent list of what you should do before an international trip: 
Before We Leave:
X Get Passports
X Get Immunizations
X Purchase Airline Tickets
X Buy Luggage (large rolling, carry on, and backpack for Steve)
X Buy Travel Insurance (Travel Guard)
X Call AT&T for international phone service (called to get info, call to activate from JFK)
X Buy MacBook Air
X Pay Mortgage, Bills, Car Payments for 2 months
X Deposit Checks
X Get Cash
    Order Rand from Zions Bank
X Notify Credit Cards (AmEx good, Capital One has no foreign transaction fees)
X Activate new AmEx cards
X Talk to USPS, UPS guys
    Alarm Company
X Set thermostat
    Set water heater to vacation mode
X Cancel Gym Membership (on hold until September 5)
X Call All-State to change car insurance to storage
X Check in with Kris Greenwood
X Make Arrangements with Yard (Jared Bradley)
X Clean out fridge, freezer, pantry
X Empty Trash
X Laundry
X Figure out travel to destinations (remember Chicago) 
X Print out Reservations & Numbers
X Prepare Travel Docs (passports, immunization cards)
    Emergrency Plan
X Games for plane/plane kits
X Electronics plan: headphones, sync cables
    Back up computers
    Label things
X Plant sod (Jared Bradley)
X Clean and organize garage
X Clean up yard
    List of Contacts for Utilities  (for Dave) 
X Pack up Shoes
X Buy Snacks: Luna Bars, Jolly ranchers, suckers, dried mangos, coconut
X Buy gifts: Old Navy flag shirts, toys, candy
    Haircuts (Monday May 20)
X eBay/KSL
X Power adapters (ordered from REI)
X Schedule Braids for girls (Monday, May 20)
X Register for Summer Parks Program
X Battery back up solution
X Frequent Flier Numbers
X Check exp dates on all cards, driver licenses, etc
    Make list of South African contacts
    Put travel docs on google drive
    Take pictures on camera
X Travel locks
    Download maps to phone
X Binoculars
    Currency conversion apps
    Distance conversion apps
X Dirty laundry bags
X Travel pillows
X Charge back up backup battery charger

We clearly didn't get everything finished, but we did enough. (Those weeks before our trip were a little on the crazy side. . . someday I'll get caught up on posting about them as well.) And did you know that you can order international currency through your bank? (At least you can at Zions Bank.) 

. . . . . 

Before I let Steve pack away the shoes, I wanted to take some pictures. 

Except that I couldn't figure out the right angle to photograph the shoes. Mostly because there were so many of them. It was a lot harder than you'd think to get an accurate number. We counted, added, multiplied, and re-counted. And after closely examining the photos that I took, (and adding those that were donated after the picture was taken) the official count is 224 pairs. 

THANK YOU for your support! We are so very thankful to everyone for helping us with this project. 

It should be noted that as we were lining up the shoes on our driveway for a picture, four people stopped to ask about buying them. . . they thought we were having a yard sale. 

It was right as we were counting up the shoes that we got a call from Delta Airlines, notifying us that our flight had been delayed and wouldn't be departing until Thursday. I ran inside and had a mini heart attack. . . until I realized that it had only been delayed forty minutes and was going to leave on Thursday at 12:35 am. We later realized how wonderful that extra forty minutes was. I don't know how we could have fit everything in without it. 

Richard and Gloria took the three younger kids to Leslie's house to play (which was a lifesaver), and Rachel went over to the Loosli's house. Adam promptly lost another tooth: 

It took some major strategizing to get everything packed to fit within the luggage restrictions. We weighed, adjusted, and re-weighed. Over and over and over again. When all was said and done, we had a total of 24 pieces of luggage: 7 backpacks, 6 carry-ons, and 11 checked bags. This picture shows everything except for Derrick's backpack. 

It felt surreal to be packed and ready to go. Steve's brother, Mike, picked up the little kids from Leslie's house, picked up the rest of us from our house, and then we were off to the airport. 

Steve was nervous for that final weighing of luggage at the airport. Most of the bags weighed exactly 49 and 50 pounds. There was one that weighed in at 51 pounds, but the lady said it was still okay. We have a Delta SkyMiles credit card, which waived the checked baggage fee for one piece of luggage per person, so we only had to pay for four of the checked bags. That means our cost of transporting the shoes to South Africa was only $140. Not bad. 

This picture shows Steve giving the kids a lecture on how to behave properly before we went through security. "We are probably going to have to wait in line for a long time, and you have to be quiet and serious. There are police officers down there, and we don't want to cause any problems."

Derrick, Kaleigh, Rachel, and I passed through security in record time. (After all of that prepping, there was no line.) But then there was some sort of hold-up. We waited and waited. And then four policemen zoomed in on Segways. It caused quite a commotion and quickly backed up the line. The policeman asked me if there was anything in our bags that would look like a gun, a toy gun perhaps? We aren't really much of a toy gun family, and I couldn't think what it could be. . . especially because they finally told us that the item in question was in Lucy's bag. 

One of the other airport security guys (who was standing next to me and hadn't seen the screen) told me not to feel bad, that it was mostly just a formality. And then they called in the head honcho to look at the screen. I really was dumbfounded and started wondering if it was possible that we had left our luggage unattended long enough that someone else could have put something into our luggage. 

And then, finally, they opened up Lucy's luggage and found this:

Lucy told me that she and Adam had been playing with her luggage last week in the basement. And somehow, throughout all of that packing and weighing, we hadn't noticed a toy gun one of the zippered pockets. Thankfully, the security guy who filled out the report (the one in the blue shirt on the far right) wasn't too bothered by the whole incident and even let me take a picture of the gun. 

Lesson learned: check your luggage for toys. Or better yet, don't let your kids play with your luggage. 

Kaleigh fell asleep before we even boarded the plane. Which was fantastic. The airline workers at our gate were unusually funny and let us get on the plane before everyone else. That was fantastic too. We settled in for our flight, still laughing about the gun incident. 


Kayli said...

Oh man- that toy gun incident! I know just how you felt. We were flying somewhere once and they told us there was a knife in the diaper bag. I was like, "Um, no there's not." After finally unpacking the entire filled-to-the-brim bag, and searching and searching, we finally found that there had been a rip in the lining and in between the lining and the bottom of the bag was a pocket knife (which Brett had thought was lost a long time ago). Ooops.

Which reminds me of another knife story. When we were going into one of the museums in Washington D.C., we were stopped at the security for having knives-- butter knives for spreading peanut butter and honey on our sandwiches-- so we had to give them to the security guys. However the silly thing was, Brett had a leatherman on his belt that they completely missed. Ha ha. After that, we stashed the leatherman in a bush or something before we went into any museums.

Wishing that things are going really great for you! And yes, I would love to go on a trip with you and any of your friends-- here in Switzerland OR be neighbors. Sounds awesome. I will say hello to Ogden for you when I'm there this summer.

Natalie B. said...

I couldn't believe you read my blog in South Africa! :) And unlike yours, it was very boring. Loving following your adventure. What an amazing experience for your family. Hope all is going well!

Eyrealm said...

WOW! Emily this is truly unbelievable...right down the last gun! CONGRATS! We are so privileged to have been a tiny part of this. What a fabulous idea!

All Eyres send their love!