We finally take a seat in a United Airlines Boeing 757, surrounded by the 'Northern Lights Swimming Club', a bunch of 18-year old school girls leaving enthusiastically for their next swimming tournament. Hopefully they are as tired as we are, though they didn't went through the same adventures the last three weeks as we did.
The last view we are able to catch when the plane takes off, is Anchorage by night and a dark, gloomy plain, the Cook Inlet.
Whilst climbing through the clouds, we suddenly get a strong sunlight from the windows. Then the plane turns southwards and we inevitably have to say good-bye to the 'Midnight Sun' and the amazing land underneath.
After a snack the light in the plane is dimmed and we may close our eyes. Fortunately, the giggle of the swimming club fades away in the snoring of the engines ...
It has been a short night, but meanwhile we are used to it. We start descending to Denver where the sun is already back above the horizon.
At the arrival in Denver we may again turn the clock forward two hours: it's 07h15.
In the gigantic airport complex we search for breakfast. We find something satisfying in 'Café de Paris', a European sounding name but built on American habits.
We make our way to the gate but we seem to be the first passengers, two hours too early. Hilde is worn-out of the short night and takes a nap on the carpet floor of the waiting room.
Our 747 is being loaded. Apparently, outside it becomes warmer. The air above the tarmac starts trembling. Meanwhile the waiting room is filling up. This time a women's basketball team will join us on our next flight.
"Fasten your seat belts", "No smoking", and so on. We know already all the procedures. The next flight can take off.
During the flight we are able to sleep a little, just for not to hear an Antwerp guy in the row in front of us. He tries to explain to a blonde besides him in a kind of Antwerp English (yes, it exists!) that Antwerp, as the capital of Europe, is worth seeing. Of course ...
We touch ground in Washington, as a result it's 4 o'clock PM at once. Because we fly against time, we have after a short night also a short day. The day is literally flying by; the jetlag will be hard...
And there we go, into the last plane!
"If you don't want to go to Brussels, you may now leave the plane", a stewardess calls over the intercom. I don't think this applies to us. We do want to return to Alaska, but wasn't the meaning of the question, was it?
The plane is ready on the runway to take off but the heaviest shower in three weeks keeps us on the ground. The air-traffic control tower imposes the pilot to wait for better conditions before taking off.
Goodbye Washington, Goodbye USA. We take off to Brussels.
The only tangible reminder to the States is a can of Coke and a bag of crackers.
After a dinner we try to kill time by listening to music and, if possible, we close the eyes and try to fall asleep. It's hard because outside it doesn't get dark. The evening sun switches over to a morning sun and so the night has passed.
Washington - Brussels
but satisfied …
Joe, our steward with an Ultra-Brite smile wishes us a good morning and offers a fruit juice and croissant with coffee, a breakfast that reminds us of our home base.
We descend. A coastline of probably the British Isles is silhouetted against the ocean beneath us. So, a nice weather! And it will certainly be the same for the continent.
Good morning, Brussels! With the last time correction it's now 07h45.
Zaventem seems abandoned. We search for our camping gear and the 'HEAVY'-suitcase and carry towards the customs. No, we don't have guns or fur coats in our luggage. So the customs officer needs to let us through.
We take a train to Halle, homewards where everyone is waiting in suspense to hear about our adventures...