Fly to London!

It seems that no matter how long one prepares for a trip, the final hours and days leading up to the departure date do not provide enough time to get everything done.  And this idea certainly held true for us.  Every moment leading up to our 2 pm departure for the airport was packed - we had everything set for the trip but struggled to get everything in order for leaving work for a month.

Our days leading up to Friday's departure included a final training hike, again in Sterling Forest State Park.  We had been hoping for one rainy day of training, so we could try out our gear in the rain.  And fortunately we got just that on Tuesday.  It happened to be our 14th wedding anniversary - so while the skies were crying, we were rejoicing our many years of joyful unity.  And we did learn one very important lesson that day - hiking for hours in the rain with shoes that aren't waterproof is not so enjoyable!  Olivia's shoes were waterproof, so she was fine, Lara and Jonah had water resistant shoes, so not quite as good.  I seemed to have water attractive shoes - not good at all! ;-) So we went against all advise about not going on a major hike with new shoes and looked for alternatives.  I purchased a new pair of waterproof New Balance trail running shoes on Friday (one of the many time sucking errands that day).  

We got to the Philly airport with a few hours to spare and had no issues making our 6 pm departure.  Flight had some scary moments with lots of turbulence - these were my first moments of second guessing this journey.  And that was before I happened to look over my Coast to Coast hiker's book.  I had ordered a few such books when I began to plan the trip, but it seems that I spent much of the planning dealing with the logistics of transportation, room, and board, and not so much on the actual rigor of the journey.  Looking over the first few days of the hike was a bit daunting, to say the least.  14 and 15 miles hikes that culminate in some major climbs - Day 2 climbs 1000 ft. AFTER 9 miles of hiking and day 2 includes a 1,500 ft. vertical climb.  After spotting that Day 3 includes a 2,000 ft. climb, I decided to put the book down, not wanting to know if the 500 ft. increase would continue.   A big challenge, but it will lead to an even bigger sense of satisfaction when we finish.

But I'm getting ahead of myself - we still have several days to acclimate before we take our first Coast To Coast steps.  We landed at Heathrow at 6:30 am this morning (June 20th) and realized that it was 14 years to the day since we were last here.  We had stopped over for a day on the way to Africa for our honeymoon.  A bit older, with a few more precious pieces of cargo, Lara and I were thrilled to remember our earlier journey and to know that we were about to begin another significant chapter in our lives.  And just like our last visit, we were EXHAUSTED, having only had a few hours of sleep on the plane.

We took the Underground to Southwark, and walked to our lodging.  The word 'spartan' comes to mind!  But it does have the most important element: beds.  In the room by 9 am and we all crashed immediately.  In the hope of getting on London time, we were up and out by 2 pm.   And on cue, it started to rain - "Welcome to London!"  

We walked around Hyde Park - some major music festival was going on so we hung out and listened for a bit.  And then we took the first of what I expect will be hundreds of handstand shots.  I'm giving this trip a secondary title to C2C4C; it will now also be known as H.A.E. - Handstands Across England!  You can see some of those photos on Lara's facebook and instagram pages.

We had a great early dinner at a organic vegan restaurant called "Vandu."  Superb - and much needed.  I had forgotten to order vegan meals on the flight, so we were all quite famished by the time we got there.  Great buffet dinner in a laid-back, eco setting.  Highly recommend it if you visit London.  Then we joined the 21st century and bought a selfie-stick so we could get group shots along the hike.  Our first ever selfie stick photo is the picture for today's blog post.

And on the way back to our room, we passed an outdoor/camping shop.  We took the opportunity to get Jonah and Lara waterproof shoes, and to get all of us some rain pants.  We're now ready for whatever England has to give us as far as weather.

We're now back in our room, writing about our first day and getting ready to crash early!
Lara, Jonah, and Olivia are doing their own journals, but will be sharing at least an observation/take home for each day.  

Lara's daily observation:
Turbulence brings up fear.  Fatigue muddles the mind.  But time with my family is the antidote to all!  Waking up to a world outside my native borders, walking around London with my hubby, and having my children still want to hold my hand make my heart full.

Olivia's daily observation:
A 6 hr. flight + a 5 hr. time difference are not exactly my cup of tea!

Jonah's daily observation:  
When you hit turbulence, no one can sleep... except for Pops and Sis!