After our good-byes, packing, and cleaning for a couple of weeks we were set to leave Belfast on the 16th of July. I wish I would have taken a picture of our eight 50 pound bags and three car seats all piled into Simon's car but I was a little overwhelmed and forgot. Simon and Deborah graciously offered to drive our luggage down to the Dublin airport. They came over on that Saturday the 16th and we loaded down the car. Simon and Deborah were to meet us the next morning at the airport with all our luggage. After seeing our luggage drive off we called a cab and grabbed our carry-ons and headed to the Belfast bus station. We took a two hour bus ride from Belfast to the Dublin airport where we grabbed a shuttle bus to the Travelodge Hotel. After a good dinner we tried our best to get some sleep before our big day. It was a little noisy in the hotel and we were all a bit anxious and excited about the next day so we didn't get much sleep.
We took another cab from the hotel to the airport the morning of the 17th. We had just arrived at the airport when we spotted Simon and Deborah drive by with all our luggage. The timing was perfect. We unloaded the luggage and said another very hard good-bye. I am so hoping that they will make a trip out to Oregon in the near future!
The check-in process took us about three hours. We sat in customs for about an hour as they sorted through our bags to find the one package of shamrock seeds that was given to us. So crazy! No seeds are allowed from the U.K. to the U.S. even if they are labeled as internationally approved. Thankfully, they found them in the third bag so we could catch our flight on time.The first leg of our journey took us from Dublin to Chicago and was an eight-and-a-half hour flight. The time went pretty fast and the kids did great. No one slept though. During the flight Gabe asked a flight attendant why we couldn't see the cockpit and the flight attendant explained since 9/11 no one is allowed to go in but after the plane landed we were more than welcome to look. So, of course Gabe was right up there asking questions, the moment he could. The pilots were great and answered the kids' questions. We were even given chocolate cookies left over from first class to munch on.
After a very long four hour layover in Chicago we boarded our last flight to Portland. Thankfully, the kids slept for the last two hours of the flight. Cam and I tried to doze. As we walked out of the terminal we were met with a great surprise as my parents, Cam's parent's, and my sister's family all stood waiting with a welcome home sign. We were greeted with many hugs and kisses. It felt good to be home.
As we drove to our house from the airport it was a very surreal experience. I wish I could put into words the emotions I was feeling as my brain was trying to grasp the fact that we were indeed home and Belfast was 6,000 miles away.
We were so blessed as we entered our home and saw the cupboards and fridge stocked with food. Everything was clean and ready for our arrival. I can't thank my parents, Cam's parents, Will and Joyce, Heather, Sandi, and all the others that put so much time and energy into making our homecoming a blessing and one that I will never forget. One of the greatest gifts was a hard bound book sitting on our coffee table that contained all the blog posts from this blog. I fought back tears as I thumbed through the pages and read all the entries and the notes friends and family had written in it to welcome us home. Thanks to Len and his hard work and others who helped make the book possible, the memories written in this blog are captured.