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Tanzania Trip -- Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30
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Day 24. Monday, July 30. London, England, to Austin, TX.

After hours of waiting, we departed Nairobi near midnight -- more or less on schedule. The sky was cloudy, so after only a few minutes, we lost sight of the few lights on the ground. The crew served dinner about an hour later, and after that, I imagine everyone fell asleep. I slept for several hours, waking over Libya, only 10-20 minutes before we left African airspace.

Link to trip map.

July 30
Benghazi, Libya, at night

Looking out into the night, I was struck by the light of large fires burning in well lit areas; I imagined them to be oil refineries flaming off waste natural gas. I could also see the lights of several cities, including in the distance, Benghazi, which looked bigger at night than it had looked when we saw it during daytime on the way south. Electricity must be cheap in Libya, as they seem to use lots of it for night-lights.

After crossing the north coast of Africa, the dark Mediterranean Sea sent me back to sleep. I awoke perhaps an hour later off the west coast of Italy as city lights on the island of Corsica illuminated much of the shoreline. In the far distance, I could see the lights of port cities in Italy.

July 30
Aircraft near to Benghazi, Libya

Dawn was about to break, and I stayed awake the rest of the morning. We crossed the coast of France near Nice and Monaco, and the faintest of early morning dawn backlit the French Alps, revealing perhaps the Matterhorn itself. In the distance, dawn light reflected off Lake Geneva in the mountains of Switzerland while the sleepy French countryside began to stir beneath us.

The west coast of France clouded up, but through holes in the clouds, I could see winding rivers and what looked like a green, marshy landscape. Fortunately, as we crossed the English Channel, the clouds broke and we could see both sides from the air. For such a historically strategic waterway, it seemed awful narrow -- i guess that is why so many armies have crossed it over the centuries.

July 30
Island of Corsica, pre-dawn

We arrived in London to a sunny morning and an on-time arrival (the flight crew picked up over 30 minutes during the flight). It was fun to see downtown London from the air, and as we landed, I really felt as though we were getting home (or at least back to familiar territory).

Our 3-1/2 hr layover at Heathrow was uneventful, exactly how one would wish it. The security services gave us a good going-over, but we made it through only losing a nearly empty 6-oz bottle of insect repellent. Of course, after they find one thing, they look harder for something more...

July 30
Coast of France, dawn
We departed London mid-morning (30-minutes late) on American Airlines for a 10-hr. flight to Dallas, TX. The sky quickly clouded up, and it remained so for the entire duration of our Atlantic crossing. Contrary to my typical behavior (nose glued to the window), I pulled the blind, dozed, read, watched a movie, and worked on the computer. There was literally nothing to see except the tops of clouds, which even to me, all look the same after a few minutes. The flight-tracker suggested that I should open the blind to see the coast of Newfoundland during daylight, but alas, clouds out to the horizon, which at 38- and 40,000 ft, looked curved. Unfortunately, the entire flight across Canada and the U.S. was cloudy until we started descending into Dallas.
July 30
Jim in typical airline pose

We spent 2 hours in Dallas, but most of that time was spent in Customs where only a handfull of agents were present to serve hundreds of passengers. After getting through the long line, we cleared Customs quickly, rechecked our bags, and ran to the next gate.

We got to the gate about 5 minutes before departure and found my brother Bill waiting for us. Unfortunately we had time only to exchange pleasantries before the gate agent told us to get on the plane, but it was a real treat to see him.

We soon departed Dallas for the 1-hr flight to Austin, TX. Peter was there to pick us up, and even our baggage arrived (we assumed the tight connection meant that the bags would be late, but a tip of the hat to American Airlines!). We arrived in Austin in time for a quick shower before going out to Julio's for a nice Mexican dinner.

July 30
French Alps in the pre-dawn haze
July 30
England (left), English Channel, and France (right)
July 30
Downtown London
July 30
Sunrise over Thames River and London
July 30
On the ground during Olympics London 2012!
July 30
Waiting inside Heathrow International Airport
July 30
American Airlines ready to head for home
July 30
Last view of Europe before climbing into the clouds
July 30
Making landfall in the Americas
July 30
Edge of St. Lawrence Seaway through break in the clouds
July 30
Descending into Dallas, Texas
July 30
On the ground in Dallas, Texas
July 30
Departing Dallas, Texas
July 30
Rural Texas
July 30
Rural Texas
July 30
Descending into Austin, TX
July 30
On the ground in Austin, TX
July 30
Peter waiting for our arrival in Austin

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120819

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