Friday, June 08, 2007

Day 14, "Ireland" seminar trip

[These are the daily posts located at Google Maps. Posting one-a-day in the aftermath.]

Sunday [Later still—or is it early, by now?

A bit of a rush, this last morning of the trip. We always like to stay in Newmarket, because the route to Shannon, via back roads, is only about three-and-a-half miles. On this last morning, when we had a 10:15 departure and a requirement to be in the airport two hours in advance, the Dr Smith shuttle’s limited capacity was a bit of a problem—necessitating three round-trips in order to accommodate all travelers and their (propagating) carry-on bags—lots of gifts there! We still would have been OK for time, except that Ireland played one last trick on Dr Smith. In past years, navigating has always been an adventure: navigating “the way there” (to wherever “there” is) is a challenge, but one can be reasonably confident that someone in even relative proximity to “there” will be a pretty cool place. Navigating “the way back”, however, is a bit more frustrating: you know you’ve been there, and that you’ve come from there, but the return, for some reason(s), never looks the same as the departure.

And so again today. In the age of the rentable auto GPS, when a cultured “received British” accent comes out of a dashboard box and identifies on an LED map the most obscure back roads “between green hedges and ditches,” one would think that the days of being lost are over. One would be Mistaken: the Green Place was there long before satellites and databases, and we can hope (even with the advent of high-tech in Ireland) that it, and its tricksy-ness about time and space, will be there when both are gone. And so finding the way back to Newmarket, on that first circuit, was a challenge.

But, all made the deadline, were shuttled quickly, by the very helpful and unflappable Aer Lingus staff, through the customs and baggage-check process, and then it was onto an entirely-too-cramped 757 for a seemingly-endless (but in reality only 8-hour) flight to Chicago. O’Hare’s design is much more international-traveler-friendly than it used to be, so even with stiff headwinds lengthening the flight and shortening the layover, we were able to make our connection for Dallas. While waiting to board, and following much cell-phoning of parents and boyfriends/girlfriends, Dr Smith gave his closing oration—but that’s private, for those who journeyed There and Back Again.

Straightforward flight to DFW, where we ducked the ubiquitous and various-and-sundry Texas weather, and into the arms of parents and significant others.

We are home, and the journey is over. But we are all changed, as are all who Left and Returned.

And we won't forget what we've meant to each other.

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