It’s now been 5 ½ weeks since my last journal entry, so I’m either going to have to write a novel or several short stories to get caught up on everything that’s happened since then 😯 I was getting ready to leave the ship in my last entry. Well, the ship had to head into port which only had the effect of shortening the amount of time that we had to be in the “surf” boat as it met the ship on it’s journey. The surf boat took us to Soyo where, with minimal formalities, we went to the airstrip and the charter plane flew us from Soyo to Luanda. At Luanda we were picked up by a company rep. and taken to a hotel. We (the Technicians) were to stay there for a few hours before being taken back to the Airport for our flights out that night. The Riggers on the other hand had to stay there for the night before getting flights home the following evening. We were duly picked up and taken to the airport for our check in, where I encountered my first problem. It transpired that my ticket, which had supposedly been confirmed (and stamped and dated as such) was in actual fact only confirmed as wait-listed. Needless to say it was a long 4 hours of waiting until the list appeared with those lucky competitors who were actually going to be allowed on the flight. My name was second last on the list, so there was a huge sigh of relief! The next problem was the route I was taking to get back to the UK. Luanda-Lisbon-Gatwick-Aberdeen, three legs, with three different airlines, starting in three different countries. I had to pick up my ticket for each leg at each airport, but at least I didn’t have any checked in baggage to worry about. I guess that after the suspense of the check-in the flights themselves were relatively straight forward and hassle free. I arrived back in Aberdeen and went straight to the medical center for my off-shore medical. The nurse there was very disapproving, telling me that on no account should I have been getting a medical after a journey like that, and I guess she may have had a point as my hearing test wasn’t as good as it should have been and my blood pressure was slightly elevated (a legacy of the suspense in Luanda I suspect!) I pointed out to her that the following day would be the only full day that I would have in the UK between February 12th and at least May 30th and that I was damned if I was going to waste it having a medical! It didn’t pacify her! Still, it was all good enough to get me certified for the next two years offshore! After the medical I got the bus from Aberdeen to Keith, where my father picked me up and took me back to Buckie. Early to bed, and the following day spent doing final packing was really all I had time for in Buckie before setting off on my travels again. Thursday morning had a relatively early start with a taxi trip back to Aberdeen airport and flights to Amsterdam, Detroit then Grand Rapids. Dazzle picked me up at Grand Rapids and we went to her folks house where the dogs seemed to be pleased to see me again! We spent the weekend where I had some practice with the Suburban and American roads before setting of on our road trip. We managed to fit in a few visits with friends and relatives, and even another visit to one of my favourite locations in Grand Rapids, the Meijer Gardens, where it was the time of year that they have all the butterflies in the hot houses. We took a lot of photos there which will hopefully form another page on my website! On the Sunday night we started to pack the trailer. Monday morning we loaded the last of the things into the trailer, got the dogs into the back of the Suburban and loaded the back seat with supplies and set off at 12:30 on our (what was for us) mammoth road trip. We headed south on 131, through Grand Rapids, towards Kalamazoo, before heading east on i94 until reaching i69. We drove south on i69 until reaching Coldwater, where we left the freeway and headed through Allan and Quincy to visit one of Dazzle’s brothers and his wife. We spent a few hours with them before setting off again in the early evening to try to get at least as far as Indianapolis. We back tracked to i69 where we headed south again, out of Michigan and into Indiana, past Fort Wayne, towards Indianapolis. We skirted the city round the east and south sides until we reached i70, the road that we would follow for the majority of our journey. By this time it was getting late so we decided that we would head out on i70 until we found a rest stop and we would try to get some sleep. We found a rest stop, and after sorting the dogs out in what was to become a bit of a ritual.. (individually taking the dogs out of the car, feeding them, then letting them go potty before taking the next dog out..) we settled down to try to get some sleep. After an hour or so Dazzle decided that she couldn’t rest and she wanted to press on a bit further. Dazzle drove, while I slept in the back seat. I woke with the feeling that Dazzle was driving the car in the rest stop then realised that I had been asleep for an hour and we were in fact parking at the next rest stop! We swapped places again so that Dazzle could sleep in the back, while I slept in the front seat. She told me that we had left Indiana and were now in Illinois. During that hour of drive she announced “the destination has become more important than the journey”. When I laughed she asked why and I told her that I knew it would happen, I just didn’t know how long it would take. I told her that the destination bacome more important for me before I left the ship! To be continued… (he said, in a vaguely threatening manner 😆 )

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