I've been sleeping on the biggest air bed I have ever seen. The Queen-Sized aerobed (http://www.aerobed.co.uk ) comes complete with a built in electric pump and blows up to become as high as a normal bed. Sleeping on it reminds me of an experience I had on a water bed in Los Angeles many years ago, over which a veil will have to be drawn!
As always, Shadow is keeping Rich company at his desk, sprawled across the surface, gaining warmth from the lamp. The cat, not Rich.
At Little Neck station, there's a wreath lying between the tracks and wonder whether somebody tragically decided to end their life at the spot.
The journey back to Newark Liberty Airport on the Long Island Rail Road and the New Jersey Transit is uneventful, with escalators and lifts making the transport of luggage remarkably trouble free. How I wish I could say the same about crossing London!
There's a clever system where my NJT rail ticket gains me entrance to the AirTrain monorail, which whisks me very speedily to the terminal building.
There's no separate area as bag-drop as far as I can see for First Class passengers, but there's hardly any queue and the operation is carried out very speedily. The girl even manages to change my seat on my connection from Chicago to Lansing to Economy Plus, something I have been unable to do online. Because of my C-Class round the world ticket, I don't have to pay the $19 supplement and now have a seat which the United blurb says gives me 'Complimentary soft drinks, juices, tea, and freshly brewed coffee'.
The offering in the United Club lounge is pretty spartan, especially as it's lunchtime. Apart from some little portions of cheese, crackers, shortbread and fresh fruit, there's nothing else to eat. It's a huge barn of a place. The area away from the entrance is not busy, so I set up camp in a quiet little corner away from businessmen yacking loudly and incessantly into their mobiles.
When I return with my banana, cheese and crackers, my quiet little corner of a virtually empty part of the lounge has been invaded by a very scruffy individual who is yacking loudly and incessantly into his mobile. Grrrrrrr.
The inbound aircraft from Chicago is an hour late, but catches up almost half of the lost time en-route. The announced 'snack' in First Class on board turns out to be a very nice cold pasta and chicken dish with a fresh fruit platter. In front of me is a VERY loud attorney who clearly wants everyone in the cabin to know just what a hotshot he is.
Thank God for my Sennheiser noise-reducing headphones!
Chicago O'Hare has an odd system, where you need to cross airside in a little shuttle bus to reach your gate, but it's not a problem and I am in position in plenty of time to catch my connection to Lansing.
On board I encounter the rudest flight attendant ever, who barks at me almost before I am settled into 1A 'that bag needs to be in the locker'. Oh dear. My new best friend.
I placate my ire knowing that, as an Economy Plus passenger, I'll soon be enjoying some freshly brewed coffee. But no. When she comes round, it's water or water.
What about the coffee or juice? 'We don't have time on this flight'.
For the first time in three visits, United Airlines has managed to deliver me and my luggage to Lansing Airport at the same time. Somebody en-route has had a good rummage inside my trolley-bag, hasn't done up the zip, so things are tumbling out. So far, I haven't found anything to be missing, but I am fearful that I will, in the days ahead, go hunting for something that is no longer there.
At Lansing Airport, my old US Navy chum, Ken Beachler, is there to greet me.
I have been to stay with him many times; his delightful property is somewhere I can really relax and feel totally at home.