Sunday, July 8, 2012

Days 1, 2 and 3 a.k.a "A galactic travel day"

Posted by Jennifer at 5:09 AM
First off I'm functioning on only a few hours of sleep right now, so I apologize for any incoherence in this blog post! :)  Also, this post will probably be pretty picture heavy! :)

So in trying to figure out what day this actually is, Brandon and I had a couple of ideas.  The first idea was that we measure things in Biblical times...."There was morning and there was evening - the first day", but the sun never went down on the first day, so that complicates things. (More about that later)  The second idea is that "a thousand years is like a day to God...." - but trying to do the math on that, was too complicated. So we've instead invented our OWN measure of travel time.  We would like to introduce to you "Galactic Travel Days".  One Galactic Travel Day = however long it takes for you to get from point A to point B in your travels.  For some that might be 2 hours - for others it might be 2 days or 2 weeks - but whatever that time might be, we've decided it's just one galactic travel day. ;)  Our galactic travel day started at about 8 a.m. on Friday, July 6th in Portland, OR - and ended at 6:10 a.m. in Krasnoyarsk, Russia on Sunday, July 8th. Officially we were traveling for 31 hours.

So, now the recap you've all really been wanting, enough about our sleep deprived made up time measurements! :) 

We actually left home on Thursday, July 5th - about 6 p.m.  and went to Portland for the night. We stayed with Brandon's sister and she took us to the airport the next morning.  My stomach was doing flip flops!!  We had her drop us off at the airport at 8 a.m. - because you know it takes SO long to get checked in and through security, especially for international flights.  Ha!  Not this time!!  The first leg we flew to LAX on Alaska, but because we were making an international connection, we could use the "Alaska International" desk - so instead of the line of about 150 people waiting to check in, we walked right up - and got checked in, in about 5 minutes time.  We got through security in about 15 minutes - so there we were, at 8:20 a.m. all ready to go, and we didn't leave for 3 hours!!  So, we browsed and Brandon's cousin Jeremy (who works at the airport) met us for breakfast. :)

The first sign we were headed in the right direction.  "Matryoshka Madness!"  These were at the book store in the Portland airport. :) 
Got to our gate and this was the first plane we were flying on!  How fun!!
 Here we go!!  Can you believe we're really doing this?!?!? :)
Our flight to LAX was uneventful, and about 2 hours.  When we got to LAX, that's when the fun really began. :)  If you have never been to LAX, it's uh interesting.  The terminals are separate buildings.  So, we flew in to terminal 7 and had to go to terminal B. Makes perfect sense, right?  After wandering around for awhile, we found someone to ask (keep in mind - we only have about 2 hours and 45 minutes to do all this in)  - and she tells us to walk past 6, 5, and 4 and then we'll be there. Or take "blue bus A" - which we did - and took us on a huge loop around the entire airport.  But, alas we made it to terminal B - the international terminal.  But how do you get into the terminal? We could see where arrivals would come out - but NO departure door.  And everything is under construction and poorly signed.  So finally, I see a tiny sign saying "departures take elevator to 2nd floor" - we do that and head to the Aeroflot desk to check in.  (we couldn't check in to our 2nd flight in Portland - our luggage was however checked through)  We were in line behind a large Russian family, taping their luggage closed.  That was just a glimpse into Russian luggage handling - everyone in Russia shrink wraps their luggage before checking it.  They even have a machine in the airport!! We got checked in - found out our luggage is only checked through to Moscow. (news to us) Went through security and finally found our gate.  Whew, we made it - with about 45 minutes to spare!!!

Here we are at LAX!
We boarded our plane, the biggest plane I've ever been on!!  And got settled.  Because we were flying on a Russian airline, everything was in Russian and English.

 Even the sky mall looks more awesome!  (it was actually the duty free catalog  - no Sky Mall. Super sad panda for me!!)
This flight was LONG. Direct from LAX to Moscow - overnight.  So you'd think we'd be able to relax and sleep a few hours, right?  Wrong.  First the plane was SWELTERING, so that was uncomfortable.  Second, we flew northeast through Canada and over Greenland, almost over the North Pole. Which sounds awesome, but actually means the sun was BLARING through the windows the entire trip - and some people never lowered their window shades.  And there was a HUGE group on our plane, an Armenian dance troupe from LA headed to Armenia for some huge competition.  There was probably about 100 of them on the plane.  They were all extremely nice, but it was like a big family reunion!  Kids were playing tag, they were having dance parties, hollering to each other...the ENTIRE flight! It was SO loud!!  We were on the Party Bus Plane. :)  Needless to say, we didn't sleep on that flight. 

I did get some pictures out the window as we flew over Greenland.  This was when we were about to head out over the Norwegian Sea. 
We landed in Moscow actually about an hour early.  We knew we had to go get our baggage and clear customs.  So we headed out - it took us a few minutes to figure out which line to get in at Passport Control (diplomates) - got our luggage, and then had to figure out where to go from there.  You see, we were making a domestic transfer, so we needed to re-check our luggage - BUT we were also supposed to meet a representative from our agency during our layover. (6 1/2 hours)  We finally decided we needed to go out through customs (the exit - not domestic transfer) and hopefully we'd find her! :)  We decided right, and we spent the next hour and a half learning the ins and outs of that airport.  It's a very nice modern airport.  Well signed, in Russian & English. (Better than LAX!!)  After we got through security (that was an adventure trying to figure out!) and into our terminal, I was EXHAUSTED!!!  We found a place to gather our thoughts.  We still had about 3 1/2 hours until our next plane left.  We ate dinner at an Irish pub - go figure!  We each had a burger, it was pretty good. Lots of pickles on it, yum! :)
 You can see the exhaustion here! 
We found a quiet-ish area and took turns dozing off, but not really sleeping, because the chairs were not conducive to getting very comfortable.  We finally boarded our plane to Krasnoyarsk about 9 p.m.  - another full flight.  We were both SO tired that we were falling asleep during the safety speech!!  Neither of us slept soundly because there was about 6 screaming babies on that flight, but we were able to sleep off and on for most of the 4 1/2 hour flight.  The sun did kind of set - you could see light from it on the horizon the entire trip - but it wasn't blaring - so the dark plane really helped.  And aside from the screaming babies, it was a pretty quiet flight. 

We landed in Krasnoyarsk at 6:10 a.m. - we walked down the steps off the plane and were loaded onto a shuttle bus.  The airport is TINY and doesn't look anything like an airport at all!!  We got our bags and found Marina with our agency.  She took us out to meet our driver, Alex.  We loaded into our car, and started the about 20-30 minute drive into the city from the airport.  Lots of forested area and houses that seem to be put together out of whatever they could find.  Once we got into the city, I have never seen so many round-abouts and turns - how they know where they are going, blows my mind!!! :) 

We are staying in an apartment on this trip - but our apartment wasn't quite ready for us, because there was another family just leaving this morning.  So, the landlady of our apartment, Irina, opened up her home to us to come and relax.  Her apartment is in a huge block of apartments, looked interesting on the outside, but was very nice on the inside.  She had a bed set up for us to rest, we could shower, and she had tea, coffee, fruit and snacks for us.  We each got a shower, and napped for a couple of hours - while she went and registered our passports/visas and made sure the other apartment was ready for us.

I'm pretty sure this is ham flavored cream cheese.  Neither of us was brave enough to try it.   
 Feeling a little better after a shower, enjoying tea and fruit at Irina's.

We were finally able to head over to the apartment we'll be staying in this week.  Again, I have NO idea how she knew where to go!!  There are SO many apartments in this area!!  We have several banks, restaurants and a grocery store right in the complex area, which is very helpful.  We brought a lot of snacks and stuff with us - but will head down tomorrow to figure out what we else we can get.  The entry, elevator and hallway of the apartment are pretty crazy/freaky.  I'll get a picture tomorrow.  But the apartment itself is REALLY nice!!! 

Brandon making us some sandwiches for dinner:
 The entry way:
 The bathroom - shower is on the right:
 The little washer/dryer combo:
 The bed and my computer :)
 The closet, chair and looking toward the balcony.  There is also a pack and play for people on their gotcha trip with little ones and a small t.v. - but our messy pile of luggage is in front of that right now, so I'll get a picture of that later! :)
Looking out from the balcony. 

After we got here to the apartment, we were both still pretty tired - so we decided to lay down for a little nap.  Which was 6 hours long!!!  Irina was kind enough to have some bread, meat and cheese for us in the refrigerator, so we ate that for dinner.  It's taken me an hour to write this blog post - and Brandon is watching music videos in joke they just played the Vanilla Ice "Ice Ice Baby" video!

In the morning we will be picked up and go to our meeting with the Ministry of Education.  We will have a sort of interview with them about why we want to adopt, and they will grant our visitation passes for the week.  From there we will go meet with the director of Emily's baby house.  We won't be meeting Emily at that point, because this multiple locations around the city - so we'll be meeting just the director at that point.  After that, we will come back to the apartment for a little while, while Marina works with another family that are also here this week, and then she'll pick us up after lunch and we will go meet Abigail!!!  Please be praying all of those meetings!!! 

Oh!  In case you're wondering what time it is here... it's currently 9:04 p.m., and at home in Oregon, it's 6:04 a.m.  We are 15 hours ahead of Oregon.  (4 hours ahead of Moscow)

I'll be back tomorrow!

Paka! (bye!)


Kim on July 8, 2012 at 6:17 AM said...

AH! I've been thinking about you guys all weekend! I'm so, so excited for you to meet those sweet babies. Love your update! xoxo

Ginny said...

I feel like I am with you! Great adventure and love the pics! So excited for you!

Kimber on July 8, 2012 at 7:39 AM said...

I love it! You'll be so happy to have all these details written down for later. Thanks for keeping us posted. I can't believe you will meet them so soon! Praying for you guys.

Anonymous said...

Jenn and Brandon we are so excited for you! What an adventure! Thanks for the post. And even though it takes some time and energy, you will appreciate being able to relive this exciting time later when all your brain cells are back together! Haha. Happy thoughts and prayers for you guys to continue to have a wonderful time. Hello to your beautiful girls from The Such's! Be good!
~Katie Such

My Name is Sarah on July 8, 2012 at 9:05 AM said...

This is so exciting!! I love your pictures:)

Jenny on July 8, 2012 at 9:31 AM said...

So excited for you guys!! Glad you had a safe trip...Loved all the pictures you posted, feels like we are all right there with you. Praying for all your meetings to go well :)

Full Time Advocate on July 8, 2012 at 9:43 AM said...

Ice ice baby!


Over Greenland...

Welcome to Russia....

Praying for an amazing and smooth trip....

Colleen N on July 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM said...

You guys are so adorable! So excited for you!!!!

amanda carney said...

Awesome wow what an adventure... praying

Becky on July 8, 2012 at 12:56 PM said...

Love the update and photos!!!! Can't wait to see the girls in your arms! Happy day!

Becky on July 8, 2012 at 12:57 PM said...

Love the update! Can't wait to see the girls in your arms! Happy day!

Becky on July 8, 2012 at 12:57 PM said...

Love the update and photos!!!! Can't wait to see the girls in your arms! Happy day!

The Idaho Neumanns on July 8, 2012 at 3:14 PM said...

So thankful you made it to your destination. phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Thank you for sharing a view into your apartment. So excited for you on the eve of the births of your daughters being in your arms. Enjoy your girls!

Janelle said...

Woohoo!!!! Christopher and I want you to bring us home a tire from that pile outside your window. ;)

Renee F on July 8, 2012 at 8:08 PM said...

So excited for you both, can't wait to see pictures of you and your babies!

Myya on July 8, 2012 at 10:32 PM said...

Great update! So excited to hear more!!! :)


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