Writing, why do we do it again?

So, I know I promised this post would be about Karins and my wedding. however, in addition to being lazy, evident by the complete lack of regular updates to this blog, I’m also a filthy liar. That being said, it’s time for some truth, hidden truth.

I’ve always wanted to write.

Why, you ask? I don’t know, I have absolutely no idea idea, it’s just always been there, this unfulfilled desire to write something, preferably something good. And therein lies the problem doesn’t it? Lets face it, as mediocre as this blog is, I’m not exactly the next William Shakespeare am I, or Elmore Leonard for that matter. I think my main problem, outside of not knowing how to write, is that I have absolutely no idea what to write about.
I might be glorifying the life of authors a little here but Hemingway killed lions and shot himself, Hunter S. Thompson smuggled drugs, lived with indigenous tribes and had his ashes shot out of a cannon (!), read Brautigan and you’re left wondering how he came up with his stories without some serious acid. (Arguably, I have no idea whether or not he actually was on acid or not when he wrote his stories, but they’re pretty spectacular nonetheless.) Compared with that I got nothing, it’s hard to write anything of significant quality when what you have to work with is being scared of snow as a child, because you couldn’t breathe once when someone showed your head into it and that you always had an unsubstantiated fear of your father dying (in the now famous words of my wife: “Look how that worked out”).

I suppose I could write about my fear of parental death, or snow for that matter, but I honestly have no idea how. How do I go about that, or any other topic? How could anyone, besides a complete genius (which excludes me, despite popular belief) write about anything without it having been done better in the past?

It’s not that I haven’t tried, I have, there’s some ideas for movies or books scribbled down here and there, but except for one plot synopsis that’s eerily similar to the movie Dead Snow (Google it), it’s mostly crap. Which leaves me with this blog I suppose, and it’s 4 or 5 trusted readers and the occasional stranger stopping in (thanks by the way, feel free to stay). I realize that my thoughts and… writings are merely one of millions on this wast electronic wasteland, and that it’s of absolutely no significance, but it is, if nothing else, a way for me to try, to attempt this thing called writing, as bad as it might be.

Oh, and there might still be a movie or two I plan on writing… sometime. 😉

Next time on a Norwegians discovery of America, a wedding, I promise!

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I swear I don’t do it on purpose!

Ok, yes, I’m not the most consistent blogger, but in my defense… not that many read it anyway, so what’s the harm. 😉

That said, I promise in all kinds of ways that I’ll try and be a little more consistent about it… then again, I think I’ve said that before too…

Topic of this post: Health Care!

Everyone’s favorite topic right?

My latest encounter with the US medical “circus” was shortly after our trip to Colorado. I’m going to cut a very long story short, cause well… it’s not that interesting.

What happened is that two or three days after we got home my back completely gave out on me when I was pulling my pants up after a refreshing visit to the toilet, and I physically couldn’t stand up as crippling pain went through my back when I tried to support my own weight. This lasted for roughly 3 days before I could slowly start moving around a little bit, though bending at all and sitting was completely out of the question.

Not having a doctor of my own at the time, I consulted with my excellent doctor cousin through Facebook and got to the conclusion that my muscles were merely strained beyond their ability and needed some rest. This theory was perfectly acceptable until my hip and, well, butt started getting increasingly numb. That bothered me… a lot.

And here comes my first observation regarding the way you yanks have organized your health care options: PrimaCare and similar clinics are completely and utterly useless for anything except a drippy nose.

I went there and left more confused than when I went in; they gave me a pain shot, even though I said I wasn’t in significant pain anymore and gave me a steroid shot in my ass cheek (the one that wasn’t numb), took $100 off of me and sent me on my way. Whenever I told this to a real doctor after that, they rolled their eyes and laughed a little, so at least I was justified in my dissatisfaction with the care provided.

Now, about a day after wasting money there (and trust me, I’ll never go again), we went to the ER. My numbness was increasing and la di da, I was stressing out and didn’t like it. Long story short, they did an MRI and found a couple of bulging/herniated discs, assumed that was it, gave me a steroid pack, charged me a butt load of money and sent me on my way.

And here comes my second observation regarding the way you yanks have organized your health care options:
Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas has an extremely good ER facility, and going to the ER is stupidly pricey even with insurance!

Now, this is already getting long, so to cut it short, I’ve also been to a Neuro-Surgeon and a Neurologist and had some blood work done; several physicals and an MRI later the conclusion is clear: “We have no idea what happened to you, but everything looks good, despite your herniated back (it really isn’t that big a deal I found out after looking at bad ones online) so it probably won’t happen again.”

That conclusion is a little frustrating for a couple of reasons. A) I can be a little bit of a hypochondriac at times, primarily when I don’t understand or don’t know what’s wrong with me. B) My back still hurts, 8-9 months later.

That being said, it is slowly getting less and less painful, and doesn’t bother me that much in everyday life anymore, and it looks like I’ll be getting some physiotherapy to “therapatize” my body and safely build up some core muscles that are clearly needed.

All that said though, apparently my kidneys are amazing and my back is strong as a bull…. part from the obvious hiccup here. 😉

Now, when I first started this blog, I wrote that I wanted it to share my experiences and thoughts, and I suppose this is the part where the thoughts come in. And yes, I know you’re all tired of hearing it, and Dianne, Mom :), I know you disagree with me, but here goes: As great as the level of care that’s available is, and as thorough as the doctors are (literally, 90% of the things people go to the doctor for here would get the answer “take a week off work and eat some painkillers” in Norway), the system seems horribly flawed. The costs involved, even with health insurance covering most of it, are astounding.

I recently got a bill for 4 different blood tests, checking my cholesterol and a couple of other things. Apparently this is worth $306.50… Let me just repeat that once more for dramatic effect (and really, I want you to emphasize this when you read it, like.. say it out loud with disdain in your voice) …$306.50.

That’s INSANE! What’s wrong with you people?! Why do you accept that?!?! When I was still back in Norway trying to get all of my things together for the Visa application, I had to have a few blood tests done for my medical exam, I walked into a hospital, no appointment of course, handed over a piece of paper, and a nurse, as Nordic as they come, drew my blood, very carefully might I add, and told me I was done. I figured this was something I had to pay for, being an entirely private thing that in all fairness, was unnecessary, at least seen from the position of the Norwegian health care system, but no, it was free of charge.

Yes, I do realize we pay for it with our taxes, and yes, I know at least half of the US population thinks that means I’ll be euthanized when I turn 43, but really, it’s not that bad, and I can assure you this: no one pays $306.50 for some blood tests.

Other than doctors on occasion being *too* thorough though, and most services being obscenely overpriced, I will say this: once you find the good doctors, they are extremely skilled at what they do, and the level of care is immaculate… as long as those dollars keep coming.

Next time, on Rediscovering Vinland: A Viking and a Cajun gets married!

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I’ve been lazy, I’m the first to admit it. Writing continues to be something I *want* to do but also something I struggle to do well, as well as consistently.
Nevertheless, this will be the promised post on our trip to Colorado.

A Pickuptruck with a fascinating decal on the rear window, spotted on our way towards Colorado.

Truckin’ for Jesus! Spotted on our way to Colorado.

We left Dallas around 6pm on Friday, March 25th, prepared for the roughly 900 mile road trip northbound. We chose to follow US-287 for the majority of the way. It seemed like a more interesting path than the more conventional route through Oklahoma and Kansas (turned out it was too, we took the Oklahoma/Kansas route home, and it might’ve been the most boring 13 hours of my life). As it happens, the trip nearly had a very tragic end only 20 minutes from the apartments.
An unfriendly motorist decided to cut in in front of me not far from where I had to turn off George Bush Turnpike, onto I-35N. He was obviously driving and SUV and effectively blocked all forward vision for me, so I let off the go fast to get some space, just as I did, he bounced out of the lane, exposing a long line of cars at a complete standstill. I can now happily report that the brakes on our still relatively new Impreza works very satisfactory and managed to stop us in a distance I didn’t think it would. The incident got my adrenalin pumping, something the wife didn’t appreciate, apparently laughing just after a near, possibly fatal, accident is not the right reaction. She was mad for a while…
After that, the drive was relatively uneventful. Other than a few stops at some very local gas stations where what I assume was the one police officer in town was drinking coffee and trading stories with the staff, a close encounter with the local law enforcement (well.. he blinked his lights at me, suspecting I was going over the speed limit, suffice to say, he suspected right. Didn’t stop us though) and the inherent danger of going 85 Mph in pitch black darkness, with deer and rabbits sleeping along the side of the road (Don’t worry Dianne, I kept my foot very close to the brake pedal. ;)) nothing particularly exciting happened.

We entered Fort Collins, CO around 6am on Saturday. Starving and worn out I parked in front of a Denny’s and we ran for the door, desperately hoping that it was open. It was and soon after, we found ourselves digging into a perfectly unhealthy breakfast and (for me) ungodly amounts of coffee.
Not long after we found ourselves at the home of Cortney and Bob, the lucky couple who volunteered (well, invited us) to be our host for our 4 day stay. A short nap later and probably a shower, though my memory is a little fuzzy on that account, we were ready to go shopping for our planned camping/hiking trip that evening.

Some beer shopping, tent renting and campsite holding later, and we were ready to go. We loaded Cortney’s Corolla to the brim and headed out on a road I still regret I didn’t get a chance at with the ‘preza. We got to the campsite, pitched a tent (no pun intended), well… two and got ready for some food.
Cortney and Karin had prepared chili which we enjoyed around our camp fire. After that followed smores (for the yanks, personally I stay away from such abomination) and a couple of beers before bedtime.

Unloading the car.

Getting all the stuff out of the car.

Cortney and Bob in a warm embrace.

Beer = Happy and judging by the picture, retarded me.

Turns out Colorado gets cold during March… freezing, as it were, but what we lacked in sleep the next morning we made up for in enthusiasm, it was the day of our hike up Gray Rock, a 6 mile, 2000 ft in elevation hike. As it turns out, it was more like 8 miles and I was completely shattered by the end of it, but lets forgo my humiliation and focus on how beautiful it was up there.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t perfect for pictures and for some reason, I didn’t take that many, but rest assured, It was beautiful. Feel free to gaze upon the few pictures I did take on our hike up and down Gray Rock.

Have some mountains!

Karin on a bridge at the base of the mountain/beginning of the trail.

Cortney walking off and Bobby looking handsome at said bridge.

The evening was spent resting and then at an Italian restaurant, eating some very enjoyable food. Both Karin and me were severely exhausted, my legs would hardly carry me at this point (yes I am ashamed), and I think we ended up falling asleep just after 9pm or thereabouts.

The next couple of days were spent with Cortney, exploring Fort Collins and Denver. I have to say that I liked both places, they had an organic feel that’s sorely missing in Dallas and (most) nearby areas. The amount of small, independent restaurants and shops were also a welcome sight, we had a great diner experience at a breakfast place in Fort Collins, I still think back on it and wish there was one similar around here, but alas, we’re still looking.
As already mentioned, I wasn’t terribly “trigger happy” as far as photography goes on this trip so I have few pictures to dazzle you with. You’ll simply have to trust me then, when I say that we had a good time, and that it was cool to see Cortney and Bob again. (As some know, Cortney “took me under her wings” on my very first day in the US back in 2009, showing me the curious world of university laundromats and Walmarts)

Parts of downtown Denver and what I suspect is an alien taxicab teleporting to and from NYC.

We left for home pretty early on Wednesday the 30th, knowing we had a long drive ahead and Karin had work the next day. After tearful goodbyes, only rivaled by the mothers and girlfriends of brave soldiers venturing forth to a war*, we were on our way. The drive home was, as previously mentioned, even more uneventful than the drive up, and I have to say, judging by what you see from the highway, Kansas has to be the most boring place on this earth. We entered Dallas city limits around 2am and found our way to bed soon thereafter. Little did I know at the time, that the two 13 hour drives (sometimes sitting in some odd positions due to disagreements with the seat) and (probably) the strenuous hike had played a number on my lower back. A (not so) amusing tale of my third encounter with the US medical establishment was to follow, but more on that in the next post.
I’d like to thank Cortney and Bob for a memorable visit to Colorado, and hope we’ll make it up there again in the future, though probably by plane, we had a great time!

*Statement may be exaggerated slightly.

Driving home.

In the next installment of this vikings rediscovery of Vinland (America) you’ll hear about how I ended up not being able to walk for 48 hours and the following (slow) recovery. Until then!

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And The Travels Continue

As I mention in a previous post, San Antonio was not the only trip me and Karin made in our new car and next up was Houston, to visit Karin’s mother, step dad and their dog, my mother-in-law, step father-in-law and I suppose, dog-in-law, respectively named Dianne, Craig and Bella. In that order.

We drove down on February 25th, a Friday, and went back on on the 27th, so a nice little weekend trip.
As it turns out, I didn’t take a while lot of pictures, so forgive me for that, Karin and Dianne got some though, so I’ll gracefully steal some of theirs for the purpose of illustrations.

We got to Houston around 10 Pm if memory serves me right (it rarely does, so take that with a grain of salt), said hello to Bella and Dianne (Craig was/is still recovering after a serious fight with cancer, so he rested a lot) and shortly after drove out to pick up a bicycle helmet for Karin, reason being that the plan was for Karin and me to join Dianne on a Saturday morning bike ride the next morning. This gave us an excellent chance to show off our vehicle to Dianne and expose her to some profane rock music off of the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack. For those who might not know, Dianne is Mormon, and it’s always amusing when we expose her to our “way of life”. That said, it’s always in good fun and I’m pretty sure my dear mother-in-law finds it somewhat amusing too. 😉

The next morning we woke up around 7 Am to go off to our biking event. Despite the ungodly hour, it was nice to be on a bicycle again. Those who know me, might also know that I used to be a relatively avid cyclist in my youth, going on cycling vacations with my dad or nice little “rounds” on weekends during summer. In later years, I haven’t been cycling much, and my health deteriorated. Every time I tried to get back into it, the physical discomfort was so severe that I stopped. This time though, I felt great! It turns out the main problem must’ve been my Asthma medication. I’m on a new one now, and experienced nothing of the awfulness of years past!
We did a decent 25 mile round trip, last half of which was mostly in headwind and it was a perfect length for both Karin and me, afterwards we stopped by Five Guys to make sure we put on whatever calories we shed, and then some, after all, we are in Texas.

Karin and me stretching our untrained legs after the bike ride.

Karin and me stretching our untrained legs after the bike ride. Photo©: Dianne

After a nice long shower, we wanted to check out downtown Houston.
As it turns out, Karin hadn’t actually been down there, despite living in Houston for almost a year, so it was exploration for the both of us. Surprisingly, downtown Houston was actually really nice, the built up areas were, or at least seemed, much larger than Dallas and it was far more pedestrian friendly. There were several nice parks, the rail system was well thought out and the general layout seemed a lot more organic than that of Dallas.


Parts of a park and the view from it, downtown Houston.


My lovely wife through the “eyes” of a 10mm Sigma.


Trying to be artist now, still in the same park.

As the evening drew closer and our already tender legs grew tired we sat down and pulled out our respective, clever phones to search for a good place to eat. In normal fashion, neither of us had a clear idea of what we wanted, and many a discussion followed. We eventually ended up at a small, I believe family owned, Italian place right off some highway. Turns out we made a good choice. The food was delicious, reasonably priced and relatively filling. Though portions could’ve been a little bigger, one can’t complain when the price is added to the equation. We went back to Craig and Dianne’s place gastronomically and culturally fulfilled.

The next day consisted mainly of driving home. We didn’t want to come in to Dallas too late, as Karin had work the morning after, so we made quick work of the miles ahead. We did make sure to stop at Woody’s Smokehouse on the way home though, where we bough some dressings and I was born again to the angelic hymns of buffalo jerky. Safe to say, I bought some, and every time someone I know drive past there now, I make sure they pick some up for me.

We got back home safely, took a shower and crawled into bed. We had a good time down in Houston, and we’ll probably make it down there again soon, but next up were Colorado. More on that in the next episode of “Rediscovering Vineland, a Norwegians journey through America!”.

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A man, a car and it’s travels

In my previous post, I mentioned that Karin and I have been on some road trips since I got here. I figured part of that story would be the story of how we (well, I) bought a new car.

I’d been looking for a new car since well before I actually traveled to the US, the reason being that Karins’ car was an old, tired Escort that was falling to pieces, and more importantly, we couldn’t get it inspected, so anytime we drove it, we had to be on the lookout for the Police, and be prepared to attempt to evade them. So when I got to the US, I seriously got to work tracking down a vehicle for us.

One might think this would be an easy task in TX of all places, but do not underestimate my ability to complicate a task that should be straight forward.
For one, I was varying my budget between $10.000 and $23.000, which of course meant that the the market I was looking in was quite substantial, however, I wanted a car with a manual transmission, and anyone familiar with Texans will know that this drastically reduces the number of potential cars to pick from, when you weed out pick-up trucks too, you’re not left with much.

A couple of months, several trips to many a dealership, barely missing out on a perfect BMW and countless hours spent online later, and this perky little gent was parked in our parking lot.

Our 2006, Subaru Impreza

A gently used 2006 Subaru Impreza 2,5i.
It took the better part of a month to negotiate the deal I wanted, as I suspect the dealership had paid a little to much for it, when they traded it in. Eventually though (with the help of some really nasty ice storms) they accepted my offer and sold the car for a $750 loss.

The car, which we both like, does indeed have a manual transmission. It’s also a relatively low mileage one, with the mileage in the lower half of the 40k miles range when we got it. Overall, I think we got a reasonable deal on it.

So, now that we had reliable transportation, it was time to put it to good use, and first up was San Antonio!

I’ve never been to San Antonio before, and it had been a while since Karin had visited too, so on a whim, we found a cheap hotel and drove down.
We stayed for one night, and had a very good time, but it has to be said, San Antonio is a total tourist trap! The Alamo was nothing like what I had thought, and it was packed with people, even though we weren’t there during tourist season, and the Riverwalk, though nice, also had that quintessential “touristness” about it (you didn’t get the feeling the locals would go there terribly often, other than maybe to eat). Boudro’s, a restaurant on the Riverwalk proved to be a good place to stop for lunch though, and I recommend the guacamole to everyone and anyone who ever visit.

Other memorable situations was eating at a very authentic Mexican place, I ended up eating Goat, which… though interesting, I might not do again in the near future. On the day we were leaving we also took some time to look around the area our hotel was in, it was pretty run down, and Karin got a few good shots, I left with this one.

San Antonio

My favorite part of San Antonio was probably going to the missions. Not even close to as many people as we saw the day before at the Alamo, which gave us more time to actually take it in.

The Missions

On the way home we stopped at a somewhat randomly picked restaurant in Austin, to get some dinner (off a random tip on City Data), and my god was that a good idea! Easily one of the better meals I’ve ever had, and the atmosphere was great, and as soon as I remember the name of the place and find some photos, I’ll make sure to update this post! So long.

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New Country

In an attempt to catch up with current day, I’ll try and post a little more often for a while. That said, enjoy.

It took about a week before all my luggage came from Heathrow Airport, and other than having some very visible signs of having been through security screening (see pictures), everything was there, and nothing was damaged.

As you can see, the TSA took a special interest in my box of writing utensils.

Got to hand it to them though, they taped it up well.

It was a little humorous to both Karin and me though, that they took the extra time to look at my pens and pencils, but 8 or 9 knives up to 7 in in size showed no signs of having been moved.

Even though my beautiful Karin had to work the day after I arrived, I still have a vague recollection of what it was like to wake up with her, …even if I fell asleep again immediately after. In many ways I felt like I was back home, but in many ways I also felt a lot more “alien” than I had on my previous travels to the US.
The “homeliness” can most certainly be accredited my wife, I always feel more like myself when she’s around, the feeling of being an outsider though was new to me. I usually blend in quite easily in new environments, I adapt quickly and rarely feel out of place (except at parties, but that’s another story entirely), but the grandness of permanently moving to a different country began to dawn on me I suppose. I didn’t have all that much time to contemplate upon it, with Christmas coming up and New Years and our Marriage shortly after that, but I did feel “different”, as if my position of an observer had suddenly turned into an “immerser”.

To explain that a little further; thought I’ve never had any difficulties making myself comfortable in unknown environments, I’ve always felt like an observer, like I’m standing outside society, looking in, this time though, this were to be my society, and though I still make my observations, sometimes commenting on them quite loudly, I feel like I’m observing from a different vantage point. Where I used to comment on American Society, I now comment and want to do something, because it’s my society too.

It didn’t take too long before I fell back into the comfort of my new surrounding though, new vantage point and all. Christmas was spent quietly at home, just the two of us, and New Years was spent with friends, though at this point, I’d started to get a little sick, which is practically a tradition at this point, seeing as I’ve had throat infections every singly time I’ve been to the US.

With the new year came new experiences and on January 6th, 2011, I was married to my beautiful bride. It was a wonderfully sunny day, which we spent with the family and friends who wanted to come and could make it.

Giving our vows

Shortly after being pronounced husband and wife.

Outside the courthouse.

After the ceremony, we all went to Al Biernat’s, a Dallas fine dining location, where, to my surprise, they’d secured us a private room. We were wined and dined and pampered, complimentary desserts to the bride and groom was also on Al and his waiters’ agenda. You might’ve caught on to it, but I love this place. If you ever find yourself in Dallas with some money to blow and a craving for great food and fantastic service, look no further.

Now being married, we were finally ready to begin the final step in the process of making me a legal permanent resident, sending in the dreaded I-485, Adjustment of Status application.

Though the process took close to two months, I have to say it’s far more straight forward than I originally thought. Once you get past the sometimes complicated language and make sure you have all the latest documents it’s most of all a matter of gathering copious amounts of supporting information. The application was finally sent in, in early March, well before the deadline, and I’m happy to announce that on May 12th I was granted residency, much faster than anticipated.

Between January and present day though, we went on several trips, “exploring” the country (well, TX and CO), which will be the topic in my next post.

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I know, I know…

… It’s been a while since I last posted. That said, realize that I’m not a terribly good writer, and when faced with the challenge of making observations of everyday life, I tend to forgo that challenge and ignore that I ever started this blog in the first place.

That said, I suppose it’s time I gave this thing a try, so here goes. I arrived in Houston, TX on December 20th, 2010, with the clothes I was wearing, my laptop, and camera equipment (my carry on) and very little else. There is a story behind that, and I shall try and recount that story now.

 The night to December 20th, 03:30 Norwegian time, my best friend Roger picked me up to take me to the airport. It was snowing, both in Norway as well as continental Europe, but with my flight not yet canceled I thought it reasonable to go for it and hope everything would work out, so we loaded up his car with a hideously green Samsonite suitcase, Two large backpacks and a big cardboard box, essentially all the belongings I deemed needed in my new home in the US.

As some of you might know, continental Europe tends to stop working if it gets much more than an inch of snow, and it was not at all sure that Heathrow airport, where my flight connection was, would be open on this brisk December day, something that was soon made clear as me and Roger entered the Departure Terminal at Gardermoen Airport in Norway.

I was given an information sheet stating where to call if my flight was canceled and told that as of right now (roughly two hours before the flight was set to depart) Heathrow did not accept any incoming flights. At this point, I was told I could either wait at the airport or do the sensible thing, go home and reschedule the flight at no cost, this of course, according to the staff at British Airways, my preferred partner in the skies. After a 30 second discussion with my good friend Roger we both figured that hey, we drove for 3 hours to be here, might as well see if I get lucky. Though neither of us really thought I would fly that day, but at this point the line at check-in suddenly began to move! There was confusion, questions, people didn’t know what was going on, but as we continued to snake our way through the check in line, it became more and more evident that Heathrow had authorized our departure, I was on my way! …for now.

As I was waiting in the line to go through security, I said goodbye to Roger, and with lumps of sadness and anticipation in my belly I went forth and was “securified”, for the first of many times that day, might I add. I got to my gate and most of the passengers were still unsure as to whether or not we would be allowed to fly, but our confidence grew as we got into our seats and the plane taxed out to the runway. I have no idea why or how this specific flight managed to get clearance to land at Heathrow  on this particular day, especially considering it was one of only two flights granted this “privilege”, but we took off from Norway, and a mere two and a half hours later we touched down on an airport almost paralyzed by the menacing 3 inches of snow that covered most of it. I was feeling quite upbeat as I made my way to the connecting flights area, texting my beloved fiancé that I had made it to Britannia, Dallas, TX next!

 If you’ve paid attention so far, you might’ve noticed that though in the same state, I had a ticket to Dallas, TX, not Houston, my “port of entry”. Now I told you I was upbeat and happy as I entered the connecting flights area at British Airways’ notorious Terminal 5, that was all shattered when they looked at my ticket, before letting me through to security. “Unfortunately your flight has been canceled Mr.N, please go to the arrivals hall and pick up your luggage, you can call this number tomorrow to try and reschedule your flight.” I didn’t know what to say or do, I was now stranded in London with nowhere to go and more luggage than one person could handle.

In all my confusion I hadn’t paid attention to the polite ladies instructions as to where to go to pick up my luggage, and I had to ask a second person for directions, this proved to be the best thing I could’ve done. As it turned out, the gentleman I asked never let me get to the part where I asked where I should pick up my luggage. When I said “my flight to Dallas was canceled”, he immediately started looking for a way to rebook me, and get me onto a flight to the US. He managed to get me a “stand at gate” pass for a flight to Houston, essentially it means you get to fly if there are any vacant seats once everyone with a ticket is on board, only problem, the flight  was already boarding and scheduled to take off in less than 40 minutes.

He told me to forget about my luggage, they’d get it to me eventually, and to run to the gate where the flight was booking, I was given priority through security, skipping ahead of everyone else, and doing a half arsed scan of my belongings before the security guy pointed me in the right direction. I got to the gate as the last passengers were boarding and more or less begged the crew to get me on board, throwing words like “angels” and “life savers” around, it worked, and I realized how lucky I had been when I talked to some fellow passengers, some of which had waited for nearly a week. At the last minute, and very much by “accident”, I had gotten onto one of three flights that left for the US that day. One might think my story ends there, but no, more excitement was in store.

People who know me generally also know that I’m rarely able to sleep during flights, and by the time I landed in Houston, I’d been awake for over 36 hours. Dazed and confused I made my way to the immigration/passport control, stood in line and patiently waited my turn. When I was up, a very friendly customs and immigration officer small talked with me as he typed this and that into his computer. He stamped my passport and said “Welcome”, I said thank you, left, and it wasn’t until I was on the way down to baggage claim that I realized that he hadn’t looked at my immigration papers.

Now to give some background info on that; at the US Embassy in Oslo, they had made it very clear that I had to surrender these papers at the port of entry, if I didn’t I would be in big trouble, and I would possibly be deported, knowing this I turned around and probably looking half dead I contacted another customs officer to explain to him that my papers hadn’t been inspected. To make a long story short, I apologized for forgetting, several times, and he thanked me for finally remembering, several times. It appears they would’ve been in as much trouble as me, had I walked on through. It eventually all got sorted, and I found myself waiting in the immigration office. I had been warned that this could take hours, but I wasn’t worried, I made sure my connecting flight to Dallas was several hours away, before I left Heathrow. You can imagine my surprise then, when the whole process took less than 15 minutes and the only questions I was asked was whether or not my name was mine and if I had anything else to add, before I was once more welcomed to the country and congratulated on the upcoming wedding. I was still a little dumbfounded at the speed and simplicity of the process when I realized I no longer had my jacket, the jacket that contained my drivers license, credit card, visa card, pretty much everything but my passport and my plane ticket. So I returned yet again to the customs and immigration area, this time to find my long lost jacket, wherever it might be.

Again I managed to get hold of an incredibly patient customs officer who took me back through security to help me find my jacket which, as it turns out, had been handed into Continental Airlines lost and found desk. FINALLY I was able to go down to verify that my luggage was still at Heathrow airport, possibly still going in circles on a baggage claim conveyor belt. Too tired to worry about it though, I got my way to the check in for my last flight, from Houston to Dallas, and this time the problem wasn’t so much that I was short on time, rather that there were now several hours until my flight would depart, since Immigration went so smoothly, so yet again, I found myself begging for a seat on an earlier flight, and again, I found myself with a “Stand by gate” pass.

It was hairy for a while, but I managed to score the last seat on the very small aircraft that would take me to Dallas. It was originally promised to someone else, but when he didn’t show up after the second call, and with me practically on my knees begging and praying to the angels of the sky, as the lovely ladies of airline ground staff shall be called from now on, they gave it to me instead. A short short two hours and filing baggage reclaim papers later I was once again united with my lovely wife to be, and that evening I fell asleep knowing I was finally where I’m supposed to be for several years, too bad my luggage wasn’t. 

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As a blogger… I’m a complete newborn, so bare with me. I’m Herman, I’m 25 years old and I’m moving to The US. I figured I’d document some of the experiences, thoughts, challenges and such with my new adventure.

Before this though, I need to figure this stuff out, so until next time!

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