Friday, April 29, 2011

The Trip of a Lifetime! (Day One)

Mark and I were able to go on an amazing trip this year.  The planning began a year ago when his sister, Jen, talked with all the adults about possibly doing this trip together.  We would be going to Jordan, Israel, and Egypt with a tour group out of Salt Lake City, Utah called "Fun For Less Tours".  Our tour guide would be John Lund and his wife Bonnie!  If you are not familiar with him, John is an educator for the Church Educational System of the LDS Church.  He is a popular speaker, author, and marriage counselor.  We were all so excited about it!  For me this was my first time ever leaving the United States - my first passport!

Although I was super excited, as the date approached I was also really nervous about being away from my kids for that long.  Five days was the longest I had ever left them and this trip would be 17 days!  The one thing that comforted me was knowing that they would be with family - my sister, Jamie, who has no children of her own yet, had immediately volunteered when we were deciding whether or not to take this trip.  She was more than happy to step in as substitute mommy for the 2 1/2 weeks.  Thank you, Jamie!!

Having never traveled outside the United States, I had all sorts of questions and worries.  The Middle East has hardly ever been considered a peaceful place.  You almost always hear about something violent happening over there.  Just a few  months before we were to leave there was an major revolution in Egypt as the people of Egypt sought to overthrow President Mubarak.  The media was showing footage of demonstrations and we were hearing of people being killed.  "Fun For Less Tours" sent out a letter to update us on plans for our trip.  We were told they were watching the situation and we would know more as we got closer to our trip. We were relieved things had calmed down by the time we were to leave on our trip.

One thing that was interesting on the packing list we received from Fun For Less Tours was snacks.  We were told we would not be stopping for lunches during the trip.  We would be far too busy trying to see everything in the time we had. So we had to bring enough snacks for the two of us for 17 days of lunches - that's kind of a lot of snacks!  And quite a bit of space and weight in our luggage!  Let me just say that by the end of the trip there was a lot of trading of snacks, and none of us wanted to see beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit, granola bars, or nuts any time in the foreseeable future.

Friday, April 29th

We left on April 29th.  Mark and I flew to New York City where we met up with the rest of our tour group, including his family.  I took this shot as were flying over New York...

As we flew into New York City our plane went way out over the Atlantic Ocean before it turned around to land on the assigned runway (at least it seemed like a long way.  That little ship in the picture is actually a huge container ship.  One thing that made me nervous about this trip was flying over the ocean.  That was new for me.  It helped that by the time our flight to Amman, Jordan took off it was dark outside.  We left about 8:30pm.

I took this picture flying into New York City.  We flew into JFK airport, so we weren't really close to the city, but I did get this can make out the Empire State Building.  I would love to visit New York City someday!
We weren't due to arrive in Amman, Jordan until 2:00pm the next day.  I changed into my PJ's later that night on the plane so I could sleep better (I know - totally silly but it really helped me to sleep!).  After Mark and I watched a couple movies we slept.  Man, it's hard to sleep on a plane.  But exhaustion helps a little.  The next morning we were able to see the french countryside from our plane for awhile.  It was beautiful!  Winding roads going through green, hilly, countryside with little towns nestled here and there...I want to go back there too!

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