As for me and my house we will serve the Lord....

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Humps, bumps, holes and there are how many on the GPS? part one

John has a Ukrainian flag in the front of his car
Sunday afternoon, after a lovely wedding celebration with Garry's family for his niece over the weekend, we were in the Chicago airport, thanks to his brother John, who dropped us off. Our son Josh and his wife were already driving back to Manitoba, so he had volunteered. We had sent a few excess items back to Manitoba in their car, since Garry had weighed the luggage at the hotel in the exercise room and discovered that both bags were overweight. I culled stuff to get both in at 22.9 kilos when they hit the official scale checking in, and Garry had stuffed a few more items from John in his carry-on bag.

Our plan was simple, make three planes, land in Dnepropetroesk and then drive our van toward western Ukraine for a conference with our mission team in Europe. Unfortunately, the plane left Chicago 35 minutes late and never made it up due to some problem with the jet stream, our hour and fifteen minute switch was looking at 20 minutes from the time we hit the terminal in Switzerland to gate is closed 10 minutes before departure to Zurich. If we miss that flight it is Tuesday and not Monday when we fly into Dnepro.

 We ran to the middle of that terminal (me sadly gasping for air- I need to work out more at the gym I decided)  went down a couple escalators, jumped into the airtrain to get to the other stations, then off to the races to get our passports stamped by EU customs, then run, run (gasp, gasp) all the way to the far end of the A terminal for the flight to Zurich, Garry was ahead of me by at least 400 feet when he arrived at gate #86 and handed the agents our tickets as I puffed off the last people mover belt (thank you airport, running down them increased my speed and his) and we hurried into our seats. Really glad to get that complimentary drink of ... cola, I think, with a danish-like bun on that plane. We got our connection from Zurich to Dnepro without running, merely moving along in a rapid walk (about 50 of our planned 75 minutes were available by the time we got off the plane) around and around through customs again, over to our gate, back a bit to exchange our Swiss printed tickets for Austrian tickets after showing our passports, through security check at the gate, getting into the chairs long enough to post on facebook that we had made it, then onto the plane, seats in the back. No half sandwich on this flight, which seemed to me to have given them out the last time I was on it for the two hour flight, so we ordered tomato juice (more filling) to go with our airplane-shaped crackers and pretzel clouds when the cart got to the back of the plane.
The view flying over Ukraine (yellow = ripe wheat fields)

The view as the plane is turning approaching the airport in Dnepro

We didn't really care because we were on schedule to get to the conference on time as Victor met us at the airport after we breezed through customs (for once, no one asked us to open our luggage there) with our suitcases, which hopefully contained everything I had packed, since the old black suitcase we have had since our first trip to Ukraine had a large tear under the zipper, possibly caused by a heavy piece of Garry's milking equipment banging around inside during transit. It was still there, along with everything I remembered being there when I had a quick look before leaving it at Victor's house after hugging Stacy, who arrived from BC while we were gone, and taking off for the conference (sadly without stopping at McDonalds, as we never found one on our trip.)

We were moving along in the van in the right direction, the air conditioner was fixed in it, and the cigarette lighter, so Garry could plug in the GPS and program in our destination, Polyanna in western Ukraine. There were two Polyannas in the same oblast (province) and the directions seemed similar, so maybe they were the same place? He set the GPS for one of them and we were off.

We found some fuel and surprisingly good hotdogs with ketchup and mustard inserted in a bun that was rather like a north Amercian sub bun (see photos). Of course, at this point we had really been awake for 24 hours straight, so we hoped to get a ways on the journey, then find a hotel, sleep and put in a good day of driving to get to the conference on time. We got to Kirvograd, drove through hotel hunting, because we were ready to sleep and found one on the far side of the city, Garry got the best room, which had a separate living room, took a shower and fell into bed at 7 pm.

our hotel room had decor - stuffed birds
(there was one mirroring this one)
 I woke up at midnight and tried reading in the living room, then the US soccer match was on so I watched it with the sound turned down. Garry woke up near the end of the first half and I turned up the sound for him (it was in Russian so I didn't care.) We watched the USA manage to win in spite of being out-played, before catching a couple more hours of sleep and heading out on the highway at five am, feeling good. It was light out, the road was laid out between fields, so Garry was enjoying a crop tour of Ukraine, drinking coffee, juice and chocolate-filled croissants in a bag from a gas station mini market.
a lovely day for a drive across Ukraine

Out spraying soybeans at six am

At 6:20 am we hit our first snag of the day, when we hit a bad pot hole dead on, it was hiding under the shade of a tree-lined road on the way to Uman. I took the opportunity to get some poppy photos while not travelling 120 km an hour, and Garry put on the spare tire. The front passenger tire had popped off the very bent rim, the back tire rim had a good dent in it, but luckily it had hung on, since we only had one spare.

Garry at work

Unsuspecting car missing the pothole we hit

somebody's wheat field with Garry in it

Part two- the rest of the way to the conference to follow (we did make it)

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