The next morning's activities are simple: get up, have breakfast, drive back to Las Vegas, return the cars, get to the airport, fly home. Doesn't turn out quite that way, though....
We get up, leisurely, to another nice sunny day, and have breakfast at a local Springdale Restaurant. We pack up and are driving out of Springdale shortly after 9am. In St.George, partway back, we stop for a quick spray wash of the rental cars (to get all of the backroad mud off of them), and a few of us want to stop and shop at the outdoor store.
We then get back on Interstate-15 and head south.
It becomes apparent that we're cutting things a little close, but that we still are on track to arriving around 45 minutes to an hour before our flight. Las Vegas slows us down a little, with some traffic and a slow gas-up stop. The car rental return is quite efficient, though, and we are in and out of there quite quickly.
We arrive at the United Airlines counter with about 45 minutes to spare. It is a very busy day at the airport, but even so we're surprised when the attendant says "You're too late, you'll have to go on standby". Standby?!!
In our slightly rushed state, we don't think to challenge the assertion that we're too late, so we dumbly go along and get herded to a separate counter, where we unhappily accept the standby classification. We're now wondering when it is we'll be getting back to Ottawa? In 4 days, maybe?
While we aren't pleased with the initial bumping of us into standby, I have to admit that United did treat us fairly well thereafter. The ticket attendant managed our priority on the standby list such that we had a pretty good chance of getting onto the next flight (which was an hour and a half later), and in fact, we almost all got on. Ewart accepted being the odd one out, and we felt he had a good chance to get on the next flight, given that he was only a single passenger. We parted, and agreed to meet up in Chicago, where we'd plan the next part of getting us home.
On the flight home, I was seated next to a pleasant couple from Georgia, who were for the first time in 30 years were on a vacation where they flew on a plane. They seemed calm.
When I noticed that we were flying within sight of Canyonlands National Park, they graciously let me take a picture over them and out the window (I was in the aisle seat). Although there was a weird interaction between my polarizer and the window of the plane, I still managed to get this neat shot of central Canyonlands National Park. I've annotated the picture for clarity -- have a look!
As predicted, Ewart did get on the next flight, and by 10:30pm that night, we were all together again in Chicago. There were no further flights to Ottawa that night, and we managed to snag some good discounts on a nearby hotel, so we shuttled it over to the hotel, ordered some delicious Deep-dish (Chicago style deep dish) pizza, and watched a bit of TV. The airline had said that we had a very good chance of flying standby on the morning flight to Ottawa; the flight was less than half full.
The next morning, we have no trouble all getting on standby on the Chicago-Ottawa flight. In the end, we arrive in Ottawa over twelve hours later than scheduled, and it is raining and dreary, but I'm happy about the trip -- we packed a lot of high quality stuff into seven full days. And now, it's over. We're back home. Once again, we've seen wonderful things. We've learned that it's fun to hike down a sandy stream. We've learned a bit more about the 'craft' of being in the outdoors. We've learned a bit more about being self-sufficient in remote places.
And, most of all, we've learned that it's damn hard to wake a slumbering Welshman.
[on reflecting upon being on the trip]
"The Maze, the Jeeping, and perhaps the whole trip in general, has been a really interesting (for me) exercise in my own mind-management, and a lesson is buried in there for sure. Something about knowing what I can do, vs. anticipating, and handling unknowns. It's nice to have a set of experiences to now think back on and find some reassurance in when next we do something similar. Guess I'll have to keep trying more adventures involving stuff outside my comfort zone!"
[on being on standby]
"I will always remember Ewart's comment the morning after he stayed in his Chicago luxury hotel suite (with king size feather bed and duvet) We asked him how his night was and he remarked, 'I can't possibly sleep under those kinds of conditions!"