The last few days in America were filled with many obstacles. Saturday evening, around 8:30 pm Austin popped his knee out doing a cartwheel. Thankfully our neighbor, Doug Stromberg, came to the rescue and popped it right back into place. Austin was on crutches for a few days and then we got a knee brace for the journey. Aaron and I were really worried about the long airplane rides, walking to and from gates/terminals, and carrying a heavy backpack. Prayers were answered because Austin did great and was able to get the aisle seat on all three flights that favored his right knee. The swelling was not bad and he was able to travel without complaint!
Our family was blown away by the Fox Ridge Neighborhood as they sent us off at 7:45 am on the corners of Abbey and Fox Ridge! It meant so much to all of us to see so many friends who are supporting us in this adventure! We love you all and were so humbled by your love, kindness, sacrifice and friendship! Yeah Fox Ridge!
Our travels began Tuesday, July 29th @7:45. Our first flight left Salt Lake City at 11:05 am. Being the first flight, everyone was anxious and excited. Kids were arguing about who got the window seat and who got to sit by who. Let the journey begin! We landed in New York and lo and behold we ran into Perry Winder! His wife, Connie, was on the corner saying goodbye to us just hours before and now we ran into her husband in the JFK airport. Such a small world and a little miracle in our minds! It was great to see one last familiar face before our long journey across the big blue! When we arrived at security for our flight to Moscow, we were directed back to the Aeroflot counter. Well, our flight was going to be delayed by at least 2 hours into Moscow and that was going to make us miss our connecting flight to Paris, which would then make us miss our train to Nîmes. My stress level was definitely rising as I was looking ahead to two more flights and a train that we perhaps were going to miss. If we missed the train we would have to get hotel rooms in Paris because the 5:58 pm train was the last one to Nîmes. Our new connecting flight had an arrival time of 5pm. Hotel accommodations in Europe are nothing like America. France usually does not allow more than 2 people in a hotel room and do not have rooms with double beds or connecting rooms. So traveling with a family of 9 for one night in Paris would be so outrageously expensive and inconvenient. This was a daunting image in my mind! Everything was out of our control and we just had to “go with the flow”!
The 9 hour flight to Moscow was good. Everyone got a little sleep and was pretty comfortable considering the length of time spent in just a small space. Sophie slept most of the flight which was a blessing! Even AJ turned off the movies and games and got a few hours of shut eye! As soon as we arrived in Moscow, Aaron and I felt the need to get off the plane quickly and sure enough there was a woman waiting for our family to direct us to the next flight. She rushed us through passport check and security to get us on the next flight. We were off one airplane and on another taking off within 30 minutes. The flight from Moscow to Paris was empty so the kids could spread out. None of us could stay awake, so the 3.5 hours went by fast.
We arrived in Paris CDG @5pm. We got off the flight and went to customs and there was not a wait! We have never traveled through customs without a long wait. All 7 of us went through within 5 minutes. We thought, maybe, we could make that train. The baggage claim had another miracle, luggage carts! We were traveling with 13 pieces of luggage plus backpacks! Also, the train station was a 5 minute walk. By this time it was 5:20/5:25. We thought we would jump for joy as we saw our luggage come out first. Granted there were only 25 other people on the flight, but our came out first, except for 2 pieces! Aaron’s work computer and Sophie’s car seat did not make the flight so we had to file a claim and that took another 10-15 minutes. Time was ticking… We ran to the train station with 4 carts full of luggage. We were a sight to behold! LOL! As soon as we entered the train station there were our sweet daughters, Julia and Alexis, who had taken a different flight, first class, non-stop! It was a great reunion! Aaron rushed to the ticket booth and by now it was 5:54. He got the tickets and booked it for “Voie 6″. Just as we were carrying all the luggage down the escalator the train pulled up. We were literally running to the right part of the train. We started a “train” of people pulling up luggage into the train compartment. There were 2 really nice men who helped us! Everyone was sweating! We all let out a huge sigh of relief when the train pulled away and we were on it!!!! The Lord answered our prayers and saved us a ton of money! We were so grateful!!!
The Ribera’s were at the Nîmes train station waiting for us. We loaded up two cars and were on our way to our little village. We all slept well that first night! We arrived at the house around 11:00pm! What a travel experience! We were so happy to be able to shower and sleep in beds!!!!!