Part II: From LAX
We arrived at LAX on schedule, picked up our bags, and caught the airport bus to the Tom Bradley International terminal. David and Michelle were waiting for us in the entry area. Louise went over to the China Eastern area and ran into Del and Marjorie who had some how connected with Ray. Apparently, Ray had spotted them and asked if they were headed for China. It turned out Del and Marj had also had a close call as they had been eating breakfast in St Louis not realizing their plane was already loading. When they came to the gate the attendant wanted to know if they were the Schwenk's as they'd been waiting for them.
We checked in at the group ticket counter then spent an hour or so in the food court, eating, visiting, and waiting for time to go to the plane. About 1 p.m. or so, our flight was posted. Ray went through the check point first and was immediately cornered by a police officer. We had our concerns--what was going to go wrong now! It turned out she'd spotted him because of all the pockets on his vest coat as the ideal candidate to check out a dog they had just trained-or thought they'd trained-to detect bundles of money on a passenger. A packet of one dollar bills was hidden in one of his pockets and the dog was supposedly trained to it out. The dog, instead, went for his camera in a big way and ignored the money!! Ray's situation, however, did add to the expectations for our journey!! The officer never did seem concerned about what Ray might have stuffed in that camera! It did afford him the opportunity to exercise a unique talent we soon discovered he possessed. That was to get acquainted with people instantly. Ray never met a person he didn't know!! He and the officer quickly engaged in conversation and it turned out she also had an Indiana background!
Louise, Del, Marj, Ray, Peter, David and Michelle on board the aircraft.
The flight departure was delayed about a half hour or more due to some late arrivals, but, other than that, was uneventful. We stopped in Anchorage for refueling, then on to Shanghai and Beijing. In the Shanghai terminal, Louise struck up a conversation with Bao Yang, a student at Arizona State University, majoring in computer science, who lived in Beijing. He offered to help us around Beijing and we suggested he have dinner with us Wednesday night.
We arrived late Tuesday evening, around 10:30, in the new Beijing airport, went through customs quickly, picked up our bags and were soon in the terminal. John, our tour escort, was waiting there with a big sign "David Pressley." He selected David because of the Elvis Pressley connection. About an hour's drive in the van brought us to the King Wing Hotel, a new, five star hotel in northeast Beijing, where we were checked in and spent our first night back in China.