Return to 2006 Australia Trip
November 17, 2006 - 7 PM Seattle time
Well, to wean myself off my addiction to posting my adventures almost daily, I'll make one final Ramblings post to the website. The trip is over. I have returned to the bosom of my family.
I got up "this morning" (since I haven't slept since then, it is all one long day to me. Besides, I got up on November 17th, and it is still November 17th, about 32 hours later.) at about 6:30 or so. I had one last great cooked breakfast at the Jellicoe B&B, which turned out to be one of the best places I stayed on my trip. Then I showered and packed up one final time.
I was off for the airport by about 9:00, for my 12:20 PM flight, with the airport only a half hour or 40 minutes away. No excitement here, folks. I missed one turn, but recovered with the great map book that came with the rental car, and I turned the car in and checked in for my flight in plenty of time. Because I was flying Business Class on my Alaska Airlines frequent flyer miles, I got to wait for my flight in the Qantas Club lounge. Free internet access, comfy chairs, and free snacks. A good way to wait for a flight.
The flight was full, as far as I could see, sitting upstairs in the 747, and it all went smoothly. On the way over I had liked the entertainment system, and I went on about how great it was in one of the earliest Ramblings, as I remember. Well, this plane hadn't been upgraded to that new system, and it made me appreciate the new system all the more. This was the old tape system with about 17 or 18 channels, and the set program repeated every 2 and one-half hours, roughly. The new system lets you watch a movie on demand, downloaded digitally to a computer at your seat, so you could pause, rewind or fast forward the movie. We had about 50 movies to choose from on the way over, instead of the 17 or 18 fixed choices coming home. The quality of the images in the taped programs wasn't as good as the digital ones, either. When you are stuck in the same seat for 14 hours, it turns out it is very nice to be able to watch any one of 50 movies on demand, with complete control over it. I watched three movies coming home, but it was cumbersome to catch the repeating schedule, and they cut off the end of the third one, because we were arriving in LA. Still, the time passed, eventually. It was boring, but endurable. It just went on and on and on.
I had bought a bottle of my Bundaberg Rum at the duty free shop in Melbourne, and they delivered it to you as you boarded the plane, thus getting around the newly re-imposed ban on carrying on liquids. As I was flying to LA, I realized that I was going to have a problem with security in LA, trying to carry my bottle of rum onto the flight to Seattle. I also thought of the obvious solution - when I cleared customs with my checked bags in LA, I put the rum in one of my checked bags. I was afraid they wouldn't let me do that, but no one seemed to notice or care, and I got my last bottle of Bundy home safely.
I had three and a half hours in LA, a half hour of which was used up standing in the line for immigration. Flying, especially internationally, has gotten harder and less comfortable and less convenient all the time, and it is getting pretty close to unendurable for me. In Melbourne, Qantas had 12 employees doing thorough bag searches of all carry-on luggage, for every passenger. I don't think they always do that, and I don't know why they did it on our flight, but it was just one more hassle to endure. I endure it patiently, but it isn't fun.
Anyway, I had a double Whopper with cheese in LAX, with a large diet Coke for the caffeine, and I managed to make it to my Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle, although I was starting to hit the wall with weariness by then. I declined the nice sandwich and drinks they offered in First Class on that leg, and instead dozed in my seat for the full 2 1/2 hours, and was in a bit better shape by the time I reached Seattle. I sure envy those people who can sleep on airplanes. Most of the Business Class passengers slept most of the way to LA, and I sure would have liked to do the same. I think my Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the main reason I can't sleep on airplanes, but whatever the reason, a 14 hour flight without being able to sleep is an endurance test.
So, you get the idea - it was a long, long day without any problems. We were 45 minutes late getting into Seattle, but that is very minor. Otherwise, it was a flawless trip home, just very, very long.
So, I still haven't really had much time to reflect on the trip, and I haven't reviewed my pictures or Ramblings yet, but my initial impression on getting home is that it achieved everything I had hoped for. I really enjoyed myself, etc. I think I already said all this stuff in the last Ramblings, and I guess I don't have anything else to add now.
I'm home, safe and sound - and jetlagged. It is 7:30 PM now, on this very long Friday, and I have been up for about 32 hours. Our daughter, Johanna, is arriving at the airport at about 11 tonight, and I don't think I am going to be awake for her arrival here. Christina is going to make her second airport run of the day, to pick her up. We haven't seen Johanna for over a year, and she will be here for a week, so that will be nice.
I guess that is it for these Ramblings this year. I don't know if I will make it back to Australia again or not. As usual, having just gotten off the long, long flight, I don't think I will make the trip again, but I have said that twice before and changed my mind, so who knows? The older I get, the harder the long flights get, though, and I sure don't feel like signing up for another one right now.
One more big thank you to the people who sent me emails on my trip - you sustained me, and I appreciate it very much.
Barry Downunder no more