Monday, August 31, 2009

Ready or not, Off we go!!!!!

If anyone is still checking on my blog, firstly, thank you! Secondly, I apologize for taking so long to get started again after our holiday to Australia. Most people manage to travel and blog at the same time, not me! We had "borrowed" computer access most of the time.
Had great plans to get caught up the first week we arrived home..........well, I had great plans.
In the past few hours, days, weeks, and months we haven't been idle:
Jim wrote a book, Joshua started his own t-shirt company, Jessica completed a 18 week online English course in 10/11 weeks, Sally-Ann has driven here, there and everywhere. Samuel and Sally-Ann have sat in waiting rooms and.......well, we waited. More on that another time however!!! Joshua headed back to BYU and is starting classes today. Jessica started her Senior year of high school last Tuesday.

Without any further ado


We left for Australia on the 23rd July, 2009. Our first flight left in the afternoon from Tampa, so it was nice not to have to rush around in the early hours of the morning trying to make sure everything was packed. Half way to the airport I did realize that we hadn't packed our camera...duh! Joshua said not to worry, that he had his. Well, I like to have my own camera!!!!! Will mention more about that later!!!

Our first leg of the trip was uneventful and took us to San Antonio, Texas. I have never been to Texas before and I must say, after viewing Texas from the airport, I have nothing to report!

Then.......we arrived in Los Angeles. If I had given my children a quarter, or even a penny, for every time that I said, "I hate the LA airport", they would be wealthy. Might I just say, "I hate the LA airport." Getting from domestic to international is a pain in the bum. After all the drama of checking our bags, winding our way through security, finding our departure gate, claiming a small section of waiting area as our own......we had a delicious hot dog for our evening meal. I am not sure if the sarcasm is coming through to you with the written word. But, I was being a little sarcastic about the hot dog.....but I really do hate the LA airport.

We boarded our flight to Sydney around midnight. I have mentioned this in a previous blog, but it bears repeating - if you ever fly to Australia, fly Qantas. Great customer service, very kid friendly. Joshua was very taken with the blankets and socks that were provided. They also gave us eye masks for those who were lucky enough to sleep. Samuel was given an Australia Zoo backpack with crayons, a six-sided block puzzle and a few other goodies. One of the most noticeable things when flying Qantas (at least on all of our flights) was that the number of male flight attendants far outnumbered the female.

We happened to be in the very last row, right by the toilets. Joshua and Jessica sat in the row in front of us, so we strategically sat Sam behind them so there wouldn't be any seat kicking incidents - oh, if we had only been able to sit in this configuration throughout all our flights. Yet another story that may or may not be told lays behind that statement!!

They fed us a quite nice meal. I think the next time we fly, we will order children's meals for all of us. Sam had the best meals of the lot. On our trip back home they gave out the most delicious icy poles (popsicles), Jim ate 3 of them. When it was time for lights out, they gave everyone a baggie filled with snacks and a water bottle. I think Jim and Joshua watched just about every movie that wasn't a R, Samuel loved watching "Thomas the Tank Engine", and his beloved, "Dora."

It was a pretty good flight. I didn't get very much sleep. I was sitting in the middle seat with Sam on one side and a stranger on the other. I say stranger, because, usually I try and make a little small talk and get to know someone when I am going to be sitting next to them for 12-14 hours in the confines of small seats in a airplane. This lady put on her eye mask, probably had ear plugs as well, and she didn't wake-up until we were an hour from Sydney. Our seats were great when we had to make a trip to the toilet, but when you are trying to sleep, not so great. Because we had space by us, everyone seemed to congregate right by our seats and talk loudly to each other about how everyone was keeping them awake by where their seats were. They would sprawl all over the seats were Jim and Joshua were trying to sleep. I switched seats with Jim at one point and woke up to find someones bum stuck in my face. Sam only had one meltdown moment and that was when he was woken up by the "yakkity yak club." At that point I felt like jumping up and down myself!! But it was a good flight all in all.

Our section of the airplane had a excellent flight attendant. On our decent he sat by us and gave us the condensed version of what had changed over the past 12 years, what to see and do in Sydney, pointed out some of the different things that could be seen as we flew over Sydney, etc.. Finally, we touched down, I always feel like standing up and singing the national anthem at this point in the trip. I don't, much to my family's relief!!

Customs and baggage claim is a necessary evil, but always goes smoothly. Sam, Jessica and I got to see a customs dog in action and watched people be written up for bringing fruit into the country. Getting our luggage checked for our next leg of the journey was the next thing. We met the first and only crabby Qantas employee. She gave us our trips mantra, "YOU MUST READ THE TAG". Security to our next leg of the journey seemed like a little bit of heaven. We only had to take our shoes off if we beeped going through the scanning process. This may seem like a small thing, but...... Transportation to the domestic flights was a breeze. This just reaffirmed how much I hate the LA airport!!!

While we were waiting for our flight to Brisbane, Joshua and Jessica became a little peckish and went off to get something to eat. Here we were, in another country, lots of different foods to choose from, and what did they get to eat???? Burger King. In Australia it is called, "Hungry Jack's", but it is exactly the same as Burger King. Good Grief!

The first time we went back to Australia I had been away six years, the second time it was four years, this time it was twelve. Each trip back, the first thing I do when we get outside is take a deep breath and smell. Australia smells different. I can't describe it. The sky is bluer and clearer. I'm home. I have been away 23 1/2 years, I don't know if I will ever feel "not Australian".

Our next destination - Brisbane. Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting chapter!!