Hello and greetings from Australia!!
It's so surreal being back and in a way doesn't even feel like I've left [like when I left the airport in Sydney and without much thought or consulting a map navigated my way to Canberra!]
The trip down is worth about 23 bloggers, but being short on time, I will try to get it all into one:
Dad took me to Austin (thanks Daddy!). After getting checked in and waiting in an eternal line to go through security, the lovely lady at the checkpoint (checking id's and tickets)--exasperated that my id was a passport and I didn't want to dig out my driver's license--told me that I could only have 2 carry-on items. Well, I had three--my purse, a bag of books & toiletries, and a bag of wine. I explained that "Actually, ma'am, I'm flying internationally and am allow 3 carry-on items" Where upon I was informed that actually she had been working there a long time and NEVER had any flights EVER allowed three carry-on items and so I could either consolidate or check one of my bags. Fine. So I dropped my bags at her feet and proceeded to pull everything out of my book bag--shoving things in both my puse and my wine bag, then placing my purse into the book bag and shoving the rest of my items around the purse so that in the end--rather than having THREE SMALL, LIGHT, NEATLY packed bags, I had TWO HEAVY, OVERSTUFFED AND OVERFLOWING bags. Upon standing up, I showed her my "two" bags and she wished me a nice flight. The kicker is that I get to the sercurity check point and get behind a lady who had a wheeled bag, on top of which was another smaller bag and a purse. Somebody freaking shoot me. Of course, I promptly pulled out my purse and rearranged my THREE SMALL, LIGHT, NOT-QUITE-SO-NEATLY packed bags for travel.
The flight to LA was uneventful, barring an 35 minute delay. Get to LA--land in Terminal 4, gate 47 [this is important information for later!]. Follow the signs to the International Terminal, which if you're in LAX and have to leave the terminal you're in, you have to go outside and upon entering the new terminal ( I think there are 5 total) you have check back through security (great--just what I want to do again!). Am about to leave Terminal 4 and I see a couple of Qantas counters, but since American & Qantas are part of the OneWorld Alliance, didn't think much about it--until I walk all the way to the International Terminal and am nocticing my flight to Sydney is not listed. It leaves in about 2 hours, so SURELY it's gotta be listed. Because SURELY if it was cancelled or changed, they would have informed me. So I walk over to the Qantas counter and ask about my flight. "Oh" she says "That flight leaves out of Terminal 4!" smile. try not to cry. "Just go to Terminal 4 and use the business class line to get a new boarding pass" Okay, business class line--not as long as Economy, so not so bad (I'm hoping). Go up to Business class line and am issued a new boarding pass--and am informed that the gate has changed. Okay, since I thought the gate was in the International Terminal to me OBVIOUSLY the gate had changed. Walked up the checkpoint person [with my THREE SMALL NOT-SO-NEATLY PACKED bags], whereupon, she....wishes me a nice flight and a good evening! Get through security actually FASTER than in Austin (there's something wrong with that, but I wasn't complaining), look down at my "new" gate--it's number 48B. oh. funny I know EXACTLY where that gate is!! After a bit of a wait (and a burger & beer at the terminal)the plane is boarded and we head off over the wild blue Pacific!
We're supposed to land at 6am. But thanks to strong head winds the ENTIRE flight, we actually land at 7am. Immigration didn't take long at all to get through. I was excited. It should have been a clue that Customs wasn't going to be as fast! I have 6 bottles of Texas wine to give out as gifts, did I know I was over the limit? Yes. Did I declare this? Yes. (I DECLARE I HAVE A LOT OF WINE!) ahem, sorry. So I was sent to see the lady behind the counter (and trust me you don't want to have to see the lady behind the counter--it means that you have to pay....) Luckily, after explaining that the bottles were gifts, she okay'd my wine without having to pay taxes on it, but explained that next time, keep it to 3 bottles. Yes, ma'am.
Finally (it's now like 8am Sydney time--no clue what time in USA it is!), I manage to get out and find the car rental place....only to be told that the car is not ready. But thanking me for my patience, they have decided to give me the next size larger car--if I wouldn't mind waiting a few more minutes. Not minding the bigger car and the chance to stretch my legs, I walked around the terminal for a few minutes. Less than 10 minutes later, I was in the car (it's red!!!!!!!!!) and headed to Canberra (and manged to stay on the correct--aka left--hand side of the road!)
Well, I guess that's about it for now! I'm meeting Nerida for coffee and Cathy for lunch and not quite sure what the arvo brings--but it'll be great and relaxing for sure!!
g'day! :) shez