Thursday, April 23, 2015

Breathing Room

I am blessed to have a job that I love which also routinely introduces me to new people, places, and experiences.  My recent experience going to Australia was as uneventful as it could be.  My time in Australia could not possibly have been better.  My journey home from Australia?  Well, I landed safely each time.  That's HUGE, but it is also the only good thing about that 40 hour journey.

Here's an overview of the trip:
  • 3am Melbourne time:  wake up
  • 4am Melbourne time:  get in a cab for a 30 minute ride to the airport
  • 4:15 am Melbourne time:  get to the airport.  My taxi had wings and I had white knuckles
  • 6:45 am Melbourne time:  fall asleep on plane as it pulled away from the gate
  • 7:00 am Melbourne time: wake up when the plane stopped.  Oops!  Overheated on takeoff, back to the airport to deplane
  • 8:00 am Melbourne time: was informed that there was no possible way to leave Melbourne that day.  Prepared to stay for a one-day holiday and maybe go to the zoo.  Koalas and kangaroos?  Sign me up!   Had to wait for hotel and taxi info.
  • 9:45 am Melbourne time:  was informed that my flight to Aukland was booked and I had 15 minutes to reclaim luggage and check in.  Then I had 15 minutes to get through security/passport check and run to the farthest gate of the international terminal.
  • 10:00 am Melbourne time: check in for flight.  Discover that I had sliced my finger while retrieving luggage.  Left a huge puddle of blood at the check-in desk.  Tried to mop the blood from both arms (how did I do this?) and not look like a serial killer while going through security screening.  I guess I succeeded.
  • 10:15 am Melbourne time: boarded my plane huffing, puffing, and sweating.  Discover that I was in the middle seat for a 3 1/2 hour flight. My worst nightmare in a "first-world problem"sort of way.
  • (I lost track of time after this).  My left seatmate was a delight, but my neighbor to the right?  He was a frustrated percussionist and did his Ringo Starr impersonation for the entire three hour flight.  I was elbowed every few seconds.  In frustration, I elbowed back and claimed the armrest.  I have never done this before.  VICTORY!!!  As my elbow was repeatedly assaulted for the remainder of the flight, I will admit to shedding several frustrated tears.  I was going to another country without any tickets for future flights.  I had no cell phone or computer access to figure out where I was going.  No one on earth knew where I was.  
  • I spent several hours in the international terminal of Aukland airport in New Zealand.  They offer 30 minutes of free wi-fi so I was able to email my husband so he would know I wasn't coming home on time.  I changed some Australian money for New Zealand money and had some lunch.  I walked around for a while and checked out the menu and prices at chains like Starbucks and Burger King.  I didn't eat at any of them, but a Whopper meal costs about 13 New Zealand dollars if that interests you. They had other items on the menu that aren't available in the States.  These details fascinate me.  I realized that I changed too much money, so I bought a couple of chocolate bars to snack on during the next 30 hours.  (I only ate one and shared the other with my hubby when I finally got home.)
  • I flew Air New Zealand to Los Angeles.  I was seated in a window seat (Praise God!) but my seatmate was a hyperactive mom.  Her daughter in the aisle seat was very well behaved, but the mommy needed to be told to sit still.  For twelve hours.  T w e l v e  H o u r s.  And the movies didn't work.  I didn't cry, but I wasn't having much fun, either.
  • Landing in Los Angeles and turning my phone back on?  It was pure joy!  I felt in control of my trip again.  I still didn't have a ticket for my next flight nor did I know when/where it was taking off, but I was in the States and I knew that I would make it home eventually.
  • At passport control, I used an automated kiosk and it printed out a receipt with my photo on it.  One should never have a photo taken 23 hours into their travel day.  It wasn't pretty.
  • I rechecked my luggage and the kind man told me that I should go to Terminal 5 by turning right outside the door.  I walked along a narrow sidewalk outside LAX under the departures platform breathing car exhaust.  I had no luggage (again, Praise God!) but most other people did so I kept tripping over them until I passed Terminal 4 and entered Terminal 5.
  • I checked in.  Finally!  A ticket!!!  I made it through security for the 4th time during this odyssey and discovered that my flight was actually in Terminal 6.  This time I walked underground.  I never minded the distance.  Stretching my legs after all of those hours on a plane was glorious!
  • I grabbed some lunch and made it to my gate with a few hours to spare.  I volunteered to give up my ticket if necessary.  They would have put me in a hotel room with a bed and a shower and then flown me home in the morning.  How lovely would that have been?  Alas, they didn't need my ticket and I sat in my window seat (Praise God!) for the 5 hour flight home.  My middle seat-mate was in a band from Mexico and the young lady in the aisle was petrified of flying.  We landed in bad weather (bumpy, oh so bumpy for the last hour) so I spent the last part of the flight reaching around a sleeping musician to hold this gal's hands and talk her down.  The poor thing was shaking with fright!
  • We landed at JFK only 10 minutes late.  Whee!!!!  I called my sweet hubby and told him to go to sleep and I'd be home in 2-3 hours.  Oh how foolish I feel about that now.  They didn't have a gate available for us so we sat on the Tarmac for a while.  Eventually, we deplaned.
  • While waiting for our luggage in the wee hours of the morning, we were informed that the luggage ramp was closed due to a lightning storm.  Of course it was!  Eventually I got my luggage and got on the shuttle to the off-site parking lot.
  • At 2am, the shuttle got a flat tire while I was on it and we were stranded on the side of the road until another vehicle could come to take us to our cars.  My shuttle mates had difficult trips with 2-3 hour delays from Orlando, San Diego, and San Francisco.  10 hour delay, starting in Australia.  I win so be quiet!  The replacement shuttle arrived and I think it did double duty at the Fulton Fish Market.  Oh the stench!  I was afraid fish juice was in the seats and would stay on my clothes.  Fortunately the smell stayed in the van and didn't follow me home.  After all of these hours, I smelled bad enough without reeking of fish!
  • I eventually got to my car and drove home slowly, first due to JFK traffic (even at 2:30 am) and then due to the heavy rains.  I made it home by 4am.
  • HOME!  Hubby was awake, wondering where I was.  He helped me unload my bags and then fell back to sleep.  I got some food, got a shower, and was asleep by 5am.  Time elapsed between beds?  40 hours.
  • Woke up to my alarm at noon.  Could have slept longer but needed to adjust to NY time.  Did a little computer work and went back to bed at 11 pm.
  • Woke up today and am as right as rain.  I love that I don't suffer from jetlag once I'm home.  I get good sleep in my own bed and can reset my clock very quickly.  It takes a few day for me to start being hungry at the right time of day again, but that's easy enough to deal with.
  • I will spend 10 days at home before heading out again, this time to New Hampshire.  NO PLANES INVOLVED!!!!  
So, that sounded a lot like whining.  I didn't want to write a whiny story but I've received countless emails asking about my adventures.  I relented.

These amazing quilters are why I put myself through such abuse:

These ladies were in my 2-day class.  Some of them took a third day with me and some took all four.  One has taken all 12 days of classes that I have taught in Australia.  Such a dear!

If you want to take a class from me and live closer to me than Australia, you might find a city near you on my teaching calendar.  If none of the locations/dates work so that we can meet, check out my Craftsy class. Remember, Craftsy = the place where you always win the armrest war!


Eileen said...

Wow! That's all I have-WOW!

~Kristie said...

Glad you made it home safe and sound! By the way, are the upcoming classes at Quilt Basket on just the Sweet Sixteen or are they also for stand up machines with handles?

Barb said...

What an ordeal!! As for the passport kiosk...I have global entry and when you are short it only takes a picture of your forehead. Lol Next time squat down and there will be no evidence of your face after the long trip!

Vireya said...

That sounds like a nightmare of a trip home! Not fun at all.

Bonnie said...

It probably was a horrible 40 hours in many ways but it does make a great story. I haven't flown international in years so have no idea what is going on with passport control and security and the like. Perhaps a trip to Ireland might refresh my memory!