Sydney: 11 through 14 April

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Australia. I think I really started in earnest after my grandparents went several years ago, and it sounded like the most wonderful, exotic place imaginable. So, when my father died and left me a fair chunk of money, I decided that one of the things we were going to do was take this trip I’d always dreamed of taking. It worked out very well, timing-wise, that our friends, Mark and Vicky Hobba, had recently had their first child. If we came in the Spring of 2005, the baby would be the perfect age for a week on a houseboat along the Murray River (something that sounded fantastic). Everything was falling into place very nicely, and we made our plans . . . we were going to Australia!

Our flight from L.A. would take us to Sydney. Even though we didn’t have anyone to visit there, I didn’t want to visit Australia without seeing the famous Opera House. Besides, most of the international flights (at least from our part of the world) come to Sydney, so we didn’t have much choice but to make a stop. We decided to spend a few days before going on to our next destination.

The trip was long, but uneventful. Even though our flight didn’t leave LAX until almost midnight on Saturday, we drove down to L.A. on Friday, where we stayed the night with my mum (I didn’t want to spend six hours in the car Saturday and then get right on the plane). So, on Saturday, we doodled around all day long – did a bit of shopping and had lunch at Tito’s, and hung out with my mum. Finally, around 7.30, we packed up and headed to the airport. After returning the rental car, catching the shuttle to the airport, checking in and going through security, we still had a while to wait. Kevin played a game on my computer while Connor and I listened to “Bunnicula” on his iPod (the iPod has turned out to be a FANTASTIC hit – he loves it, and I’m really glad I decided to get it for him). Finally, it was time to board the plane, and I think we took off right at midnight.

I was feeling anxious for the first hour or so of the flight; ever since the flight I had coming home from my father’s funeral, flying makes me nervous (we hit turbulence that was so bad I sincerely thought the plane was going to crash). I wasn’t looking forward to 14 hours in the air. So much so that I actually asked for a bottle of wine with the dinner they served on the flight – I’d hoped it would mellow me out so that I wouldn’t be as stressed. (And I guess it worked; I was okay most of the flight, even when we did hit minor turbulence).

Not long after they served our supper, the lights went out (since it was the middle of the night, after all). Connor fell asleep pretty quickly, but I had more trouble. I was able to get reasonably comfortable by laying sideways across more than one seat, with Connor stretched out alongside me (although part of the night, half my butt was hanging off the edge). I only managed to sleep for short periods at a time, though, and got maybe two or three hours of actual sleep. There were a few films available that I did want to see, but I found I wasn’t in the mood to watch anything, so I just laid there and tried to sleep for about half of the flight. About five hours before we landed, I gave up on sleeping entirely, and read about half of a book. When Connor woke up, he was happy listening to “Bunnicula” and colouring. Kevin read or played chess on the airplane’s entertainment system (he even beat the game at least once).

The sunrise was gorgeous – almost like a flat rainbow, with streaks of colour from deep red all the way up to blue. It was also one of the longest sunrises I’ve ever seen, since we were flying away from it. Once daylight finally arrived, there were some amazing cloud formations below us . . . and a whole lot of water. It sort of creeped me out to think about all the water we’d flown over for hours and hours, actually, so I didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking out the window. 😀 Finally, after almost 14 hours, we landed in Sydney. Until the moment that the plane actually touched down, I don’t think I entirely believed that we were actually going to make it – all the while in planning this trip, I was afraid that something would happen to prevent us from coming (I think, because I wanted to come SO MUCH) – first, I was worried about getting flights booked, then all the troubles with passports and visas. When we went to check in at the airport, I was half convinced that they weren’t going to let us on the plane for some reason, and even after the plane took off, I didn’t let myself really believe it until we were on the ground at the other end. As Kevin said when I told him, I need to find a way to have a more positive outlook about things, huh? But we made it!

AUSTRALIA!!!!! YES!

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