G’day mates. We’re here.
The good news is, we’re in Australia and my marriage is intact. This might seem self-evident, however, there was a period of 90 minutes or so on Saturday afternoon when these outcomes were in doubt.
Shall I tell you the story of our misadventures before we ever even left the country?
On Friday night, Pete and I discussed what time we needed to leave on Saturday morning. Our plan was to drive from our town up to the Washington DC area, park our car at some friends’ house, and then they’d drive us to National Airport. One of the people in my marriage felt that we should get to the airport by 2:15, which was two hours before our flight left. Someone else felt that we didn’t need to allow quite so much time — really, an hour would suffice.
The upshot was that while one person wanted to hit the road at one time, the other person dawdled and wasn’t ready until nearly an hour after that time, which was convenient, given that person’s desire to get to the airport only an hour before the flight left.
Leaving an hour later found us parking our car at our friends’ house a mere two hours before our flight left. The airport was another 30 minutes away. Too bad that 30 minutes ran longer, due to a traffic jam along the way.
This meant we arrived at the airport just 55 minutes before the airplane was supposed to be backing out the gate.
Checking in and checking our luggage took a while and was only made possible by the kindness of some airline employees who took pity on us and pushed us up the line. The person checking us in looked doubtful that we’d make our flight and actually told us to run. We didn’t even have boarding passes.
The folks in security sent us into an expedited lane and allowed us to jump to the front of that line. We then had to run through the terminal to our gate. At that same time, I was clutching my laptop in my arms because I didn’t have time to put it back in my messenger bag after it was x-rayed and Grace was running in her socks and carrying her shoes because she didn’t have time to put them on.
When we got to the gate, our flight was boarding. Pete went to the gate desk to get our boarding passes and discovered that he had been put on the standby list, which meant that he might or might not even be able to get on the plane. If we didn’t get on that plane, we would miss our connecting flight in Dallas — the only such flight that day. As it turns out, there were a number of people put on standby because the flight was oversold. The gate agent was offering passengers $500 flight vouchers in exchange for giving up their seats on the flight.
We had a rather tense time at the gate, during which I was certain we would not get on that plane. But at the last minute, the VERY LAST MINUTE, Pete was taken off standby and we all could board. We still didn’t even have boarding passes; the gate agent just told us to take the last four seats on the plane.
Mercifully, we were able to sit near each other. That said, the spouse who wanted to get to the airport two hours early might have told the other spouse that it would be best if they didn’t sit next to each other or even talk to each for a while, as someone needed some time to allow some anger to dissipate.
(We’re all good now, by the way.)
After that, things were better. We had an easy flight to Dallas, with a nice layover that allowed us plenty of time to eat dinner, walk around and stretch our legs a little, and even recharge our electronics. We got on the plane a little before 10 p.m. Saturday evening and away we flew.
The flight from Dallas to Brisbane was 15 hours, which is a loooooooooooooooooooooong time to be on an airplane, I tell you. I’m not even going to discuss those hours because I’m not ready to revisit them.
We landed in Brisbane at 5:00 this morning (Monday), which is an ungodly hour. Luckily, getting our luggage and going through Customs was a breeze. In fact, it was so easy that even with our cab ride to our apartment, we still pulled up at 6 a.m., which was a full hour before the check-in desk was open for business. We dropped off our luggage and went in search of coffee and hot chocolate.
We ended up going for a walk along the Brisbane River, which runs through the middle of the city. I swear to you, what I’ve seen of Brisbane so far is so lovely as to almost defy belief. It’s almost like the picture-perfect worlds created at Walt Disney parks.
We walked along the river for a while and just soaked in our surroundings. By 7 a.m., we were seeing lots of walkers, runners, and cyclists. There were even plenty of people who were clearly commuting to work via bike and Nike. Impressive.
We had breakfast in a little cafe by the river, then walked back and checked in. All told, we got in four miles by 9 a.m. and I was also able to scout out my running route for tomorrow morning.
As I type, it’s about 11 a.m. We’ve checked in, showered, and are now resting a little before we head back out. We’re all feeling pretty good, considering how little sleep we’ve gotten in the past 48 hours, but an easy day is called for, don’t you think?