Two Yanks Downunder

A blog about the experiences of two Americans on their first visit to the fabulous continent of Australia

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Longest Day: pt 1 Or Time To Use The Wayback, Sherman!



Our alarm clock was not really allowed to go off early on Thursday morning since Don woke up on his own at 2:50 a.m., proudly beating the alarm setting by ten minutes! Not close to the world record, but sufficient in the circumstances. After getting cleaned up and sorting through some last minute packing decisions, it was time to awaken Wendy. Well, it would have been but she was already somewhat awake and quickly got ready for our departure.

One travel hurdle and been overcome when the British made recent terrorist arrests. The flight attendants for Northwest Airlines had a pending CHAOS strike set for detonation on August 15, 2006. Following the new security standards implemented in the UK and the US, the flight attendants postponed their strike by ten days. So, if Don could get to Los Angeles on schedule he had an outstanding chance of making it from there to the Twin Cities!

New challenges arose with the many restrictions on carry on items. Some plans to bring certain gift items to the US were changed and others were determined to be worth the risk of declaring at security check and letting a decision come at that time in places and by persons as yet unknown. A known unknown or an unknown unknown?

We actually got everything (including ourselves) into the UNDA Hyundai and were on the road by 4:20 a.m. Don even remembered to leave his keys to the Henry Street residence behind for Wendy even though it would deny them a well earned time for international travel and adventure.

Although the theoretical route to the Perth domestic airport terminal was simple, Queen Victoria Street to the Canning Highway and then a straight shot to Beardsley and our destination, the unusual pattern of one way and disappearing roads in downtown Fremantle were a hurdle not to be underestimated. This was handled with dexterity by Wendy who insisted upon driving since she would have to make the return journey on her own and wanted practice with the car on the road. No significant objections were raised.

Don got a bit nervous since the travel was taking longer than he thought. However, given his sleep deficit and pumping andrenaline fueled anxiety he was clearly not a great judge of the true situation. Wendy got to the airport near 5:00 a.m. but parking was difficult to find since it was pitch dark and signs were not well lit and there was more and more traffic everywhere consisting of drivers who exceeded the speed limit and took turns in aggressive fashion and did not show a bit of politeness. Don had one of his low moments and needlessly and thoughtlessly lost his temper at Wendy for not parking in what seemed an obvious area. He decided to grab his things and go into the terminal and let Wendy find the parking on her own. It was 15 minutes till boarding time and he needed his boarding pass right now! Or so it seemed.

Well, using the automatic e-ticket machine even with the correct version of his name to match the Qantas computer only resulted in a print out that told him to stand in a particular line, probably the one for ‘problem individuals’ which would be no surprise for him. This line was fortunately short as all sorts of folks were anxiously waiting to catch flights for any number of points in OZ and were feeling the time pressing. A stranger even asked Don if he were flying to Cairns, although the pronunciation of this was so unusual it was only in retrospect that Don figured out what the guy had actually asked, to which he automatically replied NO.

Wendy then seemingly magically appeared as an even further downcast Don was getting to the front of the problem line and he was really glad and relieved to see her. It would have been terrible for their last moment together for many months to be one where he thoughtlessly took his nervousness out on her in bad tempered fashion.

So, it was off to another line, also blessedly short. A boarding pass and seat assignment were given out, a heavy bag was checked and then security questions were asked. Revelations were made about sensitive liquids and gels of medicinal nature and prescription then checked by the airport employee upon which all was approved for carry on transport! Now to the security check and a last bunch of kisses and hugs for that noble, creative, forgiving and wonderful spouse that is Wendy. We exchanged further waves as Don got through security scans and retrieved his carry on companions and ascended to the upper level for the gate.

There was time to dash to the loo and then the boarding of QF 576 commenced.

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