arrivals…

My flight from L.A. to Brisbane was long and relatively uneventful. It was with mixed feelings that I discovered I was seated on one of the emergency exit rows. Tons of leg room, but no space under your seat to put things. So, we had to store our stuff in the overhead bin. Now, I don’t know about the guys, but the girls certainly like to have their stuff at their fingertips… even if we never use it. I kept my Kindle down with me, and never used it.

But if you can excuse them the no-storage options, then you can revel in the leg room! I could slouch, stretch out as far as possible, and get up to use the bathroom without having to climb over my seatmates. Every time someone ahead of us wanted out (especially the window-seat person), we watched the whole process of everyone climbing out, and then climbing back in… and then repeating the process when the “offender” returned.

We were seated right next to the galley (do they call it a galley, on an airplane?), so we got to watch the flight attendants (seemed to be mostly guys) arrange and heat up all our meals. We got dinner after we’d been on the plane for an hour or two (1 am, Pacific Time), and breakfast, 10 hrs later. Mahi-mahi or chicken for dinner? Eggs with mushrooms & cherry tomatoes for breakfast? Check. It was very well put together and it tasted very good. Of course, with our stomachs on Pacific time by then, my seatmate and I were hungry at 7:30am Pacific Time, and had to wait for a couple more hours. They had given us a nice goodie bag, with a water bottle, Moose Munch, shortbread, and a bag of French fry chips. Fortunately, I hadn’t eaten the fries, but the Moose Munch was long gone.

I did manage to sleep quite a bit, though I was definitely getting a sore neck by the end of the night. A pillow and blanket were provided, but the pillow wasn’t in plastic (while the blanket was). I didn’t want the pillow anywhere near my head, because I’d no idea where it had been. It ended up blocking a draft at my feet, and eventually became a footrest for me. The blanket was put to its proper use, though.

Arriving in Brisbane, there were no problems with the Customs officials or anything, though it was a little annoying to have to get all my luggage, take it through another gate, let the drug-sniffing dogs check everything out (Can you look like an official drug-sniffing dog handler with purple hair? I wondered.), and then re-check your luggage at the other end of the building. I managed to do it, catch a bus to the domestic terminal, and arrive at my next gate while that plane was boarding. All my planes, thus far, had been pretty normal looking. My QANTASlink plane, the whole front section of it was bright pink, with a breast-cancer awareness symbol (I think). Definitely catches the eye.

So, no real big problems with luggage until I arrived in Rockhampton (just as Americans refer to Philadelphia as Philly, Aussies refer to Rockhampton as Rocky). No luggage arrived at the carousel. My ride showed up, and still no luggage. After talking to the people at the desk, we decided to come back after about two hours, and see if it came on the next plane.

For some reason, my luggage never left Brisbane, so to expedite things, they shipped them straight to the Emerald Airport, so we drove back to Emerald, and went to the airport. My two big suitcases had arrived, but the QANTAS guy wasn’t there, and the lady there wasn’t allowed to release them to me. Only the other guy could do it. So, I had to wave goodbye to my suitcases again, though they were sitting on the other side of a desk from me. And my third bag… no idea where that was. We did end up getting my suitcases that night, and we found my gate-checked carry-on in the computer system. Not only was it tagged correctly, I had my name on the bag, so they had no trouble locating it. It was finally delivered, the next morning.

So, I had arrived in Australia. People have asked me things like, “Do you like it?”. Now, come on, people, that’s like asking someone “How was the wedding?”. You’re strongly tempted to tell them it was terrible, just to get a reaction. Seriously, what’s not to like? And if I didn’t like it, do you think I’d ever tell you? That would be rude to Australians, and extremely sissy-fied and judgmental of me, if I were actually to take a dislike to a country upon arrival. Perhaps you can take a dislike to a person on sight, probably for silly reasons, but an entire country? Please.

We drove from Rockhampton (sorry, my cousin is Rocky, I don’t think I can refer to a city by the same name) to Emerald, and I tried to take it all in, while being tired, but I was wired now that I was off the plane. Mixed in were my worries/annoyance over being without my suitcases, but what can you do? You get over it. I was trying to process driving on the wrong side of the road (yes, I started to walk over to the driver’s side door, at first, forgetting it wasn’t the passenger side), reading all the signs with their strange names, and finally figuring out which were the speed limit signs (but they’re in kilometers, not miles). I could see some mountains or tablelands in the distance, which were fantastic even at a distance, but I wished I could see them up close. And no, I didn’t see any kangaroos or anything interesting crossing the road.

On the way back, we stopped at a gas station ($92 to fill up, but it was in liters, so don’t ask me what the gas prices are, or what kind of car it is, I forget). We picked up some lunch, and I opted for a sandwich, as did everyone else in the car, but I know I’m going to have to try the meat pies and steak pies that are sold around here. There are probably plenty of other interesting meals that I’ll have to try, and some of them sound familiar, having heard of them in Britain.

My first morning here, I woke up to what I thought was the girls all yelling or screaming at the same time, outside. I was only half awake, remember. I found out later that it was probably several kookaburras or another type of bird, all making noise at the same time. The things one learns, when you’re arriving in a new place.

Do I like it here? Yes. Skip to the more interesting, more specific questions.   : )

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