Numero Uno, Outbound


10 days before we depart, this will most likely be uploaded in either Los Angeles or Melbourne.

I now seem to have a handle on my arm problem.  It’s not arm, it’s neck!  That nasty crick I’ve had since I was a toddler is the culprit.

I can clearly remember a traumatic episode in the first grade in Kingman, AZ.  Walking down the hall from the restroom to Mrs. Page’s class with my head indicating a left turn.  Sharp pains and teachers asking me what was wrong.  After some meditation, I recalled that this wasn’t the first instance.  My chiropractor got the crick out about 10 years ago, but the damage was done.  Should have seen a chiropractor when I was in grade school.

Oh well.  I’m learning how to live with it and being careful.  Some lifestyle changes are coming up.  The changes were coming up anyway.  After all, I’m almost 62 Years old!

I already did some testing and found I can sit in an enclosed area just fine with my little inflatable travel pillow.  The doctor has cleared me for all activities including this vacation.  My limitations are going to be found and set by me.  Seeing a specialist in January.

Enough of this.  This is a travel blog; not appropriate for whining about my health.

Cat sitter, check.  Credit card authorizations, check.  Packing, check. Work, almost check; four more days.  Perishable in refrigerator, working on it.  Transportation and driver to Pasco, Washington for the flight, check.  ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) for Australia, check, nope uncheck.  Whoops.

I put my birth date incorrectly on the first one, then had to do another ETA for the correction and pay another $15 bucks.  According to their website this is acceptable.  But, I had someone from their support contacting me saying the two ETAs had to be combined.  So, I’m trying to do that even though I don’t think it’s necessary.  I’m sure there is a procedure for corrections as many people make bonehead errors.  Mine was a good one, but I figured out what I’d done wrong in a few days.

I’ve been making a gradually increasing number of stupid errors like this over the last year or so as my mind is starting to slip.  Been expecting it for years, but the actual experience is rather unsettling.  A sign of aging.  At least I followed through and caught my error.  This could have been disastrous in Los Angeles at boarding time.

We both had to do a little repacking.  The weather is rather chilly in southern Australia this time of year.  Very similar to the weather here in eastern Washington in the spring.  So, out went some shorts and T-shirts and in went some long sleeved shirts and pants for both of us.  We can always purchase clothing there in Australia and I wouldn’t mind souvenirs anyway.

Our host has planned to pick us up at the train station there in Adelaide.  Of course.  But we’ve got a huge bonus.  After we’re picked up, we’re heading to some sort of Christmas party!  I don’t know if it is through her job or a Philippine get-together.  Either way, it doesn’t matter.  One of my favorite things about travel is meeting new people in their home environment.

11/19/2016 11:05am

We left home at 8:00am on our first leg to Australia.  After picking up Scott in Pomeroy, we drove to Pasco via Starbuck and Lyons Ferry.  Neither Praxy or Scott had been on the route I chose, via Starbuck and Eureka Washington.  I got turned around a couple of times as it’s been several years since I took the back road through Clyde.  No problem, fixed the route quickly.  Scott is going back that way as I pointed out a back road he’d never known about.  That knowledge will come in handy at the end of January.  He’s going to divert from the main road and go exploring, road conditions permitting.

Had a great lunch in Pasco at a Taco eatery, Junior’s Tacos on Court street.  When in Pasco, eat Mexican.  Lots of excellent restaurants at very reasonable prices.  I chose the one that had the most cars (and Policemen) in attendance.  There were four cop cars and about 8 policeman munching down on the homemade goodies.  Yummy!

An uneventful flight from Pasco to SFO.  Good weather, I enjoyed the land passing under us.

Here in San Francisco, no big deal.  Just waiting around for our flight.  Praxy and I have both gone for a walk to stretch our legs.  Neither of us are really looking forward to the 15 hour plus flight coming up from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

I like this airport.  Normally I don’t have much good to say about California, but this place is all right.  Plenty of room, restaurants, and gates.  It wasn’t a bad walk from gate to gate.  A lot of times I seem to end up with the 7-10 airport split.  Smaller airports are fine but…Done that twice in Minneapolis and twice in Hong Kong.   Hong Kong was amazing.  45 minutes of fast walking with with 5 minutes to shop for a souvenir.  The only reason we weren’t the last ones on the jet was that the people in front of us had misplaced their boarding passes.

You’d think that the same airline would have gates closer together.  Not always.

Time to get ready to go.  Another update in LAX

11/29/16  5:55pm

A week later in Adelaide.  I’m so far behind it is pitiful.  Having to delve into memory and photos to remind myself of what has happened.

The flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles was uneventful to say the least.  Maybe 40 passengers on a Boeing 737-800, so less than a quarter of the seats had butts in them.  This allowed me to talk to the flight crew a bit.  A friendly young flight attendant was on board for the first leg of his shift.  Next leg was to Cancun with a 23 hour layover.  He was really looking forward to it as this was his first time to Cancun.  I couldn’t fault him for that!

Into LAX and a 30 minute walk from terminal 8 to terminal 7.   We ate dinner, I had a Burger King Whopper with onion rings and a beer.   Unfortunately.   I got a terrible case of the farts, and stinky ones that lasted long into the flight.  Embarrassing to say the very least.  Mental note to self.  No more beer and onion rings in the same meal!

No one complained, but I was sure miserable and dejected.

On to our 787 at 9:50pm.  Beautiful new aircraft.  Comfy seats.  For a change.  This was going to be my view for the next 16 hours.

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Premium Economy seating over the wing.  Not much to see outside, no worries.  The flight was mostly at night.  5 extra inches of leg room.  No big deal, right?  Actually, it is very nice.  You can pull your carryon out from under the seat in front of you, bend over, and be able to reach into it.  No way in regular economy.

Impressive aircraft on takeoff.  With all the people, fuel, and cargo, the jet simply leapt into the air with plenty of runway to spare.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

The entertainment system was superb!  Plenty of movies, music, games, and other options.  I wrote for a while, and two hours into the flight dinner arrived.  And with it…

Turbulence.  Lots of it.  At 33,000 feet.  I would rate it just above mild turbulence, but, we were in the middle of meal service.  The pilot finally had to set the flight attendants down and most people had not gotten served.  Drinks got to us in time and I ordered water only.  If it got knocked off my tray into my lap, at least it wouldn’t be sticky!  The pilots desperately tried to find smooth air.   Couldn’t go higher as the jet was still too heavy.  We finally they found a passable area at 30,000 after a diversion a few hundred miles west.   I’m sure they radioed back to Quatas and United jets behind us about the predicament.   

The remaining dinners were served, then I settled down for about 4 hours of sleep.  Listened to music and watched movies.  The time passed reasonably quickly.

7am local time the next morning, we were over Australia.  Looking out the window at 40,000 feet, I became somewhat emotional.  Visiting Aussie has been a dream of mine for over 50 years, and here I was actually seeing then place for the first time.  I was thrilled!  Another bucket list item was being fulfilled.

After almost 15 hours in the air, we finally were in Melbourne. 

Walking to customs, I ran into one of the first officers.  (The trans Pacific flights have one captain and 3 first officers.  Crews can work no more than a 10 hour shift.  Flight attendants as well.)  We chatted.  He apologized for the bumpy start and said it was the roughest he’d ever experienced on the LAX-MEL run.  Even over the equator where the tropical convergence zone exists.   I smiled and replied that I’d experienced much worse on Cascade Airways, no problems for me.  I’d guarded my dinner carefully and he laughed about that.   Other passengers overheard the exchange and some said that it terrified them.  IT WASN’T THAT BAD.  REALLY.

So I asked him a question about something that had me very curious.  Just how much fuel does a 787 burn on such a trip?

We left LAX with 190,000 lbs. of Jet-A.  That’s about 28,400 gallons at 6.7 lbs./gallon, depending on the temperature of the fuel (Trivia from my Cascade Airways days).   We arrived in Melbourne with 15,000 lbs. remaining on board, 2,240 gallons.  That was enough fuel for another 2 hours of flight.  He said that was quite low, the diversion to 30,000 feet had cost a lot of Jet-A.  So, we burned 26,000 gallons of fuel.

Wow.

Customs was a breeze.  We have the chipped passports and got through in 10 minutes.  It took longer than that to find a cab.

$40 USD to the Great Southern Motel in downtown Melbourne.   Checked in.  Not tired.  What to do?

How about the nearby Melbourne aquarium?  OK.  Off we walked.  Expensive but more than worth the $$.

The overlook at the aquarium had a wonderful view.  I jokingly turned a shot upside down for Facebook to tease my friends about having to turn my camera over once south of the equator.  After all, it was an “American camera”.

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This is much better…

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Some of the highlights of the aquarium.

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A moray eel.

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This gargantuan grouper had to weigh 400lbs.

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Sharks.

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A smiley faced ray.

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Penguin display.  King penguins.

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Me getting a fish eye view.

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Sea dragons.  Two hours to go through everything.  Very nice.

I finally got my phone working so I called Edmund to let him know my phone number.  He offered to come and get us and give us a quick tour going to his house.  If we weren’t too tired.  I asked Praxy.  Nope, not too tired.  Off we went on the tram.

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Left to right; Melody, Edmund, myself, and Praxy at their sweet little house in Melbourne.  He is a travel expert on Tripadvisor.com for the Philippines.  We met online as both of us share a penchant for travel to far flung areas.  Difficult to reach areas.  Areas that normal tourists shun.  Areas like Eastern Samar, Philippines.  We’ve hit it off and I’m hoping he’ll come visit us in the US some day (after I retire).   Melody is from Manila, the two ladies hit it off as well.

I tried to get some pictures from the tram, but they didn’t turn out.  A combination of movement and poor lighting. 

We both slept 11 hours that night.

12/6/2016  1:45 pm

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About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
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