Somewhere around twenty-nine hours ago, I had my one checked bag, one backpack, and purse loaded into the car and was on my way to the Portland International Airport with my mom and dad. Once we arrived, I checked in, printed my boarding pass, and checked my bag which weighed exactly 50 pounds. I have my two best friends, Kathy and Nhakira, to thank for helping me pack so perfectly the night before.
After walking me to the beginning of security, I turned to my parents and was the first to have tears in my eyes. This was it. The moment I had been dreaming about for what has felt like my whole entire life. It was finally time for me to turn my dream of visiting Australia into reality. I hugged my parents and said see you at Christmas. Once I turned my back, I cried a bit more but then wiped away the tears because my adventure of a life time was about to begin!
Security went smoothly and my flight from PDX to LAX was quick and easy. I read some information about must-see destinations from this guide book that my Grandma Joyce bought me and this cute dog, Oliver, that my boyfriend gave me kept me company
It was my first time in LA. But since I didn’t leave the airport, it doesn’t really count. Once I began trying to figure out how to transfer to the international terminal, I turned around and was very pleasantly surprised to see another girl from OSU who is also studying in Australia, but at a different campus than I am. After reacquainting ourselves, we asked for directions to the international terminal and went to find our gate to fly to Sydney. We had a couple of hours to enjoy the freedom of walking around before boarding our nearly 15-hour flight across the Pacific. I bought a Double Chocolately Chip drink at Starbucks like Nhakira and I always, and only, do in airports in honor of one another and our world travels. Before boarding, my dad texted me saying that he saw my flight got delayed. But after checking the airport info boards, I told him that it didn’t appear to be.
This airplane was huuugggeee. It felt like a bee-hive style hotel for people. In the section that I was sitting in, there were nice seats per row with two aisles. I was on an aisle side of the middle section, unfortunately out of view of any windows. Sitting next to me was an older couple. The gentleman spoke nearly the entire flight, it seemed like. But I have no idea what language they were speaking.
In the beginning, it seemed as though everything was going as it should. Everyone had their seats, the flight attendants had gone through the safety skit, and we were taxiing around the runway. But, that went on for quite a long time. After a while, the cabin of the plane started to get very uncomfortably warm. After more than an hour of this, they told us that there was an operational issue and that we had to return to our gate. Then, we sat and waited for refueling and for the problem to be fixed. About three hours later, we were finally fueled up extra full to support a hyper-speed flight to Sydney to try to make up for lost time. I hoped that I would not miss my connecting flight to Townsville, but there was no way to know at this point. I was already asking myself, “Are we there yet?” It turns out that my dad was predicting the future when he told me that my flight was delayed.
Finally, we were in the air and the cabin was cooling down. Although the delay was inconvenient, I am very thankful the issue was found and resolved prior to take off, and well before being halfway across the ocean. A little while later, we were served dinner. We had three options and I chose chicken with jasmine rice. I ate some of the chicken and all of the rice, plus the roll. Although I was quite hungry, I really didn’t eat that much. I know that airplane food isn’t cracked up to be much, and still, this meal wasn’t all that its cracked up to be.
Next began the count down. I tried to sleep and seemed to be “waking,” from a light doze, every hour on the hour. After giving up on sleep due to the restless and crying children in the rows on either side of me, I watched a movie. Thankfully they were free on this flight. I watched “A Dog’s Purpose.” It was something that I have wanted to see and it was really good. But, I kind of wished I had picked something that would make me cry a bit less. So, next I watched the new Beauty and the Beast. It was very good as well and did not make me cry at all.
I tried sleeping more and did some people watching. The hours went by slowly, but also quickly I guess. I watched another movie, called “Australia.” It was a long three hour movie, so it really helped pass some time. It was set in Australia and set in the beginning of WWII.
I only stood up once to go to the bathroom around the 15th hour of sitting, I believe. I don’t know what the Guinness World Record for the longest sit is, but I felt like I would have been in the running for setting a new record. Now, my sore bottom was asking me, “Are we there yet?”
Shortly after I returned to my seat, “breaky,” the Australian world for “breakfast,” was served. No options this time. It was pancakes with very brown banana slices, a cold blueberry muffin, and strawberry yogurt. I ate some of the yogurt but not much of anything else. Again, my stomach asked me, “Are we there yet?Finally, we had landed. I was able to peak through a window to see a bit of the coast line as we flew in. It was beautiful and filled me with excitement, despite how drained I was feeling. I used to think that it was a long flight to get from Oregon to Ohio to visit my boyfriend’s family. However, I vow to never again complain about that being a long flight. No one knows what a long flight is until they fly across the Pacific Ocean.
Next, I had to race the clock. Could I make it to my connecting flight before it took off? I had to go through Customs, grab my bag from luggage claim, wind through the current of people exiting the terminals to drop off my bag again, and check the status of my flight. At the counter, the lady looked up my flight and told me to take my bag, hurry back the way I had just come, take a left at McDonalds and take the escalator down to the train. It was the only way I could make my flight.
Challenge accepted. As soon as I was about to turn my back and begin sprinting through the airport with my luggage in tow, she told me to wait. She typed my name into the computer again and said that I had already been bumped off that plane. I was too late. But, “This will be better,” she said, “less stressful.” She handed me my new boarding passes, first to Brisbane then to Townsville.
After this, I had enough time to get some food. Airport food is a lot better in Australia than it is in the USA. I got a chicken wrap and ate it so fast, I did not even think to take a picture of my first meal in AU, but since I am still in the airport, it doesn’t really count.
I was able to connect to Wi-Fi and get a hold of my parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Now, I am sitting next to my next gate asking myself once again, “Are we there yet?” But, this time, the answer, while it may not be a resounding yes, is not a no either. It is somewhere in between. I am in Australia. This is my dream. It just is not quite off to the start that I always dreamed about. But hey, waiting a few extra hours in an airport doesn’t make much of a difference at all when you’ve waited over ten years for this day.
My last two flights that I had right after quickly writing the above blog post were very quick and easy compared to my previous flights.
I ended up flying from Sydney to Brisbane and then from Brisbane to Townsville. On the first flight, I sat next to a very nice local lady. We talked the who way and the flight passed very quickly. She also swapped seats with me so that I was able to look out the window for the first time this entire trip. Seeing Australia from above was a wonderful site. This time, I was excitedly asking myself, “Are we there yet?”
Finally, I was on my final flight. This meant it was finally time for my to open the first envelope out of a half dozen that my friend Morgen wrote for me as a going away gift. I am so excited to open them all, but waiting until it is time to open them makes them even more meaningful.
After this, I asked the person sitting next to me who had been busy on their tablet playing games the entire time if they would mind switching seats with me, because I really wanted to see Townsville as we landed. They were more than happy to switch, which I was very thankful for.
Coming in to land in TSV was such a great feeling. I could not wait to get my bag, meet up with the JCU van to take to take me to campus, to find my room, and collapse in my bed. And I did just that.