Monday, July 19, 2010

Almost there :)

Well its nearly 2am in Los Angeles, and I am wide awake, typical.

Lets go back to Sunday, Australia time. I flew with Qantas to Sydney, then VAustralia, AKA, Virgin Blue from Sydney to LA. When I got to the Qantas check in counter in Melbourne, he tried to check my bags all the way through to LA, however after some phone calls, he was informed that they where not affiliated, so I would have to collect my bags in Sydney. Great. My flight was a short hour and a half, and before I new it, I was collecting my bags in Sydney. I asked where I was able to catch a bus to the international terminal, but was informed that I would have to take the train, and pay $5. I was not impressed by this. Just because airlines can not connect bags, I would have to pay extra to get to the damn terminal. Oh, and these are the Sydney trains, so no luck bringing a trolley, I had to walk and carry all my stuff. Once I got to the international terminal, of course I was early, and couldn't check in. Had to wait just under an hour, so I found a place to sit and wait and read my book. Then a young guy approach me and ask if I would participate in a short 3 minute survey, I was like, yeah sure, got nothing better to do, and I would get $5 for helping out. Cool, makes up for the train ticket! And in fact, in the survey, it asked about transportation, ect, and I nicely voiced my concerns about having to take the train!
I checked in at 6pm, and my flight was at 8:30pm. We started boarding, and I had a seat right in front of the bathrooms, meaning I had no one behind me, and of course I had a window seat. Unfortunately, I had someone sitting next to me, but all was good. It was a long 13 hr 30 min flight. I had 2 meals, neither of which were the best - when is airplane food good? I watched 3 movies, Date Night, It's complicated- which I missed the end as I feel asleep, and The Runaways. I slept for about 5 or 6 hours in total, but it wasn't the best sleep. I can never get comfortable, my tailbone hurts after a few hours of sitting so I am constantly repositioning, I've hurt my hand somehow, just from the strange sleeping positions I come up with. This includes sleeping on my meal tray with a couple of pillows :) I was disappointed with VAustralia as we only got one alcoholic drink with our meal. I was kind of looking forward to a few glasses of wine with dinner to help me sleep, but no, it was $7 thereafter for a glass, no thanks. They were also very slow. After our first meal, I had my empty tray in front of me for about an hour. And the poor girl next to me who ordered a special meal, had hers for closer to 2 hours before they were picked up. We did have a good selection of movies and TV shows, all of which we got to watch during take off and landing, which is new to me.
Of course we had to wait on the tarmac in LA for ages as our gate was occupied, but once we arrived, it was great to be on North American soil, and one step closer to home. There was no place on my declaration form to check my didgeridoo, and I double checked with the immigration officer and he said it was no problem, even the guy taking our cards said "I see you've got your didgeridoo", so it was all good. I was a little concerned however as my didg took forever to arrive. It didn't arrive on the first batch of over sized goods, and after all the luggage came off the carousal, and no didg, I was not impressed. However there were a few people that were missing things, and the lovely VAustralia agent found our things still in the elevator.
Finally I made it out of the airport and took the 'free' airport shuttle to the Raddisson. I was feeling exhausted, and after skyping Rob, then mom and dad, I was finally able to get something to eat. Subway it was as I was not paying $25 for a big meal at 9 o'clock at night! I was so tired and thought I'd sleep right through till my 5am wake up call, but no, at 1am I woke up wide awake. I tried to get back to sleep, but no luck. Lets hope a wave of exhaustion will come over me so I can get some more sleep. Gotta love jet-leg!

Friday, July 16, 2010

In 24 hours...

...i'll be in the Sydney airport waiting for my flight to LA, and it is taking forever to get there!!

Yesterday Rob got the afternoon off work which was great as we got to spend some more time together before he left. We treated ourselves to Mexican and just chilled out that evening watching TV and polished off a bottle of wine. We had the house to ourselves, and how quiet was it, it was awesome!! His flight left at 0700, which meant a 0445 wake up call, and of course both of us were awake by 0430, typical! I went with him to check him in and was able to go through security, so I waited at his gate with him as well. I actually had my typical butterfly's in my stomach when I fly, which was weird, because I wasn't flying!! I was only in the airport for just over an hour, and had to pay $20 in the short term parking lot - ridiculous! Rob got off safely, and is currently en route to Vancouver, somewhere over the pacific, and he's about half way there as of now! I drove home, and managed to not get lost, and was in the house by 0730! It felt like half the day had gone by! I decided to use my last pass for the gym, might as well and kill the time. The rest of my morning involved packing, tidying up the caravan, and of course painting my toe nails!!
I actually have a bit of a funny story, but not funny at the time. I have the keys to the caravan, the car and the house all on one key chain as it was getting difficult keeping track of them all, and I was locking the front door when I was in the caravan. WELL, I was in the house and decided it was time to paint my toe nails. I left the house, checked my pockets to make sure I had the keys, and closed the door. As I approached the caravan, I went to grab the keys, and they weren't there!! It was some magnets I had grabbed from the car that were bulky and I thought they were my keys. I was freaking out, but luckily I had left the caravan open - all by mistake, and in there I had Sue's phone number, which some how made me feel a little bit better, but my phone was in house! AHHH!! I checked the back door, but I had locked that. I was checking ALL the windows, even the high one in the bathroom, and they were all locked. Then I thought of Hailey's window, which was right next to the caravan, which had the power supply for the caravan leading into her bedroom. There was about 10 inches between the window and the caravan. I grabbed a chair, stepped on the ledge and shimmied myself about 4 feet to get to the window which I opened and got into her bedroom. What a relief!! I went and grabbed the keys, which were right where I left them. I went outside, via the front door to go get what I originally went for, and to my surprise, and udder embarrassment, the front door had been open the whole time!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn't even lock it when I left. UNBELIEVABLE!!! I had put myself into a major panic, and managed to break into the house, ALL for no reason what so ever. Lesson learned: always check the front door!!!!! LOL And as Rob would say, 'I pulled an Amanda'!

The rest of my afternoon has been pretty relaxed, was able to put my phone on hold so I don't have to pay anything, and picked up a pizza to have with my bottle of wine, which I get all to myself tonight!!
I'm sure I'll be asleep pretty early tonight as I was up so early today, and then the adventure begins tomorrow at noon, when I make my way to the airport! YA-HOO!!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Less then a week :)

Well, the days are counting down, and it's getting more and more difficult to sleep because I am getting SO excited!!! I can't WAIT to see my dog, and my family of course, but its been 18 months since I cuddled my puppy! I can't wait to have some home cooked meals, first on the menu will be porcupine balls with a Dairy Queen Blizzard for dessert!

I'm getting everything done here, getting my taxes done for the Australian year, canceling my phone as I'm on a month to month plan, and canceling Rob's flight with VAustralia. I did some research and found that at a fee of $550, I can cancel the flight, and get $558 back. A huge rip off if you ask me, but at least I can get some of it back. Oh, and I will be doing this Friday, at the very last moment :) I've also just got my tattoo touched up so its all nice and pretty. He actually just re-did the whole thing as when he touched up the lines, it looked liked 2 different colors as the previous one had faded so much. So I went through the horrible pain ALL over again :)

I haven't even begun to pack, I have so few things, and most of them I use daily, so most of it will be packed Sunday morning. Rob leaves early Saturday morning, so I'll take him to the airport, and when I get back, I'll have the house to myself as the rest of the family are going away for the weekend. SA-WEET! The only thing, is I'll miss the dog!

I am a little bit worried that I might have problems as I am bringing my Didgeridoo home with me, but fingers crossed it doesn't get quarantined. When I was looking into it, the Australia export quarantine didn't help me, the Canadian consulate was even worse (I spoke with an Asian that couldn't speak English and all she gave me was a website for me to check). I ended up googling it, and called and spoke with a didg place in the Northern Territory. He said they send them overseas all the time, as well as take didgeridoo's overseas themselves, include the US, and have never had any problems. My only concern is that it is a wooden instrument, and I have no documents to state that it has been treated. But, just as the guy on the phone said, its just like a guitar or a violin, and as long as I declare it, I should be fine. I don't care if immigration fumigates it, just as long as they don't put holes in it to look for worms!!

4 more sleeps till I start my long haul home :))))

Friday, July 9, 2010

8 more sleeps...

....and it can't come quick enough! Next Sunday is so close, yet so far away, and the closer it gets, the more excited I get. Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking with my Uncle who has gone to Calgary with his family for a visit, and it made me even more sad that I wasn't there to spend time with them. They were all over at my sister's new house for breakfast, and when I saw him on Skype, I couldn't hold it in, and I started crying! It's been nearly 5 years since I've seen him and his family, and boy does it feel like it! I will be able to see them for a couple of days when I arrive in Calgary before they leave to go back home, just sad that I can't spend more time with them. I'm sure they will be going to the Stampede, and despite how much I think it is over-rated, its been ages since I've been and would love to go. BUT, if I can just get through this week, before I know it, I'll be home, with all my family who I love so much. And then, just like that, I'll be back in cold Victoria!!

Last evening a friend of Carol and Ian's, who are friends with us as well, invited us over for a linen/alcohol/housewarming party. We skipped out on the linen party, and showed up for the end of the 'grog' party. Rob and I had a few samples but they were SO sugary, I only had about 4 and decided to pass on the rest. Plus, they were pouring them one after the other to try and catch us up, so it was a lot of alcohol in a short time. I decided to stick with my wine and spiced rum, and of course all the munchies! There were about 20 or so people at the party and it was a great time, maybe too great. When we got home, of course I came on the computer right away, and that was when I got to talk to mom, and then my uncle (so I blame the crying on the alcohol). It was the latest I had stayed up in ages, and I was feeling no pain when I went to bed. However this morning was a different story. There was a massive wind storm that came through early in the morning that shook the caravan to the point were I thought we were going to end up in the street! Rob ended up pulling down the roof as the noise on the fabric was keeping us awake. Both Rob and I had massive hangovers, in fact, Rob still isn't feeling the best. He didn't even eat all his Burger King/Hungry Jacks. BUT, it was fun, and it had been a long time since we had a good drinking session. Plus, what else would we be doing on this cold, rainy, and very windy day in Victoria other then in bed, sleeping and me playing on the computer :)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Canada Day :)

Happy Canada Day!! I know, its a bit late. Oh well :)

Yesterday Rob and I decided to do something adventurous, something I couldn't do while I had a broken foot. Things are getting better and better and I hardly have any pain with it, apart from a few movements. We headed west and landed in Ballarat, the largest gold mining town of the world (or something close to, but it sounds good). The place is Sovereign hill, and it is kept as it would have been in the 1850's when the first miners arrived. We spent the whole day there, and probably could have spent longer, but it closed down! They have everything from the way they would have lived, either in tents or small houses, old shops, a working Post Office, a sweets shop, a theater with shows through-out the day, and horse drawn carriages that take you around the small town. All the workers are dressed as they would have been in the 1850's and they keep in character as they roam the streets - all very entertaining. We even have the chance to pan for gold through the water that is pumped up from the mines. We searched, and only found a couple specks, nothing that was even worth while trying to fish out, and I did try :) However, we did find out that they do sprinkle $800 worth of gold in the creek on a weekly basis.
We saw approximately $145,000 worth of gold melted down and poured into a bar, saw how the rocks get crushed down to dust in the process of getting the gold out of the quartz. We went on 2 tours of the mines. The first one, we got the luxury of taking a 60 foot tram down, in complete darkness - just as the miners would have, only they traveled in a bucket and going a hell of a lot faster, and saw what happened to miners that got trapped from water that rushed into the mine as they hit an abandoned mine. We saw a presentation, in the mine, told as a story from miners that were trapped as well as their family's that were waiting for their loved ones to return. We watched the show on a flat body of water that was reflected by light from the town glued to the roof. There were faces on the wall across from us that light up as the people spoke. Kinda hard to explain, but a very interesting and 'cool' way to tell a story. That day, of the 47 miners that went into the mines, only 25 survived. Two brothers tied themselves together so they would ever be separated. Very sad.
The other tour we went on was general information about the mines, how they worked, and what the workers went through. The deepest of the mine is over 1000 feet below the surface, and the miners were put in a bucket, and dropped down. If anything failed, you were a dead man. And if the lifts were broken, they used the ladders to ascend and descend. For a fit miner, this was about 2 hours, and not included in the pay. There are some areas that still have gold in the quartz, however it was left as it was important in preventing the ground from caving in.
Victoria itself is full of gold, there are mines scattered all over the state. The largest nugget found was something like 78Kg, found somewhere in Victoria. It was found by some dude, that ran over it with his vehicle. It took 4 men to lift it!
I was very impressed with the tourist attraction, and despite ALL the kids (it is school holidays here), I managed to keep my cool (even after some brat stepped on my foot) and could have spent more time there. We didn't get to the portrait studio in time and couldn't get our photo done 'old school;. Next time I guess!

15 more sleeps till I leave :)

Sovereign Hill
On the streets, it was a bit cold that day
Police Officer getting ready to fire the Musket
Lookin' for that gold!
The gold pour :))