It began as an innocent and seemingly serendipitous friendship that came by the way of my personal weblog some 5+ years ago.
If you’ve read my blog before you will know the backstory of all that I am about to say.
If you haven’t, this will be a good time for reading a pretty amazing story.
How this friendship happened seems to defy any logical explanation because that’s how many friendships start.
What happened in the ensuing years is the stuff of fairy tales and Ripley’s ‘Believe it or not’ stories, all but true.
I still have to pinch myself some days though; days when I find myself woolgathering about whether me and Pamela did actually visit Australia for two simply incredible weeks this past July.
It’s taken some time to not only process the whole experience but also to figure out
just what I want to say . . .
[Interpretation: this is gonna take a lot of posts]
We left Boston on a sunny, pure and crystal late Friday afternoon in July - our first destination: LAX.
Good weather, nice takeoff, flight is smooth, everybody is happy, life is good . . . piece of cake, right?
As we crossed somewhere over Lincoln, Nebraska at approximately 30,000 ft my gorgeous wife grabbed my hand and said, “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Do what?” I said. [me thinking about the mile high club]
“Flying this far. I don’t know if I can do it.”
“Sure you can,” I said, “we’ll be fine,” as I squeezed her hand harder in mine.
“You promise?” She said.
“You betcha,” I said.
Not what you want to hear from a wife on the verge of tears and only 3 hours from your point of departure.
We still had another 13+ hours in the air to get to Brisbane after getting to LA.
This was not working out as I’d planned.
It rarely does though, right?
It was about this time that I was able to connect to the net with my laptop.
I have never loved Facebook more than I did at that particular moment in time.
“Here,” I said, passing her my laptop, “Play Farmville or chat with someone who’s on.”
Maybe sometimes a human connection is all you really need to get you over a flying hump.
The Facebook diversion worked and we landed safe and sound in the City of Angels at 9PM (PST) Midnight (EST).
Our flights were connecting so we didn’t need to worry about our checked luggage as we would pick it up in Brisbane on our arrival on Sunday morning (thanks in part to the International Dateline)
Turned out that our 11PM flight was delayed and we didn’t take off until 1AM (PST) or 4AM (EST).
We were both sleeping in the terminal like oh, so many homeless people when our plane started boarding.
We made our way onto a V-Australia huge ass airbus and found our seats.
We were ready for some sleep.
After a nice snack we both hunkered down for a long summer’s nap, as visions of the calming waters of the great barrier reef danced in our heads . . .
(alright, I made that part up)
If anyone tells you that flying to Australia is easy and you could ‘do it in your sleep’, tell them they can go pound sand.
It is a long ass ways away and when we finally landed in Brisbane [19+ hours later] if all that we saw was two crazy kangaroos getting their freak on with some abo playing the didj, we would have left happy campers.
That’s not what we found.
The air was different.
The sky was different.
The layout of the land was different.
The spring water was different.
The birds sound were different.
The toilet water flushed the wrong way.
And the people are friendly! [unlike some in Boston]
And they drive on the wrong side of the road (a trip unto itself!)
I think I actually shit my pants as we drove through our first roundabout.
Bringing adult diapers is merely a suggestion.
We found out very quickly that Australia was more than just an island, a huge ass country, and a continent unto itself.
It was a place of incredible beauty and majesty, a place of tropical fish the likes of which we had never seen, wildlife that boggles the mind, food that makes us yearn for more, Cadbury chocolate that will never see the US shores and nighttime constellations that are unique to the southern hemisphere.
We also found out that Australia is a place where one very special family would open their hearts and homes to two American strangers they’d never met before.
We got our suitcases in Brisbane and headed to Australian Customs before embarking on the final flight to take us to Tropical Queensland and the home of Mark and Maureen Harrod, friends of a lifetime.
We didn’t know it then but we’d already fallen in love with this magical place called Australia.
As I looked at the Southern Cross in the sky on our first night,
I decided I should stop dreaming. I was here, we were here.
to be continued . . .