Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Disaster narrowly averted!

Yesterday I rang Qantas to check on my baggage allowance, and prefaced my question with "I'm flying on Qantas flight 4 tomorrow night..." at which the passenger agent said "But QF4 leaves in the morning! That flight always used to leave around that time at night but it was changed a few years ago." Gulp! Imagine turning up in the evening, only to find that the flight left 12 hours before.

I'm now packed, ready to go out for my breakfast, and will be picked up by the shuttle at 7.45. All's well, but it could have gone so horribly wrong!

Tip to self: read tickets carefully, remember 24 hour clock and don't jump to conclusions!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


This holiday just keeps keeping on! Things were looking grim for standby to Australia tomorrow, so I started to think about Plan B. What about flying to Oz from Hawaii?? What about it indeed? So now Dad and I are flying to Hawaii tomorrow (standby, but the prospects are better), and I have a frequent flyer ticket on Qantas to Melbourne on Tuesday the 14th (***).

BTW, when searching for alternatives, I searched Hawaiian Airlines, which fairly recently started flights from Hawaii to Sydney. Next week on Tuesday and Thursday the tickets (one way) are going for only $316, when normally they are listed as $1200 (for one way?). Go figure! There really does seem to be some bargains out there if you're flexible. But if I hadn't had frequent flyer points to fall back on, I certainly would have gone with that.

So all up I will have been away for just over 6 weeks. Not bad! And the weather throughout that time has been so absolutely beautiful (mentioned in Sue's comment yesterday). It's been unbelievably warm and clear. Yesterday my brother and I went into San Francisco to see the Titanic artifacts exhibition, and it was so warm that we were able to sit outside when having lunch.

The exhibition btw was really interesting, if a bit pricey. I'd forget paying extra for the audio set, if you're thinking of going, there's enough information on the signs throughout the exhibition.

***This is a big birthday for the Man Who Cooks, which I will miss.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Time marches on

I have been here for 5 weeks now, and am due to start back home on Wednesday. It has been a wonderful trip. I have kept a travel diary and will gradually post snippets and of course photos when I get home and over the jet lag. The last time I looked at the stats on my digital camera I had 233 photos but I will be very selective about what I upload.

One of the main highlights of my trip was the chance to catch up with people I have known from decades ago. In addition to my wonderful friend Connie from university days, who I see on every trip, this time I managed to see a high school friend, and students from the high school where I taught in the early 70s in California. Through Robert, I re-established contact with Annette and John, who were unaware that they were living within a half hour of each other. I flew up to Portland, Oregon to see them, and spent wonderful days together. Annette has given me the address of another former student who is living up in Alaska, and on my next trip we hope to all get together. That will be fun!

Portland and Vancouver (just over the Columbia River in Washington) are lovely places to visit, and there's much more to see than I could manage in 5 days. Annette drove me to see the spectacular Mt St. Helens, which blew its top in 1980. On the day we went it was very clear, and we could see a thin plume of steam coming from the volcano. John took me to the famous Japanese Garden in Portland, as well as the Classical Chinese Garden, both different from each other and beautiful in their own ways.

Instead of flying back I took the overnight train, about 16 hours, had my own roomette, and at night I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the train whistle up ahead and the gentle clickety clack of the wheels on the tracks. I have always wanted to do a train trip like that - it was a dream come true. Such a civilised way of traveling, much different from the chaos of airports these days. I plan to do more train trips on my next visit here.

In addition to visits with people from the past, including Pat, another student who happened to be in the area last weekend, I also caught up with some blogger buddies by phone: Sue, Kerri and Ann. I am thinking it might be a good idea to post a sound file of our voices just to let people know what we sound like. What do you think?

But first I will have a big job of catching up with all your blogs. I appreciate the comments that have come in despite my meagre postings over the last month, and hope to re-establish contact with you in the not too distant future! Hope you've all been well!!