I had reached the airport and the first leg of the journey was with Virgin Australia from Denpasar to Sydney. I was sitting with a family of five, Father, baby and older daughter on the other side and mother and middle child, a very sweet boy with me. The baby was tired and fractious but eventually settled down. It was a seven hour flight, no inflight entertainment unless you have downloaded the app previously on your handheld device and no food or drinks unless you qualified in some mysterious way, which the family sitting next to meseemed to have. Neither of us understood why. It wasn’t that I was hungry, but flying for 21 of the next 24 hours on a round the world ticket I thought I would have qualified for some food. Just makes me wonder how these things are managed. It was late at night so most people slept. I tried and managed a little sleep. But not much really.
There was a four hour layover in Sydney and I didn’t have to worry about luggage, I was so glad I had checked in my rucksack as well as my case and was fairly free, just my heavy handbag, heavy because it holds all my electronics and jewellery and essentials. I know I can survive for a night as long as I have that with me. The transfer area was easy to get to and I filled my time with reading. The time had moved forward by three hours so it was 8:30 in the morning when we landed and I was flying at 11:30. I was sitting minding my own business when I thought I heard my name over the tannoy, but I thought no it can’t be, then a short while later there it was again, definitely me. I didn’t quite hear the gate so I went to the one I thought I had heard and that was the wrong one. It was a bit of a hike to the correct gate and all the time I was wondering what on earth I was being called for. I finally made it and was first interviewed by a young security girl about why I was going to the USA, then through to ground crew only to answer all the questions I had to answer before I got on the plane in Bali. Oh we don’t have access to the data was the response to why am I being asked this all again. Anyway. It wasn’t long to boarding now and I was in the right place so I just sat down and waited for that.
I was hoping that I was going to get three seats to myself, when I chose my seat there were three empty seats and this was a fourteen hour flight. The longest flight I had taken so far. Anyway I got on and was alone for quite a while. Everyone was being super vigilant about empty seats looking for space. Finally a group of five young men got on and took two of the three seats in front of me, two of the three in the centre aisle alongside and the third in my row. So it wasn’t too bad but I wasn’t going to be able to lie down. The other young men were teasing the one sitting in my row because he was clearly nervous. In the end I told them to stop it, that it’s not funny being afraid of flying. Appalling bullying behaviour I just couldn’t sit and listen to it any more, I know exactly how it feels to be afraid of flying. I am lucky enough to have been able to overcome my fear over the years. Having said that there are still times when I can panic whilst taking off and if the flight is very turbulent I can get easily agitated. The take off was quite turbulent and I was, I have to admit, a bit disconcerted, when I looked over at the young man and he was in a bit of a state, so I engaged in conversation with him, talked to him about air pockets and the reason for the bumpy ride, and we chatted about this and that for a while, the flight calmed and so did he. I really felt for him, and his friends clearly thought he was fair game. I really wanted to tell him to take no nonsense from them but didn’t get the opportunity. It never ceases to amaze me that people don’t realise that they are bullying their friends with behaviour like that. I am still cross about it and it’s a considerable time after the fact.
I managed to get a few quite good shots of Sydney as we took off. And we soon settled in to the 14 hours, I watched a few movies and tried to sleep as much as possible. But sleep didn’t really come, I had a little nap early on, but after that it was just impossible. Of course it was the middle of the day for me.
Finally we landed in Los Angeles and I tried to find a Verizon dealer to get my phone working, but they don’t have them in the airport. The information people called the hotel shuttle for me, which was very helpful as good old Vodafone would have charged me £6 for that call! I was booked to stay in Los Angeles for one night before I moved on to New Orleans the next day. This had been the biggest single leg of my journey home, and I was beginning to get a sense that I am travelling home. My journey across the USA this time is eastward, LA, New Orleans, Memphis, Kansas City, St Louis, Lancaster and finally New York. Flying home on the 16th and arriving in London on the 17th.
Arriving at the hotel they kindly offered me breakfast, but I declined and went straight to my room for a bit of a rest. My cousin’s daughter Elizabeth who I spent time with on my first LA leg was coming to meet me so we could spend a few hours together. To be honest I was a little worried about how I was going to survive as the lack of sleep was now starting to make itself felt.
Elizabeth arrived and we made our way to the Aquaruim of the Pacific in Long Beach but the first stop was lunch at a restaurant across the road, Bubba Gump Shrimp, from the aquarium, which gave me some energy to get moving. The restaurant had a theme of Forest Gump and we had to answer lots of questions about the movie before we could be served our dinner, I begged for clemency on the basis of jet lag and a 14 hour time difference from where I was the day before, that didn’t stop him, fortunately he gave us lots of clues Nd we managed somehow to answer the questions, I don’t think I have even seen the whole film! Then on to the main event of the day. There was a huge variety fish and we saw a display of sea otters where they were fed their food in a variety of different containers, which meant they had to work out how to get the food out. It’s was fun to watch but almost impossible to capture on film, but I will give you what I got anyway. It was great after hours in the air to watch all the fish and sea creatures moving through the water, beautiful colours, smoothly moving shoals sticking together in huge tanks, big fish at the bottom, smaller fish at the top. Peacefully gliding through the water. There were a few birds, but mainly behind wire which meant it was difficult to capture them too. But Elizabeth and I were laughing at some of the strange behaviours going on.
Eventually the tiredness really hit and it was time to go back to the hotel and say out goodbyes once again, it was good to catch up again, great to be making real friendships and relationships with the next generation of our Icelandic family.
Dinner in the hotel and bed, much needed sleep. Another early start the next day after breakfast I took a walk to the nearest Verizon store to get my American phone working again. It has an hour and a half before I had to check out and get the shuttle back to the airport. I had decided to get the 11 am shuttle even though my flight wasn’t until 3:30, just to get rid of bags and find a space to sit and write for a while.
Having arrived at the Verizon shop I discovered it didn’t open for another half an hour, 10am, so next door for a coffee. Then out to make sure I was first through the door only to discover someone else had beaten me to it. We had a chat and eventually I told him I was on a tight schedule and he kindly said I could go first, there are gentlemen in the world it seems. Only kidding I have met a few on my travels. The guy in the shop was ultra efficient and I was out of the door in super fast time, and walked back to the hotel just in time to get my bag and get on the shuttle back to LAX.
Once I got into the South West Terminal I tagged by bag, once I worked out how to use the machine, and took it to baggage drop. The good news is I am now managing to get my suitcase consistently under 21kgs, 2 kgs less than the limit, I can finally stop worrying about it. Anyway the attendant said, oh your flight has been delayed by three hours! Oh No and I am here so early, which made her laugh. She immediately said let me see what I can do for you, and within five minutes I was in the security queue to catch a plane in less than an hour to Austin, Texas and change there to New Orleans. I have to say that was amazing service, with a smile, and I arrived in New Orleans earlier than I would have done on the flight I was booked on. I managed to find a shuttle straight to the French Quarter where I was staying and so sadly Uber got the elbow. That’s all for now folks, next chapter is all about the still heavily jet lagged woman trying to party in New Orleans.