Our last day in Canada dawns bright-ish and sunny-ish. When it’s time for David to head of to work mum announces she would like to stay home to sort her gear out and maybe relax with a book in the sunshine. Sounds like a plan. Kirsty, Kai and I drop David at the Skytrain station and head out to complete a few of those domestic tasks that are always simpler when you have someone to amuse the three year old. Tasks completed, drive-thru coffee collected, we head back home.
Mum is looking quite pleased with herself, though it’s been way too cold to sit outside. “I’m all packed,” she announces. “What about that big pile over there?” I ask. “Oh, that’s just the things I bought while I was here. You said you would fit them in your bag.” Then Kirsty pipes up. “And you also promised to take these back with you.” I look with dismay at the collection of boxes and packages, then inspiration! “I’ll bring up that mega-suitcase I saw in the garage earlier. We still have some baggage allowance left.”
After some packing that would have won any Tetris competition, we load into the Dodge one final time to head to the airport. The extra goliath bag apparently isn’t a problem, and all is well – until we look at the boarding passes that popped out of the automatic check-in kiosk. Mum and I will be seated four rows apart on the LA to Brisbane leg. I ask the person at the counter to fix it. Lady – “I can’t change it because you’ve already checked in.” Me – “But this came out of your machine.” Lady – “That’s right.” As we say our goodbyes to Kirsty and Kai, Kirsty says she will contact Virgin Australia, and also our Australian travel agent and “tell them to sort it!” We thank Kirsty for everything and head into the departure area. Security has been bumped up a few notches as a result of people doing bad things across the US recently, but we leave Canada without too much drama.
It’s 9:30PM when we arrive at LAX. We negotiate the confusion of the airport and walk about thirty kilometres from Alaskan Airlines in terminal 6 to Virgin Australia in terminal 3. The check-in guy is extra helpful and tells us our seats are sorted, but we will be near the bulkhead. I know from experience that this is noisy, so I try the Jedi-traveller mind trick. I look deep into his eyes and say – “How much would it cost us to upgrade to premium economy?” The correct response is, of course, “Oh, look, I have two spare premium economy seats. I’ll just give you those for free.” The guy has done this before. He doesn’t even blink when he replies – “Six thousand dollars – each. Or you could upgrade to business class for twelve thousand dollars – each.” I agree that seats 97X and 97Y are probably great seats after all.
We pass through another round of security checks and finally board our plane around midnight. The man who will share our intimate little space in front of the bulkhead for the next 14 hours seems nice so we start to settle in. Suddenly, a young blonde travelling princess waltzes up to our row. “OK, which one of you is in the wrong seat?” We’re startled by her accusation, and start to get concerned. Maybe they didn’t get the seat change sorted after all. Then princess looks at her boarding pass, announces – “Oh, I’m in row 32” and sweeps off. After that little disruption, we have a surprisingly pleasant flight and before we know it are getting fed again prior to landing in Australia. As I fill in the arrival cards I realize why Australia is one of the top ten safest places on earth. Every person coming into the country has to declare on the card whether they are members of any terrorist organisation, or are carrying weapons or drugs. So simple! All you have to do is check the cards, and not let the bad guys into the country.
We land, negotiate the electronic immigration booths, experience relief that all the bags, including goliath have arrived safely. The lady at customs waves us through and we are back in Australia. We decide to grab a cup of coffee before brother Peter arrives to drive us home to Toowoomba. What? Fifteen dollars for two cups of coffee and one small cake? We really are home.