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23 March 2000, Sydney, New South Wales to San Francisco, California

Dang, it’s over. We got up, had some breakfast, and finished our packing. My back still itched, but much more mildly than the day before. When the bags were packed, I hefted mine and thought it might be over weight. I took it down to the concierge desk where he weighed it for me. It was heavy by 1.5 kilograms. Back at the room, I transferred some of the contents to my carry-on bag.

We caught the 10:25 bus to the airport. The driver must have been new, because a call came over his radio asking him if he had stopped at one of the hotels on his route. He said “I missed it, sorry.”

The dispatcher wasn’t in a forgiving mood. He radioed back “Sorry don’t work, mate. You missed it yesterday, too. When you get back in, come see me, and we’ll go over the hotels. You can’t have the route if you don’t know the hotels.” The driver just mumbled an OK into the microphone and kept driving.

After a couple more stops, we were headed for the airport. The route was beginning to look familiar to us. We arrived at the international terminal with just under the recommended “two hours before departure” remaining. When we checked in, I was glad to see that my large bag squeaked in under the thirty-two kilogram weight limit, with four tenths of a kilogram (just under a pound) to spare. For the first time on the trip, Chris’s bag was lighter than mine, tipping the scales at thirty kilograms.

We were pleasantly surprised when the counter clerk handed us our boarding passes and told us we could go to the Red Carpet Lounge to wait for the flight. We hadn’t expected to use the lounge. It was very nice, with complementary food, snacks, soft drinks, beer, wine, and liquor. I decided to start my adjustment to California time, where it was 6:00pm, so I had a beer. We also grabbed a couple cans of Victoria Bitter as a gift to an Aussie friend or ours.

After about half an hour, the PA system annouced our boarding call, and we headed up. It was the most pleasant airport wait either of us remembers. We boarded, climbing to the upper deck of the 747 as we had done on the flight from San Francisco. We felt like old pros at Business Class by then. That is, until another passenger looked at us and said “I think I have that seat.” Sure enough, we had settled in on the wrong side of the aisle — D’oh!

After a nice dinner — clam chowder for me, fillet mignon for Chris — we both took some Excedrin PM and settled in to sleep. It was 10:00pm in California, but only 4:00 in the afternoon for our bodies. Chris managed to sleep for nearly seven hours. I woke up after two hours, read for a while, updated this journal, then managed to sleep for three more hours. Breakfast was served ninety minutes before we landed, then we had a chance to freshen up before arrival. After a smooth landing we debarked, waited a couple of minutes for our bags, then a few more in line at customs. We were out in the main part of the airport by 7:40. Our friends, Bruce and Michelle, had volunteered to come pick us up. When I called their cell phone to let them know we were in, they had already parked the car and were only a minute away.

After a chatty trip home from the airport, we rolled our baggage into the house, greeted our cat, and that was the end of our vacation in Australia. Dang, it’s over.

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