Trip recap and pics under cut.
Entirely peopled with criminals or not, Australia -- what I saw of it in that whirl-wind trip -- is a gorgeous place. The travel to and from, though, kicked my ass. I left on Friday afternoon, 4:30 pm Kansas time, and when I landed, it was Sunday morning, 8:10am Sydney time. But...it was Saturday, 3pm Kansas time. Mo Chuisle thought it was crazy that I was asleep when she was awake. And don't get her started on how it was summer where mommy was, but winter where she was.
To her, I'd pretty much walked through the Wardrobe into Narnia.
I've traveled a lot -- for business and pleasure -- since Mo Chuisle was born, but I've always made it a point to talk with her twice a day. She starts her day with a call from Mommy and says goodnight before she goes to bed. With the 17 hour time difference, I was able to text with the hubs, but didn't talk to them the entire time I was out of the country. I admit it. That was hard on me.
One thing that made it easier, though, was getting to meet a 'virtual' friend face-to-face for the first time. I've had the opportunity to do so with a number of stateside friends, and I have to say, the honesty I'm able to share with friends made through fandom is unprecedented in my life. Even with some of my closest RL friends, there is a carefulness in what I reveal or how I reveal it (ironically, mostly about fandom). The friends I've been blessed to meet face-to-face felt like people I've known all my life.
Seeing lovinjackson was no different. The thing with her was, because she lives in Australia, I really didn't know when or if it would ever happen. But I got off the plane, made it through customs (without having them go through my suitcase) and found her and we basically picked up from where we left off in our last email. It was fantastic. I only had that one day of 'freedom' so we made the most of it.
We took a cab to the company-approved hotel (a Four Seasons...schwanky) and I had to re-acclimated to the whole 'driving on the other side of the road' thing. I remember it being bit of a shock to my system when I was in Ireland, too. Years and years ago. I was too early to check in, but they were kind enough to let me shower in the spa. Oo-la-la. And also, Oh-Thank-God because I'd been wearing the same clothes for two days and was closing in on zombie territory.
The only sleep I got on the 14 hour plane ride -- either way -- was during taxi and take-off. I just couldn't relax enough to drop off, even with Dramamine in my system.
Being a landlocked MidWest girl, I couldn't get enough of looking at the water. We walked around Circular Quay, took a ferry tour of Sydney Harbour, went to the zoo -- which she had never been to, much to my amusement -- where I took pics of kangaroos and koalas for Mo Chuisle (and tried to see a platypus, but it was shy) and we talked stories and Show and life. It was a gorgeous day -- sunny, bright, slightly breezy. lovinjackson and I didn't stop talking the entire time. We walked up to the Opera House and I conned her into buying me ice cream, and by then it was mid-afternoon, we were hot (and sunburned, whoops) and we headed back to the hotel. Pics for you:
Opera House and Aussie Flag from Ferry
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Me at the Opera House (see? I really was there)
View from my hotel room (26th floor)
I know it may seem wrong to some that I went all the way to Sydney, then spent an evening in a hotel room eating room service and watching TV/movies, but...I was with my friend. And I was sunburned, tired, and had two really big days ahead of me. And, sadly, I'm not 25 anymore. So, that's exactly what we did. Got in the room, got on our comfies (my favorite time of the day), watched the latest Supernatural episode that I'd missed, ordered room service, and watched a movie.
The next morning was a flurry of rush and go and hurry. I got a last minute email from a co-worker for a change in the presentation we were giving that day, my effing pants ripped, and I was a sweaty mess while trying to apply make-up. Stellar beginning to the day. *laugh* But! I think it worked out better because the hug I gave lovinjackson at the elevator wasn't 'goodbye,' it was 'see ya later.' Because I will. Someday. *misses her already*
The whole purpose for me being there -- the training bootcamp -- took place on Monday and Tuesday, both very. busy. days. But, ultimately, successful. Thank goodness. Monday was a body-numbing, brain-spinning 14-hour day that ended with a "team dinner" at a place called Aqua Dining out by the Harbour, overlooking a swimming pool and right next to Luna Park (with a big clown face at the entrance that would have unraveled Sam). Tuesday was a bit shorter - only 10 hours and we had a smaller, core team dinner at a place in Darling Harbour. Those two days were gray and overcast -- not that it mattered because I was inside -- but Tuesday night I did get to see the moon and the stars from a part of the sky I've never seen before.
That. Was. Awesome.
Wednesday treated me to another 'virtual' friend encounter -- the always amazing yasminke met me for coffee at my hotel, and then we spent the early afternoon together before I had to go to the airport. Now, let me tell you, where I've seen pictures of and Skyped with lovinjackson, I'd never seen yasminke before. I know I posted pics of the fam and I, so she knew what I looked like. But for some reason, I never once thought about it, or worried about how I was going to recognize her.
Wednesday morning, I checked out, dropped my bag at the bell station to hold until I left, and turned around. Across the room I saw a woman with shoulder-length dark hair and a pink T-shirt relaxing on one of the lobby couches. There were probably, oh...forty? Other people in the lobby. Somehow, I just knew it was her. I pointed at her, she pointed at me, and I crossed the room to give her a hug. THEN I saw she was wearing a Supernatural T-shirt. *laugh*
As with lovinjackson, it was as if yasminke and I picked up from our last virtual encounter, though there were facts about each other that she and I didn't know, so we got to do some more in-depth "getting to know you" conversing. She's a fascinating person; I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. We walked around The Rocks where I bought the hubs and Mo Chuisle some souvenirs (your basic, my mom went to Australia and all I got was this lousy T-shirt souvenirs, but still, it was something).
Then we had lunch at a place called Peter O'Doyles -- again, right on the water...I seriously couldn't stop looking at it -- where yasminke had never been, so I'm two for two with my Aussie friends. *grins* It was a wonderful lunch -- I've decided I very much like barramundi (I had it three times while there), which is sad because I can't get it in the States -- and we talked stories and Show and work. I parted with her at the hotel where she took a bus back to work and I took a cab to the airport, thus beginning the longest Wednesday in the history of ever.
I left on Wednesday at 4:30 pm Sydney time, flew 14 hours to San Francisco, landed at 10:00am Wednesday San Fran time, went through customs, survived a 4 hour lay-over (God bless the makers of Kindle Fire), and got back to Kansas City at 9:30pm on Wednesday.
The flux capacitor was definitely...fluxing.
Amazing experience, wonderful friends, but next time? I need MORE TIME. *laugh* I was okay on Thursday, but Friday felt like I'd been hit by a really big truck. The best part, though, was that hubs brought Mo Chuisle with him -- in her jammies, so cute -- to pick me up at the airport and when she saw me she launched herself at me calling out, "MAMA!" and we were both smiling and teary and I felt like I'd been away for 10 years. I couldn't hold her tight enough.
There you go! There and back again inside six days. :) Admit it. You missed me. *wink*
Oh, PS. My brother recently jumped on the Supernatural bandwagon (finally). He's finishing up Season 1 via Netflix and texted me to say, "This show's really good. Now I get what's had you so crazy all this time."
Yeah, bud. We'll blame the show for that. It's safer. *wink*