02 March, 2011

Perth Travelogue - Part I

First Trip to Australia

One of he things people are amazed about our decision to move to Australia is that we have never actually been there. Well, tick that box.

Actually, the amazement seems to come more from the Australians than the Americans (and others) we speak with. One Australian I was speaking with blames Crocodile Dundee and Olivia Newton John. I don't think that those two people have influenced our decision as much as some would think.

But, more on our motivation in another post – on to the travelogue.

Flying to Perth

I had a job interview in Perth on Monday morning. The goal was to fly down on a Friday afternoon and land on Sunday at 2:00pm. I would have overnight to recover and then go to my job interview.

Minneapolis (MSP)

The flight down was uneventful. The usual rigamarole about being Shoeless Joe going through security and the like was no problem. Due to the short stay and the number of flights I was taking (eight flights) I had only carry-on luggage so I did not have to worry about checking and then collecting anything.

My flight left Minneapolis at about 3:50pm on Friday. My son, Josef dropped me off at the airport. It was an emotional goodbye for me, as he would leave for Air Force Boot Camp while I was in Australia and we parted not knowing when we would see each other again. The longest I have been away from him his entire life was the three weeks I was in Germany on Business. I cried while wheeling my bags away from the drop zone and into the airport.

I took American Airlines from MSP to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW). I had trouble checking in and had to use the counter. The nice lady who helped me was seven months pregnant and we chatted for a short time about kids and naming children. When I walked away from the counter, I noticed that she had upgraded me to an exit row. See – it pays to be nice to people.

I like exit rows.

MSP to Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW)

The flight was uneventful except that I sat next to John Daly, who is the Director of Engineering for a Texas-based company that is doing some work replacing Real Time Units for power systems in the Brainard, MN area. We talked about our work and what we were traveling for. He asked me to shoot him an e-mail to let him know how my trip was and, if I didn't get the job, maybe he had some work up in the Great North Woods for me. A former Marine pilot and current civilian aviator, we had a lot to talk about.

Dallas / Fort Worth

John gave me some time-killing advice for the Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) airport: Hop on the sky train that goes around the entire airport and see the sights. I did that though it was getting dark and I didn't see very much. The airport is large and clean. There were a large number of military personnel – more than I ever see at the Minneapolis (MSP) airport.

I really wanted some Mexican food, but there was nothing for sale in my terminal, so I settled for TGI Friday's. Meh.


The second leg of my trip was to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). I sat next to a charming young lady by the name of Lisa Biggs. Lisa is a voice over actress who has worked on a number of projects. She was flying out to LA for auditions, meetings and a workshop. Like me, she had to pay her own way. We talked the whole flight (so much for getting work done on the airplane). She talked of her fiance and their wedding plans and her aspirations as a voice actor. We got to the topic of faith and she is a strong Christian. Her fiance and her had to negotiate a church that they were both comfortable in and settled on Anglican. I told her that I would pray for her to have a successful trip (and I did on Sunday, from the Cathedral of Perth).


It was a dark and stormy night... when I landed at LAX. Crash Bandicoot managed to only bounce the plane once while landing, but I was still nervous with all of the adjustments being made.

I had just barely enough time to go from my landing gate to my departure gate. Gate 42 at LAX (the Qantas gate for your weary travellers) is NOT located between 41 and 43... no, no, no. It is located across from Gate 45. And it's not a gate. It's a door. You go through the door, down some stairs and THERE you have a ticket agent.

Because of the nature of the booking, I could not pre-print a boarding pass and had to wait for one. Apparently along with a ton of other people.

I found out later that there was an earlier flight to Sydney that had to turn back after a woman had a panic attack shortly after take off. The plane returned to LAX and I was sharing that flight with others. There were only 10 seats left on the plane and there were six of us waiting for boarding passes.

Once I received the boarding pass I boarded a bus and took a ten minute ride through the back-lot of the airport. Crazy driving around construction sites through the rain. I stood next to a nice lady on the bus and we chatted nicely about the weather and the long flight ahead.

The bus let us off in what looked like a warehouse. We went up the long ramp to the top of the warehouse and "boom" we were in a real airport again. This looked to be an international arrivals concourse on the edge of the airport. The large white Qantas 747 was illuminated and was kind of inspiring to see.

But... there was nobody at my gate. Another gentleman by the name of Geoff Begg was looking for the gate as well. There was a large number of people gathered around another gate and we walked down there. Geoff is a Control Systems Engineer – kind of does the same thing that I do, but not for power systems. My flight number had changed to take the number of the previously diverted flight and the gate had changed as well. All's well.

A note here on the professionalism of the Qantas personnel. It was panicky at the ticket counter and gate, with a large number of crabby and displaced individuals worrying about if they would get a seat. The Qantas folks were consistently cheery and cool and handled crabby and worried customers with grace. I was very impressed.

More to come...

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