Tuesday, March 6. This was two days wrapped into one. Somewhere over the South Pacific Ocean I gained back the day I lost in going to Australia. Australia is so hard to get to, so far away. But it is really worth it. And to think the entire middle of the country is bush, with so few people living in it that it appears to all but the most hardy to be uninhabitable. There are signs for Kangaroo and Koala Bear crossings. Strange birds and bird sounds. Huge brown snakes that are extremely poisonous and aggressive and the best way to keep them at bay is to have even more poisonous much smaller red and black snakes around whose venom kills the brown snakes, but the red and black snake is not very aggressive. Then there are the swimming gates to keep out the great white sharks. Then up north there are the humongous salt-water crocodiles left over from the dinosaur age that eat people for the fun of it. Ya’ gotta love this place! I didn’t see any of those creatures (mostly luckily), except for some very interesting birds. Then there’s the Australian government that over the years has done to the Aboriginals what the United States government has done to Native Americans. Horrible! But despite all that, Australia is beautiful and well worth visiting. In fact, I could live in all the places I visited. But it so far away, and really expensive here. The people I met are wonderful. Anyway, my hosts, Ella and Neville drove me into Sydney because they had an appointment there. I walked three blocks from where they dropped me off and caught the subway (called “the train”) and took it out to the airport. I was quite early so I did some computer work. Then I looked at the time for my plane to board and the schedule screen said, “Relax.” Typical Australia. I had some Australian money to use up so I used it to buy gifts for my kids and granddaughter. Then I went out to check the screen again and it said, “Boarding.” Yikes! I checked for my passport and ticket. Not there! Double yikes!! It had to be in one of three places— the restaurant I ate lunch in, the bathroom, or in the store. So I ran to the store, which was closest and the last place I’d been. I asked the storekeepers and they hadn’t seen it and no one turned it in. At this point a little panic set in. But because of what I know, I knew I had to calm my mind. So I did, and walked calmly to the three places I had stopped in the store. There it was, my blue passport camouflaged on top of a blue T-shirt. Whew! Happily, I hurried to the gate and was one of the last ten people to board. Am I getting forgetful in my old age? I would say that, except I have been forgetful off and on for years. Too busy in mind, I guess. The plane ride was brutal. At least this time I was wise to put on my compression socks before the plane took off, so the swelling in my legs was reduced considerably. On this extremely long flight I watched three movies: Fueled, a documentary about the guy who virtually invented big wave surfing, which was pretty amazing, Only the Brave about the firefighters who died in a California fire, which was pretty amazing in a different way, and Roman J Israel, Esq, which was okay but had some very good moments. I also did some computer work. I was able to sleep for only about a half-hour of the trip. I got off in Dallas, and barely made it through customs, a new security check and catching the sky train to a different part of the airport in time to get on my next flight to Charlotte, North Carolina. And then a final quick flight to Charlottesville, Virginia. I was quite exhausted.
Wednesday, March 7. In the morning I had to take care of some personal business, which was satisfying, then it was onto my final leg of the journey to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My son’s truck had broken down, so I had let him borrow my car, and I knew he still needed it, so I figured I could do without one for a few days. I told him not to come and pick me up because he would’ve had to drive an hour and ½ through traffic. So I took the shuttle bus to the tri-rail station, caught the train. When I got off, a lot of construction had happened since the last time I had been at the train station, and I couldn’t remember which side of the tracks I needed to get onto to walk home. It looked like it must be the other side. So I took the elevator to the top of the walkway to get to the other side, but when I got to the other side the down elevator was out of service. So I had to carry my heavy bag and backpack down at least 40 stairs. Once I did that, I realize I was on the wrong side. So then I had to carry my heavy bag and backpack back up the 40 stairs. But I was in good spirits, I just saw it as good exercise. Tough, but good. Then I walked the 25 minutes or so with my bags to my condo. I was so happy to walk in the door. It was an excellent trip. I’m a very lucky guy to have these wonderful travel opportunities. And now, I will sign off until the next time I trip.