A little over two weeks ago we, that Spouse o' Mine and I headed for parts deep south:
We went to visit my inlaws. By that, I mean my mother and father-in-law, two brothers-in-law and their wives, a sister-in-law, and seven nieces and nephews aged four years old through adult.
I met my inlaws thirty-one years ago. Exactly six months after our wedding here in the States. The inlaws did not come to our wedding, due to financial and time issues. We flew down there months later, and that was the first of many visits. They, in turn, have all graced us with their presence in our home through the years as well.
That Spouse o' Mine and I had decided four months ago that it was high time to go visit the Aussies again. The plan was that I would head over for a week before he headed over. Then he and I would travel together for another week before I flew home. He would remain an additional week. That way, we would have three weeks between us, visiting the Aussies - his parents, especially.
About this time, daughter Claire and her husband Rich decided they would like to make a visit Down Under, too. And while we elders dithered about work and flights and calenders, the newlyweds up and made their reservations and got all their Virginia traveling ducks in a row, even before we could say Toowoomba or Mooloolaba. Then, I made my Kansas flight reservations during the Christmas holidays. I decided to dovetail with the newlyweds and meet up with them at LAX, and take the Big Flight over with them. That way, I could get my son-in-law to teach me things like reading topo maps and using Android while his wife/my daughter snoozed for hours and hours hopped up on Dramamine.
Shortly after Christmas, it was somehow decided that the four of us should simplify matters and all go over at the same time. Simple enough, right?
No. Apparently we do not communicate well. That Spouse o' Mine made his airline reservations, all by his lonesome, departing the same date as we other three. But wait: he was departing not only on a different flight than I, but not even from the same airport as I.
But you want to know what? I barely questioned this. Thirty-one years of wedded bliss have taught me not to even blink at some things. This was one of those things. He was, after all, arriving not thirty minutes before we other three, and since our main travel goal was to avoid inconveniencing any of the Aussie families, we had achieved that goal.
Flying to Australia, to me, is physically and mentally stunning. I do not mean stunning as in "beautiful". I mean it as in "One wrestles in a too-small airline seat for over twenty hours (from Kansas), eating tasteless food which one might never choose in a normal setting, and drinking gallons of water to keep hydrated, which then completes the cause-and-effect clause of bodily functions by means of too many trips to the airline "Lav", which, by the way, is way too ripe by the time that Bird lands in Sydney many many hours later. And while we're at it, let's review the non-sleep factor for a moment or two: If I arose at my normal hour in the morning (6-ish), then I have already had quite a full day even before I set foot on my first of four airplanes for the Incredible Journey. By the time I am actually boarding the flight at LAX (Los Angeles) for Sydney, it is 10:30 pm. Bedtime. But wait! We have sixteen hours on this, the Big Flight. Add to that the hop up to Brisbane, (1.5 hours) and the two-hour drive inland once we hit Australis Terra Firma."
It is painful.
On the flight from LAXto Sydney, I sat by a young, pretty New Zealand girl and her boyfriend. As seatmates go, she was pretty good, especially for this marathon of air travel. She fell asleep even before we pulled out of the jetway, and she slept the entire flight, up until after we had landed and were making our way to the terminal. Seriously: who sleeps sixteen hours without eating or drinking or a trip to the Lav? I am quite sure she was medicated, but that was fine with me. As was the fact that she slept part of the time leaning her head on me, or leaning her head on her boyfriend and her feet by me. I didn't mind. It was very nearly like having an empty seat next to me (sans the extra room). I could read, knit, watch movies, get up & walk around, eat, snore, all without concern for my fellow seatmate. Near-perfect.
We arrived to Brisbane on a beautiful summer morning. Aussie SIL Janette picked us up from the airport and promptly got us home to a perfect luncheon of salmon and fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh anything was welcome after the inflight meals we had been enjoying. But get this: the mangoes and avocados came from their trees out in their back yard. This was what we would hear for the next two weeks from all the families. Whereas we hear the "buy locally" and scoff (because here in Kansas that would pretty much limit our diets to dent corn and soybeans), those Aussie Armstrongs do indeed buy locally. Or just sally out to their yard and figure out the menus for the day based on what the fruit bats hadn't eaten in the night.
Ha ha! That's another story for another day...