At 10:00, we walked down to the Museum of Sydney Cafe, where we had breakfast last Sunday, and we did a repeat performance. We both had their Wood Mushroom Omelet with Rocket & Tomato.
We left the downtown Westin at right about noon, and had the best taxi ride to the airport. The cab driver was such a pleasure—someone who really loves his job. He was singing to songs on the radio, and when Piano Man came on, I said, "That's such a great song."
"Isn't it?" he said with delight, and then, "Sing it up, gentlemen!"
"Could you turn it up a little?" I asked.
He did, and the three of us sang together, as I marveled at the universal language that music is.
We had two hours before our flight, but with last-minute shopping, and addressing my final 20 postcards to get them in the airport post before we left, they were already boarding when we got to our gate.
Part of my last-minute shopping was to buy my souvenir bottle for my collection of bottles from all the places around the world I've visited. A real nice lady in the shop helped me pick out something uniquely Australian in an interesting bottle—two of my requirements for my collection bottles.
We had an uneventful flight from Sydney to San Francisco, that is if you can call 13.5 hours on a plane uneventful in and of itself. At least there were no bitches (or bastards, for that matter) sitting in front of us, and in fact, the flight was nowhere near full, so people were able to spread out, lie down across seats, and just generally be in a better mood.
Though, we had an hour-and-forty-five-minute layover in San Francisco, it ended up being a tight connection. It took our bags just a little too long to come out, due to a baggage jam that was holding back bags, including ours, for about 10 or 15 minutes.
Fortunately, getting through customs amounted to handing them our declaration card, and moving through.
Next, we moved to the "Baggage Recheck" area, where before rechecking my big bag, I took out my ENG 515 book to read homework on the next couple of flights, and put in my souvenir bottle of wine, as it is prohibited in my carry-on for the rest of our flights.
Then, on to Security, which I didn't think we'd have to go through, but did. Welcome back to America! Talk about drama, confusion, short-staffing, and short tempers. While I can appreciate the security we need to tend to in this country now, it just seems to be out of control—especially after traveling domestically throughout Australia for the last 10 days.
My carry-on bag had to go through the x-ray machine three different times, for no apparent reason. I have no idea what they could possibly have been "confused" or "worried" about. Before the last time through, she took out three bars of soap, and my bag of red licorice, and that seemed to satisfy both the machines and the humans.
There was "overhead bin drama" on this flight for the seats to the right of us. This self-centered dude came on at the last minute, had a huge suit bag that he opened out flat, and crammed up on top of all of the bags that were already filling up the bin.
The guy already in the seat said, "I have bananas up there that you are smashing." A little snit ensued, and then the suit bag guy moved to the back of the plane, where his seat actually was.
The banana man then took out his book to read: Chemistry for Christian Schools.
I found myself wondering what kinds of chemistry things were "accommodated" for in that book. Once, when he was away from his seat, I was tempted to look in the index for something like Immaculate conception, then wondered if that wouldn't be better suited for the Biology for Christian Schools book. Bless my religiously bitter mess...
After 18 hours of flying, we arrived at Dulles, with one remaining flight—our thirteenth. We actually ran into someone we knew here, our friend Gordon, also on his way back to Raleigh from San Francisco.
The first thing I did was run to a plug, as my laptop was down to 8% and desperately needed charging, as I had read and written (By hand! Egads!) my homework response for the discussion board, which I needed to post before midnight.
On the flight back to Raleigh, I typed in my discussion board response from the hand-written version, and had it ready to post to the class web site as soon as I got home. It was by far our shortest of flights over the last 12 days, at 40 minutes.
Just as the wheels of the plane touched the ground, Robert said, "Your birthday is officially over." True, that. It's been a glorious 12 days of great memories.
Our bags came out rather quickly, we said goodbye to Gordon, who is actually moving to San Francisco in a couple of weeks, and Amelia picked us up with a smile minutes later.
It was good to be home, and I posted my homework just before midnight. I had a glorious shower, and reveled in my own bed for what was to be a long night's sleep.
Vacation over. That fat lady has sung.