The time is 1146, I have been up for half an hour and feel wrecked and hungover like someone who has pushed the fool button at a free beer convention. (Not that I would know anything about that) We departed the Airport Hilton in El-Lay at 0430, and rode the shuttle bus to the airport. It looked pretty grim as we walked in, doing a sea-bag drag with two back packs, three sizeable suitcases and the weariness of half a world's travel. The line for the security check had at least three hundred other travelers snaked about like a cattle call at the Harris Ranch, only with less the efficiency of the afore-mentioned ranch.
We walked hesitantly to the entrance and showed our boarding pass to the surly gubmint employee who waved us nonchalantly past towards another door. Again we were onto another long line which we were told to pass. Finally, we reached a stairway and were told again to head for another entrance gate which only had six people in line! Once through that bit of indignity we went to a pleasant oldies' style diner cafe which provided some decent food for brekkies.
Note; Airport food on this two week journey has been pretty phenomenal. Really. A bit overpriced, but good to eat. Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, LA, Houston; All really good in choice and more importantly, quality. Good on all the folks who try to ease the burdens of the airline traveling public.
Back to yesterday's transport. We got on a crowded airplane filled with fellow passengers and headed out to Houston on-time. Once in Houston we dined on a Tex-Mex lunch at Bullritos, and it was also pleasant! I noticed food prices were getting more affordable along with very nice customer service. Once more, we climbed into the little C-9 type aircraft called an Embraer 145, which is a smaller airframe than we are used to traveling in. Don't be over 5 foot 10 if you expect to walk down the aisle in this airplane. Narrow and efficient, the Embraer 145 was fast and comfortable. I'm pretty happy with it all since I am all about just getting home at this point.
We arrived at the home airport a couple hours later and our good friend Phil was there in an instant to pick us up for the drive home. The keg had enough for four beers to celebrate our return!
As for the jet lag, we went to bed at around 2100 (9:00PM) and fell instantly to sleep in which we were soon up at 0200 for an hour and a half, or so. We re-attempted sleeping ops and I finally was up at 1100, the kitties were piled in with me and they have been following me around the house to make sure I give them their treats and stay home, like a good staff person. Them love me.
Travel in the United States by regular folks continues to be unnecessarily an inconvenience, both in Airline treatment of customers and even tighter security which is Gubmint Provided, of course. If the average traveler was an incarcerated prisoner, there would be better treatment and guarantees of human rights for these people. Prisoners are given rights, not travelers. It seems that the Federal Government feels free to shackle and coerce the traveler in the name of 'security', just to prove that there is some value to having a Big Government in the first place. TSA=Jobs Program. Maybe this was necessary in 2001-2002, but with the help of better intelligence work and collated studies of terrorist habits, our security services should be a bit more gentler in the treatment of law-abiding travelers who just happen to be paying for all this. But it is just easier to hire an entire army of Unionized Government employees who will detain us and strip us of our dignity while scrutinizing our most personal selves, causing a cattle like compliance for the Greater Good™.
In Australia, we were able to walk through the security with our shoes and belts on. In fact, we did not have to show ID! A boarding pass was only necessary for boarding the airplane so families are able to properly send off loved ones like we used to do prior to the 9-11 atrocity. This was so at Newcastle airport, Melbourne and Launceston, too. Unbelievable! The only question we were pleasantly asked while our bags were going through the machine was if we had packed our own bags and if there were any aerosols... America has much to re-learn, believe Yours Truly. Old ladies were not required to be manhandled by badged servants either. Now in fairness to the Australian and New Zealand security types, they did do additional swipes (searching for explosives residue) on our back packs at random, never both of us at the same time. (I have something more on this, too. But not in an open forum...)
This pretty much covers the journey portions of the past couple weeks. I have to upload about 700 photos and make sense of them all, and organize them so you the reader might get something out of what appears to be family vacation photographs, pre-ready for the slide projector served along with watercress sandwiches and coffee in a 1950's tract home-party.
Ahh, the good old days are happening now.