Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Departure Day - Hooroo Mates!

It's finally departure day!  I awakened early (not really sure I even slept) and hit the rowing machine and elliptical one more time before logging in at work.  June is end of quarter at IBM, so as the only wireless pre-sales technical resource, it's not the most opportune time for me to disappear for almost a month.  The truth is, I wasn't in this role at IBM when I planned this trip, so there's no remorse whatsoever.

My serene morning after my post workout shower was shattered when my elderly neighbor's sister came to my door in a panic over a snake they found in their house.  I figured it was a garden snake, a grass snake, or maybe even a worm.  We get quite a few raccoons opossums, rats, and mice out by the lake, but I rarely see snakes.  Nevertheless, I grabbed a pair of gloves  and headed next door where my neighbor was hunched over a shovel with a two-foot rat snake pinched between it and the carpet.  I have to admit that while I wasn't frightened, it was much more of a snake than I expected.  I snapped it up and took it to my house next door to dispatch it.  I wanted to just cut it loose behind my yard, but the poor thing was damn near already cut in half by the neighbor's shovel. I opted to put it out of its misery, but not before snapping a photo.  My expectation for this morning had been to handle a work phone call or two, set my Out-Of-Office email autoresponder, and head to the airport; but no such luck.  It occurred to me that this might have been good practice for the Outback and that none of my neighbors would have believed it was a coincidence.  Upon further consideration, I think I'll not share the photo with my Outback riding mates.  They're all from New Zealand or Australia and to them, it probably really is a worm.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being in the company of many friends who came to see me off.  It was a great afternoon of burgers, dogs (hotdogs and my boxers), cold tequila, and even some Vegemite!  I'm grateful for my friends and it was glad to see them all.

Even though I won't saddle up hit the trail for a few more days, I'm stoked to be heading out after dreaming about this trip for nearly 20 months.  With layovers and connections, I'll spend the next 36 hours just getting to Airlie Beach; my departure city in the northwest of Queensland Australia.  I'll have a day and a half after my final drive from Mackay to Airlie, during which I can chill out and acclimate to the 15-hour time change.

My itinerary includes layover time at LAX before flying across the pond to Brisbane. This will come in handy because I actually have IBM business to conduct for an enormous west coast customer named after a piece of fruit. I don't trust American Airlines' on-time arrivals record enough to get me to LAX without sufficient time to jump through the international Customs hoops, so I'd rather hang out in the Qantas international lounge than sweat the schedule.

The transpacific flight is 15 hours, during which I will have audiobooks, movies, and computer games to entertain  myself.  I'll also have my warped sense of humor and astute observational skills towards the cabin crew and other passengers for my amusement - and perhaps some blog fodder.  Worst case, Qantas' web page says there are 250 TV shows and 60 movies to choose from on their personal entertainment system.  Apparently, the 747-400 I'm flying is a newly retrofitted aircraft with full lay-down seats, privacy modules, etc.  The promo video Qantas sent me said they even have an espresso machine on board.  Great. All I need is 15 hours in a plane full of caffeinated captives.  On the other hand, a Monster Energy machine would be a nice touch.

The seat-to-seat calling feature that the smooth talking Australian-accented woman who narrated the video described could be fun.  I can make random calls to people posing as the captain and see if anyone has any requests, tell people that passengers around them have complained about "that odor", etc.  Maybe I can watch people who go to the lavatory and then leave them a message at their seat about the condition of the lav after the left it.  I suppose I'd better wait till we're at least halfway across so they can't turn back and kick me off the flight.

Hopefully, there will be WiFi on the overseas flight and I can reach out.  Some planes have been upgraded, but as of this typing, I have no idea about my flight.  Regardless, my satellite tracker will be collecting data and readers might be able to see its updates realtime.  Worst case, the flight path will populate the map when I land in Brisbane and my communicator catches up.

With a 6am arrival in country, I'm hoping to be able to stay awake during the flight and condition my biological clock so that I sleep the last eight or so flight hours.  If I can stay awake 24-hours and pull this off, I'll wake up on the Australian timetable and not be jet lagged.  A well-timed combination of 5-Hour Energy and Xanax could be my friend here.

I'm heading to the airport.  Stay tuned to this site and peek in on the map now and then to see where I am.  I plan to switch on tracking just before taking off from LAX.  I'll update the blog when I can, but Australia isn't known for its widespread wireless Internet access and/or speed.  Nevertheless, I'll be taking copious notes and capturing tons of pics and videos for the movie.  If you haven't sent me your contact info for updates from the bush and still want to, drop an email here and I'll do the final update when I settle in at Airlie Beach.