So on the 19th March Anna, Orrin and I set off for our overseas adventure! I was so sad that we were going without Jesse and Jacob, but excited to go back to my homeland. The kids were just as thrilled and were even really looking forward to the many long hours on the plane.
Our schedule was as follows: Edmonton to Calgary (40 minute flight), Calgary to Los Angeles (4 hour flight) and Los Angeles to Melbourne (15.5 hour flight). Needless to say the kids were well and truly sick of flying after the 4 hour flight to LA and so that is when I knew it was going to be a REALLY long trip. Of course in between all of those connections there is also numerous security checks, delayed flights, baggage pick-ups/baggage check ins, terminal changes and lots of waiting. Of course the first exciting stop was in LAX, in my opinion it is one of the worst places on earth, but Anna was thrilled to see her first ever real palm tree! So after leaving Edmonton that afternoon, at midnight we were taking off in the massive Quantas jet for our trip across the international date line.
Despite the wonderfull Quantas staff, our own personal entertainment systems and the foray of food that kept being delivered to us, we could not wait to get off the damn plane! I think I slept for 1/2 an hour, Anna a little more than that while Orrin hit the jackpot and got about 2 hours of shuteye. My great plan for traveling through the night (which of course involved sleeping like a baby) well and truly came back to bite me and the three of us arrived in Australia all a little worse for wear. The only comfort I had was that after a comparatively short car ride I could jump in the shower and put some clothes on that i hadn't been wearing for the last 36 hours and all would be good. WRONG! As it turned out, our luggage never made it out of Calgary so the only possessions we had were the clothes we were wearing (that could have stood up by themselves had we been able to take them off) and a little 'care' package containing some toiletries to tied us over till our bags arrived 40 hours later.
True to Melbourne's reputation, it was raining when we arrived and did so on and off for our first day or two. After getting over the shock of driving on the other side of the road and thinking everytime we turned we were going to cause a head on, it was cool to see the differences in the two countries just in the 2 hour drive to Pakenham. Of course the rain was different. I hadn't seen rain since September the year before. The different types of cars. Utes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holden_Ute) instead of trucks (http://www.ramtruck.ca/en/?gclid=CIWUwanXoLACFYcZQgods0pPXw), Houses being mostly brick instead of siding, street names instead of street numbers. Holden instead of Chevrolet.
Mum's friend Pauline had organised a little 'Welcome to Australia' party for us! It was such a lovely and thoughtful surprise. She had all the foods that she knew I had missed. There were Tim Tams, Vegemite sandwhiches, crumpets, party pies and party sausages, chuppa chupps, cadbury chocolate and lamingtons. There were also Jane and Sylvie Milner who I hadn't seen since we left and had a lot to catch up on.
One of the first things I wanted to do was take a trip down memory lane to where I lived and went to school from 12 years of age to 18. I wanted to show the kids where I spent my time as a kid. We showed them our house in Cockatoo and the school I attended for grade 5 and 6, Cockatoo Primary School. The principal, Mrs Kewish remembered me and gave us a guided tour! She even took me to see my grade 6 teacher Ms Saunders that was still there after 20+ years!
Next stop was where I went to High School, Emerald Secondary College. Sadly school was already out for the day so I didn't get to do much snooping. I wanted to be able to show the kids the school uniforms we had to wear as they don't have one. Then we went to have a look around at the town of Emerald. It had changed alot, but was still the very quaint little town I remembered.