2009 North to Alaska – Day 1

SYDNEY to PORTLAND to ST HELENS – on the Oregon Trail – haven’t I done this before?

Thursday – Well here I am again – off on another great travelling adventure – ALASKA – CANADA – NORTHWEST USA!

Sydney to Los Angeles – Flight QF 107 departing Sydney 10.15am – arriving LAX 6.40am. 

After completing the ‘have I got’ rituals the usual suspects drive me to the airport.  I am sure they do it just to get a free Golden Arches brekkie and to make sure that I am actually leaving OZ.  What can I say?  I had checked in last night through the wonders of the internet but I still have to line up to put my bags through. 

Two suitcases allowed for the US – joy of joys – and it took about 15 minutes on the express line so that was OK.  So now it’s off to Maccas.  A suitable array of brekkie goodies – muffins, juice, coffee etc and then it’s time for me to say hasta la vista baby. 

Saying some tearful goodbyes I head for customs which goes off without a hitch.  Obviously the people in Oz know I am not a terrorist – maybe they could relay that information to the US so I don’t have to go through the ‘maybe you are a terrorist’ routine.  Checked out the duty free and got some Poeme perfume in 100ml bottles because that is all you can take in the hand luggage. 

To compensate for my disgust at this rule I go to Darrel Lea and get some jelly babies and liquorice.  Now it’s time to head for my departure gate but there is loads of work being done on the terminal and it’s a bit confusing, even though there are lots of signs telling me where to go (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!)

There are also signs apologising for the disruptions but adding ‘we are working to give you a better terminal’  Thank you Macquarie Bank – and I bet all your prices will go up when it is finished. 

Sitting in the departure lounge the sun is warm coming through the windows and I just love looking at all the planes coming and going. Speaking of which I think I see my plane taxi-ing towards us.

It’s a scene right out of Flying High and I do hope that it stops!  Time to board, and I am not on the nice white plane – we are on the one covered in Aboriginal drawings.  There will be a photo later so keep reading. 

After the necessary safety measures and checking out the entertainment systems it’s up, up and away and after a smooth take off, woops a bit of a bumpy section over the water.  Kodak moment of course.  How many pictures have been taken of the wing and the view below? 

I would hazard a guess and say thousands of which I am included – settling back down into the seat it’s time to check out the movies and there are some good ones and also some good music on the radio programme ‘Reelin in the Years’ with Glen A Baker. 

The sun is shining on the water far below and there are lots of little fluffy white clouds. 

Before we go any further it is time for the customary flight details which you all love:

Sydney time – 11am / Time to destination – 12 hours 31 mins / Altitude – 26,000 feet / outside temperature –minus 35 degrees celsius (brrrrr) / local time in LAX – 6pm / Speed – 1085 kph / distance travelled 235 km.

Now, all I need is some food and drink!!  The turbulence has settled just in time for lunch which is Greek Chicken with Pearl Barley and vegetables and a side salad. Of course wine, bikkies etc.  Yum! 

It does look good doesn’t it?  I cannot understand people saying they don’t like airplane food.  I never have a problem. 

For the after lunch entertainment I have decided on Star Trek – the Prequel and it looks good. 

It’s really interesting to see how James T, Spock, Scotty and all the other characters got together. As if lunch was not big enough we now have Pine Lime Splices for dessert.  Last time we got mini Magnums but Qantas must be cutting back on expenditure.  Still Splices are just as good.  Back to the movie and it is one of the best prequels I have seen. 

Some more flight details to dazzle you :

Sydney time – 1.40pm / time to LAX – 9 hrs 28 mins / altitude – 9448 mtrs / outside temperature –minus 27 degrees celsius (it’s warming up!) / local time LAX – 8.41pm / speed 1118 kmh / distance from Sydney 3292km / distance to LAX – 8845km.  That should hold you for a while. 

The sun is starting to set and of course, out comes the camera.  Another ‘this is the wing and the clouds’ photo.  Have decided to try and get some sleep and quickly found out that no one else wanted to. 

If they weren’t talking and laughing they were turning on the lights and turning them off and then turning them back on again.  Some people are really thoughtless. 

Decided to watch another movie – Young Victoria, all about the early years of Queen Victoria.  It was very interesting and well acted.  After this movie the people around me started to settle down thank God. Maybe I’ll finally be able to get some sleep.

The clinking of the food trolley wakes me from slumber and breakfast is about to be served.  Lights are coming up and it’s time for a nice, light continental brekkie.  Sultana Bran, melons, pineapple, juice and coffee and a warm cinnamon roll.  Coming into LAX it is very hazy most probably because of all the bush fires around the area, however I still manage to get a few photos.  A smooth landing and now it’s time to get my bags and do the transfer shuffle. 

Bringing two bags to the US is a great idea because I can bring loads of stuff over and there is lots of room to take stuff back. 

Down side is that I have to retrieve them from the carousel, clear customs and re-check them through to Portland.  After all the construction work at Sydney airport where you cannot find anything and nearly everything is boarded up – LAX is worse.

However, after my last journey I have an idea of where to head so I set off.  I collect the bags, careful to throw them on the trolley without dislocating my shoulders, load my cabin bag, camera bag and hand bag and I am off. 

No dramas through customs, fingerprints and photo taken, usual questions of who, why, how, what and when and now to re-check but they are not where they were last time so around the construction walkway we go.  That is done – off to the Alaska Airline terminal which is still a dump but now my departure gate has been changed so off I go in another direction. 

Finally arriving at a newly renovated part of the terminal I am pleased that it is open spaced with plenty of room to wander around.  Some typical tourist shops and there are about 6 or 7 gates. 

I have about 3 hours before my flight so I make the most of the time and walk around getting the blood going again.  I spy my Qantas plane out on the tarmac ready to take off – what a quick turnaround –

The crowds come and go and finally it is my time to board.  On the last leg of the journey and the plane is full.  My seat is over the engines – bummer so that means no photos of the beaches – no matter. 

Time for our refreshment service – there are free soft drinks or water and a little packet of nuts.  If you want anything else you have to pay.  I am stuffed to the gills after the Qantas food not to mention the hot chocolate and marshmallows. YUM. But I digress. 

On the way to Portland I see the usual mountains and coming into the city the weather is a bit cloudy but not hazy. 

Good landing and off to find Kylie and Tyler. Come up the exit and everyone is turning right so I follow. WRONG! Should have turned left so we all do a quick about face and head off again. 

Kylie is waiting by herself as Tyler has to work.  We go downstairs and collect my bags and head off to the car.  Leaving the car park we promptly get lost so another quick turn around – do you recognize a pattern here – and we head off in the right direction. 

The house looks good with a nice new fence replacing the rambling blackberry hedge.  The rocks and garden out the front have also been cleared out and the back yard has been excavated.  Certainly makes a big difference.  Lots of work inside as well and it is looking great. 

Tyler arrives home but he is going to his Dad’s place to watch the footy so the two of us decide to go out for dinner.  Choosing Bing’s Chinese Restaurant – this is nothing like the Chinese Restaurants back in Oz. 

The food is not as good, tough and lacks flavour.  We were not impressed and needless to say there was a lot leftover so we brought it home for Tyler.  Straight to Walmart for a bit of shopping for the usual shampoo etc and then home to do a bit of touch up work on our trip. 

Jet lag is setting in and I keep falling asleep so decided it was time to go to bed.

Highlight of the day : seeing my girl after 2 years.


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