Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 5 - Dallas to San Francisco

June 5 - Dallas to San Francisco

I spent most of the morning sitting around doing nothing. I was contemplating getting a new sleeping bag, buying toothpaste and razors, and if I should get a tripod. I decided to hold off on the tripod for now.

Before we left for the airport I made a quick trip to Sun and Ski in Arlington and bought a new sleeping bag. It was much more than I had intended to spend, but I was in a hurry and it fit my criteria. It is a Marmot Sawtooth. Marmot makes some of the best sleeping bags so it was worth the money. It was on sale for $199. It’s a 600 fill down bag, rated at 15 degrees, and packs half the size of the bag I previously planned to use.

I also had my mom purchase some razors for me while I did my errand. I rushed back home and repacked my suitcase. I had a quick lunch and then we were off to the airport.

We left around 4 PM. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:29 PM so it gave us plenty of time to get there and check in. We were flying on United Airlines for the first leg of the flight to San Francisco, California. At the terminal everything was self check in. During the process it notified me that we had to have assistance to continue on. One of the men behind the desk helped us out. The reason we were unable to complete the check in was because our passports couldn’t be scanned with their system. That is always an issue for us. I don’t know why.

He asked us if we had a visa for Australia. This didn’t sound good. I didn’t know you had to have a visa to go to Australia. Usually those are only required by 3rd world countries. Luckily we were only transiting through on our way to Christchurch, New Zealand and if you stay less than 8 hours you don’t need one. However, we will be going to Sydney at the end of our trip for a few days. We would have to get the visa process accomplished sometime while we are in New Zealand. The guy made it sound like it was a hassle to do, especially if you try to enter the country without having done it on time. I guess we will have to find out tomorrow when we get to Sydney what we are supposed to do.

We got everything situated, our bags checked, said goodbye to our parents, and then began our journey to the other side of the world.

The United Flight we were on was a very small plane. It only held 70 passengers. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a plane that small. It was extremely small inside. Only 2 rows with 2 seats on each side. Luckily they were spacious with plenty of leg room. Me and Andy both had isles seats. His was right next to mine on the opposite side of the isle. He sat next to some little boy flying home and I sat next to some woman going on a business trip.

The plane had no tv, no music, nothing. I just sat there the whole time listening to people around me talk. The lady next to me just spent the whole time typing numbers on a n excel spreadsheet. Andy talked to the little boy next to him. He had been visiting Texas for a cousin’s graduation. There was no food on this flight but they did provide drinks. I got an apple juice. Surprisingly they gave refills. I thought that was cool and unexpected. Later they even came by again and offered more drinks.

The kid next to Andy ordered a meal. It was almost $8 and included very little. A tiny sandwhich and cookies, and something else too. He didn’t even eat the cookies and gave them to Andy. He ate about half of them and when we got off the flight during our layover I ate the rest. They were little flat chips ahoy cookies. I think they are called crisps? Who knows.

Anyway, the flight was very uneventful and very smooth. We landed in San Francisco around 8:30 PM their time. We gained two hours on this leg of the trip.  

Our next flight was scheduled to leave at   for Sydney, Australia. We had to walk across the airport to the international terminal. The departure board said we needed to go to gate 100, but our tickets said gate 98. We went to gate 100 and saw a huge plane, it was a double decker. I’ve never been on a plane like this kind either. It was also a United flight.

It didn’t seem like very many people were waiting to board so we thought maybe we needed to go to the gate our tickets said. We headed over to Gate 98 and looked around for a second, there were even fewer people over here. In fact, there were none. This didn’t seem right. As we started to walk away a group of people passed by us, one of them was a Nepalese girl I would later find out was named Sri. I thought she was with the Mexican family walking by, but she stopped and asked where we were going. I thought she knew something and was going to help us, but really she was lost herself. She was also headed to Sydney on the same flight so we decided to be lost together.

We mentioned that we thought the flight was leaving from Gate 100 since we saw a big plane there, but weren’t sure. We decided to go back over there and see what we could find out. Before we had been on the top level and there weren’t many people waiting, so we went down below, and that ended up being where everyone was.

We sat down with our new friend and spent the next hour getting to know her better. She was living in Boulder, Colorado and worked as a nurse for Colorado University. She was going to Sydney and Brisbane to visit a college friend that was studying at a college in Brisbane. She also had a cousin that lived in Sydney.

She has a pilot friend that got her cheap tickets on standby, so there was a chance she wouldn’t be on this flight. She had inside information though and said 90 seats were going to be empty. Which was a lot for a plane that only carried around 350 when full.

As boarding began I mentioned that she might want to go to the desk to make sure she had a boarding pass, so as we boarded she got her ticket organized. We said goodbye and wondered if we’d see each other on the flight, or if she’d go on her own way.

Although it was only 10:30 PM California time to me it was past midnight, and therefore no longer June 5. This year I don’t really get to have a June 6 because we spend it flying west, and ultimately into the future.

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