Cowboys, Angels, Hobbits, Hello
I'm one hour away from my first full 24 hours in Australia.

How did that happen?

They say "Writers write." Okay, but you know me. If I start trying to tell the story now, by the time I swing my brain past all of the sidebars, the first month here will have passed.

(Except for my treatise on Air New Zealand's carry-on luggage weight limits. I wrote that in an Air France lounge and it's one cut-n-paste from appearing somewhere.)

So, instead of narrating A to B to C, I'm going to present a writing to-do list. Like, a big outline for all the blog post/Yelp reviews/scrapbook journaling that I should do, but almost certainly won't. If I do end up writing anything on the list, I'll link it, but otherwise the list will just have to stand on its own. (In the corner, sobbing, no doubt.) And so...


Fort Worth

  • Blog post on how awful it was to leave parents, knowing that even if I unexpectedly have to come back in two weeks, Mom will have declined noticeably further. Then hit the "unpublish" button, once again quietly removing long, rambling observations on early-onset Alzheimer's from the public sphere, but maybe hesitate for two or three minutes before doing so, because Mom would want the world to know... and one thing that's certain is that despite all the awareness of Alzheimer's and related senior dementia, the world does not begin to know about the demon that is the early-onset form of the disease.
  • Long-overdue Yelp review of Super Shuttle. Mention kind hearts of drivers but coin toss nature of experience, e.g. drivers who drop you off at the right terminal but the wrong end of it (important at DFW) while not waiting to pull up to the curb, then acting generous when they help pull your enormously heavy (35 lbs, 48.5 lbs) luggage out of traffic.
  • Yelp review of DFW airport. Mention that only the security checkpoint near E33 seems to have the PornoScanner. Don't forget to note the ridiculously comfy chairs in some of the public spaces. Who needs a lounge on the other end of the terminal anyway? Get into a sidebar about rolling luggage vs skycaps (define for people like Mike) and how the DFW skycap ignored me. (Find out why there were no baggage carts anywhere.)

  • Comfy Chairs at DFW

  • Yelp review of Virgin America. Maybe don't get distracted with side bit where the guy in the seat next to me semi-snottily asked if I flew First Class much all because I was taking a discreet photo of the seat. Maybe only quarter-snottily, but dude, it's 2013. People tweet everything. You're lucky I didn't steal a lock of your hair for my SMASH book. (It was half sweet to offer to take a photo of me in the seat, but also half insulting. I'm a fat woman who needs to share with the other fatties online just how the seat really plays out.) <--- NOTE: Instead, do a blog post about flying fat on Virgin America's cheap one-way first class ticket.

  • Virgin America A320 First Class Seat

  • Yelp review of Virgin America (undistracted). Mention the adorable aeroplane-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers, jamming to pre-1988 Fleetwood Mac and pre-1986 Duran Duran, Space Mountain-style lighting, and the black pepper fettucine meal option.

  • In-Flight Entertainment - Virgin America First Class

  • Travel magazine article on the evolution of airplane food. Or, better, find where someone has already written such an article, and read it. See if anyone else has been as confused as Mike was when he came to the States and only got half-cold, cellophane-wrapped meals.

Los Angeles

  • Blog post about how many times I spent $5 (all I had were fives) for someone/thing to deal with my luggage that, despite all having rollers, was a physics nightmare to manage. (Count: the cart that carried luggage from LAX to hotel shuttle then was abandoned on the median, the driver of the packed-to-gills ill-fated combination Sheraton/car park shuttle, the bellman who kindly intervened after someone pushed around me in the hotel lobby and sent my barely balanced luggage flying across the floor in all directions, the bellman I requested from the front desk in the morning, the driver of the empty Sheraton-only shuttle to LAX, the SmartCarte that ended up traveling 20 feet from the rack to the second spot in the Priority queue for Air New Zealand, but that's okay because it was a comfort to have in the hour that followed, waiting for the desk to open.) Include fun facts about $5 bills in blog post, including how many New Zealand coins you can trade them for when you're about to leave the Auckland airport without a souvenir then you spot a Maori woman behind the currency desk. (Answer: all the coins!)

  • Luggage, Including Bag Damaged By Virgin America

    (Note damage to duffle. Thanks, baggage handlers.)

  • Yelp review about the Sheraton Gateway hotel at LAX, because some of us just can't bother to split our reviews between Yelp and Trip Advisor, even though the latter is better for hotels, although it truly needs better review searching and filtering. Possibly don't get into the weirdness of how the staff were all brilliantly nice, but the other hotel guests in the lobby were all incredibly snobby, BUT the hotel guests in the club lounge seemed so down-to-earth. Share photos of the buffet spread in the lounge, remind people that the morning breakfast service closes at 9 a.m. (much too early if you're too restless to sleep and know you were granted late check-out), and slip in an endorsement for auto club discounts. Include photo of used bath products because this was one of the rare times the items were actually consumed and not tucked away in the suitcase for "later."

  • Actually Used Toiletries

    Sheraton LAX Club Room

    Sheraton LAX Club Lounge

  • Blog post about how my last "official dining" experience in the States was quesadillas from Sheraton room service, featuring the most sincerely obsequieous waiter ever. Then point out that my first "official dining" in Australia was quesadillas from an adorable global-cuisine cafe, featuring an even-Mike-said-it-was-bizarre situation of having to go up to the waiter to order. Include rumination on the tortilla press I got Mike for his 40th birthday and how Ill use it when it arrives in Australia (possibly create and link to a Pinterest board just for flavoured tortilla recipes), then consider sharing with the world the 40th-birthday video that accompanied the present, but then decide not to share it because it's good proof that I don't (over)share everything. (Briefly worry that people will assume it's a naughty video.) End with a list of seven flavored corn tortillas that don't exist yet but should.

  • Sheraton LAX Room Service - Quesadillas

    Sleepless in LAX

  • Blog post about the history of the Encounters restaurant/theme building and its links to Disney and Las Vegas. Share photos of the view from the observation deck.

  • LAX Theme Building

    Trees Outside LAX Theme Building

    View from Encounters Observation Deck

  • Tweet my disappointment over day passes not being available for the Koru lounge. (Yeah, I'm not actually going to retro-tweet.)
  • Yelp review of the Air France Lounge.

  • Air France Lounge - Looking Back from Buffet Area

    Boarding Pass to New Zealand

  • Yelp review or blog post or fan letter to Air New Zealand. Note the disappointment with solutions for those who want to bring a heavy laptop and a heavy camera as carry-on items, but continue on to note the amazing service (from older gentlemen in pinstriped aprons - so Downton!) before and during the eternal flight, the absolute BRILLIANCE of the Spaceseat (share pro-tip about getting extra bean bags if you have stumpy little legs), the incredible variety of on-demand entertainment (including a radio channel of soothing nature noises), the thoughtful care package with toothpaste, quality toothbrush, lip balm, lotion, socks, and high-functioning eye mask, and how the 14-hour flight was far better than some flights of much shorter duration... except for that time my back pressed into the ill-designed remote control, and my first hour of sleep (one of three! all non-consecutive! exclamation points because, for me, this is actually really good!) was terminated when the tranquil spa songs transitioned into full-blast hip hop. 

  • Air New Zealand Spaceseat - 24E

(Note that everything below was typed after my first 60 hours in Australia. I can't write what with all the living!)

New Zealand

    Sunglass Hut Is Everywhere

  • Tweet about the pleasures of not taking your shoes off for security + having them ask if you have any toiletries then just waving you on when you say, "Oh yeah, a few things they gave me on the plane."
  • Yelp review of the Emperor's Lounge. Mention the extreme brightness (easily countered by the eye mask), low population, the four-hour time limit (three hours if not with Priority Pass/etc.) but how the nice hostess didn't wake me to pay for the second shift), the showers, the delicious croissants, the Schwepps ginger BEER, and the way Pandora works in New Zealand, unlike some services (*cough* Netflix), and maybe tuck in a mention of how lounges in general have changed my life.

  • Emperor's Lounge - Little Sandwich with Ginger Beer

    Pretty New Zealand Water Bottle

  • Create a Tumblr called "Sad, Sad, Inadequate Pics of New Zealand from a Lone Airport Window."

  • AKL - My Plane At The End

  • Amend earlier blog post about Air New Zealand weight limits to mention that no one weighed my dutifully repacked carry-on before boarding for the seven-hour flight to Australia.
  • Amend earlier blog post/letter/review of Air New Zealand to discuss the bucket-style Premium Economy seats (NOT Spaceseats) on a 777-200, the mercy of no one sitting in the middle seat, the fun of being served gulab jamun (although Kiwis and Aussies seem to eat it cold - ick), and how my screen was way too dark (yes, I tried tilting it) so I just watched sitcoms for seven hours when not playing UK-slanted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.


  • Blog post about the easy-peasy electronic passport kiosk-n-photobooth experience plus the FREE baggage carts at the Perth airport.

  • Free Baggage Carts


And now this word:

I was so excited when we began our descent into Perth. I kept grinning madly, eventually realizing that the flight attendant in her jump seat must have had a thought or two about the mad one in seat 25F. By this time I'd put on a mix of "classic gold" songs from the on-board entertainment. Which song would be playing when the plane touched down? The closer we sped toward the ground, the more it seemed it would be Air Supply's "Making Love (Out of Nothing At All)," but in the end...

See Flickr for more photos: the 19th, 20th, 21st although it didn't really exist, 22nd - all dates approximate since I didn't always bother to change dates on the camera, iPad, and iPhone..

25 April 2013 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)