Breakfast in Fiji, the adventure begins…

It’s 8:39AM in Black Mountain, 5:42AM in Los Angeles (where we were last), 12:43AM in Brisbane, where we’ll be in eleven hours, and 2:44AM in Fiji, where we’ll be having breakfast, watching the sunset and switching to our last airplane of the trip.

I’m typing in the dark while most of the passengers are sleeping, including an eleven=week-old passenger I’m particularly fond of who is sleeping in a bassinet attached to the wall in front of our seats, and his beautiful mother dozed off in the seat beside me.

From Trip to Australia

There’s no way around the fact that this is a long trip. We left my house in Black Mountain at about one o’clock on Tuesday, and we arrive at almost noon on Thursday in Brisbane. Part of that is due to time zones and such, but in body time it’s about 31 hours. Mason has been amazing through the whole thing. His ears were hurting as we descended from the first flight, but he cried a little and worked it out. He’s been a little fussy now and then, but a few laps of walking the airplane aisles has calmed him. We’re counting our blessings, and hoping he can hold out for eleven more hours.

From Trip to Australia

From an air travel perspective, though, I have to say that he’s quite a boon. Not only does he get full baggage allowance (his bags weigh six times what he does), we’ve bypassed long security lines twice, zipping right up to the front in the “families with small children” lane. I’m not sure we deserve that, but I’m sure grateful for the bonus.

From Trip to Australia

Actually, the trip so far has been filled with kindnesses like that. My parents drove us to Charlotte to get on the first flight, and the desk agent gave them gate passes so that they could come past security with us— out of the blue and with no request. Again, we can chalk it up to the cute baby factor. There are other examples as well but you get the idea. These all feel like good omens.

Packing was a race to the finish, as it always seems to be for me. It’s funny, it doesn’t matter how much time I have, I always manage to be racing around the house at the last minute dealing with important things. I’ve known about this trip for a year, for goodness sake!

Several friends and our family chipped in to help out in the closing weeks. My parents, MJ, Deanna and I were buzzing around the house Tuesday morning, but even with a looming deadline and a chaotic pile of things in the house that still needed to be dealt with, we had to stop for a half-hour and watch President Obama (being sworn in and giving his first presidential address. Having such momentous events on a world-scale and on a personal scale happen on the same day is almost more than my heart can hold.

From Trip to Australia

They’ve just turned the cabin lights back on, which means breakfast will be coming soon, so I’ll sign off for now and check in again after we’ve landed and slept for a day or two.

… Postscript: We landed in Fiji and waited for everyone else to get off the plane since with Mason in our arms, three carry-ons and three ‘personal items,’ we’ve got a lot of junk and don’t want to hold everyone up. The airport here is an open-air terminal, and we walked outside from one building to the next to make our transfer.

The warm, tropical air took our breath away— or maybe I should say gave it back. We left Black Mountain with snow on the ground, and the salty wet purity of island breeze was overwhelming.

Of course, having waited for everyone else meant that we were at the back of a very long line, and after a few minutes Mason started to get a little fussy. I was walking him around to calm him when an airport employee came over to me. I thought he was going to reprimand me for walking where I shouldn’t and being out of line, but actually he was taking us to the front of the line. He helped carry bags, then took us to the Business Class lounge, where I’m writing now. Soft music, plush chairs and free internet.

The best part, though, is that Adi, a Fijian woman who is tending the lounge area, fell in love with Mason and just took him for a walk around the airport to meet her friends. When she brought him back he had a piece of masking tape on his head. She explained that in Fiji that’s what they do when a child has hiccups.

From Trip to Australia

I am amazed to not feel more exhausted, and buoyed by the generosity of strangers. We board again in forty minutes, then will touch down in Brisbane and be done with traveling for a while. Or perhaps I should say ‘travelling.’ Those Aussies and their extra ‘l’s!

From Trip to Australia
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9 Comments on “Breakfast in Fiji, the adventure begins…”

  1. Annette (Class of '86) Says:

    I love these photos – What a beautiful keepsake for Mason (I especially love that first photo of him with Adi and what a marvelous grin he has!). Safe travels and warmest wishes as you settle into your new home. PS – Did the masking tape work?

  2. Mony Says:

    Gosh, what a wonderful adventure for the three of you! I feel very lucky to have checked in at this point in the journey. There’s not much to say but good luck and write soon.
    Isn’t it grand to be traveling with your own built-in ambassador?
    Recently I traveled with a five-year old for the first time in two decades. I too was amazed at the kindness of strangers, and very appreciative. It’s quite a job and my only preparation was to fill my back pocket with fives in anticipation of tipping my way to West Texas. Which I did.
    I cannot wait to try the masking tape trick–probably will need it in Memphis next month!!


  3. My Dad made that trip from the States to Australia multiple times back in 2000 when he was working with the Olympics there in Sydney, so I remember hearing lots about the long trips you refer to! I remember he caught up on his movie watching 🙂 Peace to you and the family during this transition!

  4. teri Says:

    David, this is so cool. I am excited to follow your adventures and maybe learn a little bit vicariously. In the meantime, enjoy the extra l’s, the s instead of z, and the wonder that is babies crossing dividing walls. Thanks for sharing all this with us!!

  5. Robin Says:

    David — I just read your last two posts back to back. From the fear and pain of Gaza to the sweetness and light of kindness from strangers. When there are people who put masking tape on a baby’s forehead, you have to believe there’s hope for the world.

    Good luck with the next leg of your journey!

  6. Jill Tolbert Says:

    What an adventure you guys are in for! I can’t wait to read the next post. Keep ’em coming!


  7. I hope that you and your family are now settled in a bit and over the jet lag. It feels weird that you are so far away for so long.

  8. Kay Parke Says:

    Just recently read “In a Sunburned Land” by Bill Bryson, so I have some idea of how far Brisbane is from Melbourne – luckily for you – and hope you don’t have any bad experiences. Of course, this is a journalist’s view of Australia. Yours is bound to be different. But the distances and the almost unexplored open desert areas are doubtless the same as described.

    Anyway – what a wonderful experience you’re having. Stay safe and well.

  9. Steve Neis Says:

    Dave, these are going to be some of the best times of your life, Deanna and Mason too. This is a great opportunity you have; not just for the education, but also for the everything that life has to offer down there. I first heard your music only a few years ago with my friend Amy Laramie, WY. Every time I put your music in it puts a smile on my face, remembering the last time I heard it and the time right now. Thanks for making life good! We all love you bud! Can’t wait to see you back in Colorado!


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