Our odyssey began on Thanksgiving Day, which was only about 4 days ago but feels like a million years ago right now. We had Thanksgiving lunch with Nana and Heather. After leaving ABQ late afternoon, bikes in hand we began with our epic travel day. I was pleasantly shocked when the SWA representative actually KNEW what our bike cases were and we seamlessly got our bags checked, yes even the one I had that weighed 51 lbs. Gawd-you really expect me to fit everything I want to bring on a 2 month trip in one 50 lb. suitcase? We got on the plane and alas we were off! When we got to LAX, not only did our bikes actually arrive with us, we found some kind soul to cart our ever so heavy bike bags and 4 others on a huge cart over to Air New Zealand (we gave him $20). I was so happy to see those bikes get checked in-we were at last a 10th of the way there. Then to top off a perfect day, Allison and Lane met us at the airport and we had our 4th Thanksgiving dinner with our 4th child. Wow are we ever lucky-seriously..all our girls and granddaughters are the most amazing adults-I am one proud mama!! OK, so bye bye to Lane and Ally..we got to our gate and at 9:15 PM on Thursday night we took off to make our way to our final destination, Perth, Australia. Now this is where it gets a little fuzzy for me. The crossing of the International Date Line thing is a mystery to me. I never did get it right but I do know it took 12 hours to fly to Auckland, New Zealand and somewhere between the 2 movies, 5 hours of sleep and 2 meals, we lost a day. Arriving at 7:30 AM SATURDAY in NZ, we did our best to sweet talk our way into the Air NZ lounge to spend the next 7 hours until our next plane left. No amount of money or good looks or begging could get us in. So we sat, and sat and sat for most of the day in the main area of the Auckland Airport. We did find a public shower which was not very busy this hour of the morning so after a quick shower with paper towel drying, I felt a bit refreshed. I managed to get a back massage, do about 4 crossword puzzles and perked up a bit when H got us some REAL coffee as we waited. I had tried to limit my caffeine up until this point and drank tons of water. The thigh high compression hose that was suggested REALLY helped with the ankle swelling all this air time could have given me. At around 2:30 PM, we left for Perth on another 7.5 hour flight. This time I watched another 2 movies, ate, more crosswords, got REALLY tired of traveling but was still very excited that we actually pulled this off and were able to leave the States without any emergencies or crisis. A miracle!! Finally, after 35 hours of traveling including the layovers, we arrived in Perth around 5:00 PM, Saturday. We went to baggage claim and wonder of wonders; there were our bikes-in one piece! I have heard horror stories of bikes getting lost, getting broken, etc so I figured if ours got here it would be amazing-it was! The customs folks are not too keen on Infinite drink powder that looks like drugs and is not in the original packaging but they let us through anyways. We hauled all our stuff out the airport door and to our amazement, it was summer!! And there are flies here..not just a few but A LOT of flies! That is the only downside I have seen of Australia so far. And bug spray seems to have handled that already.
Off on the shuttle we went with a couple who had just had their plane turn around after almost reaching a remote island and they had to try again tomorrow. I was so thankful we did not have THAT experience! I was quite loopy by this point. We got to the hotel in Perth and found a restaurant on the premises. H assured me this was the worst hotel we would be staying in. However it was close to the airport and the shuttle would pick us up the next day there to head to Busselton. It was a bed..that is all I needed after traveling so long. I almost fell asleep in my dinner so needless to say I slept OK that night, despite the horrendous jet lag. We awoke to a beautiful sunny Australian day the next day, hung out by the pool to set our circadian clocks and waited for our shuttle, which was to take us 3 hours to Busselton. They forgot to tell us we may be waiting and hour or two at the airport for other travelers. But it was fun, as we met another American, who is a professional and triathlon coach whose goal is to break 9 hours in this race. My goal is to get done with the BIKE in 9 hours-holy cow! Some other very sweet ladies got on the van and we were off! The chatty annoying bus driver made the trip go fast. He took us on our first glimpse of the bike course as we headed into Busselton. One word-FLAT. It is flat as a pancake and that is for real!! And beautiful, tree lined forest for part of the ride and ending up near the jetty on the beach for transition and finish line. As we drove into “Busso” we got really excited and happy. We made it all the way here! The bus driver found our hotel, which is more like the luxury Inn on the beach compared to the previous stay. We have a very nice 2 bedroom with kitchen modern “villa” right near the beach and bike path that we will be running on. It is so pretty here I can’t even describe it. I am posting pics on FB..The 50 inch TV isn’t bad either if you like anything on the 4 TV stations they get here. We were pretty exhausted when we got here, disoriented by the time change and HUNGRY. So the very sweet young lady who was at the front desk did what every hotel does (not really), She DROVE us to the grocery store and waited while we bought food…and brought us back! OK, now I know we are in for small town friendliness! The people here are happy, friendly, and helpful. One of the guys that works here came over this AM because we could not figure how the hell to get our bikes together-we looked like the 2 stooges as we searched in Internet for PICTURES OF BIKES so we could copy them…The guy phoned the best bike shop in town (well there are only two) and made us an appointment for us to bring them in. We managed to assemble them well enough to ride the 4 miles into town, on the LEFT side of the street. Now that makes for interesting bike adventures in a new town with plenty of roundabouts and traffic. We dropped our bikes off, took off to the store with our backpacks so we could fill them with food. We looked like vagabonds as we trudged to the “Woolworth’s” (yes I guess they do still exist in some parts of the world!); in our socks (we had forgotten our shoes). It may have made more sense for us to rent a car, but I think both of us are scared at this point to try the whole driving on the left thing even in this little town. The folks we ran into were the best-I had 3 people ask me if I was here for “the Ironman” and told me they were volunteering. There are 1500 volunteers from the community at this race! That must be half the population! You know you are in a small town when:
1. The guy in the bike store asks you to “watch his store” for a minute while he goes and test drives your bike.
2. The guy that works here invited us to go riding in the AM with a group of locals.
3. You can leave your hotel room unlocked because you just know no one will rip you off.
4. You see a very nice Cervelo P-3 sitting outside a barber shop-no lock, nothing..
5. EVERYONE says hi to you-that is EVERYONE!
We still have not figured out how to get a phone card, although we think we know where to do that.
So today we managed to get our bikes in order and ready to race, ran and walked about 7 miles in all and got some new food…heard people say words like “gooday mate” and “great bloke” and ran into great folks everywhere we went. I am still a bit foggy from the time change but getting clearer every day. The ocean is amazing here. I cannot wait to swim in it!
Tomorrow we will probably go on the ride, since they are riding part of the course, although 5:30 is awfully early to get going..The sun rises about then here and sets around 8:00. I have yet to see a cloud. The only thing I forgot is my charger for my camera battery-AGGhhhh! So $55 went for a new charger. I need my pictures of Team Wess’ adventure!