wherein Kate has an adventure that will probably be funny in three months or so when she gets over the trauma over the whole thing.
So the trip from Australia to North America is long. I mean, everyone knows that, but it’s very different from knowing to experiencing, and it’s been 7 or so years since I last experienced it.
Guys, it is long.
I went a different route this time, choosing the Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth trip, which is 15 hours, in lieu of Melbourne to LA which is 12. Dallas, I reasoned is closer to New Orleans, so it just made sense.
And here, the horror begins.
We flew in to Dallas in the first few drops of a rain shower. No big deal, right? Well, then the rain shower turned into thunder storms. And the delays began. First my first flight was delayed, then delayed, then delayed, and then moved to a different gate, and then cancelled. I was one of the very few lucky ones that got a standby ticket on one of the remaining flights out of New Orleans. Gate change. The other two flights to New Orleans are cancelled, and now my gate lounge was absolutely packed with everyone wanting to get to New Orleans, and waiting for standby tickets (the list for standby was 100+ by that time).
Moving from lounge to lounge and lining up in multiple lines together can make friends, and by the time we were waiting in the lounge of the final New Orleans flight, I had met up with fellow Aussie conference go-ers Margaret and Marion, Marion’s friend Deb, and an American man named Mark, who was already 1 day late for work after being held up in San Francisco for most of the day.
The flight was pushed back half an hour, than another 10 minutes, then another, and then finally – you guessed it – cancelled. The harried attendants did all they could, but the bottom line was that everything was booked until Friday. We could fly standby, but nothing could be guaranteed.
What’s a stranded RT Conference go-er to do? Why, become a plucky, intrepid RT Conference go-er, of course!
Our merry little band of five decided not to take our chances. There were three people in our group with experience driving on the right-hand side of the road, and that was enough to swap shifts with. We rented a car, and began the long drive from Dallas to New Orleans.
We got ourselves a mini-van, some water, not our luggage (more on that later), and headed off.
The drive normally takes about 7 hours, but with the thunderstorms in the area, we had to go very slowly. We left Dallas around 10pm, and headed out. It was bucketing down, and lightening would light up the whole sky about every 15 minutes or so. Eighteen-wheelers didn’t worry so much about the greasy roads and would speed by at 75 mph. Most of us had been travelling already for 20+ hours on very little sleep. In short, the situation was fraught.
We passed the time swapping stories and teaching Mark Aussie-isms, and trying out all the new and interesting junk food we picked up at petrol (oops sorry – gas) stations along the way.
I’m pleased to say that somewhere before Baton Rouge, the storm finally broke, and we drove into New Orleans in the dawning light just after 6am.
Our luggage wouldn’t arrive until midnight that night. That’s a long time to be without fresh underwear.
But we all arrived safely, we made new friends, and we have a story to tell when people ask how our trip was.
Next up: RT preview day, and a bit from New Orleans!