Going Out of Business Sale

Trip Report 2022 Return To Coober Pedy-Trip 15

May 17 2022Leaving On a Jet Plane-On My Way to Oz

At 4:30 AM the unrelenting iPhone alarm went off.  To be safe, I checked email when turning the alarm off and found an email from the Australian Dept of Home Affairs about my DPD (Digital Passenger Declaration), that I had patiently completed, was not acceptable and unless I corrected some mistakes, I would not be allowed to board Qantas QF12 to Sydney.  So…I quickly showered, ran to the computer and tried again.  I had completed and submitted this form on 2 previous occasions, but third time was the charm.   I think this is the Australian governments method of weeding out mentally challenged tourists from entering their country…I almost didn’t make it…maybe I’m only slightly challenged.

I’ve just read that Australia has removed the DPD requirement as of July 6 2022.  The Stray Nomad Travel News has said: “Australian authorities have finally acknowledged travelers’ frustration with the DPD, which has only elicited negative comments and reviews since its introduction.”  I agree with that decision!

Made it to the airport with very little time to spare before my United 737-800 boarded for my flight to Denver.  It was pretty choppy on takeoff, but once we reached altitude it settled down to a very smooth flight.  Into Denver International Airport on time and I had 7 hours to while away before my next flight to LAX departed at 3:59 PM…as we used to say in the 60s…bummer dude.

Oh-my…received an email warning from United Airlines of later afternoon thunderstorms in Denver and the possibility of our flight being delayed.  My flight is supposed to arrive LAX at 6:55pm, but the flight to Sydney doesn’t depart until 10:55pm.  The huge Airbus A380 will probably board an hour earlier as it will take a while to seat everyone.  So, there is a bit of cushion.  But I have to pick up my bag from United and recheck it with Qantas for the 15-hour flight.  This could turn into an adventure.

Adventure averted, but the flight out of Denver was CRAZY rough!  I’ve been on rough flights before but don’t remember anything like this.  I could almost picture oxygen masks dropping, people screaming and carry-on bags falling into the isles.  OK…I have a vivid imagination…but it was rough.  As I write this portion, I am sitting in the Tom Bradley International Terminal patiently waiting for the jumbo A380 to board an hour or so before departure.  Our plane showed up early and we boarded the flight precisely on time.  Fortunately, I had a window seat with no one beside me.  The seating configuration is xx-xxx-xs (my window seat is the s).  There were a few empty seats in premium economy, and I was one of the lucky ones.  I stayed awake for the initial supper meal…about 90 minutes after takeoff…and selected the Irish lamb stew…very, very tasty…wish I could get the recipe.  I’ve flown Qantas many times and have always enjoyed the food and coffee.

Another plus this trip…the seats in Premium Economy had been upgraded to new and more plush seats with a larger display for watching the many movies available.  I read that Qantas was doing this upgrade while the big planes were in storage in the desert during 2020-2021 when Australia closed their borders due to covid and wasn’t flying trans-pacific.  The Qantas A380 seats 485 passengers on the trans-pacific run from LAX to SYD QF11 and the return from SYD to LAX QF12.  Many of the A380’s have already been retired and are being replaced with smaller Boeing 777s and Boeing 787’s.  But I much prefer the the big 4 engine A380 with it’s extra roomy interior and the extra engines for peace of mind.

I was disappointed that passengers were no longer able to watch the position of the flight, in relation to the earth as the trip unfolds.  Or maybe I just wasn’t able to find this selection on the new entertainment system menu.  The plane was very cold, perhaps because I was on the second deck and in the rear of the plane, and I was thankful for the heavier blanket that was provided.  It seemed like I was able to get about 5-6 hours of sleep in the new more comfortable seats.   In the remaining 9 hours I watched movies, took a few walks about the cabin, raided the rear snack bar and read.  15 hours can seem like an eternity on any plane…even a big one.  There were several breakfast selections available, and I ordered a tasty egg and sausage meal with grilled tomato, a small muffin and yogurt which was served about 2 hours before the plane landed.  As soon as breakfast was over, I quickly made it to one of the rear toilets to perform my morning ablutions.  I’ve found the toilet rush on the jumbo A380 begins about 1 hour before landing…so it’s best to begin walking that direction early.  I would give the breakfast meal 5 stars!


May 19 2022Sydney, Adelaide and Port Pirie

Lost May 18 crossing the International Dateline mid-Pacific.

After we arrived in Sydney our plane was held up by health inspectors for nearly an hour which prevented us from deplaning…no details were given…I’d guess they were after a bovine with mad cow disease.  Thankfully, we were able to get out of our seats and use the toilets.  I had a 4-hour layover in Sydney before my flight to Adelaide departed, so I was glad of this extra time cushion.  Customs was a breeze this year probably because of the DPD I complained about earlier on 5/17.  My apologies to the Australian Dept of Home Affairs.  The real hang-up at the Sydney Airport International Terminal was trying to recheck my bags…the line was huge…and catching the bus from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal…It was quite a distance between the 2 terminals…or so it seemed.

With my bag checked and waiting at the gate…my last flight to Adelaide was delayed about an hour.  I was getting concerned as I needed to pick up my rental vehicle and get opal buying cash at the Adelaide Westpac Bank branch at Mile End, before it closed at 4 PM.  I had a 650-kilometer drive to Coober Pedy the next day and the bank will already be closed for the weekend.  The Coober Pedy Westpac Branch is only open from 10am to 2:00pm Monday-Friday.  I had hoped to find opals to buy on Saturday and Sunday and might need a lot of cash.

Picked up my rental at the Adelaide Airport…very new Hyundai Kona…only 1200km on the odometer and made it to the Mile End bank 15 minutes before closing…whew.  Even though I called the branch office requesting the funds a couple days before leaving the USA, I had to spend another 45 minutes at the bank before the teller could get approval from the regional manager to release my cash.  This used to be so simple…as long as I called ahead, had my passport and Montana driver’s license there would never be a problem.

The drive from Adelaide to Port Pirie, where I had made a motel reservation, was mostly in the dark.  And there was a massive construction project along the highway from Port Wakefield north.  This was a very unpleasant drive along the poorly lit and marked road (and driving on the left side of the road).  On my way north, I picked up some take-out seafood, chips and a salad at Port Wakefield Chicken and Seafood Take-Away for a quick supper.  Finally, I arrived at Port Pirie and spent the night at the John Pirie Motor Inn, which is my usual first night in Oz place and it never disappoints.  Thoroughly exhausted from the drive, I think I was asleep almost instantaneously.

May 20 2022Arrived Late in Coober Pedy

Had a huge, delicious breakfast (fried eggs on toast, rashers of bacon, grilled tomato and 2 big sausages with 2 long black coffees) at Harry’s Homemade Fine Foods…just a couple miles north of Port Pirie.   Drove to the Telstra store next to Kmart for a new SIM card and a Telstra 1500-minute package for my tiny old Aussie mobile phone that I bought in 2007…wait what?  Yes…2007.  And it still works…but just for audio calls and texting…no internet.  And only in Australia.  I need an Australian phone as I post opals wanted signs in the grocery and hardware stores in Coober Pedy with my phone number…don’t want the miners to have to call my USA number to get in touch with me.

Got a late start heading north on A1 (Princess Hwy).  At Port Augusta the Princes Hwy ends, but A1 continues and eventually turns into just  Highway “1” when entering Western Australia.  If I turned west and continued along A1 to Highway 1, which loosely follows the Southern Ocean, 2,383km later I would be in Perth.  While the Stuart Hwy begins its journey to Coober Pedy and then all the way to Darwin on the Timor Sea.  Darwin is locally known as the “top End” of Australia.  But I was only going 650km north to Coober Pedy on A87…a road I’ve travelled may times before.    Made a few stops along the uneventful trip to stretch my legs, back and take a toilet break.  There are only 2 fuel stops along this trip so it’s imperative to fuel up at both Glendambo and Pimba.  Though the drive to Coober Pedy is long and lonely with mostly truck traffic…I did see 5 emus right along the edge of the road.  Thank goodness they weren’t on the road.  I didn’t see any ‘roos this trip and very few kangaroo road kills.  I didn’t miss seeing ‘roos this year…the last hour of the drive to Coober was after dark, when the ‘roos are usually out and about and a real danger to vehicles.

Checked into the well-kept Mud Hut Motel where I’ve stayed on many trips.  I know the name sounds bleak, but it’s a very quiet comfortable location and my go-to place to stay in CP.  The owners are friendly and enjoy visiting with Americans…especially if they will be staying for a week.  Too late to contact any miners tonight, so I had take-away salt and pepper Calamari, chips (french fries in Oz) and a salad in my room from the Outback Bar and Grill in CP.  After supper went for a walk around town.  My last visit to CP was in September 2018 and there have been some changes…Coober Pedy looks a bit more weathered and unkempt…scars from the good old days of the opal mining boom when gem opal was plentiful.  Worked a bit on the trip report until it was late enough to call home…didn’t want to wake Darlene at 4am.

May 21 2022First day in Search of Opals…

Rose very early (bit of jet lag) and made it to breakfast at the motel as soon as the doors opened…had eggs on toast with rashers of bacon and a grilled tomato.  Back to my room and started a load of washing at the motel machines while I talked to a miner who was working at Donna’s Rush opalfield.  But he had very little opal.  So…the search for opals begins in earnest with phone calls and signs at the grocery and hardware store bulletin boards.  Cold morning here…windy and on and off sprinkles.  Put on a light rain parka and braved the weather and did a 45-minute walk around town.

Stopped in and had a short visit with John Dunston.  John mines opal during the day and in the evening takes over from his wife Yoka after 4pm…he was busy with a customer but invited me back for a cuppa after 4pm to catch up on the latest opal news and CP happenings.  John and his wife Yoka own and operate John & Yoka’s Art and Opal shop on Hutchison Street in CP.  And John, as well as being a great person, may be one of the most knowledgeable people I know in the opal mining industry.  He grew up in Andamooka on the seat of a bulldozer and still prefers that seat to an easy chair.  If someone has had a good run mining opal, John mostly knows and will let me know if there may be an opal parcel for sale…kind of a clearing house for the opal miners.  And John has become something of a local celebrity after appearing in several early episodes of Outback Opal Hunter with Justin Lang.

Talked to another miner before lunch and was told he had some very gemmy material…hope the price is right…5pm meeting to see the opal.  Saw 2 parcels of just magnificent opal…just the type of opal I was hoping to find.  Both parcels were on the expensive side but worth every penny…about 10 ounces of top gem opal that made my knees a little wonky.  I didn’t have enough money on hand, but he will hold this parcel until I can withdraw funds out of my bank account on Monday…and some extra for future purchases.  I can go to bed tonight a happy opal buyer.  I hope to see Ivan tomorrow…he usually has a parcel or 2 for sale.  I’ve bought a lot of opal from Ivan over the years…and his prices usually are within reason.  A good day in the search for opals to buy.  I hope this run continues.

May 22 2022Opal…Opal…Where’s the Opal

Woke at 3:30…jet lag strikes.  Had brekkie at the motel…2 eggs over easy on toast with sausage.  Big sausage…bigger than our bratwurst.  Drove down to Ivan’s home on the edge of Hutchison St. but nobody home…I hope he’s OK.  He’s an older miner (even older than me) but still actively mining opal…I think…it’s been 4 years since I’ve seen him.  Went to the hardware store and found lots of bubble wrap…very necessary when shipping opals.  Stopped at the grocery store and purchased another coffee press after breaking the last one I bought in Port Pirie.  I love coffee and prefer a press or plunger at home.

Stopped by the grocery store and picked up milk, bananas, apples and breakfast cereal: Just Right by Kellogs.  I wish you could find this in the USA.  My favorite all time cereal.

Tried to access my Westpac internet banking but was locked out.  Hope this is just a temporary snafu that can be rectified at the bank in person on Monday or this will not be a very productive buying trip.

Got a call from an opal miner named Mark and he has a couple parcels for sale…he saw my ad on the bulletin board at the grocery store…will see him after lunch tomorrow.  Watched a movie and read a bit more in my book by David Baldacci: “Daylight”.  Not a bad book but sorely lacking in verisimilitude.

Coober Pedy has a well-lit walking trail to the south of town and went for a long walk about 7:00pm…the sky was just alive with stars…saw the southern cross.   Once you see the Southern Cross you know for sure you’re in Australia.  Had a late supper to avoid the crowds and covid…gyro and salad at John’s Pizza Bar and Restaurant.  Very good food! Very cool evening…had to have the space heater on in my room.

Bedtime and time to read the next chapter in the David Baldacci book Daylight.

May 23 2022A Couple Small Parcels From Donna’s Rush…

Jet lag has been waking me up at about 3:30am most mornings and today was no exception…nevertheless I haven’t been feeling tired during the day…guess there’s been enough to keep me busy.  Had brekkie in my room at the motel.  Very unseasonable cool weather in CP and the space heater provided in the room doesn’t keep it quite warm enough.

Had an issue with my Westpac internet banking so I spent at least an hour on hold…first with a phone number I got from the internet and then when I talked with someone in person was transferred to another agent and spent more time on hold.  I never did find out why my account was blocked.

Looked at a couple parcels in my room…a small ones from Gary Miles from an unnamed opalfield near Donnas Rush.  Slow opal day so decided to wash clothes at the washing machines provided at the motel.  Organized and cleaned my room.  Had lunch at John’s pizza (a great lamb yuro) and take-away salt and pepper calamari supper from the Outback Bar and Grill.  On the walk back from the restaurant to the motel I saw a large gum tree with what must have been about 50 white cockatoos making quite a ruckus…they are beautiful birds although very noisy.  Went for another star viewing night walk on the CP trail.  To bed early…hope the jet lag ends soon.

May 24 2022Saw Some Beautiful Opal Today, But…..

Whiled away some time at the Mud Hut Motel this morning as it was a cold rainy day.  Then at 10:00am, when the local Westpac bank opened, I attempted to withdraw funds from my account.  Evidently when a customer makes a large withdrawal from their saving account the fraud prevention people get involved thinking it may be a scam.  So…I again spent about 2 hours waiting at the bank while the teller was on hold with the fraud people.  I finally got my funds and left the bank well after lunch time.  The 2 tellers on duty were very nice and provided coffee and a couple cookies while I waited, which truly was the silver lining.

The restaurant was deserted when I left the bank…time for a late lunch.  So, I was able to eat my food on the premises, instead of getting take-away and not having to worry about catching covid in a crowded restaurant.  There’s been a big spike of covid in Coober Pedy and if I should catch the virus and test positive within a day of my flight departing, I will not be able to board my international Qantas flight to the USA.  I am getting very homesick…opal has been very hard to find this year and even though I have been able to find good parcels the overall quality hasn’t been as good as in previous trips.

Looked at a couple parcels today bought one and passed on another.  One that I passed on was 3 different parcels of dark based opal from Dead Horse Gulley.  Large Parcels and the price was large as well.  Some of the opal was very bright multi-color in thick layers…quite lovely.  But the fire layers were wiggly and not straight.  And the shapes of the individual opal nodules were irregular which makes it VERY hard to cut.  Although it would have been good opal for carving.  I was close to buying this parcel, but the price was too dear although I was seriously tempted…maybe if he would’ve come down another 10% I might have bit.  And another parcel this miner had for sale was thinner slabs with very bright fire from the sides, but I wasn’t able to see any of the lovely fire that was visible on the sides…from the top…it was directional and only useful for inlay.  Too bad…I really needed to find opal with brightness and colors like that, but I also need to be able to sell it for more than I paid for it.

May 25 2022Olympic Opalfield Opal

Once the temp warmed up a bit I went for a very long walk around CP.  Down past the Old Timers Mine and then south along Hutchison Street…must have been about an hours walk.  Sunny skies and perfect temperatures…I noticed a lot of tourists were in town today…many small RV’s (caravans in Oz) and trailers on the roads. And very busy restaurants.  Spent the morning and some of the afternoon packing boxes of opal to ship home.  I’m a very careful opal box packer…my motto is you can’t use too much bubble wrap or too much tape.

Met a miner at his place and looked at a 2-grade parcel from Olympic Opalfield.  Had to negotiate a bit on the price, but in the end bought both grades for a fair price.  Might have paid slightly more than I would have liked, but I do love Olympic opal.  In the small tops grade was 1.5 ounces of exceptionally gemmy rubs.  I don’t see rubs much in CP, but this was a very high yield, usable rubs parcel with delightful color.

Then I had a late lunch and stopped by a miner’s house for an extended visit and coffee.  Then back to the room to read and tidy up my abode.

Almost forgot…had a call from a miner’s wife telling me her husband had just called and told her he had just hit a big patch of very gemmy opal at Donna’s Rush Opalfield.  She was wondering how much longer I would be in town as he needed to clean it up and make it presentable.  Cleaning up CP opal involves running it in a big tumbler, without added grit, for a day or 2 to remove the bulldog shale host rock.  Some miners soak the newly mined opal for a week or so to loosen up the soft bulldog shale, before tumbling.  Some miners do a very bad job removing matrix and debris from their opal, but Gary always has immaculate opal…love buying from him!

Hopefully he will get the parcel cleaned before I need to get back to Adelaide.  Getting tired of the fruitless opal search and anxious to be heading south on the road again.

May 26 2022Preparing To Leave Coober Pedy…..

Up at 4:30am again and read a bit before organizing the room for my departure to Port Pirie or Port Augusta tomorrow.  The weather forecast for tomorrow is for 70F and partly cloudy…ideal driving weather.

Washing clothes today so I have a full complement of clean clothes in my suitcase for the rest of my stay in Oz.  Tomorrow’s destination is Port Pirie but might only make it to Port Augusta…just depends on when I finally get on the Stuart Highway heading south.  Took a 1 hour walk around the CP city hiking trails SW of town.  Nice walk through the gum trees…could smell the eucalyptus just walking along the trails.  But as is to be expected in CP…the flies were bad…I’m just thankful they don’t bite…but thy can be a nuisance.  Stopped at the Outback Bar and Grill for a take-away Greek salad lunch…lots of kalamata olives and feta cheese…yummy.  I’m going to miss the great Greek cooking of Coober Pedy.

Started packing for tomorrows drive to Port Pirie tonight and watched Lord Of War…eye opener on international arms dealing.  Waiting for Gary to call me when his opal is cleaned.  This will be my last CP opal and one more box to ship tomorrow before departing…before I make dust for the Southern Ocean.

Had supper at the Outback Bar and Grill…barramundi fish, chips and small salad.  I love barramundi and unfortunately, you can seldom find it here in the USA.

May 27 2022Heading South On The Stuart-Port Pirie Or Bust…..

Left CP at about 8:00am accompanied by cool winds, light fog and very little traffic…well…there’s seldom much auto traffic on the 2 lane, well kept, Stuart Highway until you reach Port Augusta. Port Augusta lies at the northern tip of Stuart Gulf and is home to about 13,000 people.  But there is a fair amount of truck traffic along the whole of the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Adelaide…a 3000km road that bisects the country from north to south. On this trip I saw a few trucks hauling 3 & 4 trailers…locally called “road trains”.  But the road trains have to uncouple outside of larger city limits

Stopped for an Americano coffee (called a Long Black in Australia) at Glendambo, a 250km drive, and had a 15-minute phone call with my lovely wife Darlene…was getting very tired at this point.  Filled the car with petrol and had a little wake-me-up walkabout.  The rest of the trip was uneventful: no kangaroos, wallabies or emus sighted.  But I did see a wedge tailed eagle feasting on road kill along the side of the highway…big black eagles.  Stopped at Harry’s Homemade Foods just north of Port Pirie for a yuro (gyro) take-away and picked up some smoked fish and fruit for tomorrows lunch.  Harry’s has great smoked fish!!!  I even tried a jar of pickled small octopus this year.  The flavor was mild and somewhat fishy, but the texture was a bit too soft for me.

Checked into my favorite motel in Port Pirie: The John Pirie Motor Inn.  Worked on the trip report, ate the huge gyro and an apple for supper and watched some sci-fi videos on YouTube.

Went for a long walk along the esplanade near the center of the city along Port Pirie Creek, a navigable waterway which feeds into Spencer Gulf.  Slept well here…nice beds and very quiet.

May 28 2022Port Pirie Again…

Up early, showered, picked up the room and drove to Harrys Homemade Fine Foods along the Highway just north of PP.  Harry’s has been around for a long time and is a must stop on my way to or from Coober Pedy.  There’s great fresh fruit, their own home-pressed olive oil, wonderful smoked fish and a small restaurant area where they serve breakfast, pizza, sandwiches and burgers and gyros.  I had the Big Breakfast and it was big…rashers of bacon, 2 eggs on toast, a big sausage link (similar to a brat), fried mushrooms and a grilled tomato…really grilled on 1 side.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen fried potatoes or hashed browns served with breakfast in Australia…might be an American thing.  It truly was a BIG breakfast and very tasty!

Took very narrow 2 lane country paved roads to Auburn to hike a portion of the Riesling trail that I hiked 4 years ago.  At that time, I saw lovely green budgies, bright king parrots, galahs and white cockatoosThe Riesling Trail is an old, abandoned railway line, converted into a 35km hard packed clay and fine gravel mix hiking trail that runs from Clare to Auburn through the lush wine producing areas of the Clare Valley located about 200km north of Adelaide.   When I left Port Pirie it was lovely clear skies with a few cotton ball clouds, but arriving in Auburn it was raining…so much for my hike.  And then when I got back to Port Pirie it was partly cloudy with no rain.  Still, it was a nice drive through South Australia’s wheat and wine country.  I haven’t seen any kangaroos this trip…probably due to all the rain SA has been having.  I was disappointed that I didn’t get my hike along the Riesling Trail…been looking forward to it ever since I booked my trip to Oz last December.  I do love the Australian bird life!

Packed my bag for tomorrows drive to Port Wakefield and went for a long walk along the esplanade in PP in the evening…not quite as good as the Riesling Trail, but I really need exercise with all the driving I will be doing.  And my old aching back needs it as well.

May 29 2022Port Pirie To Adelaide…..

May 29-31 Left Port Pirie about 10:30am after a moderately sized breakfast at Harry’s.  For the first time in daylight, I saw the huge road construction project that caused me soo much angst on the night drive up to Port Pirie.  To replace the 2-lane highway, they were building a completely new 4-lane motorway, east of the old highway, from the ground up.  Very impressive.

I stopped in Port Wakefield to see about getting a room at my usual overnight lodging…the Port Wakefield Caravan Park where I would normally stay in a small cabin with bath.  But with the major road construction project, I was told there weren’t any rooms or cabins for miles around.  So…It looks like I will have to drive into Adelaide and see if I can get a room at the Stamford Grand Glenelg where I’m booked for tomorrow night.  Thought it best to call ASAP, so I called the hotel from Port Wakefield to see about a room and they were able to accommodate me with accommodations.

I programmed my GPS unit for the Adelaide International Airport (driving in Adelaide’s busy traffic can be complicated) to drop off my rental car and catch a taxi to the Stamford Hotel on Jetty Road in Glenelg…which is close to the airport and is my usual “place to stay” for my last night or two in Australia.  The hotel is located next to a small pier (or Jetty) on the beach, but this time of the year and this far south, the water will be frigid and there will be no swimmers.  Jetty Road is known for its shopping, restaurants and is a lovely place to while away a few hours drinking coffee, eating a pastry and reading a good book.  And I had promised my 6-year-old granddaughter McKenzie a book, a toy and a t-shirt from Australia.  And I’d very much like to find the restaurant where 4 years ago, I’d had delicious linguine with seafood marinara sauce that was chock full of calamari, shrimp and mussels.

Actually Glenelg has a lot of history: Glenelg is recognized as the oldest European settlement on mainland South Australia when 8 ships arrived at Kangaroo Island in 1836 and Colonel William Light and George Kingston surveyed the coast and discovered Holdfast Bay where Glenelg is located.  Australia was discovered in 1606 by Dutch explorer William Janszoon, but the first recorded European explorer to Australia was James Cook who had maps showing the north, west and south coasts based on the earlier Dutch exploration.

After dropping off my rental I caught a taxi to the hotel and had a very friendly cab driver from Pakistan who had immigrated to Australia only a few years before. Checked into The Stamford Grand Hotel  just before supper and after a brief search along Jetty Road actually found the same restaurant where I had the linguini with seafood marinara 4 years ago…The Europa at the bay…and it was delicious…just as good as I had remembered…and so was the desert and the service.

It’s quite a relief to drop off the rental car at the airport knowing that’s one big hurdle cleared.  The second hurdle is catching my afternoon flight to Sydney and the third is passing the dreaded pre-departure covid test before being allowed to board Qantas flight QF11 to LAX.  And I will also breathe easier when that same flight touches down in Los Angeles.  Don’t get me wrong…I love flying transpacific on an A380 Jumbo in Premium Economy.  The service is great…seats are very comfortable and check in is quick and mostly simple.  All in all it’s a delightful flying experience.  But it’s great being back in the US and only 2 flights from home.

A cold windy rainy weather pattern has moved into South Australia that’s supposed to last for a couple of days, making it hard to get out of the hotel without getting wet or blown to Antarctica.  I did brave the weather and walked out on the jetty for some fresh air, but was afraid of getting blown off the jetty…really.  So I’m staying in the hotel for the remainder of the day reading, catching up on the trip report and emails.  Had a take-away supper from a nearby Jetty Road Greek restaurant during a brief let up in the storm…I think I even saw a patch of blue sky.  Of course it was a lamb gyro with chips and a Solo Lemonade…have to eat the gyros here while I still can and I really enjoy the Solo carbonated lemonade.  And I’ve never seen Solo lemonade in the USA, so it’s a true treat to have it with my gyro.  Had a bowl of seafood chowder (I’m a big chowder fan) for a lunch at the restaurant in the hotel, which was served with a salad and an ample supply of bread…everything one needs for lunch.  And I’d have to say it was the best seafood chowder I’ve ever had.  It’s just too bad I’d have to go back to Australia for another bowl.

Jun 01 2022Last Days Of The Trip…

Wednesday June 1-After whiling away my remaining 2 days in Glenelg with shopping, dining and walking the esplanade (when the weather permitted), I caught the 1 hour and 45 minute flight QF7389 from Adelaide to Sydney on June 1.  So…time for the dreaded predeparture covid test…will I leave Australia or end up in quarantine?  Fortunately there was a convenient temporary laboratory setup at the Sydney International Terminal for covid testing.  So…after picking up my bag at the Domestic Terminal I caught a taxi to the International Terminal and made my way to the testing tent setup…which was hard to find.  I know you are waiting patiently to hear my test results…I passed!  Looks like all of my dedicated lonely take-away meals paid off.  So then I caught another taxi to my Hotel: the Sydney Airport Novatel where I had stayed during my 2018 trip to Oz.  I had missed lunch and was famished and had a craving for a deluxe hamburger, french fries and a Pepsi.  Unfortunately this wasn’t on hotel restaurant menu…only the room service menu.  So once again, I decided another solo meal in my room wouldn’t kill me…especially if I could have that big juicy hamburger.  It was worth it!

Thursday June 2-QF11 flight to the USA will leave at 10:15am so I decided to catch an early shuttle to the airport and arrive a couple hours early.  Check in for the flight went smooth and I made my way to the gate where I caught up on reading and trip report.  Boarded the flight, found my seat but on this trip, unfortunately, there was another person in the isle seat.  Oh well…can’t have everything…guess I was fortunate to have an empty seat next to me on the way to Oz.  Arrived in the USA at 0700 which was 2 hours and 45 minutes before I left Australia…the international date line time machine.  Got the day back that I lost on the way over to Oz.  This year the usual long wait through customs was unusually quick.  I had long airport layovers on the way back to Billings and I had a hard time staying awake.  One of the keys to avoiding (or at least lessening) jet lag is no napping until your normal bed time.   No travel hiccups this year…all the scheduled flights arrived and departed on time.  Eventually all of my opals made it back home in very good condition.

Thanks for reading!