I am finally in Melbourne

Melbourne CBD
Finally the traveling is over, I am in Melbourne at long last.  I was starting to doubt if this day would ever come.  So its 1:50 in the AM and I am wide awake.  Its my fault, I did exactly what I should not have done.  I took a nap, my alarm never woke me up so I slept until 1:30am, almost 10 hours straight.  Now my sleep schedule is way messed up.  Crap.

Lets recap my airport adventures.  If you know me at all you know that there was never a dull moment.  To kick things off, as we were walking into the Moline airport we saw a bear.  A real bear.  Just sitting in front of us. No joke.  Okay, well, he was in a kennel and behind the ticketing counter.  He was just a cub.  The entire staff behind the counter was all excited about having this little cub in their care.  No idea where the little guy was headed but he was stinkin' cute.  And guess what, he was on MY flight.  Yup, I can officially say that there was a bear on my plane.  The best part was the bear was sitting there nicely in his kennel next to a dog.  In my head I was contemplating the odds of the bear getting loose, what if he ate the little dog?  Good thing I didn't bring Cleo, she would have started hissing throwing the bear into instinctual fight mode.  The next thing I would know he would be out of his cage and eating my cat.  Highly unlikely but with my luck that is exactly what would have gone down.  

As I start checking in, sweat started to bead down my forehead wondering how much my bags weigh and contemplating what items I could live without if I needed to lessen the load.  Kelsey and I had already spent hours moving items between bags, chucking out things I thought I could live without, finding the garage door opener in my coat pocket, etc. I knew that one of the bags would be at least 0.01 lbs over the limit.  I already had to omit several items that I wanted to bring, I dreaded having to go without anything else.  I could feel my pulse increase as the woman grabbed my two bags. I finish checking in on the Kiosk as she fiddled with my bags.   I noticed the lady stick the destination stickers on my handles and she said: “Off you go.  Take these to the second x-ray machine .”  Wait, surely the bags could not have been under weight, I didn’t even see her put them on the scale.  “Did you already weight them?” I asked in shock.  “Ya, I gave them a quick lift test.” She replied.  I looked at Kelsey in shock.  Are you effing kidding me?  After the several hours of hard work and bits of anxiety  it took to get the right items in the right bags so that they were the perfect weight, she freaking gives them the lift test.  I almost demanded she put them on the effing scale just so our packing skills could be recognized publicly.  But no, that was the end.  On to the x-ray machine without a morsel satisfaction. 

Had I know I was going to face such “strict” weight guidelines, I could have brought that 8th sweater that I had to take out because it was the bulkiest.  So when I am sitting in the dead of winter freezing my ass off, I am going to think of that stupid woman and know that I COULD have brought that warm cozy sweater, if all I was going to get was a lift test.  My entourage and I meandered over to the check point.  We said our goodbyes, surprisingly without as many tears and sobs as I had anticipated.  I was sad but didn’t want to sob in front of a bunch of strangers.  I knew that if one of us started to sob, the rest would follow.  So I held it back the best I could.  We hugged several times and I was off.  I held my breath, as usual, going through the metal detector.  I don’t know why I do that.  I just want to avoid the embarrassment of having to be wanded down after failing the test and then being patted down.  I’ve seen it happen on TV, it seems like it would be embarrassing.  I made it past the metal detector and start to gather my things when a lady in a blue uniform taps me on the shoulder.  “Can you come this way please?”  She asked.  What the……  I followed her over to a mat with two yellow foot prints and was instructed to stand there to be patted down.  The lady said that I was lucky and that I won the security lottery, they do so many random pat downs a day.  Nice.  As my faced turned bright red and the lady searched for weapons under my clothes I thought to myself: “If I can win the pat down lottery, why is it that I can’t win the 200,000 jackpot, if I am so lucky?”

After a short 45 minute jaunt I touched down in Minneapolis.  I head over to Chili’s and have some lunch.  I think this is the first time I have eaten in a sit down restaurant by myself.   I suppose it doesn’t really count since it was at an airport.  After a short few hours I boarded my second plane of the day.  To my luck, the flight was COMPLETELY full.  Now, if you have ever seen the size of my backside you would understand how this might be slightly uncomfortable.  I walked down the aisle and chucked my horribly heavy bag in an overhead bin almost losing my balance.  I took a survey of who I would be squished next to for the next 3+ hours.  I looke at my ticket and look at my seat.  Of course, my worst nightmare…a middle seat.  In my head I quickly tried to think of how to squish my wide load into a seat surrounded by two men.  I excused myself past the first guy, held my breath, and squeezed my ass into that chair.  After a few minutes, I could no longer feel my hips and there was a strange tingling going down my right leg. As the flight took off I slowly started to drift into sleep.  I awoke an hour later to feel the my legs hitting the legs of both of the guys next to me.  Could it be, did I expand in my sleep and am now spilling over the sides of my chair?  I look down to survey the potential damage.  Surprisingly as it turns out, it was not MY legs crossing the boarders on to their sides but their legs overtaking my space.  I wanted to yell at them “Can’t you see that I clearly need all the space I can get.  I don’t care what hangs between your legs, you don’t need to sit with your legs that far apart.”   Seriously, why do guys think they have the right to spread their legs out as far as they can go while I am expected to sit with my legs squeezed tightly together?  As landed I could definitely feel the burn in my thighs from having to focus on keeping my legs together so hard.  I have come to the conclusion that I refuse to sit like a lady any longer.  I will sit with my legs as far apart as I want from now on. 

I dreaded having to collect my baggage as this would be the first time I would have to lug both suitcases and both carry-ons around at the same time.  Amazingly my bags were the first to drop down on the carousel.  Surely this had to be a good sign.  I got all of my crap situated and pulled them over to the cart holders.  I was just searching for my coins when I noticed there were no freaking carts left on the rack.  F!  There is no way I could lug this massive amount of stuff around myself. I eyed the rest of the area for another cart rack but there wasn’t one. SO,  I drug my carry-on’s behind me with my left arm and pushed my two suitcase in front of me.  It was not as coordinated as it may seem.  I tripped over the suitcases in front of me frequently and my computer bag shifted just as often causing my wheeled carry-on to flip over on its side causing me to drag it along without being on its wheels.  Every few feet I would have to readjust all of my bags.  I am clumsy enough without lugging this crap around.  All I have to say is, thank God for whoever invented the spinner wheels on my bags.

 I was glad to have to walk around the outside of the buildings to find my terminal.  The fresh air was nice.  However, I feared that the cracks on the sidewalks would be more troublesome for my already unsteady cargo.  Luckily, I spotted a cart just sitting in the middle of nowhere completely unguarded.  I looked around to see if maybe it belonged to someone, but there was no one around.  So I quickly threw my stuff on top of it hoping that no one would come running after me accusing me of stealing their cart.  So I took off with vigor as to avoid a potential Jerry Springer scene over a stolen cart. With ease I was able to stroll over to my terminal, three buildings away.  I didn’t even mind the walk, after all, I had this really nice cart.  I checked-in and said good-bye to my 100lbs of luggage. 

As I made my way to the next check point I held my breath hoping that my "lucky streak" with security was over.  There were way more people around to witness any sort of pat down.  I passed through the metal detectors without a problem and just waited for the tap on my shoulder.  Nothing.  Thank the Lord.  As I collected my things from the conveyer belt I noticed two little glass walled cubicles.  One of them had a lady with an officer going through her entire carry-on.  She was even luckier than I was.  I hoped that she had won the security lottery and not tried to smuggle a bomb on board. Then I thought about the pair of under ware that I changed out of just before I left Minneapolis because sneezed and made a little mess.  They were just sitting there in my carry-on wrapped in a paper towel.  Then I thought, why did they make the cubical walls out of glass? How rude.  I couldn’t image my slightly damp size 50 undies being held up for all to see. 

Moving on.  I found the closest bar to my gate and proceed to have on last REAL Margarita.  I can’t believe I will have to go without good Mexican food and Real Margaritas.  I was in a seafood restaurant and the only thing resembling Mexican food was the fish tacos.  Eh…who puts fish in a taco?  Oh well, I guess I will try anything once.  So against my better judgment I ordered fish tacos.  To my surprise they were quite tasty.  Maybe they were only tasty because I swigged my Margarita down in a couple of gulps.  I was thirsty.  Maybe I should have tried chugging the glass of water first then tried drinking my beautiful Golden Marg on the rocks.  A little tipsy, I went to wait at my gate. 

Shortly later I boarded the plane with all 600 people.  (I doubt there were that many but there were a lot.) This time I made sure to secure an aisle seat.  There was no way I was going to squeeze between two leg hogging room men again, not for 15 hours.  I got to my set.  Ah,  an aisle seat and the bathroom was right behind me.  PERFECT.  I they tried to put my bag in the overhead bin.  Tried being the key word.  After trying to cram it in to a little bin and holding up traffic for about 5 minutes I decide to try the bin next to it, a larger one.  Ah ha, empty.  So raised the heavy bag above my head and started to notice that was dangerously leaning to the right…no, I wasn’t leaning, I was falling.  I was falling with a ridiculously heavy bag above my head, heavy enough to break my face if it landed just right.  Well shit.  As I stared at the ground that I was soon to be laying on I fell the bag lift from my hands.  Thank the Lord.  The hand dandy steward was lifting my bag up and I was able to catch my balance.  I look up, sure as shit he was quite attractive.  Nice.  If there is anything I know how to do well, it is to make a fool of myself in front of a good looking guy.  Then he spoke.  Yup…gay.  Even Kelsey would think so.  Just my luck, the first attractive Aussie guy I meet is gay.  More power to him but it sure doesn’t help me out any.  After my near death experience I settle into my set.  Yes, next to a woman.  No leg room hogging to be had.  I squeeze my rear into the seat, a more comfortable fit than before.  This time it took 45 minutes before my hips were numb and my legs started to tingle.  After 15 LONG hours the flight was over.  I couldn’t feel my hips and there were indents that looked like craters.  On my list of top 10 goals while in Australia, lessen the width of my hips.     

Melbourne.  Ahhhhh.  Here at last.  I was happy that I had been here twice before, I knew what to do and where to go.  I got my luggage and a cart (kudos to the Tullamarine airport, not only are there plenty of carts, they are all free!!!) and made my way through customs.  The process was speedier than I had anticipated.  I was banking on this taking a while since I had several hours to kill before I could get into my hotel room.  I got onto the airport shuttle and made my way to the CBD.  There was a nice guy at the train station who put me on another shuttle to my airport. I wish he would have been the driver. 

No such luck. I rode around dropping other people off.  I was last, which, was a blessing considering what happened next.  The shuttle guy stopped at the corner and said:  “Well, your hotel is just down the street that way.”   He pointed just over across the street and down the block.  Really?   This jerk helped me onto the shuttle with my heavy and numerous pieces of luggage/  Knowing full well how heavy and numerous my luggage was, he was going to drop me off at the corner?  He dropped everyone else off at the door and they only had carry-ons.  Another lottery I have won, I thought?  Dreading lugging my bags clumsily across the street in the inner city crowd and traffic had my pulse racing and the sweat, once again, pouring from my forehead.  Crap.  Of course the guy just sat there waiting for me to get off.  So I grab my heaviest bag and try to walk down the two steps to the curb.  Mind you, I had not slept longer than 1 hour in sequence for the past 24+ hours and both of my legs were still slightly numb from the hip squash.  What happened next could only be expected.  I fell down the stairs onto the side walk.  Luckily the big bag cushioned my fall.  Seeing my likeness of gravity, the shuttle driver got out of the vehicle and helped me with the last and lighter bags.  He reminded of a certain kind of bag….but I won’t say it but it starts with a D. 

Like I said earlier, luckily there was no one else on the shuttle.  Only the several pedestrians walking by witnessed the event.  I pulled myself together and went to the corner to cross the street.  While waiting for the cross walk light to signal my safe passage I noticed I would have to cross fours sets of tram tracks.  Oh dear.  I may have soiled myself right there.  I knew this was going to go down badly.  Before I had a chance to formulate a plan the cross light started buzzing signaling me to cross the treacherous road.  Luckily it was 7am and there were tons of people trying to get to work.  So me and half of a small town made our ways across the road.  I approached the first track and BAM.  ALL of my bags toppled over.  The crowd brushed by me as I tried to set my bags back up on their wheels.  The light started to blink orange, meaning get the hell out of the intersection.  Panic set in.  I scanned the cars stopped in front of me and moved quickly on over the next set of tracks.  BAM, down again (just the bags, not me luckily.)  In a moment of sheer panic I decided to just drag them on their sides all the way across the remaining tracks.  Like an idiot I dragged my 100+ pounds of luggage across the road.  I did manage to get safely to the side of the road before the light turned green.  I dusted my bags off, set them upright and carried on down the street pretending that no one saw it.  Finally my hotel was before me.  As I approached the front door I saw a different shuttle bus pull up right in front of the hotel to drop off more travelers.  NICE.  I tried to look at the bright side.  At least I am still alive. 

After a short wait of a couple of hours the hotel very nicely got a room cleaned for me two hours before check in.  I went directly to my room, kicked my bags of death across the room, stripped off my clothes and got into the shower.  After a day of traveling and several sweat inducing panic attacks, I was relieved to rinse off my stink.  Finally the traveling was over.  I was safe in my hotel room. 

The room was really nice.  I was glad I didn’t have to worry about stained sheets and towels like I did in Albert Lea several months earlier.  I made a few calls home then jumped in bed for a nap.  I set the alarm for 5pm, I would get up and get some dinner since I didn’t eat anything since I was on the plane.  I was much more tired than hungry at that point so I opted for bed.  I dozed off in my nice clean and comfy bed.  My eyes opened to find it dark outside, groggy confusion swept over me.  I looked at the clock, it read 1:20AM.  The alarm never went off.  Crap, no dinner for me.  I laid there starving until I remembered I packed a bunch of life savers that I bought from Walgreens.  Dad had this $1o off coupon so I had to grab enough stuff to equal $10 dollars, at the time I found it funny that I just grabbed a bunch of candy so I didn’t have pay for the Gatorade that I was trying to buy. Now if find it invaluable.  So I ate my free Life Savers.  Then I found some trail mix Joni had given me in her going away gift.  I am glad I have such nice friends.  After my dinner and racapping my day, I decided there was nothing better to do than to go back to sleep. 

Map of My Hotel.  The Atlantis.