...and other misconceptions I made 06-09-27
2006 Sep 27

Archive for the 'life' Category

February 2nd 2011
Made it home safely

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To add to the overall fun of the return trip our flight from Sydney to Vancouver was an hour late which made for an interesting connection. On international transfers to the US in Vancouver you have to go through security and then go straight to US immigration – you never legally enter Canada. And in this process you have to identify a picture of your checked bag. We had 40 minutes to make our flight and waited almost 20 minutes for the picture of our bags to show up. From there through the actual US customs and immigration and then at full sprint to our gate (which was of course the one furthest away). As we get there the door was closed and the agent said “I am so sorry, but we just closed your flight. We didn’t think you’d make it”. To which I very politely responded “No, we are not going to spend 4 hours here waiting for the next flight, we did make it in time!” (it was seven minutes before the scheduled departure time). She called the people outside at the plane, confirmed that they hadn’t quite managed to actually physically close the door, and allowed us through. And yes, I was really polite. Firm and clear in my intentions, but polite. It never pays to be mean or nasty to the only person who can help you.

Anyway, that was a connection that was a little closer than I like them.

Unsurprisingly our bags didn’t make it – we expect them to be delivered at some point later today…

But regardless. I am so happy to be home. The pictures and news from Cairns are very scary. The only good news is that so far no casualties are being reported. But the devastation is rather massive.

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February 1st 2011
Another quick update

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We did indeed make it out yesterday. By now all airports in the area are closed, trains and buses are shut down. Current expectations are landfall later today with up to 320km/h (200mph) winds and 700-1000mm (28-40″) of rainfall. A category 5 storm, likely the largest to ever hit land.

Absolutely unimaginable. My heart goes out to the people who stayed there. Several people of our scuba group didn’t have flights out until later this afternoon and my guess is they are stuck there…

All we have left to do is a 14+ hour flight from Sydney to Vancouver and then a quick hop to Portland. And then I finally get to be with my family again. It’s been a long and eventful trip.

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January 31st 2011
Changing travel plans

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Tropical Cyclone Anthony was causing bad weather and a couple of not-so-pretty days during our boat trip. But that was a tiny little storm. At least that’s the assessment now, given that Tropical Cyclone Yasi is approaching. Right now a category 3 storm, about 300 miles in diameter and about 600 miles away from Cairns. It is expected to make landfall tomorrow as category 4 storm with winds of about 175 miles / 280 km/h – right here in Cairns.

Comments range from “Monster Storm” to “Catastrophe of Epic Proportions” – this storm is bigger and stronger than Katrina was. Coming right at us.

We were booked on a flight tomorrow morning, a few hours before the first stronger winds are supposed to arrive. And as much as I love to trust in science and forecast models, that was a little too close for comfort. So we decided to run away instead and are leaving this afternoon and are spending a night near the Sydney airport instead.

That seemed like a much safer choice.

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January 28th 2011

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You may be excused if you don’t know where Cairns is – unless, of course, you are a scuba diver.

directions and distances Cairns is on the Northern end of Australia’s East Coast in the state of Queensland (just like Brisbane – only further North, i.e., closer to the Equator).

As this very useful sign shows it’s about 15Mm (or 15000km) to London from here, 2000km to Sydney, and the Great Barrier Reef is right there in front of us. And that’s why we are here. My diving buddy L and I left Brisbane and came here to add some more fun to this work trip.

drive throughWhile Brisbane is the business center of Queensland, Cairns clearly is the party center. We saw a disturbing number of alcoholics around town, and maybe even more disturbingly this drive-through liquor store. That’s a first for me.

By avoiding the board walk and looking for a smaller, less flashy restaurant we ended up in a wonderful little Greek place with truly authentic (and delicious) food. Not exactly what I expected in Cairns, but very welcome.

Tomorrow morning we’ll start a three day liveaboard to the Great Barrier Reef. Lots of scuba diving and not much else. Should be fun. Allegedly the boat has internet connection – so there may be updates from the dive trip. But I’ll put this in the “I’ll believe it when it actually works” category.

For now I’ll leave you with a picture that shows a view of the harbor peninsula from the Boardwalk.

harbor view

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