Travel journal March 11, 2011 USA to Japan
Travel Journal Date: March 11, 2011
We’d departed Detroit about 6 hours earlier, which was still two hours late. After dinner and watching the flight path cross over Alaska on my personal viewer, I remember shutting my eyes for the long flight ahead. Jared was already asleep at my side. At age 15, he’d done a full day of school before rushing to the airport to catch the flight to Detroit. We were afraid we’d missed our connection there because we got in late, but we were lucky, as usual, and our next flight had it’s own delay. Exhausted, we were both in a deep sleep when the lights were all brightened and announcements, in Japanese were coming fast and furious.
It seemed like a lifetime until they told us in English that our flight was currently somewhere around the China Sea but we were turning back to the states. A major earthquake and tsunami had hit Northern Japan and the entire Far East was on alert for more disasters. A decision was made that all US departures, if they had enough fuel, would return to the states.
Unable to sleep, it seemed like a lifetime until we arrived back in Detroit at 9 the next morning. All passengers were asked to stay in the gate area for further details. Eventually though, we all started drifting off to the CNN store and other locations with TVs. The devastation was just heart breaking; most of our flight had been filled with Japanese businessmen who had family in unknown places there. Eventually, we told the gate agent to take us off the list, we wouldn’t be going to Japan anyway.
We decided to head back to New Hampshire to regroup. Upset, tired and disappointed, I thought a 17 day vacation had just been too good to be true. We’d never traveled for that long before. Jared said we just couldn’t go home, when would we ever have the chance to take a long vacation again.
“Where do you want to go then Jared”. “We’ve never been to Australia”. In a moment of insanity, I said OK. The next day, we arrived in Sydney. From the airport we arranged for a rental car online. From home, Eric, my husband, did a quick search and found a timeshare for us, but it wasn’t available for a week. We were on our own.
After landing in Australia, which looks like it’s the size of Bermuda on a Western Hemisphere map, got our rental car and left the airport. We looked for a store, any store, to get a GPS; the first we found was a Target, but this one was on steroids compared to what we’d seen at home.
GPS in hand, we typed in “tourist attractions” and found ourselves driving north to the Blue Mountains. When we got hungry, we stopped at restaurants. When we got tired we found a hotel. Each time we stopped, we talked to people about what we should see, where we should go. We became obsessed with the news and watching the devastation in Japan, knowing that we had narrowly escaped being on the ground there when disaster struck. The local Australians were so friendly and helpful I felt like we could just drive around and meet all of them.
It quickly became apparent that we weren’t on some little island when we figured out how to work our GPS. That’s when the fun began.