Day 27 – Fresno – LA – Syd – Melb. Trip totals: 47,350m vertical, 60km skating, 5870 km driving

Packing for trip home was proving a bit of a challenge – when I made a pile of the stuff that I DIDN’T have with me when I left home it made a substantial mound – time to add a LOT of clothing padding to the ski bag. Finally left the motel a bit after 10 and had to visit the local REI – just in case there was anything new to see there.

The plan was to continue down the valley to Bakersfield than try to cut across to the coast from there. Stopped at a big rest area on the freeway with wireless access – cool – and checked that there were no restrictions on the road ahead. By this stage the wind was well and truly up and a lot of dust – and the odd tumbleweed – blowing around, but the rain was still holding off. Was a relief to get off the freeway and headed out through fields of those little oil well pumps that seem to be alive, just slowly nodding up and down. Had driven 45 mins off the freeway when I got to a road junction and found the road I was heading for closed ahead – never did find out why. So had to head for I5 – there goes over an hour down the tube – good thing I had a big buffer.

By this time the wind was REALLY up and a few minutes later a BIG tumbleweed – the top of which was higher than the car bonnet – bounced across the road from right to left. The confusion and strength of the wind was highlighted a few minutes later when – while still heading in the same direction – another big tumbleweed blew in front of me, but this time blowing from left to right. Get me out of here.

Finally back on I5 and relaxed a bit – till the rain started a few minutes later. Was coming down steadily as started the climb through the ranges to get to the coast and was soon torrential. Quite scary driving at about 50mph, though some loonies still going through at 70! A truck had jackknifed on the northbound side and traffic was backed up for miles, but thankfully our side was clear.

Got dark a bit after 4 and the rain just kept getting heavier. By now had given up any thoughts of detouring – just wanted to make it Santa Monica. Negotiating the freeways through LA suburbs with the traffic and the weather was a nightmare and finally pulled over above the Santa Monica pier a bit after 6. Finished organizing, visited one last REI store and got a coffee, then after finally finding a gas station where I could use my credit card dropped off the car and got their shuttle to LAX by about 8.30 – over 3 hoyrs before my flight was due to go. Pretty good timing.

Howeve I could have procrastinated for quite a bit longer as it turned out. At 11.30pm – 25 mins before we’re due to depart – still no plane at the gate. Then comes the announcement that the plane left the hanger a bit after 11 but it’s whereabouts were unknown. We were treated to variations on this announcement for the next 4 hours as a team of small hamsters struggled to tow our plane across the expanses of the LAX aprons. Planes that were late arriving due to weather were landing, refuelling and reprovisioning and taking off again and still our plane was missing in action. Suffice to say there was a level of disbelief as this dragged on.

Finally around 3.30 the qantas colours appeared through the window and about 4.10 am saw up pushing back and finally on our way. By an extensive series of calculations I reckoned that my connecting flight from Sydney to Melb – due to leave 2 hours after our original ETA – was going to be difficult to meet.

Thankfully the flight itself wasn’t too bad and on finally arriving in Sydney some time after 1, was fairly relieved that rescheduled flight was at 3 – had visions of having to wait hours – and apart from a minor delay getting going in Sydney and a very slow baggage unload in Melb things went OK after that.

Repeats to self – I will never ever again transit through Sydney, I will never ever again transit through Sydney, I will never ever again transit through Sydney ……..

Bring on US and Canada in 09.

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