Buckle up folks! This is going to be a big one!!
So, here we are. Almost a month into our Australian journey and we’re just now getting to our first post-move blog post! Some might say that makes for a couple of lousy bloggers. The fact is what we have just done is completely insane and it takes discipline to sit down and write when you have a whole new world right outside your front door. You just can’t prepare yourself for something like this. All the nights in Texas we sat up talking about what it would be like and how we would do this or that really just all goes out the window the minute you step foot off that airplane. So… here is how our adventure began…. Yes…. it began with a lovely little pumpkin filled with goodies that my sweet wife made for my flight 🙂
And last but definitely not least, a pic with Britt at the airport before boarding the plane. This was such a surreal moment for us, as the moment we had been waiting for, for six months was finally here!
And here’s where the adventure truly begins…. My plane landed on October 22nd at 5:00 in the morning. The flight was a long one, but all in all not that bad. They keep you very entertained with movies, music, and all kinds of other distractions with the in-seat entertainment system. I slept as much as I could but being over 6 feet tall and planes don’t compliment each other… there was an option on the screen to watch the plane in a Google Maps style setup and it showed our exact location in relation to the world. 90% of the 16-hour flight was over water… Wow. Makes you realize just how big this world is… Anyway, I found myself watching this a LOT. It was a bit like a dream… doze off, wake up, look at the screen, have some water, change the music I was listening to, do it again and again. The excitement started to build once I could see Brisbane on the map and I really couldn’t sleep much after about 2AM. As we got closer I noticed the sun beginning to rise and was thinking it sure was early to see sunlight. That’s the way it works here. Sun up is at about 4:45AM.Not long after I landed I had an email message from my new boss that he was on his way to pick me up. Whew, what a relief! So here I was, a guy with two massively over packed pieces of luggage, a guitar, and some golf clubs sitting in the airport in Brisbane Australia on a Tuesday morning waiting to start a new life. Surreal is the only word to describe that situation. I sat down, got a coffee, and waited, and waited. There is currently a lot of roadwork in between Toowoomba and Brisbane so it took awhile for Graham to get to the airport. The good news is I had plenty of time to sit and watch all of these new people that I would be living around. There were a lot of similarities, and a lot of differences. Perfect! This is the beast of an airplane that delivered me to the land down under!
The next two weeks was a whirlwind of me adjusting to the time change, adjusting to full on sunshine at 5AM, adjusting to an office full of people that I’d never met, adjusting to blah blah blah… you get it. A lot of adjusting! But it was all very welcome and it was a lot of fun and only occasionally did I have the “OMG WTF have we done!?!?!” panic session. Ha!
Things were going smoothly at this point and all that was missing were Brit and Beck (Roxy and Chaya too, of course, but we’ll get to that later)! We had been making the best of Skype video calls, but long distance communication is not the best, especially when there is a mind bending time difference involved as well. Usually the calls were at 6AM my time which would have been 2PM Texas time… not ideal. Anyway, we got through it and counted down the days until their departure. So on November 5th the day had finally arrived. We spoke as much as possible but it was a very hectic time for Britt trying to get everything sorted, finalized, and ready to go. We did get to speak as she was boarding the plane and I could hear the dread in her voice, as she was about to embark on a very long flight with a very awake and impatient little guy… I could only imagine what the next ¾ of a day would bring her way.
I didn’t want Britt to have to wait on me to get to the airport so I decided to book a hotel in Brisbane the night before their arrival so I could be there first thing in the morning to scoop them up. This worked out well because it also gave me a little time to spend in Brisbane, which I had not done yet. I stayed in the CBD (central business district) or what we would call “downtown”. It was remarkably affordable and was in a fantastic location. The room had a nice view from the balcony so I enjoyed a few beers while taking it all in and then decided it was time to find some good Sushi. Urbanspoon to the rescue! That’s one thing we are very happy about… a lot of the same apps and online tools we used in the states are also used here. I found a place in short order and walked there in about 20 minutes. Even though I only spent a short time there, I concluded that Brisbane is an awesome place… it’s like someone put San Francisco, London, and NYC in a blender and out came Brisbane. So… a nice walk through the city led to a small little place near the bay called Bishamon Sushi. It was fantastic! I took a different route on the way back that passed me by a huge, inviting park… I would have explored more, but the sun was sinking and I was getting tired anyway. I made it back to the hotel, had one more beer on the patio of the hotel bar while thinking about Brit and Beck flying halfway round the world. I worried for Brit and hoped that the flight was not as horrific as we both imagined a 16-hour flight with a one year old would be. I had no idea what to expect when they came out of the customs area, would she be a mess of tears and exhaustion, would Beck be covered in bits of mum-mums and juice stains?? I would be finding out soon enough!View from my balcony in downtown ‘Brissie’Tempura ‘prawn’ roll….. DELICIOUS!!
My alarm went off at 5AM but I was pretty much already awake anyway… I packed up my bag and headed down to the lobby. The maids got a nice tip of 4 beers I forgot about and left in the fridge. Doh! There was a nice guy at the lobby desk and I mentioned I was headed to the airport to pick up my wife and son… he asked if I knew where I was going…. I thought about that for a second. I have NO IDEA at all where I’m going, or what am I doing??? Ahhh, Siri knows where I’m going. My great friend Siri has my back. While I was thinking about this, he began rambling off directions and street names I could never imagine being used anywhere else in the world, “turn left here, and right there”, he said. I just smiled and nodded and said thanks. Siri… you better have my back.
I hopped in the car and setup my destination in the phone. Off I went… The car I’m driving is literally covered in Ambush Security logos and stickers and designs, which normally I wouldn’t care a bit about… However, when you are a new driver in a strange place and driving on the other side of the road with round-a-bouts and all kinds of other new things you aren’t familiar with, you don’t want any extra attention drawn to you. Driving this car feels like driving around in an ambulance with the lights and sirens on at 3AM in a quiet neighborhood. All eyes are on ME! Luckily Siri did have my back on this day and I made it through to the airport without any issues.
I arrived about 5:45 AM and found a parking spot… no big deal. I went into the lobby and checked the arrivals. QF8 from DFW – Arrival – On-Time. Good news! It wasn’t too long after that I received a text from Brittany that said ‘G’day mate!! We have landed!’. This was great news! It wasn’t “Dear God we are still alive, but get me off this plane”, or “Beck has killed and eaten one of the crew members” or any of the million other things I was thinking the night before. Things were sounding positive! She text me back that the plane was being fully unloaded before she and Beck could exit… he was sleeping anyway so it wasn’t a big deal. I sat there in front of those sliding glass doors for what felt like forever. It was like there was a magic people dispensing machine behind those doors that spit out people of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Finally… I see a familiar red stroller coming out of those doors and in it was a little guy that didn’t look all that bad! Britt looked great as well! It was a miracle. What followed them was a sight to see. Three Qantas employees were pushing baggage carts behind Britt and Beck and yes, all those bags belonged to us. So many bags… We had a quick hug and a kiss and were ushered out to the pick up area because the Qantas folks had to get to the next plane. It was a mad dash for me to get back to the car and bring it around so that we could cram all the bags in and hit the road. I didn’t tell Britt about the part where I accidentally exited the airport completely, did an illegal u-turn and crossed five lanes of traffic at blinding speed just to get back into the airport and around to passenger pickup… We’ll talk about that one later. Beck looking through the great family album his cousin Lori made for him. Britt said he LOVED it! Britt and Beck selfie!!
It was only a little over an hour after I picked Brittany and Beck up from the airport that we were strolling along the Sunshine Coast, one of the most prized beach areas in Australia. This has been quite the eye opener and a very impressive feature of the area we are in… Southeast Queensland has every kind of landscape you could imagine separated only by a few hours in the car. There are mountains, rainforests, metropolis (Brisbane), and world-class coastlines. And did I mention we live here?! Thursday November 7th – Sunshine Coast – Our first stroll along the BEAUTIFUL Aussie beaches.
*This concludes part one of two of our extensive update, bringing everyone up to speed on ‘The Keetons Down Under’.
Part two coming soon!