The first part of my day of the 23rd started bright and early at 3am as my alarm woke me up to my wasted hostel mates stumbling in from a big night. This day would be the longest day of my whole life. All I know is that I gained a serious amount of extra hours on this day due to the time differences.
Everything went relatively well during our flights home. Luckily my bags weren't overweight like the 3 others I was traveling with. To my misfortune I was assigned to the seat with the sound that didn't work on the onboard entertainment system during my 10 and a half hour flight, but it didn't kill me because I read for the majority of the flight anyways. I also needed to fill out a damage report b/c I was missing half of one of my handles. The guy I dealt with didn't make me feel too optimistic on getting any form of reimbursement for it either. I went from thumbs up to Air Pacific to a definite thumbs down. I will miss their greeting of "bula" and farewell (thank you) of "vinaka" though. The Fijian people are just so cordial. When you get off the plane in Fiji you have a group of guys greeting you with fun music that made me wish I could once again stay in Fiji for another little mini vacation.
It finally hit me that I wouldn't be returning to Australia when I arrived to the airport in Las Angeles as I dug into my wallet for my Minnesota driver's license. Originally I planned on meeting up with a friend while on my 8+ hour layover in LA, but things fell through and Kristine and I set up camp playing on our computers at the departure gate. We were half way through our tremendous 48-hour venture home and so we were both in high spirits! On my way home I had no choice but to wear my dad's present on my head. I purchased him an authentic Aussie hat made out of kangaroo leather and boy did it cause quite the stir as soon as I stepped out into the street. Two security guards stopped me to complement me on it and one even asked to try it on. What a man magnet. I highly recommend it! Returning back to the states was a HUGE sigh of relief for me, let me tell you what. I finally knew I was on my own territory.
Initially we had plans to go to Malibu for my first legal drink, but being that I was unable to leave the airport we decided to go and have a real sit down meal at Chili's. It would only be the second sit down meal I've had since I left home! It was weird having to think about actually tipping the server when you paid too. In Australasia you pretty much have to serve yourself and you aren't expected to tip.
During hour six of our eight hour layover some Ryan Reynolds dude was spotted passing our gate. Ryan Reynolds is an actor who has been in numerous movies including National Lampoon's Van Wilder. He ended up sitting right across the hall at the other gate too. People started going crazy when he was spotted. I personally just thought he was your average guy off the street. I must say he wasn't bad looking at all. Being that I had been in the same clothes for more than 24 hours and I couldn't admit to being a big fan of his I opted not to go pester him, however Kristine had the guts to and so I have a picture of her with him for proof...
I read a whole book over my stay in Cairns too! It wasn't exactly a cheerful book, but I couldn't put it down. It was the three books by Dave Pelzer put together. The last time a read a book for my own enjoyment was in Fiji and it was a cheesy second hand book called Angel Eyes (don't ask).
Anyways, 5 flights and 48 hours later I made it safely home. Whew!