Friday, 25 February 2011

First Few Days Back in Australia

It always feels like a major logistical exercise to get the whole family and carefully chosen belongings from one continent to the next but it is such a great feeling to finally arrive and be met by good friends and family. Even tired and in a new time zone the relief is noticeable. Though the flights from Los Angeles to Canberra are not the longest trip we have taken -- Brisbane to Singapore to Amsterdam to J├╝lich totalled 24 hours of actual travel time from airplane door to house door, not counting any layovers or stops -- they are long enough to give one that awake-and-functioning-at-3am feeling. As we've said before, the children really are excellent travellers, handling the trip very well and now some are older getting fifteen suitcases through the various airports wasn't as hard as it might have been.

Though (Because?) he is tired after the flight into Sydney, Micah insists on pulling his own bag through a busy terminal.

Unlike previous moves, we had actually already purchased a suitable van before we arrived -- many thanks to Gaynor's father for his excellent car hunting and repairing skills. Because of it's shape, family members had dubbed it the Fat Green Wombat. Consequently, we had an 8-seater to get us home from the airport, along with friends and families' cars, and by 'home' here we mean Tamara and Troy's recently completed lovely, new house. They had already generously agreed to a 160% increase in their household size while we found a place of our own. Considering the cousins had never really spent much time in each other's company and being thrown in such close quarters for extended periods, they all got along as if they were old friends.

Having the Fat Green Wombat also meant we were able to easily get out and about house hunting. We knew the rental market would be tough -- we even made an application to rent before we left the US -- but it still took us a solid month to have an application accepted[1]. Even though the house is the upper end of what we felt we could afford, it is in a pretty good location, easy walking distance to a good set of shops and bus stops, and is fairly large. At least it seemed large when we walked through it and didn't have much furniture to put in it. We'll see how long it feels that way :)

Our plan (and hard work) to pack up, leave the house in California and ship our things before Christmas paid off with most[2] of our stuff arriving about two weeks after we moved into the new place. Again, it is like Christmas all over again but you are opening the old and familiar, the known and loved. And because these objects have survived (most of them) moving, now literally, around the world you know they are things we really want to keep. That makes it even more enjoyable. :) So, once again, we have the essentials and will work on replacing a few more of the nicer, but less essential, items over the next several months. Oh, and double thumbs up to Tamara who did a great job of picking up or saving items like dining table and chairs, mattresses and beds, kitchen equipment and even a television to mean that we had many things from the start. Thanks also to some new friends who felt they could donate a no longer needed washing machine (front loader and large -- perfect!) and a single bed.

Finally, even though the Fat Green Wombat is great to get us all around, I decided another motorcycle would fit my daily commuting bill nicely. I mean, being the slave to financial rationalism that I am, it only makes economic sense![3]

Back on a bike -- a 1985 GSX 750 S Katana -- with a few minor things to do but she goes fine.

[1] Technically, we were accepted to rent a house that was not in an area we really wanted to live and wasn't available until March. We applied because we were feeling pressure to find something. In the end, Gaynor took a gamble that we would find something sooner and in our preferred area and she was right (though a bit more stressful at times).

[2] Unfortunately, at least two boxes and half our chairs didn't make it. The shipping company said we could fill out an insurance claim but the deductible is basically the replacement cost and the monetary value of some of the lost goods is much less than the sentimental value. Gaynor is not happy. Oh, and when I say 'half our chairs' I don't mean 'half the number of chair' I mean, since the chairs were disassembled for shipping, the back half of the dining chairs didn't make it. So now we have 8 seats and pairs of front legs. I guess I'll make them into a dining bench or some such thing.

[3] Yes, I already know how dangerous they are -- I have clocked over eleven years as a daily rider, a number of them on the gnarly southern Californian freeways -- but I do appreciate your concern. Seriously.