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The Beginning

Departure - 13th July 2001

Gary and Rayls with their sons Ryan and Scott
The Hartman family

The 2001 trip, our first to the USA, commenced on Friday 13th July, 2001 and just 8 days after I had taken early retirement from the Western Australian Police Service.

Scott, our youngest son, drove us to the Perth Domestic Airport whilst Ryan (the eldest) came along to see us off.

The good news was the fact that we were upgraded to business class for our flight to Sydney. We boarded QF506 at 12:25am and we were on our way at 12:55am, just 15 minutes late.

So much for business class!!!! The person seated in front of me lowered his seat back as soon as able and I was unable to get out of his seat. That is where I remained for the duration of the flight, jammed in.
All went well on this flight until around 45 minutes before scheduled landing when the Pilot announced that Sydney was fog bound and we would need to circle for a time. 12 minutes later the Pilot reported that there was no change in Sydney and therefore we were heading to Melbourne. Stress levels, especially me, were high; we had a flight in Sydney to catch.

Upon landing at Melbourne around 7:00am (local time) we went to the Customer Service desk and were advised to go to Gate 23 and our flight was QF414. I rang Scott at home in Perth and asked 'guess where we are?’

We boarded our flight at 7:55am but were soon asked to disembark as Sydney was still fogged in. We boarded again at 8:30am and at 9:00am the Pilot said there would be a further delay. We eventually took off at 9:55am.

We landed at Sydney at 10:58am. Here we raced to the Transfer Desk and down to the bus which would take us to the International Terminal. It took 5 minutes to get through Immigration and then through Security.
Gate 31 for QF107 - we had the rear seats on the left side of the 747-400. That meant one on the aisle and one at the window.

There was a delay on the departure of this flight as numerous other passengers coming from all over Australia and New Zealand were also delayed. Then we had a wait as there were some missing passengers and they had to be located or their luggage removed.

Finally we took off at 12:39pm - that's getting close to 10 hours after we had taken off from Perth. So much for a nice leisurely 4 hours in Sydney!

The flight was OK, a little bumpy in places.

At 8:01am (LA time) - that makes it a 13 hour and 22 minutes flight. It seemed a long time although the Pilot had tried to make up for lost time.

At LAX we went into a Transit Lounge whilst the plane was cleaned. This was our first view of American people; interesting.

At 9:20am we reboarded our plane - many empty seats as most had got off in LA.

9:50am take off and head west and then circle back over LA and head east. Very scenic! Lots of mountains and seems sparsely populated once you leave LA.

We flew over Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon and later just north of Chicago and then Detroit, London (Canada) and Buffalo where we started our decent at 4:54pm and eventually landed at JFK airport at 5:25pm.

It only took 15 minutes to get through immigration but we were really worried about our bags. We checked them in at Perth, got diverted to Melbourne and then onto Sydney before flying from there to LA and New York. No need to worry - all our bags were within the first dozen that came down the slide.

Through the gate and met up with our friends Jim and Bette. Great to meet up with these people we had only known from email.

We then drove to Jim's daughter house in New Jersey. We had a good view of the New York skyline and even drove over a state line from New York into New Jersey, never done that in Australia.

We met up with one of Jim's daughter's (Tracy) family at a softball game before heading to her house where we were staying the next few days.

Chatted for a while - been a long day. We went to bed at 10:15pm and after all this it was still Friday 13th July, 2001 the same day we had left Perth some 36 hours earlier.