Travelog 3 – long storm journey

Wednesday afternoon 1 June Houston, Tx.

Nothing like a black cloud dogging your travels.  Even though the summer is coming, it’s flooding in Paris and Texas and yes, you look up in the sky and there it is, just out there in the afternoon.  Low hung black and uncool. Everyday another 6 inches of rain and then the sun comes out and then more rain. So every step of the way these past few days, it’s been a black clouded weather issue.

Normally getting to Australia from Texas is not an issue.  It takes a few hours and one connection in Dallas, with plenty of hours of layover to make sure bags and everything including the mind, make that never-ending leg from Dallas to Sydney.

Of course, yous start out hopeful, checkout the handy travel app, says all is ok and on-time.  Check out from the hotel, say goodbye to the hotel staff and pack everything in your bags and your bags into the boot of the rental, to check in and forget about until two days hence landing in Sydney.

Having arrived at Houston airport car rental, plenty of time to spare, got my reciept and caught the shuttle over to terminal A.  I had a 6pm flight to Dallas which seemed on time and even though the newspapers were full of reports of TSA inefficiencies and queues, managed to scrape through TSA-PRE in a matter of minutes and get over to the gate.

On the way, I saw Chilli’s and having had no lunch thought a grab it while you can approach might work.  In this case, a seat at the bar, with my back to the window and the ominous weather, a few margaritas [house economy] and the queso dip should do the trick.

About halfway through the first margarita, the lights went out.  Strange for an airport, but then the lightning flashes through the window into the twilight of the bar seemed to indicate a cause.  Conversation subdued, we all hoped to was temporary. We being the born again loud guy two seats down, the loud lady 4 seats down and round to the left with the laptop [an Apple] and the South of the border bartender with a friendly smile, but suddenly no cash register.  Naturally I made a joke of it, telling friendly bartender that it was all bartender B’s problem, being so tall and standing too close to the refrigerator.

Some time passed, and the sun went down into the west, the room got darker, so dark I had to use the little iphone torch app to find the way into the restroom. I’m pretty sure that was a first.

I had waited over an hour to get my check, pay the bill and get to the gate. In the end I gave up and had to pay in cash and didn’t get a receipt, and no doubt people will talk about my shady transactions in cash in a dimly lit bar in Houston airport for some time to come.

when the power goes out blink

cash tills can't think

how quiet the world is of late

at the dark waiting air gate

Finally my predicament became really obvious.  Out at the gate was a plane, due to leave some hour before but still there, full of people and stuck due to the lack of power at the gate.  We had first for the power to come back, the plane to leave, our plane to arrive, get cleaned and then be boarded.  I chatted to the people next to me. I dozed off, I woke, dozed off again and… Finally some 3 hours later, I left Houston for Dallas.

Naturally you get to land in the rain and wind and trundle to the new gate in Dallas, off load knowing that nearly everyone in the plane must’ve missed their connection that night.  Approaching the gate staff in Dallas, I enquired about the now most probably useless boarding pass in my hand [Dallas-Sydney].  I didn’t even ask a hopeful question.  Just handed it over to the gate attendant and watched her type into a helpfully powered computer.

Long story short, had to stay the night in the airport hotel and get a new flight in the morning.

The clouds of dogging kept it up the next day.

Thursday 2 June DFW

I checked into my flight for 11am to Los Angeles, but then found it had it’s gate changed and that it was going to be late as well. An hour late.  No biggie, I would have had many hours free of layover in Los Angeles.  I sat down and chatted to a young would be rock star from Missouri… looking for a big break in Los Angeles and who just wanted to hear how anyone could fly on a plane where the trip lasted longer than 3 hours.

The black clouds came nearer and soon the rain was coming down fast.  Outside I could see our plane had arrived and well turned up at the appointed hour and started boarding.   We crawled down the taxiway in a queue of planes hoping to ‘get the hell out of Dodge’ but that was easier said than done.  It turned out only getting out flying North was working, due to the storms in the South West.  We finally took off, with  the rain streaming past the windows and straight into the cloud layer and beyond. I’d gotten a book to read.  Crime novels in paperback are plentiful and low cost. After about 71 pages written the pilot came on and informed that we were in fact the last flight out of Dallas before the DFW airport had been closed.

Announcing pilots attended

when you are travelling late

stories of lucky last takeoff,

your predicament now seems great

By now my next flight scheduled to leave LAX at 10:30pm is late.  Not minutes late. Hours late.  We’re now expecting to leave the confines of the very relaxing Qantas lounge at LAX by 2:40am.  One quick way to find out what happened is to check the flightaware website. Turns out the aircraft forming QF12 left JFK way late and at 11pm is still only halfway across the country and wont even land at LAX until well after midnight.  A quick check of the arrival weather in Sydney shows the bad weather closing in from the northwest with a notorious ‘east coast low’ developing.  Could be pretty crazy for the flight arrival Saturday.

Thursday June 3 LAX

Another casualty of delayed flights, particularly long ones are the faint possibility that someone booked on the flight, checked in, and frustrated after one or two too many martini’s just got up and left the airport.  It’s a risk and the longer the delay, the more likely more delays start happening once the people all get on board.

Yes – in our case, said person didn’t turn up for whatever reason and his bags had to be taken off the plane.  On an A380 this can take some time.  Let’s say another 30 minute delay, sitting on the plane.  Not a problem, quickly review all the movies that I might watch to put me to sleep as soon as having had a quick bite after takeoff.

After takeoff, you know that up to 17 hours of weather will happen around the world and surprise you a bit on landing to show you just how well you can forecast it.

SYDNEY Jun 4-5 Weekend

In Boston they have the Nor'Easter

In Sydney the East Coast Low

Either way its double trouble

For people who come and go

Shedding Bark like Snow

Gum Tree Bark

in winter down deep in the pacific

the trees branch around in the cold and the shadows

growing thick coats of red bark to keep their sap warm

then spring comes with a march of color

pink, mimosa and purple jacaranda

then summer arrives, the sun burns fierce

then gum blossoms come out late when days are longest

and cicada’s wake in the morning heat

then the bark

crack peel and wait

to float down like snowflakes

then land like soft tons on the grass below

then leaving the tree clean and clear and white…

Alleluia !

then Christmas comes.



there is a bird

whenever there is flight

and there is a tree

when there are leaves in sight

there is a storm cloud

when there is light

from the sun setting down

just before night

Yes, this blog is not biographical nor is it a diary, I cannot write diaries.. This blog a daily notebook of feelings, thoughts, modes of expression, rational bits, and then mindless dreaming from time to time.  I wait until the sun has gone down on the day, and it is night.  Sometimes thoughts worth writing burst out in a rush to get down.  I started this blog some 150 posts back, but i don’t count them,. Nor do i religiously blog toward a niche or an agenda nor a numbered sequence.  But as the TV dies down, I think of the bird in the sunset against the storm.  It’s alone, having caught enough lizards and worms for the day.  What is it thinking perhaps ?  Will it go wandering in the night, or just call it a day and repose.

Why  in Australia do all the animals decide to come out at night.  Night requires special senses.  Granted it is much cooler, but the darkness is there, defeated only be the starlight and whatever the moon can muster. In the darkness, the scents and sounds of  the bush get louder as you slip quietly through the trees and shrub grevilia by the path.

You walk for miles through the faintly lit bush, past the creeks and streams and clamber up the rocks in the dark. You hope to make it to the streetlight on the top of the hill before it gets too dark.  It’s already too dark and cooling down rapidly.

Are you frightened of the dark. What is that fright like. Do you wait like a bird on a branch for the sun to set, only to find that having set, you are now alone in the dark and wondering ?  It was beautiful, but now it is cold and it’s time to move on up the hill.  Will you come with me ?  It’s not too far.  I’ll hold your hand as we walk up the hill.  You won’t notice the gloomy owl or the nightjar or frogmouth sounds.

Brisbane River View – The Eagle

out there through the curtains of the 7th floor, through the window… other side of the river .. a tall fluted monument in that park.  Time for a walk.  It’s raining ! Not much.. don’t worry.. down the lift and out by the dawn.. Hotel lobby is quiet at least… slip out the front door in the quiet at 5:30am but its cool warm cool. No cars.  Round past the Breakfast Creek and up the road, down again and under the breakfast creek bridge, across to the Newstead park, past the ancient Cunningham fig crawling root fingers down the slope.  There’s white Jasmine on the bike path with a faint smell of romance from the night before.. A single hidden Kigelia,

KIGELIA TREE [African Origin]
with its weighty pods just waiting to drop.  All the while the Brisbane river snakes past upstream in slow bends and boats so quiet you cannot hear a slithering as the tide comes in.

Finally, up there on the hill in the park, the American Australian monument appears. Placed in memory of WWII, mainly for Kokoda and the battle of the Coral Sea, commemorated with an eagle atop a column among the magpies and butcher birds — perched up in the trees – not sleeping perhaps — just above the signs saying ‘watch out’.  An so the eagle watches out over the Brisbane river and beyond. Standing sentinel like a standing stone, menhir and like something akin to the figures on Easter Island, looking out from the grounds of Newstead House, where the Americans camped during the war.

Brisbane River at Dawn
Brisbane River at Dawn

But enough then, the sun is coming up and like others, it’s time to get to work for the day.

All photos: All rights reserved.