Diary of a geek

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Andrew Pollock

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Wednesday, 02 July 2014

Day 154: Pottering around in Decatur, museum and swimming

Zoe woke up at about 2am, Atlanta time. That corresponded with about dinner time in Brisbane. I'd actually woken up slightly before she did. She'd crawled into bed with me not long after going to bed the night before.

I'm not sure what time she went back to sleep, but I think it was around 4am. She slept until 7:30am when I woke her up to have a video call with Sarah before she went to bed. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get back to sleep, so I felt like a bit of a zombie by morning. A couple of cups of coffee helped take the edge off it for a while.

Once we got going, we went to Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Zoe got along really well with Clara, 7 and Lucy, 4. The museum was pretty nice. it had a kid's area that kept everyone occupied for a quite a while.

We got back and had some lunch, and then I went and had a nap while James, 2, also had one. It took me about an hour to actually get up after I woke up from the nap. I'm glad I had it though, because I don't think I'd have made it through the day. Zoe apparently had a great time playing with Lucy while I napped.

After that, we went to the neighbourhood pool for a swim. The pool had a low diving board, and Zoe had lots of fun jumping in off it.

I managed to get Zoe to bed relatively on time, and she passed out straight away. Hopefully with a better dinner in her belly, she'll sleep better tonight. I'm hoping I do too.

[18:13] [life] [permalink]

Day 153: The long day of traveling

"Yesterday" was a very long day. I'm sure I'm going to lose track of which day is what somewhere along the line...

I had one of the best night's sleep I've had the night before I know I need to get up early for travel. Usually I spend the whole night telling myself to hurry up and get to sleep because I have to get up early, and thus fail to do so and sleep terribly. I slept well, and was showered, dressed and breakfasted before Zoe woke up naturally herself.

We were all packed up and downstairs with our luggage before Sarah arrived to take us to the airport.

We had a comfortable amount of time at Brisbane airport waiting for our flight down to Sydney. I haven't flown Qantas for a while, and they now have iPads in all of the seat pockets as their in-flight entertainment. That kept Zoe nicely amused for that flight.

In Sydney, we transited over to the International terminal without incident. Zoe's a great size for her Trunki now, and dragging her along on that allowed for us to cover distance at pretty much my walking pace, which was perfect.

We got to the International terminal and cleared Customs with enough time grab some lunch before we boarded. They were boarding a flight to LAX and DFW at adjacent gates at roughly the same time, and in conjunction with the additional round of document checks that they like to do for flights to the US it was total bedlam. We got to the gate just as they were starting the pre-boarding for people with children, so that worked out well, and we got to jump the queue.

Zoe did absolutely fabulously for the flight from Sydney to Dallas. She watched some movies and then went to sleep only a little bit later than her normal bed time and pretty much slept all the way through until I had to wake her up for breakfast, which was at about 3:30am Brisbane time. She didn't sleep again until we got to Atlanta, but wasn't the worse for wear for it. My head cold also didn't give me much grief. I didn't need to resort to any drugs on the flight.

Our arrival into Dallas went pretty well. The only thing I could have done better was figure out where the car seat had been put a bit sooner (it wasn't put with where the signed oversize baggage was) so we burned a bit of time finding it. They have a new electronic self-service kiosk thing for their border control. It was pretty cool, but it still bounced us to a human for processing. I'm not sure if it was because I had declared food, or because I was traveling with a minor US citizen, or some combination of the above.

The US border control did a better job of handling the fact that I was traveling on my own with a child than the Australian passport control did on the way out. The Australian departure passport control didn't seem to care at all that I was traveling on my own with Zoe, but the US guy wanted to know where her mother was, and what my wife did. It wasn't until I said that she was almost my ex-wife that he wanted to know if she knew I was traveling with Zoe, and I produced the letter I had brought with me as a precaution. That was the extent of the questioning I received (aside from how I planned to support myself for my stay).

That said, even though I had planned for that level of questioning, the interaction still left me feeling a bit unsettled. I can expect at least that much scrutiny for any travel I do with Zoe from now on. I guess it's a good thing, but I don't like the default assumption that I'm possibly an international child abductor. It also left me wondering if the same level of scrutiny would occur if Zoe was traveling with her mother, or if it was just a gender stereotype.

We cleared immigration to then get stuck in a longish line for Quarantine, which went fine. I had hoped that we could recheck our luggage immediately on the other side, like I believe you can do in LAX, but that was not the case. We had to schlepp all our luggage over to the Delta terminal on one of the shuttles. We possibly missed a shuttle while I was figuring all this out.

By the time we got a shuttle and got to the right terminal, we'd just missed the bag check deadline for our flight, so we had to get bumped from the 3:45pm flight to the 5pm one. It wasn't a big deal, but it delayed our pick up in Atlanta, and made for a longer day of traveling. Delta was really nice and waived all the baggage fees though, since we were coming from an international flight. That was nice.

That said, it did give us a more leisurely time in the terminal in Dallas. I had time to call Chris and Briana and let them know of our delay, and get Zoe something to eat.

The flight from Dallas to Atlanta was uneventful. Zoe entertained herself with her tablet on the flight.

When we arrived in Atlanta, Zoe remembered the inter-terminal train from her last trip with Sarah. We collected our luggage and rendezvoused with Chris on the kerb.

We had a hasty dinner and Briana gave Zoe a bath for me, and I put her to bed, and went to bed not long after her. It ended up being a mammoth day, in the order of about 32 hours door to door. I was so incredibly impressed with how well Zoe handled it all. Not one single meltdown. The only time she was really sad was briefly when she managed to overbalance on the chairs in the Sydney International terminal just before we boarded our flight, and landed on her head, all while I was putting our passports away and not watching her.

[18:00] [life] [permalink]