My final day in the United States, the 10th July 2013, arrived all too quickly. Joani piloted me safely back to O’Hare International Airport near Chicago, where I caught my two hour flight back to New York’s JFK Airport on a Jet Blue A320 aeroplane.
At JFK it was a simple matter of collecting my luggage and catching the AirTrain from Terminal 5 to Terminal 7 and checking in on Qantas flight 108 to Sydney via Los Angeles, due to depart at 6.55pm.
With about four hours to kill, I settled down next to a power point and got out my trusty Macbook for a spot of typing.
Late in the afternoon announcements began broadcasting over the PA system alerting passengers to a massive storm cell that was stretching from Florida in the south to Buffalo in the north. The storm cell included significant tornadoes across the east west flight paths, delaying all flights from New York to the West Coast.
We boarded our plane an hour behind schedule but then spent over two hours sitting in a queue on the tarmac with more than forty planes in front of us, all trying to get a safe east/west route. When we finally took off our flight path took us over southern Canada to avoid the storm; we arrived in Los Angeles (LAX) more than five hours later.
At one stage our LA – Sydney flight was going to be diverted via Brisbane to refuel before reaching Sydney. An eleventh hour change saw us back on our original flight path, directly to Sydney.
After a long but pleasant flight back to Australia, I changed planes at Sydney and then flew on down to Melbourne. It was lovely to be greeted by Farmer Bill and Granny and driven three and a half hour’s home to Barham and the boys.
And so ended my (first) excellent adventure to America… and I have to agree with the late Mark Twain, who said:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
Travelling to the USA had never been on my wish list, mainly due to my preconceived and not very flattering ideas about Americans I had formed in 1994. This is a gross generalisation but back then when I was traveling through Europe, the Americans I met or observed were (in my opinion): loud, arrogant, not that worldly and... they wore pastel coloured tracksuits… (ok, that is being a little harsh considering my fashion-sense is questionable at best.)
My impression of Americans didn't improve over the years, thanks to what seemed like a tsunami of US TV shows flooding our local television channels and limiting our Aussie content. (I also felt Australia would blindly follow the US like a besotted schoolgirl).
It was only because of the NSNC Conference that I went there.
Now upon reflection, after nearly three weeks of travel around the eastern side of the United States, my opinions have changed significantly; below is a very brief summary:
· I found the people I met (from all walks of life) were welcoming, extremely polite and helpful and I experienced many random acts of kindness from complete strangers.
· When it comes to good manners and speaking politely, I now think it is we Australians who could learn a thing or two from the Americans.
· Food portions were definitely on the large side, however healthy salads, fresh fruit, meat and vegetables were readily available choices.
· One final snippet of surprise: New York City has the best tap water (after rain water) I’ve ever drunk – who knew?
|I always wondered what a stick of butter looked like...|