Trip Start Nov 06, 2003
Trip End Jan 24, 2004

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, January 24, 2004

We've been in transit for over 24 hours now, and it hasn't been particularly fun.

Barring exploding in mid-air, it's dificult to imagine too many ways Air Canada could have made this flight worse. When we arrive in the Sydney departure lounge for our 6-hour delayed flight, the passengers outnumber the seats 2:1. With a 17-hour flight ahead of us, we join the majority of people sitting around on the floor. When we finally get on board, the crew are playing, without any apparent sense of irony, "We've Got All the Time in the World."

Airline attendants on every flight since we crossed the equator have handed us a nifty little add-on to Julie's seatbelt to secure Lucy in case of turbulence or less pleasant scenarios. Air Canada doesn't have one of these, but the stewardess has an excellent suggestion. "Just hold the baby tightly."

The stewardess helpfully demonstrates how to hold the baby tightly. "Oh," I say, "just like when we drive with her in the car!"

The movie for our 17-hour flight is "The Untouchables," which is odd, because that's also the name of a really old, kind of boring Kevin Costner film from the 1980s.... Oh, the same film?

Speaking of untouchables, my vegetarian meal has been replaced with a tomato-lamb curry, which looks about as appetizing as if it had been thrown up onto the plate. Julie assures me it looks exactly the same when it is thrown up, and she should know. The barf sessions she so magically eluded on our very first flights of the trip, when she thought she'd given the flu the slip, discover her with a vengeance. She has just enough energy to repeatedly stagger to the toilet, back to her seat and stick the baby to her breast.

The organizers of Air Canada must be involved in the running of security at the Honolulu airport where we stop to refuel. Once upon a time, the passengers of this flight would disembark to a secured international lounge until the plane was ready, then sleepwalk back onboard for the last 6 hours to Vancouver. This time, every passenger is ejected, along with all their luggage. At 3:00 a.m., we are made to form a line at the Customs check-in, fill-in declaration forms on how long we will be in the US (15 minutes) then file past the two customs officers who dilligently question the 300 passengers for almost an hour. We then march out the lower doors of the airport, go up an escalator and go back into the airport through security before returning to our passenger lounge. It's a tedious procedure for everyone, but poor Julie should really be in a wheel-chair. She lies comatose on an airport couch through the whole proceedings. The only bright point of the night is a fellow passenger who gives her some ginger pills.

Another 8 hours later, the life is slowly draining out of the line at the Air Canada domestic check-in in Vancouver. After reuniting with our luggage and working our ponderous way through Canadian Customs, this is a final predictable irritation Air Canada subjects us to. With one lone employee processing a line-up of several hundred jet-lagged people, we watch flight after flight leave without us, waiting only to be given our boarding passes for the short flight to Victoria. Some people behind us watch time run out on the one flight today that would get them home to Saskatchewan.

The three-person crib board I have hauled along for almost three months gets its only use in the Vancouver departures lounge when we just miss another flight. Over the four hours we're in Vancouver, the cloud banks lift and we board our last flight in the late day sun with the snow-washed mountains as a backdrop, a welcome sight for all the Australians on our plane who arrived for some skiing.

The sun sets for the second time today as we cross the strait to Victoria. The turbulence over these familiar islands and coastline bucks and drops us like a rollercoaster. The most dangerous moment of the trip for our baby happens when Emma sees her mom across the Victoria airport terminal. With one hand holding her skirt up and the other pushing the careening stroller (with a non-secured baby onboard), she sprints completely out of conrol towards the security barrier. I hold my breath for the probable collision. Fortunately my dad rescues the run-away baby as Emma abandons all bags and buries herself in her mom's long-lost arms. We're home.
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