After years in the planning it was finally happening. We were taking the trip to Vegas for Mum’s 60th Birthday that we had dreamt of since Pauline and my trip in 2003. It had been expanded to 5 weeks of travel all over the USA and a total of 8 people would be on the journey. For the east coast leg, only 5 of us would be together – Mum, Pauline, Auntie Sue (Mum’s sister), my cousin Fiona (Sue’s daughter) and me. Once we reached San Francisco, my sister Kelly, her boyfriend Mat and my aunt Madonna (Mum’s Sister). Everyone felt real sorry for Mat since he would be the only boy on the trip, but all he cared about was playing poker in Vegas. 😉

Pauline and I took a hybrid prius cab to the airport which was cool but unexpected. Talking to the cab driver and he said that they aren’t that much cheaper than using the gas and petrol method that the other cabs used. Considering the prius costs more to buy as well they weren’t finding it as cost effective as they hoped. But maybe the prius is better for the environment anyway??

The 5 travellers all met in the lounge area of Brisbane International airport after checking in at the V Australia desk. We also had some visitors see us off, Kelly (who would join us in a few weeks), Kerri-Anne (my Aunt), Linus (my nephew) and Joan (my cousin). It was good to have a farewell since it is a bit of a tradition. I was wearing my most comfortable clothes, since I don’t care for fashion when I’m on a plane for that long!

The first 5 – Sue, Fiona, Amy, Pauline and Lynne (Mum):

The travellers of the first leg

After our last few flights I had sworn off waiting for Pauline since she always took to long and I ended up getting bags checked or explosive tested. This time I forgot and waited for Auntie Sue and Fiona and once again got selected for explosive testing. This one was a little more involved than the usual swabbing. I got taken to a private area where I was patted down, had my bags checked AND was swabbed. Sometimes you get the shits that these things happen, but sometimes I like annoying things when they are a little bit different. It’s just something to add to your “experience box”. But I don’t need it to happen again now.

Went and got my GST returned for the new camera I got just before we left. It was a no hassle experience – just had to show my invoice and they would put the money in to my account. Not even a long line up.

As usual, my thorough planning worked well when I ran out of batteries on HD Camera a minute in to recording. Lucky Pauline prepares for my failures and had a few spares to throw in there.

V Australia Plane

The V Australia plane was lovely on the inside – overhead storage bins are curved and gives the feeling of spaciousness. Huge seats. Entertainment system was brilliant. Tonnes of movies, tv, music.I watched Slumdog Millionaire, Benjamin Button, Tropic Thunder. But I didn’t really sleep, kind of dozed.

Food was brilliant. Beef burgandy with a mash that could beat any restaurant, lamington in rasberry jam. Breakfast was a waffle with apricot and walnuts or sausage or a spinach fritata and hash brown. Mum and I went halves in both. Staff was good, managed to quiet a boy who had been screaming for about an hour. Don’t know what they did – all I know is that ice is involved. Leanne was the nicest hostess, maybe because she was a little bigger than the others but she was very well presented.

Arrived in LAX, customs took maybe 45 mins total. We went to check in to connecting flight which was pain free – maybe because we were so early and noone was there. Gave the V America lady ten points for getting Pauline’s last name right and she gave me 1 point for getting hers right – Precious was her name. This was our view when we left the Tom Bradley terminal for Terminal 3 to transfer to Washington. It’s the Encounters Restaurant covered in scaffolding:

The encounters restaurant and control tower

Almost could have taken an earlier flight but the others had gone through already so we had to wait 3 hours. Waited in Terminal 3 which was really quite ugly in the food court area but nicer in the airport lounge. Soaked up the americaness, dozed and went to the toilet a few times. Us waiting 3 hours in:

After 14 hours on a plane

Had an excellent humourous moment when Auntie Sue gave us a long talk on how good her compression stockings were on the long flight and that they really worked. She seriously was impressed. She then proceeded to pull up her pants leg to show us how good they were, but was shocked to see that they had pooled her ankles and were virtually useless! We laughed for a good 5 minutes.

We had a cool moment when a Qantas A380 went past the window and dwarfed a southwest plane. Got a little jealous that Madonna was flying on an A380 on the way home, but hey, she wouldn’t have mood lighting like ours!

This gives you some perspective on how big an A380 is

The V America plane was clean, new and had the same entertainment system as V Australia. The guy at V America check in said that V Australia had adopted that system from the V America one. Hooked up the wifi which cost $10USD and it was flawless the whole trip. It was incredibly impressive and although I didn’t take full advantage of it, I did use it when I was awake. The trip was a piece of cake after our long haul flight even though the seats were smaller and there was no food. For a while we thought we would get a guy sitting next to Pauline, but fantastically he got bumped up a class and we got an extra seat to spread out in to.

The V America plane we took:

Virgin America plane to take us from LAX to Dulles

The mood lighting in the cabin:

Cool mood lights on the Virgin America plane

The google maps that demonstrated our location (I kept trying to iphone claw it to zoom in)

Google maps used to tell us the plane location

My favourite photo of the day, just like the lighting and the american flag on the wing tip:

Virgin America wing

How you look and feel after 23 hours of travel:

This is what you look like after 20 hours of flying

Arrival at Dulles Airport was weird. Hustled in to a shuttle that was high up on wheels and it drove us over to the main building. They are doing some upgrades of the airport so I think this was an intermediate measure until they open the train line.

Touching down at Dulles:

Touchdown on the East Coast in Dulles Airport

The transport shuttle that looks a little like short circuit.

Passenger transport at Dulles to go from one terminal to the other

Inside the shuttle:

The inside of the passenger transort at Dulles

Picked up luggage, went to find airport shuttle and waited a while for ours. No idea where it actually left from since none of the signs indicated what hotels stopped where so took a best guess. It was bloody freezing while we waited and we ended up ringing the hotel. They sent us the shuttle as they only go when needed and I hadn’t warned them. Glad we had the american phone Cheryl gave me, otherwise we’d still be there freezing our asses off.

This was Auntie Sue’s luggage – looks like she was having a party in the bag!

Sue's fancy bag

The ride to the hotel took longer than I expected and then we all sheepishly tipped the driver $1 each. Inside we got our rooms, discovered they weren’t 2 double beds so got them reallocated. Dropped off our bags, but the room only had a king and a pull out couch. Couldn’t be assed fixing it again, so washed our faces and went across the road to get dinner. Didn’t go very far because it was raining. Think Lone Star food with peanuts thrown on the floor. My pork bun was way too sweet with the bread but it was edible so I ate it. Mum and Fiona didn’t like their sprite as it tasted funny (corn syrup) and auntie sues raspberry tea was too sweet. Tipped the girl $11 on a $65 meal – no idea if that is ok.

The roadhouse where we had a not so great dinner

Back at the room we showered and went to bed. 1am woken up by what sounded like someone opening our door to get in the room but I was up in a flash and there was no one there. From the discussions on checkout the next morning, I think when they reallocated our rooms they didn’t give us the new room numbers and keys (since she was on the phone when she handed it over and she was sick). The night staff went to check why the room had people in it at 1am is my guess.   Other than that we slept well on our first night on the East Coast.

For more photos, check out the flickr set

Tweets of the day:

In a taxi on the way to the airport and the cool thing about it is that it’s a prius! I’ve never seen a taxi prius before.
Checked in. Now for the long wait to get on the plane, then another wait on the plane, then do it all again in LA. Bed in maybe 24 hrs.
Of course I’m the one who gets explosive tested because I was waiting for auntie sue and fiona. Even got felt up. 🙁
@Contendo that’s the plan. Just need to get data somehow. Otherwise I’ll be using birdhouse and upload when I find wifi.
Getting ready to board my @VAustralia flight. See u on the other side!
The seats seem a good size for my ample butt. I know what I’ll be doing most of the time!
Thanks to the copious amount of content on the entertainment system I will not have to watch Beverly hills chihuahua. 🙂
Just been told our flight will be only 11 hours 50 mins. Sweet! Ok last tweet in Aus now I promise.
The toilet on the 777 is huge for a plane.  And it was clean. My favourite touch was the radio playing “I c u baby, shaking that ass”
Beef burgandy for lunch/dinner. Mash potato was fantastic but I loved the lamington in raspberry sauce more.
Noise cancelling headphones are vital when there is a kid 1 row over screaming non stop for an hour. Feel sorry for those with standard ears
3 hours to go and I haven’t slept. Watched 3 films, have a headache and am as dry as a desert. In good shape though. Seats are great.
My first view of LA was the encounters restaurant covered in scaffolding. Touch down!
Mood lighting on the plane was cool
We arrived early enough to take an earlier flight to DC but we weren’t switched on enough to take it. Doh!
Gave V America check in lady 10 points when she pronounced @digitiel last name right. She gave me 1 point for getting her name – Precious
Been in lax for 3 hours now. Delerium has set in. We are cry laughing and power dozing. 5 hours to go.
Wierded out that so many of the staff at lax were so nice. This experience was much better than the one I had in 2003.
Seats are a bit smaller on the v America flight. Mood lighting in effect. Will see if the wifi works shortly.
This was the mood lighting on the v Australia 777.
Writing this from a v america plane which just flew over Palm Springs on the way to Washington DC. How cool is wifi on a plane? Way cool!
@VAustralia Flew from BNE to LAX. Loved the seat pitch and width and entertainment system was first class. If only it took 3 hrs though. 🙂
@j3thr0 No, there wasn’t much choice and boingo didn’t quite work. Figured I’d wait to get on the plane. You still in Vegas?

(the following post is what happens when you haven’t slept for 20 hours)

@ExecutiveHotelP @ExecutiveHotelP I’d like it better if a meal was throw in on a four flight, but  no one dos that thse days
I’ve never understood how people can fall asleep while driving, but I get it now that I’ve dropped off to sleep twice already while typing.
@djackmanson Thanks! 🙂
Watched a guy get bumped up to first class on this flight. Best thing was he was in our row of three so now we can spread out.
About to fly over Springfield. Don’t think it’s the simpsons one – this is in Missouri.
@matthew_hall OMG, if that’s how it works, I feel for you. I can barely keep consciousness
Virgin America use google maps on their flight map to see where you are. You can zoom down to town and river level. Excellent use of tech.
@j3thr0 It seems to be working really well. Fast too. First I thought I would just pay novelty value, but I have 2 hours to  google read.
@j3thr0 Have a ghiradelli hot chocolate at Fishermans wharf soda fountain while you are there. Takeaway is good enough.
Arrival in Washington was cold.  I had to resort to borrowing a pashmina while waiting for shuttle. Raining as well.
Dinner at a lone star style restaurant because it was across the road from hoteli. Not great but enough to get us to tomorrow



3 thoughts on “Day 1 – Brisbane to Washington

  1. Pauline says:

    I was down for a ‘special meal’ ie. low salt so received my meal on VAustralia flight before everyone else. The downside is that you then have to wait until your row gets served before you can have a drink. I prefer to drink before or during a meal, not after.

  2. Lynne says:

    You should have been a writer Amy. You have the gift of making us feel like we were back there starting the trip again. Hope it is still as good when you are on the last day


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