We had received word from the US consulate in Sydney that my immigrant visa appointment was to be the 26th of February, so on the afternoon of the 24th we drove 4 hours up to Perth. As we drove out of Albany we saw my mighty West Coast Eagles getting on their bus to head down to the oval where they would whip the Collingwood Pies later that day. (Aussie Rules Football, for our American peeps). While on the subject of sport, most of you know I am not sport mad, apart from an exaggerated interest in the Eagles. We stopped for a late lunch in a little wheat farming town called Williams, taking the opportunity for a stretch and a hug. Kelly’s eyes glazed over as I put my arms around him. “Oh beauty! He’s out!” he said excitedly, looking past me to the cricket oval where the local B team just bowled out one of the visitors. It took him only ten seconds to get out of the van and fix his attention on a distant scrap of sport! He’s getting way too Aussie. Time to get him home … where he can look over my shoulder and cheer on the Caps, Bulls, Seahawks etc. There’s no hope for me.
We stayed in a van park near the airport, ready for a flight on the morning of the 25th, only because the free rest stop east of the city on the map is no longer there. We left Gypsy in long term parking and took most of the day to fly to Sydney, especially with a two hour time difference. The train then took us out to the rellies, where we enjoyed wine and coffee with cousin Glenda and her Jim, Maria and Uncle Merv. Then we trained it again to Wahroonga where my dear friend Ally picked us up. We enjoyed catching up over more wine and cheese late into the night. After and lovely day hanging with Ally and the kids (Hannah looking far too grown up and pretty), we headed off to the consulate early on the 26th. I had unwittingly become quite stressed about the process, and we prepared ourselves for complications, rescheduling flights etc. Instead we were finished in 90 minutes, most of which was spent in a waiting room. No questions, no grilling, no checking up on me in two years. Welcome to the USA. I guess being married for over 5 years and having savings/assets helped. Thank God that is sorted.
The trip back to Perth was a bad joke, but we were too relieved to care. The flight was very full and delayed for an hour because of storms in Sydney. They ran out of meals except for a dodgy mushroom pasta (Kel doesn’t eat mushrooms) AND they ran out of red wine (which Kel does have a bit of an affinity for)!!! Ground staff in Perth brought the wrong stairs so we waited some more. Apparently the highly trained airport professional didn’t realize that our craft was a Boeing 737 as opposed the Piper Cub for which he brought a foot stool. Not to put too fine of point on the matter, but our 7-year old nephew has been able to make this distinction since the age of three. We were too late for camp grounds and motels, and hotels in the city were asking an arm and a leg for a room. It was after midnight when we eventually settled on a place to sleep in the van where we didn’t feel too conspicuous, until the next morning when workers started rolling up at 6.30. Adventures!