Just after six o'clock Sunday morning, I could see the shores of Austrailia through my window.
The plane circled a bay before landing at SYD.
((Much later, I studied a local map and discovered that we circled Botany Bay.
The S.S. Botany Bay is the sleeper ship that Khan and his genetically engeniered followers escaped on during the 1990's.
DNA from embryos from the same project that created augments like Khan is responsible for the smooth QuchHa' forehead seen in the 23rd century.
I was infected with the virus a few weeks ago.
The pilot was circling the bay as an insult.))
The first thing I tried to do was access the local Wi-Fi.
I managed to learn that SYD has two different providers, but didn't get far enough to actually connect.
I met up with Tracy and we proceded to customs while I continued looking into Wi-Fi.
Then we hit a sign that said no cameas or phones. *sigh*
Eventually, I handed my passport and a little form to an official.
The exchange went smoothly enough.
And then I bought $5 worth of Wi-Fi (Ah, the joys of a CDMA phone--no service in GSM countries) and wasted most of my 15 minutes.
Luggage was found, and currency exchanged--with a $10 fee attached...
And then we went through another customs check point.
I declared the food and knife in my luggage.
Long story short, I kept the food; they kept the knife.
I had brought my Daqtagh, a symbol of my personal honour, as well as the rest of my Defense Force uniform.
In the US, "costume laws" allow me to wear such a blade (or even carry a betleH) as long as I'm in costume and at (or traveling to/from) a related event.
The official stated that they did have such laws, but they were still going to confiscate the dagger.
This process took quite some time.
((Meanwhile, Tracy made it through customes without a scratch and found Dan standing with all of the limo drivers holding a sign labeled "Klingons". I hear he got a lot of looks.
After I didn't come out for a while, Dan remarked to Tracy "I hope they didn't confiscate his betleH."))
After all of the paperwork was resolved, they put me back in line to deal with whatever food I may have. But they failed to give me back the needed form.
After they figured out what happened to my form, they were so confused that they didn't ask me about the food--so I didn't tell.
Eventually, I made it out.
I found Tracy and Dan and informed them of the seizure, and they both looked over the stack of paperwork.
Dan assured me that we could get it back.
UPDATE: I got an e-mail last night informing me that it should be on its way back by the end of the week!
And then it was off to the Blue Mountains in Dan's batmobile (his car has bats on it).
We stopped for breakfast along the way at a little restaurant? bistro? and I had my first Austrailian food: scrambled eggs, bacon, and some sort of bread with a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.
I didn't recognize a thing.
But it was delicious.
Over breakfast I mentioned the superiority of webOS and Dan assured me that his iPhone was company-issued and that he wasn't a fanboi.
Hours later, we pulled off the road to find some kangaroos.
"I'm looking at a kangaroo. In Austrailia. Because I speak Klingon."
It was un-real.
The first thing you see when approaching Jenolan is their Grand Arch. I'm pretty sure it's the only cave in the world with a major road going through it.
Words do not do it justice.
(But please show up and take the audio tour ;-)
After making it through the arch, the view opens to take in the hotel and offices. Impressive indeed.
And cold. It's winter there.
Our rooms weren't ready, so Dan took us to his favorite cave, the Temple of Baal.
I don't know what I had expected, but this is a nice cave. And there's a rock that looks like bacon!
Finally, we got the chance to freshen up. We had been traveling for well over a day by then.
The rooms at the Jenolan House are quite nice. (I'll note here that they don't have TVs in the rooms--you won't miss it. There is a common TV room, though.)
I was even more impressed with the instantly hot water in the shower.
And all of the water in the hotel is local water that has been filtered through the surrounding limestone.
Dan had things to take care of, so James took over as host.
The three of us explored the Imperial Cave.
Tracy took several pictures of me in the Imperial Cave.
((I should have these pictures on Saturday.))
It is a very impressive cave. Even has a wine cellar.
And when we came across an undergound river, we were shocked by how clear it was. Absolutely amazing.
That night, the three of us met for dinner at the hote restaurant.
I can't pronounce the chicken dish that I had, but it was wonderful.
I followed it with chocolate mud cake.
((I was unable to find Dr Pepper. Austrailian Coca-Cola is made with sugar, unlike its American counterpart. However, to my pallet, it had a distinct artificial sweetner aftertaste. I drank water for most of the trip.
My wife informs me that Americans have more sugar in their food than other countries. Between this and the lack of soda, this partly explains why I followed so many meals with chocolate cake and why I always felt sugar-deprived.))
As James is in charge of the restaurant, we discussed ways for him to tie-in to the Klingon tour.
We discussed various Klingon food and drinks.
((As great as this trip was, I can't help but feel like I'm missing out.
In a few months, they'll have a Klingon tour, Klingon food, and hopefully a T-shirt. Wow!))
The day over, we retired for the night.
Sleep came easily.