Diary - 2004-09-23

After not getting much sleep due to being up until about 2:30am working on things for the trip I got up at 8am.There were still some things that needed to be done so I got that all ready.This was to be a very brutal day because of all the flying, good byes, & waiting.However, there was a level of relief because I had worked so hard to get ready for this day.I was finally able to leave everything behind & truly start my journey.It was like a rebirth of sorts.

Right before leaving my brother gave me some last minute gifts including a rain poncho, sunglass soft case that also cleans them & a picture of us from deer hunting which I put by my passport.

After getting everything put in the car, I had to tell my dad good bye since he wasn’t able to go to the airport that day.It was difficult because he was visibly having trouble with it & I am used to him being so tough.But we both hugged & said our good byes.

My brother & mom took me to the airport in (Milwaukee, Wisconsin).Thad & I talked most of the way up while I drove & he navigated in the “shotgun” seat.It was good to reminisce about things & talk about what could be.Mom was also into the conversation at points but it was obvious that she was very worried about what was coming.

We had to do a few stops in Dodgeville & Madison, and caught my last meal in America there.We made it to the airport about 3 hours ahead of time like we had planned.We took some pictures & got everything ready to carry into the airport.Once in the airport we first had to go though check-ins which was not a fun process.We had to go to a couple different lines before we got where we needed to be, due to a less than helpful representative.Once in the right line we had to wait for a lady in front of us to sort out some trouble she was having with her tickets.Once she moved things got faster & we made it to the counter.After that we went to the x-ray machine.I had to get into my checked bag because we had to take the underwater camera out before it went through the x-ray machine because it would have ruined it.After getting the bag repacked, repackaged with plastic & duct taped we gave the bag to the airport.It was to be checked through all the way to Nadi, Fiji.

At this point we had almost 2 hours before the flight.We headed for the security checkpoint.The line moved very fast so I actually stepped out at first so I could say good-bye to Thad & Mom, which was very tough to do.I had to unpack my carry on bag due to my laptop & digital camera.I also failed the first time thought the metal detector due to my shoes, but after that it was all good.Once I got everything put back away & my shoes on I waived good-bye to Thad & Mom.Then I turned and headed to the gate at which point I was truly on my own.

I found my gate & sat down to reflect for a few minutes, plus I ate some of the food I had.After that I decided I should do something other than just sitting there being sad, for the 90 minutes until I needed to board.So I took my laptop over to a spot on the floor, got hooked up to the power & started trying to catch up on e-mails which I had been forced to neglect for the previous 2-3 weeks because of trip preparation.The first sign of a good trip came in a cleaning person who saw me sitting on the floor.She came over to me & offered me a folding chair which I accepted.I am not much for signs, but I thought that was a good one.I worked for a while on the laptop, and then boarded the first plane.

The first flight was about 4 hours long & left Milwaukee around 6pm.I watched Road to Perdition on my laptop & did some reading from the Lonely Planet South Pacific book.Once I arrived in Los Angles I got off the plane & called my Mom just to let her know things were ok.I hadn’t really planned to call, but I just figured she would like to know that I was at least that far.After the call I got my stuff together & headed for the gate I needed (even though I had no idea where that was).LAX is huge, but I had around 3 hours in between flights so I decided to see if I could find it without asking.I got about 90% there but decided since I had been walking for a while I should check.I asked a security guard who told me I was on the right path.I got checked in & found the gate with about 2 hours to spare.I decided to work on & recharge the laptop.This allowed me to get more of my travel web site setup & get caught up on pictures a little bit.By the time the flight was ready to leave it was the end of Thursday September 23, 2004