July 10th:

I got up with my alarm, and was in the lobby checking out at about 7:25 am, just to be sure (there might have been a line, or the transport might have been early). It wasn't early, but that's okay. The transport compay was being super efficient - there were two sets of people in the van who were being delivered to hotels even as it was picking people up for the airport, starting with me. One pickup apparently hadn't gotten the word about the timing of the arrival, and had to be called down out of their room, which delayed the van somewhat, making our last pickup nervous since their flight was leaving pretty close to our airport arrival.

There was a bit of a line at the domestic Qantas check in, but it moved briskly. I wandered around the terminal for a while, and eventually the plane boarded. I was in seat 13D on the 737-800 (a relative of the plane I had taken from O'ahu to Hawai'i, but much nicer), which was an exit row, but also on the aisle. We ended up sitting at gate 7 for a while, first due to a computer glitch that caused the airline to have to file their flight plans manually, and then because of the weather. We eventually took off, only about half-an-hour late. The flight took about three hours, and, with the half-hour time change between Sydney and Alice Springs (why half-an-hour?), we landed about 12:45 pm. I met my hotel transfer, who also ended up doing double-duty, picking up folks for his afternoon Alice Springs tour while dropping folks off at hotels.

Alice Springs sure is in the middle of the desert. Their big river, the Todd, is completely waterless. The place has scrub vegetation (except for the gum trees), and big, rocky hills that they call the McDonald Range. The Alice Springs Resort is across the Todd River from the center of the town, and once I'd checked in I took a walk over the river and into the couple of square blocks of town. There isn't a whole lot to the place. A couple of shopping centers that mostly contain gift shops and such, a bunch of eateries, about 3 or 4 internet cafes, a cinema, a tattoo parlor, and even a sex shop. I walked around, ate lunch at Subway, walked around some more, went to a movie (Batman Begins - an excellent movie), went to dinner (Chinese), and went back to the room.

I had tried earlier to get my pickup time for tomorrow's tour, but being a Sunday, the AAT Kings tour office was closed. I guess I'll just have to get up early enough to be waiting at 7am, when the voucher says the pickups begin. Since the office isn't more than 2 minutes away by motor, I'll probably be first.

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