July 21st:

Got up a little after 8am, and took my own sweet time getting ready (I seem to do that a lot, mostly when I don't have some tour forcing me up and out early). Watched TV and slowly did the last bits of packing (the toiletries), while watching it rain off and on, like it had the night before. (At least the rain did clean the beer off of the balcony.)

At just before noon, I went down to the bell desk and asked them to store my bags. I ended up having to go back up to the room so that they could check them into storage from there, then I went and checked out. For once, there were no extra charges to deal with (not even false ones like in Cairns, where someone had tried to fob their breakfast in the buffet off on my room - I hadn't eaten in any of the hotel's restaurants).

I had lunch at the first floor sushi restaurant, the one with the conveyor belt (the hotel had another Japanese restaurant and sushi bar on the 3rd floor), then walked the couple of blocks back to the International Market to do some last second shopping. I spent some time sitting on that same bench from a few days before, drinking proper tomato juice and watching the surfing, both boards and outrigger canoes. There was some kind of surfing exhibition or competition going on or being set up for a little ways down the beach - the day was still drizzly, and the waves weren't wonderful, so I wonder how well it went.

At about 2pm, I returned to the bell desk and retrieved my bags while asking for a cab. Got to the airport, checked in (with only one minor snafu - the signs were not very clear - all of the bags needed to go through "agricultural screening" (basically an extra x-ray trip)), and had some Burger King for dinner. Went over to the gate (19) and waited for the flight to board.

It is really amazing how different airlines are. Maybe the price difference between Qantas and American Airlines is such that they can have more modern planes (767-338s vs regular 767s, though the intercontinental flight for Qantas was a 747-338), can serve food on a 7+ hour trip not once but twice (the trip from Honolulu to Chicago, lasting over 7 hours, served no food, but offered one variety of sandwich for sale for $5, and a snack box of chips and salsa for $3), and have in-flight personal entertainment (we all had one track of video to watch on the AA flight).

The long flight wasn't too bad, though I was seated next to a woman who was taller than I, or at least had longer legs, because she kept them crossed and either pointed into the aisle or under the seat in front of me. She had no problems taking up the center arm with her arm (even though she had the aisle arm to herself), and poking well over, in fact. She spent a lot of time sleeping, while I didn't sleep at all though I had expected to. In fact, I hadn't planned for so much reading, and ran out of book about 1.75 hours before the end of the flight.

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