Massive undertakings should be met with a healthy dose of excitement. Doubt and fear are the natural enemies of excitement, and those two fools should be squashed immediately, windshield bugs on a bullet train.
Once I squashed my fears and doubts the trip to Australia became visible for what it really was—an immense opportunity. Veiled by the lies we tell ourselves, opportunities are often missed like a dark ship passing in the night. Excitement is the natural resource opportunity needs. It’s the fossil fuel of future memories and the catalyst for realized dreams. The perfect wind for magic sailing ships made of moments you will soon cherish.
You could say I was excited, I mean I showed up at the Denver airport almost three hours before my flight to LA. This gulf of time was spent watching the comers and goers, the hustle and bustle of the traveling multitude. “Baby, run to the next gate or we will miss our flight.” “Watch my bag, I gotta run to the bathroom real quick.” “Keep an eye out for an ATM, I gotta grab some cash before we board.” “Where can I just get some trail mix and magazines?” Everyone sprints forward in an effort to not miss one single moment, they can’t stomach being late, or not having “necessities” for their next flight. A thin-faced couple marched slowly past me, silent and obviously pondering how ugly everyone else is in their world. I sat, reading “The Taming of the Shrew” on my kindle and smiling to myself at how seriously everyone takes everything in an airport. There’s just no margin for error in the world of over-priced bottles of water, t-shirts that read “I love Denver,” and trips across the world at over 600 miles an hour.
Looking out the plane window while trying not to hear the ear-popped babies shrieking around me, I began to see glimpses of Los Angeles as it began to pour itself into view. LA stretches out further than human vision allows, lights representing “civilization” twinkle in charming cadence inviting dreamers and lost children to bathe in the hope of Hollywood. Millions of individual lives being lived independently of one another, all the while piled on top of, blended with, and chopped up by one another—a meal of such varying flavors, no one could process it in one sitting. I only spent a few hours in LA, all in the cramped hallways and public school bathroom-like aura of the international terminal of LAX, but I do know that I need to return at some point.
Donnie, the other Coloradoan traveler on this trip, and I met the rest of the team in the only place that served hot food in the entirety of our terminal. Once the meet and greet was concluded, we then took to figuring out how to board our plane. Double-decker planes board differently than other planes and the only double-decker I was previously acquainted with had a layer of refried beans between its hard taco and soft taco layers, but this was far different. There were no tacos of any kind aboard flight 12 to Sydney, only gorgeous flight attendants and more movie choices than my brain could deal with at that moment. I only watched one move, “Patton,” and then took two highly effective Tylenol PM that guided me through a sweet unconscious fog. Greeted with happy faces and tear-filled embraces, the Aussies returning home were welcomed like conquering heroes. We were simply at our first stop in Australia.
After leaving the Sydney Airport, a tile beast of a place crawling with people of all flavors, an eternity and four compact SUVs later we went to our first engagement: interviews for the Australian Broadcasting Company. I have no idea why they wanted to interview us, but it allowed us to visit Hyde Park in Sydney during the midst of the Australia Day celebration, a paradise of delicious food, good music, groovy people, and exquisite culture. We spent the day lounging under eucalyptus trees eating Himalayan food and drinking in the culture of Australia. The utter relaxation I felt under those Eucalyptus contemplating my place on the planet hanging upside down from Earth’s gravity was mesmerizing.
Trying to describe our cannonball run from Sydney to Toowoomba while learning to drive cars on the other side of the road will surely prove difficult. I shall try my best to paint in the colors of Australia. Sixteen hour drives are something most Americans wouldn’t attempt in one day, and if they did they would find the experience utterly exhausting. The drive didn’t have the same effect on me as it probably would have had it happened stateside. Perhaps it was the jetlag, perhaps it was the spark of excitement tingling to my bones, but more likely it was the unfathomably beautiful weather, people, and roads I encountered as I navigated my white RAV-4 around snake turns and through singing forests full of life. The lead car, driven by Brandon, careening through a vortex of flora and asphalt, turned a corner to find a wallaby waiting on the other side. My windows down, I heard the thump as marsupial flesh struck cold Japanese plastic. Stunned, but alive, the wounded traveler hopped off the road. Brandon shouted details of the event into his walkie-talkie to the rest of us. As witness, I confirmed his announcement. “I hit a kangaroo.” “Is it dead?” “No I saw it wander off after Brandon nailed it.” “Kangaroo or Wallaby?” “Does it matter?”
After surveying the minimal damage to the car, we proceeded to Toowoomba without further incident. Other than the unfortunate episode with the wayward Wallaby, it was simply the most spectacular drive I have ever taken in my life.