Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

Follow the Adventures of Anne Marie, Fergus, Cooper and Bean Sidhe in Australia!!

Archive for March, 2008

Hello World!!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on March 30, 2008

My brilliant nephew, Nathan – the MIT student- turned me on to this blog site. It’s suppose to be so easy to use that even I could do it. So here it goes! I’m going to add the update I sent to many of you as well as the photos I sent that many of you could not access. This way I’m not bombarding you with emails and photos you might not want to get  but you can check in on us whenever the mood hits you.

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Australia Bound

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on March 30, 2008

Australia Update: March 29, 2008 – 2:30 am (I seem to wake up around this time every night)

What a trip!! The last two days before the trip was a killer. I had 25 boxes of “stuff” to ship and then I found out is was going to cost about $6000. Needless-to-say, I opened every box and started removing and resorting the boxes and got it down to 10 boxes. I was also trying to get the house packed up. The linen closet is busting at the seams. I also have my office, the King Arthur room and the basement closet under the stairs full of all our personal stuff.

We rented a cargo van big enough for the two kennels, our four checked bags and our four carry on bags. The entire week before we left there was so much activity and mess that the kids were on edge. Whenever one of us would leave the house they would follow us as if saying “don’t leave me”. Anne’s Aussie Adventure Photos #1We didn’t get approval for Bean Sidhe until the Thursday before we left and that was only because I pleaded with the Australian Quarantine Services to make an exception on the paper work. I was in tears and the lady said “ Let me talk with my superiors and convince them to let your dog come in”.


Fergus & the van

Fergus worked a 24 hour shift on Saturday so he got home Sunday morning and slept for about two hours and then we packed the van and finished with the house. Coop in the kennelWe were on the rode to Kansas City at 3:25 pm.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn by the KC airport. After we walked the kids, I took a HOT seaweed soak in tub. I did not include THAT picture. My skin was red after I got out and I was a noodle – it was the first time I really relaxed in weeks.

Holiday Inn

The kids were exhausted. They hadn’t slept all day – they certainly are not use to that. We had a light room service meal and I was out before I knew it. The next morning (Monday) we were up by 5 am. We repacked our suitcases, repacked the van and arrived at the KC airport by 7:30. It took over and hour to check in the dogs (paper work and kennel stickers) and then ourselves. We had upgraded to first class using our frequent flyer miles and that was great. It was a short flight to Denver, a plane change and the first class to LA. A much needed uneventful trip.

We arrive in LA at approx. 1 pm Pacific Time (3 pm Kansas time). We rented an Outback – the largest car available. While Fergus waited with the kids and our bags, I took the kennels (which had to be taken apart to get them in the car) to the Qantas cargo terminal which was clear on the other side of the airport. I couldn’t get the kennels out of the car by myself and the Qantas people didn’t have a cart or dolly big enough. There were about six or eight truckers sitting there waiting for the paperwork or something and I said “Who would like to make ten bucks?” Two guys came out and unloaded the kennels for me. The best ten bucks I’ve ever spent.

So we had about four hours before the kids had to be back at the airport for their check in with the US vet who would seal them up. We drove over to Dick Kocher’s my favorite professor from Loyola Marymount. We had a nice visit with him. Fergus was getting in one of his “moods” – he is not a good traveler. So we got in the car and drove to the ocean and by then it was time to take the kids to Qantas Cargo to meet with the vet.

So now they have been up all day again. Bean Sidhe was trying to nap whenever she had a chance to lie down (or is it lay down? I can never get that straight). Cooper was very clingy. He wasn’t at all aggressive – mostly scared and uncertain with all the noise and strange people and activity. The vet came and sealed up the kennels with special tags (he had to drill holes in the corners of the kennels and use some lead straps with code numbers (we have 9/11 to thank for all these precautions against terrorist terriers). Then the kennels were taken to the loading area. There were about four other kennels with dogs in them. Coop and Bean Sidhe did not want to get inside the kennels – they knew by all the barking that something bad was about to happen. We said good bye at about 7 pm.

We then drove to my friend Judy’s mom and dad’s house in Manhattan Beach. Judy and I were best friend’s in high school. She was an only child and her parents always treated me like a second daughter. I have kept in contact with them over the years. They are quite elderly, as you can imagine considering how old I am, but still very alert mentally while her mom – Jane is physically frail and AD seems not to have changed at all. Fergus was on his best behavior because we had a good heart-to-heart earlier in the afternoon when we drove to the beach. He can be so charming when he wants to be.

We had some champagne and snacks, reminisced about when Judy and I were kids, about WWII – AD was stationed in Australia for part of time. The VarnadosI was able to take a shower and change clothes and then it was off to the airport AGAIN. By now it is 9 pm LA time and 11pm Kansas time.

Fergus & Anne MarieWe returned the rental car and checked in. We REPACKED our carry-ons to try to get everything into our two bags each – the stuff seemed to be growing. Fergus talked with his folks for a few minutes and then we boarded the plane with not much time to spare. I think the plane took off on time – 11:55 pm LA time – 1:55 Kansas time. What a long day!!!

Unfortunately, we did not have first class or even business class seats on this flight – fortunately the flight wasn’t full so once we were in the air I slipped into the empty seats behind us and was able to stretch out a little. One tiny sleeping pill and we were both out before they even came around with the beverages.

Fergus slept almost the entire flight but I was awake at my usual time – sometime in the middle of the night. I watched three movies – August Rush, Atonement and Juno. That gives you some idea how long the flight was – and we weren’t even close to Sydney yet. I have by now given up trying to figure what the time was anywhere. I know it was SUPPOSE to be a 14 hour flight – but Sydney was fogged in and we were diverted to Brisbane to refuel. We had to wait on the plane while they refueled and for the weather to clear. We could hear some barking – I think the landings and take-offs were probably the worse for the kids. I asked to flight attendant If someone could check on the kids for us. He came back later and said they checked – gave them some water and they seem to be fine. After about an hour we took off for a two hour flight to Sydney.

We passed the International dateline sometime in the night so it was now Wednesday – we lost a entire day. It was 11:30 am by the time we got through customs at the Sydney airport. That would have made it about 6:30 pm Kansas time. Sydney Airport


 Fergus and the bags.

The kids had been in their kennels 22 hours by then. Since the flight was delayed the Australian Quarantine people wouldn’t be back to pick them up until the afternoon. We don’t know when they finally arrived at the quarantine station – a 40 minute drive from the airport.

We has reserved a hotel near the airport but not near much else. It was not great – no ice machine – a bit grungy and kind of expensive. But it was only for one night. There wasn’t much to do so we walked back to the International Terminal at the airport and looked through the shops, picked up some wine and sushi and headed back to the room. By now it was bout 7pm and I was zonked.

The next morning I was up at 2 am and then again at 5 am. We decided to get up and take the train to the quarantine station. Our cell phones were not working, I kept running out of coins for the pay phone trying to get a hold of AT&T in the US to find out what was going on. Visiting hours at the AQIS – Australian Quarantine Inspection Station – were from 1:30 to 3:30. We thought we’d take the train to the town were the AQIS is, look around the town, visit the kids and get back to Sydney to catch our flight at 5:15 to Canberra – oh, no!!! The train ride was an hour and ½, it was a 4 kilometer WALK to the AQIS. We figured we’d never get back in time to catch the 4 pm shuttle to the airport. So we arrived at the AQIS a 12:05 in the afternoon and begged to see the kids. Rules are rules – you can only visit on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 to 3:30 in the afternoon. It’s like a prison. So we sat in the lobby until 1:30. We called for a cab to pick us up at 2 – to get us back on the train in time. So we had only 20 minutes with the kids.

At AQISLet me tell you – it was worth it. I have never seen two dogs more happy to see us. Cooper was beside himself. He couldn’t get close enough to us. He was so excited he started to howl – I have never heard him do that. Bean Sidhe was wagging her tail so hard I thought she was going to break apart in the middle.

Their keeper, Alicia, couldn’t be more wonderful. She told us about how much they ate, whether they ate or not, when they peed and pooped, how they were getting along. She calls Bean Sidhe “Beanie”. Bean Sidhe got a bladder infection – probably from trying not to pee in her kennel all those hours on the plane. Alicia says that’s pretty common. She would keep and eye on it and get some medicine if it doesn’t clear up in a day or two. She said Cooper has been great – a little stressed when he first arrived but much calmer today. We hated to leave them again but they have lots of room in their pens. They get exercised every day and we can visit them next week.At AQIS

We caught the cab, train, shuttle and flight to Canberra with little incidents. Kate, from the hospital picked us up and drove us to the apartment complex. It’s actually very nice. We have two bedrooms a really large living/dining room area. A kitchen with all the amenities, pots, pans, dishes, etc. There is a washer and dryer and a bathtub so big you can have you entire body from shoulders to toes underwater with some room to spare. There’s a TV and a DVD player and Wireless internet access – which makes Fergus happy. Weekly maid service – which makes me VERY happy.

Yesterday, Karen, from the hospital, picked us up at 10:30 am. We drove around Canberra, we went by the hospital, the Parliament House, picked up our Visas at the immigration office, Fergus’ medical license at the licensing board, got a checking account, did some grocery shopping at the mall. Karen told us about a house for rent out in the country – I’ll call about that tomorrow. We got back to the apartment, checked emails, and the walked to the neighborhood shopping area in Kingston – that’s the name of the suburb the apartment is in. There are all these restaurants and shops in a two block area only three blocks from where the apartment is. Turkish, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, and more restaurants, bakeries and a Pub, a bookstore, beauty shops and more. It was pretty lively because it was Friday night. I finally had a meal with LOTS of veggies – something I have been craving for the last few days.

I feel asleep on the couch watching the news – it’s been a hell of a week I’ll tell you. Canberra is really, really nice. Everything is clean. It’s a relatively new city so everything is modern and spread out – not all crammed and bunched together, Since it is the federal capital – there are lots of people in suits but it’s a pretty casual atmosphere. Later today we will get our cell phones but email is still the best way to contact me. I’ll try to send another update in a day to two. Fergus starts work on Monday. In the meantime we are going to go exploring. On Saturday there is what they call the Fresh Fruit Market in Fyshwich (?) a farmer’s market of sorts. I’m sorry if there are grammatically errors or typos – it’s now 4:45 am and I think I’ll go back to bed.

Parrots in the trees.

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