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Trip Report Trip Report: Queensland July 08, Part 1

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Recently returned from a wonderful 3 week trip to Queensland. The highlight of the trip was the 8 day adventure we took exploring north of Cairns to Cooktown. The rest of our time was spent visiting family and friends on the Gold Coast.

Part 1. Coming and going.

We flew on United back and forth to Sydney from Providence RI. It was a major disaster in both directions. Outbound from LA, one of our engines, with which the crew admitted having had trouble on the SYD-LA leg the previous day, caught on fire almost 3 hrs over the Pacific Ocean! The engine was shut down, fuel was dumped and we landed back in LA at 3 AM, fire engines waiting. We were in the lucky group of passengers for whom United provided accommodation that night. Due to some screw up, about 80 passengers ended up spending the night on the floor of the airport Hilton!

We arrived in Sydney 15 hours behind schedule. My mother in law's car was delivered to the airport by a Sydney relative, and feeling chipper (for us it was about 9 AM, 11 PM in Sydney), we got in the car and drove straight up to the Gold Coast taking advantage of the lack of traffic at night. This took about 11 hours, sharing the driving (about 600 miles, 1000 km). This was the first time in quite a while I have driven the Pacific highway north of Sydney. Dramatic improvements over the years making the trip quicker and safer: dual highway in many sections, town bypasses etc. The sun came up while we were eating "brekkie" at McDonalds In Coffs Harbour. From there we enjoyed beautiful Australian countryside in the early sun with mists in the valleys. There is a fabulous section of road just south of Byron Bay with glorious views of the coast - someday they should build a lookout there so people can stop to enjoy it.

Like the outbound trip, our return trip started out well. We got to LA uneventfully, but our connecting flight to Chicago was cancelled due to mechanical problems. We were then rerouted to Providence via Washington. But this flight was delayed (the pilot said due to mechanical problems) and we ended up missing our late flight from Washington to Providence. Now I would have expected United to have put us up in a hotel that night. But no, despite what our pilot had said, and despite the fact we had already been traveling for a day, Customer Service said the flight problem was weather-related and we would have to overnight in the airport. I really hate that airline.

Coming up: Our trip in Far North Queensland....it was GREAT!

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