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Packing complete, last minute chores done, bags ready, and my day driver turns up early, bless his cheerful heart!

We arrive at the airport in style, silver limousine drawing to the kerb in the best position on the crowded drop-off area, my uniformed chauffeur hands the luggage out, my wife licks the last vestiges of chocolate away - a cabbie with a bag of tiny Easter eggs, imagine that! - and we're off!

Check-in is easy enough, but Canberra being Canberra, the premium line is longer than the regular queue. Security a breeze - for my wife. She's flying with just a handbag, while my tiny daypack is bursting at the seams with a tonne of light-weight, space-saving kit that I can't possibly part with. I could live for a week off this stuff, so what's in my checked bags, my dear wife wonders.

She looks immaculate and elegant; me, I'm the complete travel geek in cargo pants, plastic belt and a black polo. Sometimes I wonder why she picked me. Opposites attract, maybe.

The lady manning the J lounge twinkles when I outlined the itinerary: "Cherry blossoms in Kyoto, tulips in Amsterdam and a smile on Kerri's face."

This lounge is full, and we're lucky to snag a couple of seats together. We're the odd couple here: I'm not in a suit, and she's not male. There are a bare handful of women in the lounge, standing out like tulips in a sea of dark suits and power ties.

Long gin and tonic for Kerri and a glass of bubbles for me. A selection of snacks. Olives dripping vinegar, a tiny plate of what might be wasabi peas. There is a tub of pumpkin soup, trays of hot savouries, cold meats, cheeses, juices and crackers, but we ignore these. We're saving ourselves for something better.

An hour or so before our flight is called. We're on a jet. Not that I mind the turbo-props, but the high whining sounds hurt my wife's ears. My years in the mortar platoon fixed that for me long ago.

A quick glance over the tarmac as we leave. The view from the J lounge isn't great, but over in the distance the tents of the Great Moscow Circus are rising. Canberra International Airport: land of temporary structures and constant change. The terminal itself will be gone within the year, all operations crammed into Stage One of the new building.

One day, the dream will be complete, the roadworks and taxi torture test track will vanish, and we cabbies will scratch our heads in puzzlement, reminiscing about the old days here, when every day was a new adventure.
Moscow Circus
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It's Easter. 0300 on Easter Saturday. Normally, this time of a Saturday morning I'd be thinking about my last fare of a busy night, gassing the cab up, washing it, vacuuming it out and getting home to bed.

But I figured, Good Friday, it'll be a quiet evening, why should I spend it sitting on random cab ranks to find out I've been working for five bucks an hour?

So I made dinner for the family - salmon with antipasto, egg noodles and a thick tomato sauce. A bit worried about mixing pasta and antipasto, but it worked out okay and nobody went hungry.

We went through a bottle of wine. A sweetish wine which DD liked, but Kerri didn't, so she had some Pepsi Max before taking herself off to listen to an audiobook, while DD, DS and I finished off the bottle. And then hunted around for any other readily available alcohol, short of opening a warm bottle of shiraz or something.

I updated DS on the upcoming travels. He's an easy-going spirit and if he's happy just trundling along day to day - which he usually is - then things tend to pass him by. "What, you're travelling around the world next week? Why didn't I know about this? Who's going to cook dinner?"

"I get dibs on Mum's car!" DD crowed. A step up from the jaunty yellow Getz she drives. It's a fun car to rollick around town in, but short on comforts like cruise control and seats with decent padding.

Tweety the yellow Getz.
Sylvester the silver Mazda 2 DS drives.
And Greg the Golf. Kerri's car - I rarely need to drive anywhere.

I listed the itinerary. Basically, DD wants lollies bought at every exotic stop along the way, especially Turkish Delight from Turkey. She tells me I can buy a few kilos of whatever weirdness we find in Kyoto. I might make more of a token effort this time around and make up for the deficit with a big bag of Ghirardelli squares in San Francisco. After all, I've got to lug all this stuff around.

And then we got to talking about travels past and future. DD and I went RTW on points last July. We had a ball in every First lounge we could find, usually boarding the onward flight sozzled on good booze, all the better to fall asleep in our comfy Economy chairs.

Two weeks and seven great cities and we basically walked our feet off in every one of them. Had a tonne of fun. We giggled and remembered some of the highlights. One day I've got to write about the Most Expensive Brownie in the World, just as an excuse to blog about Paris.

This upcoming trip is more leisurely. Five wonderful cities and a four day roadtrip spread over three weeks, Kerri and I.

Boston and New England in August, still sketching in details, though I've made a few key bookings.

Next April will be the big Route 66 roadtrip. My day driver, his wife, DD and me, two friends. Three weeks, San Francisco to Washington DC and return, one direction being a trip along all of Route 66, likely in loose convoy.

DS expressed interest, especially when I mentioned the cheap, abundant and largely carnivorous food.

I'm accumulating Route 66 material at an alarming rate. Guides, maps, songs, videos, novels... In Chicago I'll have two days and a car, so I'm hoping to get some time to do a little bit of the Chicago end, down to Wilmington, perhaps, where there is a ginormous thing.

Mmmmm. Half the fun of a trip is in the planning.

Once we'd polished off the ready alcohol, we cleared the table, loaded the dishwasher and snored off to sleep.

Today I'll start getting out my bags and assembling the things I need to take. Thursday arvo and my day driver, revelling in a whole rich day of the cab to himself, will pick up Kerri and I for the short fare to Canberra International Airport.

Only five more sleeps!


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September 2010

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