“Put on my on my blue suede shoes and I, boarded the plane. Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, in the middle of the pouring rain” – Mark Cohn
After almost 35 hours travelling time, nearly 22 of that in the air over 4 separate flights, I have indeed “touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, in the middle of the pouring rain. While the rain wasn’t exactly pouring, it was definitely rain. What the locals call “Fat Rain”. But it was great to finally be outside an airport, in Memphis and on American soil.
I might have felt like a zombie, but it was time to get this adventure started even if it was 9pm on a Saturday night and we had no where to stay! But I’ll come back to that.
Lets start at the beginning shall we?
Adelaide Airport 3:30am Saturday morning:
We had conflicting documentation stating when we should be at the airport. One stated 4 hours before the first flight and the other 2 hours before, so we arrived 2 and half hours before our flight. We were welcomed at Adelaide Airport by cleaners, maintenance men and closed doors. Turns out the airport wasn’t even open until 4am, but at least we were at the front of the line!
Then the fun started.
The doors finally opened and we went in, straight to the front of the line, where we waiting until 4:30 for the counter staff to actually start their shift. Then we had to wait for them to finish gas bagging about one of the attendants engagement the previous night. Finally we were ready to start our US Tour 2014, we simply had to check our bags and go and get some breakfast while we waited for the plane to Sydney. Or so we thought. It seems the our chatty airport staff had no idea how to check in two travellers flying to America on Permanent Resident Cards. After almost an hour of back and forths we finally just paid for a temporary via in to the USA just to make life easier.
Finally 15 minutes later, minus breakfast we were in the air on the way to Sydney and eventually after almost 10 years, back to mainland USA.
2 hours to Sydney and then 14 hours to LA makes for a numb bum, which was just as well as I was about to spend nearly an hour with US Immigration who were none too happy with me not coming back to the US for 7 years and were preparing the rubber glove treatment for me. I successfully made peace with them and they allowed me to keep my Green Card and let me on my way. After a couple of well earned beers, we were boarding a plane to Salt Lake City and the 3rd out of 4 flights.
Flying in to SLC was amazing. A beautiful city guarded by mountains, I would have loved to have stayed and explored for a few days, instead it was time to board one last plane to head to our first destination, West Memphis, Arkansas.
A few more hours of flying time and finally it was time to leave everywhere that somehow had a plane involved. We had been in airports or aircraft for over 36 hours, so when the warm humid night air of Memphis hit me, I was glad. And just like the song, I was finally “walking in Memphis”, and it felt good! “Fat Rain” was slowly coming down, it was warm, muggy and America! Before too long we had loaded the rental car and we were driving on the wrong side of the road, headed to West Memphis, Arkansas and hopefully a cold beer!
It’s a strange thing being super tired and driving on the wrong side of the road, in another country. But it doesn’t take too long to get used to it. After stopping at a friend’s place and having a few cold beers it was time time to get our phones sorted and find a place to sleep. I won’t bore you with the phone saga, let’s just say it took a good few hours in Walmart to get our phones working. There was lots of swearing and fierce gnashing of teeth, but we eventually had comms.
But what’s harder than getting your Aussie phone to talk American? Trying to get a hotel room in West Memphis on the Saturday night of the Memorial Day weekend! After driving to over 15 hotels we finally found one with one room left. Now I’m not a religious man, but I was thanking God for the Budget Inn. Even if it did have more cockroaches than stars, this seemed like the penthouse suite of the Ritz Carlton to me.
The Budget Inn (or the Ritz as I like to call it) had a shower, clean towels and a freshly made bed. I was a King! And with some good sleep, I’d be able to survey my kingdom, but not before doing up the 400 locks on the door!
Part 2 of Invasion USA can be found HERE