Sitting in our (enormous!) chalet, nestled in Squaw Valley between snow-covered peaks, drinking moonshine in front of a roaring fire and watching strange American television – what a way to spend a Friday evening!

It was a massive effort to get here, with nothing seemingly going our way. First, getting to the airport – I arranged us a car, and they subbed in a taxi at the last second (no child seat available, apparently). No problem, once the cabby found our place. Off to the airport!

… Where they couldn’t check us in until Jules’ ticket was updated – it was booked with “Mason” as his first name! As they started the process, it came out that they had no record of his booking payment – no seat, so only 10% ticket price, but with $800 worth of taxes. For an $80 booking!

Got Tom (from Palantir) on the case and he sorted it (with much gnashing of teeth – he hates Qantas), so we headed for the lounge for the briefest of stays. And they wouldn’t serve us a celebratory champagne!

On to Sydney. Bumpy ride in a dual-prop Dash 8 – which Dee has called “the Shakinator death-trap” on a previous occasion (just before I boarded, nice of her). Not the best of flyers, she certainly enjoyed our well-deserved champagne once we made it to the Sydney lounge. If only we had longer there!

Now the big flight – 13 hours in an Airbus A380. We boarded, and immediately had to ask where we were sitting, as our tickets – the second or third set issued – just said “infant”. We were supposedly sitting at a bulkhead, with requisite bassinet for Jules, but the on board staff had no record. To their credit, they reseated us at a bulkhead near the back without too much hassle. Another bumpy flight, but at least our baby boy slept through.

Tired now, and headed for the gauntlet of LAX. “Say what you like about the English,” I said, “they know how to queue.” Unlike the Americans, who want to subject any and all visitors to the longest, most confusing lines. “Visitor or US citizen,” asked Dee of a passing line-attendant. “Yes” was the unhelpful reply before she stormed off, yelling at people to form lines. 20 minutes, lucky we were in the right line AND we got there reasonably early AND they had more than a single Customs officer on duty (they had two). Painful, but we somehow made it through without Jules cracking it ( came close, but he’s such a good little boy). At this point I’m feeling despair, and Dee is feeling frustration.

We got our bags, sans trolley despite Dee’s best efforts at stealing one from a greedy Chinese couple – they had two! – and rechecked them. The dumbest system in the world. Hoofed over to another terminal and went through security again, making it to our departure gate with ten minutes to spare. Joy! Another flight, bumpier than it needed to be, and we’re in San Franscisco.

“This is my favourite airport,” says Dee, possibly because it’s the last one we have to see for a while. Driver man meets us at the gate, helps us with our bags and drives us to The Westin, Palo Alto. We check in, collapse, go out for last minute supermarket shopping, collapse again, and sleep until 10am this morning.

(Will post again about life in a snow cone, but for now you’re all caught up.)