5:30am we got up and I had a quick shower before we packed it up and went down to the lobby. While Dad checked out I gave my ticket to the concierge and they gave me Scottie and my bags. We managed to fit all that into the back of the bus as well as three sign boards the boys had nicked from the track after the race. With that and nine of us in the bus it was a tight squeeze but comfortable enough for the hour long drive to the airport.
We dropped Brett off at the main terminal then carried on to the Air Asia one miles down the road. We offloaded everything from the bus and onto the sidewalk. The boys stole the trolley that Dad got for us to carry their sign boards but we soon had another one and got everything inside. After looking up at the screen, we pushed everything over to counter T but a lady redirected us to counter X. That was better because there wasn’t a queue there and when we saw a couple of guys walking away with surfboards, we figured it was Scottie who’d put us at this counter.
The lady behind the desk asked if I could please offload some gear from my overweight duffle bag and put it into my bike box and I kindly obliged. With that done, we weighed my hiking pack which was technically Dad’s luggage and that was a couple of kilos underweight. We were set to go! We met the others as we went through immigration then security having no issues there. Again we all met up in the food court to eat some terrible breakfast offered up by Maccas.
As we ate, Neil gave us a rendition of what is involved in the power management industry since he is often at the helm of electricity generation for the South West corner of Australia. It was super interesting and to top it all off he offered up his version of cold and flu tablets which I gratefully accepted.
We ended up walking briskly to our gate thinking we only had minutes to spare but we got there in plenty of time, walking straight onto the plane within the queue that had already formed. I started off sitting towards the back of the plane while Dad was further up. Just after take off though, I had my eyes closed listening to a podcast, Dad poked me gently and asked if I’d like to join him up next to him. Thinking he was in the seats behind the wall I did so. He’d had a mother and baby next to him and they’d moved to an aisle seat.
Unfortunately my move meant I was sitting behind an ignorant fattie that had no seat in front of him and didn’t feel bad about having his seat back all the way reclined onto my knees. The plus side though was that me and Dad got to kill time by chatting away in between listening to podcasts and reading our books. It was a long five hour flight during which I really would have liked to sleep but didn’t manage.
We touched down and I was home. Home for the first time in 14 months and I was about to see my Mum.
Off the plane, I was excited to see the automated immigration gates that meant for the first time crossing a border I wouldn’t be grilled for why I was there and when I planned to be leaving. I got through not issues after scanning my passport and looking at a camera for a photo. Dad didn’t have such luck though, for some reason he was issued with two tickets and got rejected at the camera phase. I waited for him on the other side as he went into a queue. I feared a long wait but by the time I’d got a message off to Mummy he was out.
Downstairs at baggage collection, I went to the currency exchange to say goodbye to my remaining ringgits and US dollars. The guy behind the desk was super friendly and got rid of a lot of fees for me then welcomed me home to finish off our transaction. When I was done, Dad already had my hiking pack on a trolley. While he guarded the carousel, I went to the oversize baggage area to wait nervously for Scottie. As I got Scottie into my arms, Dad wrestled my heavy duffle bag off the belt and we were set!
We struggled a little with the bike box through the next couple of queues, deciding at the customs line to leave it near the head of the queue with me guarding it while Dad pushed the trolley through the queue. When we joined up, I ducked under the barriers and pushed Scottie through. Most people were getting waved straight through without inspection but I thought for sure Scottie would get us to an inspection station. Not so. After asking me if I was travelling alone, the customs officer waved us straight through. Win!
In the arrivals hall, we milled about waiting to catch up with the others once more but after waiting around a bit we soon got sick of that so said our goodbyes. With that, our F1 trip was over and my trip home began. We walked outside into the sun and got on a shuttle bus to take us to the carpark. Thankfully we were the first ones on so we could put Scottie in the isle while people piled up all around. The bus was packed by the time we left but again, thankfully, we were the last ones off so we didn’t have to inconvenience too many people. We offloaded everything as the very kind bus driver told us there was no rush. While Dad paid money and went off to get the car, I shuffled all my gear to the kerb where he stopped for us to load up. Finally, our handling of my belongings was pretty much finished and we hit the road.
Seeing Dad drive on the left hand side of the road made my brain flicker and it didn’t feel right sitting in the “driver’s seat” and doing nothing. We stopped at a Dan Murphy’s for some white wine per Mum’s request, then again at Armadale shopping centre to get a SIM card for me. After that though, we were on single lane highway heading out into the country. For the last half hour of the drive, we hardly saw any other cars. We were surrounded by bush as we listened to an F1 podcast and I could feel my heart lifting. I was finally home!
Everything was looking very green as we came into Wandering. I’d been to the farm many times before but never this early in the year so I wasn’t used to it being cold or so alive. Lots of things looked familiar to me as we drove through the small town and started down the driveway. Mum’s trees that she’d planted years ago were looking really good and I was stoked to see the Landrover parked next to the shed just begging to be restored. I got a quick glance of the minis as we drove past but there would be plenty of time to play with them later.
Dad parked it in the carpark by the laundry and I made my way inside, surprised Mum wasn’t coming out to greet us. Turns out we’d snuck up on her. I yelled out as I walked to the kitchen door in my disabled voice and she was shocked. I came in the door and gave her a big hug which she returned. I was so happy to be with my Mum! She said hi to Dad then I think I hugged her again before we went outside to get all my shit. For the last time we carried everything inside, putting Scottie and my hiking pack in a room and putting everything else in what was to be my room for the next few months. Instead of the room by the dining room that I’d always slept in, I’d been upgraded to the end of the house where I had a view into the front paddock.
I hugged Mum a few more times before the night was out, I was so happy to be home.
We had dinner in the kitchen, a beautiful lamb roast with roasted veggies and talked about our most recent weekend adventures. After that we thought about starting a fire in the living room while we watched some TV but decided it was going to be an early night for both of us so we didn’t bother. Since Dad had taped all the F1 action from the weekend, we all sat down to watch the bits we’d missed, Mum included.
After watching the post-race interviews Mum asked if anyone was interested in some pudding. I said that I was full, but the disheartened look on her face told me I should probably have some pudding and so I changed my mind. Dad and I continued watching F1 as she went off to the kitchen to prepare dessert. I was completely taken by surprise when she came back into the living room carrying a huge cake topped with lit candles singing “Happy Birthday” which Dad chimed in to. I hadn’t seen this coming at all!
On top of the cake was “28” written in M&Ms and the candles were arranged within. I duly blew them out, the first time I’d done so in many years! Mum anticipated the cutting of the cake, not sure what would happen and it soon became obvious why. After carving out a couple of slices, colourful M&Ms poured out of the centre of the cake. She’d not just baked a cake, she’d created a masterpiece! She said she’d had so much fun making it and I was flattered she’d went to such effort for her number 2 daughter.
We enjoyed the cake which tasted as good as it looked and watched a little more F1 on TV before I called it, keen for an early night. What a wonderful day to come home to the farm and be with my parents.