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The latest update as of May 29, 2001

6:00 AM   Ring-ring, ring-ring, ring-ring, etc., etc. What's that ringing noise in my ears? Oh no, the phone's going and it's barely past sunrise.

G-Day Darren, howzitgoin mate? "I've just picked up the new Racepak computer from Bob Brackam, but it's missing a few parts. Like the data cartridge, the battery charger, the inductive (rpm) pickup, and the rpm pickup and cable for the diff."

"Have you got time to pack some of those missing pieces from the old Racepak before you leave?" Yeah mate. There's heaps of time as it's 6:00 am here and the plane leaves at 8:00 pm.....

In the meantime, there's still lots to do before I head for the airport. First on the agenda is a trip out to Coquitlam (20 miles east) at 8 o'clock to get the lap belts and crotch strap modified. That turns into an embarassing waste of time as the Jager Safety Equipment lady, Jeannie, shows me how to adjust them properly and solves the problem in less than 30 seconds.

She's been up all night working her regular job as a nurse, and is still able to solve a dilemna that flummoxed me and several crew members - no names; to protect the guilty. Thanks for pointing out the obvious, Jeannie.

11:00 AM   Several other stops, to buy some much-needed Oz dollars, stock up on the wardrobe and shoes and I'm home. Now what else is there to do? Get a medical done for the ANDRA license, order some blower belts, arrange for a rental car and finish packing. And I've still got six hours left. No worries....

4:00 PM   Hey, we're on a roll now. Passed the medical - with flying colours (no small worry about that) - and I've just got off the phone to ANDRA. If I can find a postal outlet in the Sydney airport on Thursday morning, express post the paperwork to them, then I just might be able to get the license in time for the Winternats. Of course there's still the small detail of making the required 2.5 passes to get the license endorsed and validated. (More on that later).

I'd better call RCD about those blower belts now. "Why the heck didn't you order these eight weeks ago?" is their response to my plea. Speed (as in delivery) costs, so these are going to end up being two of the most expensive, and longest, blower belts in drag racing history.

There's just enough time left to ring Travelaire Tours in Brisbane, and arrange for the rental car. "No worries, we'll fax you the voucher straight away." Whew, 20 minutes until the taxi arrives and everything's done, except for the myriad of parts requests from downunder that didn't arrive, or more correctly, didn't get ordered in time.

4:50 PM   Where's the bloody fax from Travelaire? Why won't it ring? This is getting tense. Then, finally, it rings, the fax rolls out and I'm out the door, just in time to catch the already waiting taxi.

7:30 PM   Damn. They're calling me to board the plane and there's six minutes left in a very exciting hockey game on the TV in the boarding lounge. Guess I'll have to wait until Honolulu to find out who won. And the season will be over before I return to Canada, so this is my last view of Canada's favourite game for the next four months.

8:30 PM   This is not shaping up to be a great flight. In front of me is a less-than-year-old baby, apparently making her first trip in a plane - and she's not happy about it, voicing her displeasure loudly... and more or less constantly. The plane itself, an old 767, is no prize either. It looks old and tired, as do the flight attendants. Welcome to the world of Air Canada.

Two weeks ago Qantas dropped Vancouver from it's routes, and now my only choice is Air Canada. That company has taken a considerable slagging from dissatisfied customers over the past year and now I can see and feel for myself just why they've been copping so much abuse.

The only bright spot in this gloomy scenario is my seatmate, a young, good-looking sheila returning to Melbourne from a seven month ski/work vacation in Vail, Colorado. She's very friendly and we pass the time in a lively conversation until the bar cart finally makes it appearance.

MIDNIGHT   We're still two hours out of Honolulu, the movie's over, the food is long gone and the plane lumbers through the night. All I can do is start composing a long, detailed letter of complaint to Air Canada and my travel agent.

Black Bar
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