OmniSkore Coverage - World Parachuting Championships, Corowa, Australia

 Tim's Trip Diary

Saturday Afternoon
I must say I was a little disappointed with the trip in the Big Plane over the Big Pond. In an 747 that seats ten abreast, one of the center section seats means you're about ten feet from the nearest window, and what little I could see out the window to my left was mostly wing and engines.

The "Big Bird" Boeing 747-400The plane took off Wednesday night around 11:00 p.m. After a chicken dinner I actually slept quite well. Breakfast was served 10 hours into the flight, a couple of hours before landing in Auckland, New Zealand. Now that was an interesting landing. Since we crossed the International Date Line in route, it was now Friday morning. The pilot made it more interesting by yawing the plane hard once in each direction after bouncing off the runway. I actually had to swallow breakfast again. I can't image how much stress goes through the landing gear in a ship that big with the plane going sideways, and I was wondering how many times the fuselage would roll before disintegrating in a cloud of OmniSkore equipment. But the pilot settled the plane down and a couple hours later we were on our way to Melbourne...

Bed & Breakfast on the farm.
Bed & breakfast, the good end.
The B&B has three bedrooms, kitchen, and this.
Breakfast Saturday morning.
The view out the back yard.

...where there was no one waiting for us, so we wound up renting a van and driving up to Corowa. Now I've heard they have a lot of sheep down here, but I tell you it was like solid sheep farm between Melbourne and Corowa. Didn't see any Wallabies or Koala bears though. We pulled into town mid-afternoon, dumped the equipment off at the drop zone, and checked into our lodging. Ooh, they are off to a good start with us here. We're in a bed & breakfast on a sheep farm about five clicks from the DZ, and it's a nice little place.

After claiming our bunks we headed to town for some dinner and brew. Corowa is kind of a renovated old-west place, with several old hotels with upper balconies for eating dinner and shooting at the pedestrians. The Aussie culture seems to be the closest to American I've ever seen outside of Texas (which is also very similar to American culture).

We were all sacked out by 8:00 p.m. (midnight by our internal clocks, with a full day added for good measure) and slept 10+ hours, then chowed down on some grub left by our nice farm host. 

So now it's Saturday afternoon and we've been setting up omnigear all day, things are looking real good. No Internet access yet but I hear it's on the way. It's still hard for me to grasp the time difference from home; we're seven time zones away from Arizona distance wise, but 17 hours ahead on the clock. So 3:00 p.m. Saturday here right now, that makes it 11:00 p.m. Thursday back home. Amy did you record "Friends" for me?

Sunday Morning
I am here to testify this morning that ounce for ounce, the world's loudest creature is the macaw. At precisely 0600 one of them, parked in a tree right outside my bedroom window, let loose a howl that rattled the house from end to end. Thirty minutes later, with cup of instant coffee in hand, I decided that this place is a birder's paradise.

Last night we stopped at the Retired Service League, a rather unique place best described as a casino. They have several computers hooked up to the Internet, and I managed to download my e-mail (although I couldn't reply). We still don't have the Internet on the drop zone; they hope to have it working tomorrow.

OmniSkore/Pegasus/Stylus/DZ-TV is 95% set up and ready. We've run into many familiar faces around the DZ already, and we're still a few days away from showtime. A great pre-start for what will hopefully be a fabulous championships.

Back to our Bed & Breakfast lodge. The back yard spills down into a "lagoon" (that's what it says on the little map of the place) that runs into the Murray river a click or two away. The whole area is covered with Eucalyptus trees, red gums, and name-an-Aussie-tree. The name of the Bed & Breakfast farm is Mooratunka, which we believe is aborigine for "Diddles With Sheep." The whole farm is guarded by a single large ex-navy sheep dog named Snuffy.

Well, Mr. Murphy done crashed the party, our MX1 PAL video mixer went Tango Uniform on us. Now we're scrambling around for another mixer, we may have to take a road trip to Melbourne tomorrow.

Saturday, October 30
Many long days later, the party is over and the gear is packed. We managed to get out and visit a couple of wineries yesterday afternoon before the awards ceremony. Some really neat places to go around here.

The Pfieffer winery features an old bridge over a river; they serve basket lunches here by reservation.

Lunch at the Cofield Winery

We liked the Pfeiffer wines the best

An almost-tame kookaburra...

...with our van in the background

Monday, 7:00 p.m.
Some airline experiences are so bad, you just gotta share them with everyone else.

We get on the big 747 out of Melbourne on time, and I breathe a quiet sigh of relief that, even though I had failed to land a window seat, the one next to me remains open as we pull away from the gate. I might actually get me some shuteye between here and Los Angeles.

Shortly after the seatbelt light turns off, Charla motions to me from her seat next to Ted and Lee a dozen rows forward. I return to my seat moments later with a glass of Champagne, thank you very much melady.

As soon as I hear that the in-flight movie is "The Sixth Sense" I scramble for the headphones. I enjoyed this movie in the theatre, and had thought about seeing it again. Cool. I finish my bubbly and order a Chardonnay from the beverage service and kick back to enjoy the movie...

...but a kid a row to the front and across the aisle has different plans. About five years old and wearing a Bobby Goldsboro hairdo, he decides that staring at me is going to be the primary part of his in-flight entertainment package. His kid brother has already discovered, to his great delight and to the horror of the flight crew, that one of the little buttons next to your hand not only makes a neat dingdong noise, but it makes a light flash on the ceiling by the television screen and one of those people in a blue suit comes running to see what is going on. So this goes on for the whole movie, kid #1 staring at me while kid #2 pushes the dingdong button, and meanwhile the plane is battling turbulence and the whole flight plan is falling well behind the power curve.

The movie and the turbulence come to an end and the flight crew scrambles to get the meal out before the plane reaches Auckland. Just as I take my first by of chicken pot pie, The Kid decides it's time to start aksin' questions.

"Hey mister, is that any good?"
"Hey mister, what's that stuff on that pie?"
"Hey mister, what's that red stuff for?"
"Hey mister, can you talk?"

"Yes I can, but I am eating my dinner."

Just as I'm about done, he says

"Hey mister, what's your name?"

"My name is Tim." I pull out my book -- which happens to be a Dirk Pitt adventure where some people are stranded on a raft between Australia and New Zealand -- and hope that he gets the message. The raft is adrift with a dozen crew and 150 prisoners bound for New South Wales and -

"Hey mister, what's that book about?"

It's about child-eating monsters, you little moron. "It's about a hero and a girl." Of course, it's a Dirk Pitt novel. Jeez, where's this kid's mother? Asleep, on the other side....

"Hey mister, my dad's been on an airplane more than 50 times."

That does it. I pull out my USPA card and wave in front of him. "That's nothing, kid. See this? I'm the Senior Vice Chief Executive Officer of the United States Parachute Association, and I've jumped out of these planes more times than your mommy's changed your brother's diapers. And see this?" -- I pull out my backpack, a Javelin replica just the right size for him -- "If you and your brother don't keep still and quiet for the rest of your trip, I'm gonna strap you into this here parachute and push you out that door over there." mom notice nudge nudge wink