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September 12, 2001
One step away from the real world (Russell)

010912h.jpg (321685 bytes)
The front page of Australia's daily newspaper

Australia's east coast is 17 hours ahead of California.  At 7:00 AM Friday in California, it was already midnight for us here in Brisbane.  Gail was unable to sleep due to Russell's snoring, but didn't turn on the television for fear of waking the boys.  Instead, she sat in the near darkness and wrote in her journal until she fell asleep at 2:00 AM.

So it wasn't until we checked out of the Brisbane Caravan Park at 9:00 AM that the host told Russell about the news from America.  Russell thought that he was joking.  As we drove to the airport to return our rental minivan, we turned on the radio news for the first time since we had left Brisbane three weeks ago.

An hour later, it rained as we waited for the ferry to Tangalooma Resort.  During the 1+ hour ride over to Moreton Island, the crew played President Bush's national address over the loudspeaker.  And another family was kind enough to let us have their newspaper after they had finished with it.

It was not until 1:00 PM on September 12 that we were able to turn on a television set.  Australia devoted the entire afternoon to nonstop news coverage, alternating between American NBC, CNN, and ABC coverage.  They interrupted to interview Australian expatriates who were living in New York.  The adults spent the afternoon watching news footage being repeated over and over.  Cameron understood and watched as well.  Joss wondered why someone would deliberately fly an airplane directly into the World Trade Center.  After awhile, the boys went out to the beach to play.  We kept an extra close watch on them.

It is strange to find ourselves in a resort villa on a sand island, yet suddenly unable to relax.  People have told us that we picked a good time to be out of the country.  We have avoided America's economic slowdown, but we have also missed the birth of our first grandson and a tragedy that involves our entire nation.  We are reminded of another family trip that we took several years ago: we were in the midst of a one-month tour of the United States by motorhome when Oklahoma City was bombed.  Then, as now, we suddenly felt an immediate need to hold each other and our children very tightly. 

Mayor Giuliani mused that this is a time for families to be together, to grow closer and stronger.  Certainly, that is one of the main reasons that we embarked on this trip in the first place.  We are very grateful that we are together here, while our thoughts go out to our loved ones back home.

We have no plans to change any of our itinerary at this point.  After three days in Tangalooma, we fly to China for a three-week train tour, then on to Mauritius for a one-week "vacation."  We feel completely secure with these two countries.  However, we will continue to monitor events as we look ahead to Tanzania, Egypt, and Turkey.  We will be both wise and cautious; our personal safety is a higher priority than touring the world.

[Note: Our ability to update the Web site may become extremely limited over the next while.  Please don't panic.  Our email system will work from any telephone anywhere in the world.]

In the meantime, even as we try to relax and enjoy our final days here in Australia, we have now made arrangements to receive two newspapers a day here.


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