Archive for the ‘Karen Owens’ Category

 

Written By: Karen Owens
Correspondent

We have now travelled twice between LAX and Brisbane Australia via Auckland Airport. We are completely organized, and well travelled. We pay close attention to announcements, arrival and departure boards, and gate locations. We always keep all relevant travel documents on hand for instant display when requested. And many other folk are just a savvy as us, and this is why travel runs smoothly. However, at Auckland Airport, we found a serious problem. Not with our own travels, but important enough to let all of y’all know about it.

We decided to fly Air New Zealand because the fares were so reasonable. The New Zealand dollar suffered more than the US dollar (or even the Australian dollar – we usually fly Qantas) and Air New Zealand prices are based out of New Zealand. We had the best fares we had ever paid for in 11 years of our travels together. So this necessitated a stop in Auckland to complete our flight. There are many considerations when planning air travel. One is knowing where the hubs for the various airlines are, and knowing which routes can be travelled nonstop by which airlines. If we had travelled Qantas, we would have been able to at least stay on the same flight all the way through to Australia even if it did stop somewhere.
So here we were with four hours of wait time in New Zealand. New Zealand has so much to offer the tourist. I myself have travelled in a group with 12 students who had disabilities on the south island, and I only have stories of magnificence and friendliness. One of my complaints on on our previous "transit only" visit was that one could not purchase the very famous New Zealand ice cream in the largest airport in the country. It makes sense to me to sell the things a country is famous for in the airport, just in case, like us, you don’t actually get to leave the airport. We did promise ourselves we would remedy that situation on another trip. The Airport has some stores, and on this visit I can confess that in the "Kiwi Discovery" store freezer, I found small white tubs of New Zealand ice cream, but to me they were of indeterminate age and travel experience (One could never be able to tell if the product had melted in transit, then refrozen, or undergone any number of delivery catastrophes.) I was not willing to risk Dean’s first taste of New Zealand ice cream on the mystery tubs.

A Very Dreary Auckland Airport

But I digress. Back to the problem: We were noticing that every flight departing was announced, but only as a "Final Call". After this time, we would hear "Would the final (insert number 1 – 10) passengers for flight 123 please board at gate 1 as the plane is fully loaded and we everyone is now waiting for you." Then we saw a flight attendant running, literally, through the entire departure lounge and store area, with a walkie talkie, loudly announcing the plane and asking for the passengers. A few minutes later, the individual passenger names were announced. Then we would see a small group of people running from the end of the gate area back toward the store area, frantically asking anyone they found "Where is gate 1?" Then we noticed that the signage to gates 1 and 3 was not as noticeable as the signage to all the other gates. There were two different information booths, both staffed with friendly helpful people concerned with getting you to your flight on time. This did not matter. The people who were waiting far beyond the booths in the gate area were not on time for their plane, and did not even know they had a problem until their names started to be announced.
What fascinated us was that this problem seemed to happen with EVERY flight, so how was it that someone had not worked out what was going wrong? We have no idea how many people actually missed flights, but it was bound to happen with all of the confusion. We suggest you check thoroughly and match your boarding pass with your gate, then find where your gate is, no matter which airport you travel through.

Written By: Karen Owens
Correspondent

I remember riding around in the bunk thinking "I live in America. I am married. I am a truck driver. How did this happen?" I was looking at my life from an almost detached perspective, and wondering if it was all a dream. Sometimes I would wake up and feel the need to audibly say "I live in the USA." I deliberately chose at each point of decision. Altogether, it was one big overall package offered to me when I still lived far away, with a totally different profession. Could I leave all that I was and everything I had, to change every part of that in a new land?
Most drivers would never have this kind of thought progression, but for me, this was my first year in the USA. Ten years later, it’s all still true! I still live in the USA, drive a truck and we just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. And life is so much more natural for us together in our truck, with the addition of the littlest fury traveler.
As my relationship developed with Dean in Australia, he made the decision to move back to the USA, and very much wanted me to join him for life. He flew me over the Pacific to introduce me to his family, and show me every place he had lived since and including where he was born, in Marietta Georgia. He wanted me to understand what our life together might look like. So he took me to an old time truck stop, ordered southern home-style food for me to try, after which he procured a shower key in order to show me a shower room. He also let me look inside the truck he was driving. I remember coming back from my trip to the south, announcing my plans to my mother. She nearly fell on the floor from laughing so hard. The proposal was in every way a radical change from the life I had then. I found out later that she became increasingly distressed as I took each step toward my new life, and even after I had been living here quite a while. Later, she visited with us and stayed in our Tennessee home shortly after Christmas. It was a very cold and snowy time. During her stay, I had her ride in the big truck with me for a week. After this, she was so much more settled about our decision. She experienced the life we had together at home and on the road. The picture became real for her, and she accepted it.
People often ask me, how are things different, or which country is better. One could argue that comparing countries is unfair, but I will address this. I love Australia, my countrymen, the brilliant flora and fauna, and the awesome unique geographical features of the only island/continent/country in the world. Life is more difficult there because of water restrictions in a harsh climate for most of the area, and physical isolation from other countries and their resources. Goods are either made in Australia, or brought there at a high cost. The population is smaller than the USA, so there is a smaller market, which means there are fewer choices of products. When I first came to the USA, I was almost overwhelmed just standing in Costco looking at the array of products.
There have been giant, unexpected differences which lead to a big revolution in my thinking. I used to think that Australia and the USA were comparable in democracy and freedoms, little knowing the ever increasing imposition of government on every aspect of life in Australia. In my opinion, this is now being duplicated in the USA. This is the reason Dean moved back to the USA – the government in Australia had taken over the internet, his source of business. The government did not offer him a job to compensate his loss in their takeover. There was no way for him to compete when there was only one source of internet, which we now lovingly call the "Big Swamp". My previous thought process was that the government only did good for their people, and it was helpful for things to by systematized through one source. People up there knew best how to help us function in our lives. Now I see so differently about the dangers of this socialist thinking. I do not want the government involved in my life unless absolutely necessary. The Constitution of the USA is very clear about the limitations of government involvement. Our own decisions, our own consequences, and our own responsibility are to be cherished, not given away to a bureaucrat or a politician with their agenda! The basis of the USA government is a representative republic, not a democracy, and certainly not a democratic socialist monarchy (as it is in Australia)! Now we need to try to choose the representatives which will do exactly that, and not be run over by the party to which they align themselves.
In my mind change, I spent many hours talking with my husband, and listening to talk radio. I was being educated in rabid conservative patriotism with the teachings of Maha Rush (Limbaugh), Sean (Hannity), Dr (Mark) Levin, and the west coast mad scientist (Michael Savage). Each had their contributions as well as detractions, and this was a source of lively discussion for us. See, Ann Coulter, liberals CAN change, but only if they want to, and they are willing to abandon everything they hold as normal, and find themselves freed forever from their own mental tyranny.
Now I was ready to go back to my calling – a Special Education teacher. Schools are often places devoted to indoctrination in socialist thinking. Now that I had a new mindset, how would I cope? Fortunately for me, I taught in a school where most of my co-workers were also conservatively minded. There was agreement about ways of thinking, especially with my closest colleagues. With shrinkage of the job market in the county, the position ended. But thankfully, I had options. So Dean and I bought a truck, and we have been on the road again. This is such a blessing to be with him. So many drivers are away from their nearest and dearest for giant chunks of time. The current economic environment has been devastating for so many, and we are so thankful that we continue in our business, and continue to meet our commitments.
So how has YOUR thinking changed? Please tell your story of how you came to be a truck driver. Who influenced your decision? What did you sacrifice?