Land of the (not quite so) Free

Wow, I never thought I'd have such culture shock coming back to the country I've called home for 29 years.  Today was the never-ending Friday, where I started the morning in Melbourne, landed in LA before I took off, and then flew to Dallas. 

It was a bit strange travelling to a foreign country and not needing a passport.  When I landed in LA, it had been over 6 months since I had been in the US.  My first dilema was how to fill out the customs form - for place of residence, did they mean legal residence or tax residence?  Because depending on which, my answer is different.  It didn't really matter what my answer to that question was, because it was my answer to the "do you have meat" question that caused the drama.  I brought some kangaroo treats for my parents' dog, and customs did not know what to do with this.  At first they told me they'd have to take them away, and then they decided it was ok.  I hope Sheba likes them for all the drama she caused!

Then I got to go through security.  I am getting spoiled flying in Australia, where you can wear your jacket and shoes through security, no one checks you out naked in a secret back room, and you don't even show a photo ID to get on the plane.  Contrast this with my experience in LA - picture ID to check in, to get through the first security line, then remove shoes, jacket, take out laptop, liquids bag, get a nudie scan, show picture again when boarding the plane...  When things like this are normal you don't realize how instrusive travelling has become, but having been sheltered from it it was a rude welcome back to the US. 

Since our flight was so late leaving, I missed my connection and had to take a later flight.  I filled the void by thoroughly enjoying a salad with bacon and a brownie for dessert, two things I have missed dearly.

I finally arrived at DFW and hopped on the bus to get a rental car.  I kept trying to picture streets I've driven lots in the US and what side I had been driving on there, but I was getting super confused.  Keep to the right!  I *only* turned into the wrong lane once this evening.  It is sure going to take some time to get used to driving on the other wrong side of the road.  Wish me luck, and please stay off the streets of Dallas in the meantime!


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