We made it! Morgan and her friend dropped us off at the Denver airport and we got our fourteen boxes checked without incurring any extra fees other than the expected $200 per box, and we had five hours to spare. Then two days later, on 4/29, we landed in Melbourne at 9:30am. The flights were surprisingly easier than expected. Air New Zealand had delicious food, free drinks, and a hilarious safety video starring Richard Simmons and his spandex posse ( ). We had over 150 movies and TV shows to choose from during the flight. It felt more like a cruise ship than an airplane.
Once we landed, the fun began. We had fourteen boxes/checked bags plus carry-ons to pick up from baggage claim and navigate through customs. It required six trolleys. The customs official said we set the record for most bags he's seen. At least Aubree now has all seventy pairs of shoes to choose from! We wheeled the trolleys up to the customs checkpoint, and the customs officials took pity on us and helped us push the trolleys up to the security scanner machines.
We presented the customs officials with our detailed inventory of the box contents, and they decided they'd trust us and didn't open any boxes. Potential crisis averted. I almost wish they would have opened my bike box to remark at how clean it was, since I spent so much effort getting it spotless!
The customs official, Stephen, ended up helping us push the carts out of customs and all over the airport, even tracking me down at the Budget rental store to let me know the best place to park. We offered him $10 AUS, but he refused. This is in stark contrast to the Denver airport baggage worker, Huang, who we paid a tip of $20 for moving our boxes on two trolleys from the curb to the check in counters, and he acted like it wasn't enough.
The Australians have not ceased to amaze us. We got lost between the airport and our new house (at least we survived driving on the left side of the road) and pulled off the highway to find some poor unfortunate soul to help us find our way. We ran into this nice construction worker on a side road who brought out a map book of Melbourne and walked though the directions; then he gave us the whole book to keep! The weather was 70 degrees, the sun was shining, we found our apartment in St. Kilda, and we got settled in.