Well, that's it. After a week of checking Kayak.com every day, drawing price and city matrices, calculating extra baggage costs, and generally turning my brain into mush, I had an epiphany today.
I'd looked at Seattle-Sydney, Vancouver-Sydney, L.A.-Sydney, Seattle-Melbourne, Seattle-Brisbane, Vancouver-Melbourne, Vancouver-Brisbane, L.A.-Melbourne, and L.A.-Brisbane. I'd looked at layovers in L.A., San Francisco, Honolulu, Seoul, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Auckland, and Fiji. I didn't like the idea of flying directly west to Asia, then south. Going along the hypotenuse of that triangle (i.e. Hawaii or Auckland) would obviously be preferable and shorten the time in the air. But nothing quite fit the dates I needed or the price I was willing to pay or the length of time I wanted to spend traveling.
And then it hit me: I need to visit family in the Portland area before I leave...why not fly out of Portland? Because it's a smaller city, with less flights, and will therefore be more expensive. Right? Wrong. I found a decently priced flight, on a good day to fly, that has only one stop, in HONOLULU (yes!!) AND....it's an overnight layover! I could spend the night in a hotel in Waikiki!
So I booked it. That's it. I have a plane ticket to Australia.
And having purchased that, I really shouldn't be spending any money. I should be saving money for life in Oz. But I really think I MUST own this dress, and it's so cheap!