My first two flights, Redmond to San Francisco and San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand, went without a hitch. My friends Dave and Kelly took me to the Redmond airport. They were extremely helpful in getting me prepared for my trip to the Ice, and will looking in on my house periodically. Thanks guys! My great neighbors will also be keeping an eye on my house for me.
|Outside the Redmond terminal. And no, I don't travel light.|
In San Francisco, my friends John and Joan Henshaw met me at the airport and we spent 3-4 hours together celebrating upcoming birthdays, playing cards, eating and generally having a good time. I will miss them dearly but look forward to reconnecting in Sydney, Australia in late February. That's a topic for a future post. We said our goodbyes at security and off I went to catch my Air New Zealand flight to Auckland.
|John, Joan and me at SFO.|
A couple of others firsts included crossing the International Date Line and the equator. I've also never lost a day before. It's strange to board a plane on Sunday and when you debark, it's Tuesday. What happened to Monday? They say you get it back. We'll see. Another topic for a future post.
Now for the last first. I've always wanted to visit New Zealand and finally made it, arriving at 5:30 am in Auckland. The Kiwis made it simple to go through immigration and customs. Everyone was friendly and helpful. And best of all, they all spoke English, albeit with an accent. Or maybe it's me that speaks with an accent? Either way, I like their accent better than mine.
I was thinking to myself this international travel is a piece of cake. Shouldn't have done that! After making my way from the international terminal to the domestic terminal, enjoying a flat white coffee, and easily getting through security, I settled in at my appointed gate waiting for my final flight to Christchurch. Then I get the dreaded ping on my Air New Zealand app telling me my flight had been cancelled due to weather. I figured they would just rebook me on the next flight but it wasn't that simple.
Fortunately, I met some seasoned folks with the US Antarctic Program (USAP) and they were kind enough to take me under their wing and guide me along. We had to collect our bags and wait in a line to get rebooked. Turns out the earliest we could get out of Auckland was 5 pm and instead of going directly to Christchurch we had to stop in Dunedin (pronounced Du-ne-din), which is south of Christchurch, and catch another flight to our final destination. I'm sure Auckland is a very nice city but all I saw for eight hours was the inside of their airport terminal.
I finally made it to Christchurch about 9:30 pm and got to my hotel about 10. It was a long day, or or should I say, a long two days. I had no trouble falling asleep. I set two alarm clocks to make sure I was up at 5:45 am the next day so I could catch a shuttle to the USAP center at the airport for orientation, training and to get my Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) clothing.
I'll end here. Hopefully I didn't put to many of you asleep. It feels good to be down under.