New Zealand – Day 12 – Heading back to the US

Oh boy, this is going to be a looooooooong day of travel. I’m homesick though and ready to set foot on US soil! Becky and I made our way to the Christchurch airport and said our goodbyes. I was worried about leaving her alone….but knew she would soon be with her friends, Amie and Chris, back on the North Island. She had QUITE a day after she dropped me off, so you will have to check out her blog to find out what happened. Note that there were police involved…. but hey, she’s ok! 😉

So there is a lot of construction at the Christchurch airport. It was tough trying to find my way, but I figured it out. The attendants that I had to check in with kept asking what my final destination was. Atlanta, GA, USA…..after 4 flights, that is. Yeah, it was going to be a long day! Anyway, I got checked in and went to security. Oddly enough, I got pulled aside for a random check. This is the one where they use that wand thingee on you and you have to hold your arms out. I never get asked to do these, but maybe I looked particularly suspicious today? It was probably because I had all my luggage with me and didn’t check any. Oh well. I made my way to the gate. On the way, I bought a really pretty necklace made of paua shell with an inlayed snowflake pattern. This one was unlike any other that I had seen and I loved it. In fact, I am wearing it right now (3/16/10)! I also bought a macchiato that I tried to drink whilst waiting for my flight, but I just couldn’t finish it. It didn’t taste good at all! I knitted and read a little bit to pass the time. The flight I was taking to Auckland was on Air New Zealand. From Auckland, it was going to continue on to Japan. Almost all the flight attendants, and passengers were Japanese! Most of the announcements in were in Japanese too. It made me think of my mom-in-law, Mako. Anyway, the flight was a good one and we got to Auckland on time. Not that it mattered for me. I had a 7-hour layover until the next leg of my journey….Auckland to Sydney, Australia. I had to go through security again. Once more, I was asked what my final destination was. Atlanta, GA, USA. Once again, raised eyebrows with my crazy flight plans. Then, I got pulled for the wand check thingee again! Gheez! Do I look like a terrorist or what? I got through that (again) and started exploring my home for the next 7 hours. I had a tough time trying to get my boarding pass, but was finally able to get that from the Emirates Lounge lady at 3pm. In the meantime, I shopped and ate lunch, watched some of the Olympics and knitted. I also found a computer terminal that I could pay to use. I emailed David and then headed down to my gate. This gate was FAR away from everything! It took a long time to get there, and when I arrived (early of course) absolutely NO one was there. It was just me and my stuff and just really eerie! See my stuff on the right, by the window?

After about an hour, people started showing up, thank goodness. I hate being weirded out like that! You can see it was 4pm when I took this pic. At 7:35pm I was on the mongo huge Emirates double decker Airbus and on my way to Sydney, I was worried, because our plane left late from Auckland and I now had less than an hour to catch my flight from Sydney to LA. To make a long story short, I made it. At 11:30pm Auckland time I was on my way to LA via V Australia! Fortunately, it was a light flight. Chef Curtis Stone was on my flight (he sat in first class), and when I landed, I found out Rihanna and her entourage were on my flight as well. I super lucked out on this flight, as I was able to get a whole row to myself so I was able to sleep a little bit (this was a 14- hour flight). I woke up at 7:50am Auckland time and still had almost 5 hours to go before landing in LAX. The people and the food on the V Australia flights are very good, so I was holding up well thus far, considering I had been traveling for almost 24 hours straight now. Once in LAX I had another 7 hour layover. I was going to try to catch an earlier flight, but there was no way I was going to make it. I had to wait. In LAX, you have to go outside and either catch the bus or walk to the terminal your connecting flight is leaving from. It was so nice outside and I can’t describe how good it was to be back on US soil. It was comforting to know that, no matter what, I could get home now…even if I had to rent a car and DRIVE all the way from Cali to ATL! I walked, slowly, to my next terminal, made my way through security (for the fourth and final time) and found my gate. I called David and talked to him for a looooooong time. It was great to talk to him at length. I was nervous about coming home, but looking forward to making amends too. I knitted…again. I read. I was bored and getting antsy. My first 3 flights weren’t too bad. All I had to do now was take the Delta red-eye home. Once the time came to finally board…much later that night, well, it sucked. It was an old plane. It had really small overhead bins that my carry-on (TSA approved carry on!) hardly fit into and everyone was packed in like sardines. I took two sleeping pills, but I just couldn’t get comfortable at all. I tried so hard to sleep, but alas, it was not going to happen for me. No movies, no food. I could not wait to get off this FRICKEN awful, uncomfortable flight. IT SUCKED. When we finally landed and started to de-board, I couldn’t get my carry-on out of the overhead bin. I was literally hanging on it with both hands with my feet off the ground. I had to climb up on a elbow rest for one of the chairs and tug and pull with all my might. As I did so, the men behind me didn’t stop to help…they limbo’ed underneath me as I continued to struggle. Yep. I’m back in the good ‘ol US of A! About 6 guys walked underneath me as I tried desperately to pull my bag free of the f’ing overhead bin. Finally a nice lady stopped and with her help, we were able to get it unstuck. Thank you nice lady!!!! I got off that damn plane and made my way to baggage claim where David was going to pick me up. I was sooo incredibly tired. I felt gross. I felt like a zombie. I called David and he was on his way. I started to walk outside and WHOA! I forgot what season it was!! It’s WINTER, Wendy. Duh! I got way too used to summer. Back inside I went. David and I continued to chat on the phone until I saw him pull up to the curb. I was tired, but not tired enough to run out and greet him. He held me so tight and kissed me so hard. It was the best greeting EVER! I knew right then and there that things with he and I were going to be ok…thank God!!! We drove home, with my crying a majority of the way. David gave me an amazing and thoughtful gift….without going into detail, it was basically a new start for us. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Once I stopped blubbering, we went to the IHOP near home and had breakfast. I was so tired, I could hardly eat. I did though (of course!). After our nice b-fast, David took me home. HOME! I was home!!! I looked at my watch and realized that I had been traveling for FORTY ONE HOURS! I greeted our pets, Sandy, Dexter, Charles and Nanny, and then I took a shower and literally passed out cold on the bed. I was dead to the world. I was happy, but I was TOAST. What an amazing journey. Was it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! It was an awesome trip. The stuff with David actually couldn’t have happened at a better time. Our relationship is now better and stronger as a result. I feel incredibly fortunate…for him, for being able to take such an amazing trip, and for having fabulous friends like Becky. I am one lucky gal.
Is the blog over? Nope. I will have one more update of some other interesting things I saw but didn’t post, along with other little tidbits. After that? Well, we’ll see what the next adventure brings…. stay tuned!!!

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