August 31-September 2…Where did the day go?

7 Sep

Well I had a great experience on my travels from Denver to New Zealand.  Let me tell you ALL about them!  I started my day with a great shower and some last minute things to do before leaving this side of the world.  I had a great breakfast with the parental units thanks to Dozens restaurant in Aurora.  Arriving as scheduled to DIA, I headed to check in with my luggage of 68.5#, under the 75# weight limit I was told several times.  I had a little snag with checking the my huge-a__ bag (although it’s perfect sized and fit almost all I needed-Thanks to the KC Levines for the loaner!).  I was told that the domestic weight limit was 50# and in order to check this piece I had to pay $75.00.  After some discussion with a supervisor and talking with my Raytheon connection, I paid the fee and headed to security.  Since I was so frustrated with the weight (especially since I packed that thing about 7 times over the last week), I forgot to take out my liquids from the carry on.  It appears as if the TSA at DIA are very observant and didn’t do a  think about it!  Go figure…our national security is a risk becuase I have 2 oz of Purell!  Oh well.  I headed to the gate and began to ponder what the heck I was doing getting on several planes headed to the most southern continent of the world.  I wasn’t second guessing myself, just showing initial signs of insanity! 

Flight was good to LA.  I sat next to a mother, her 6 month old son, and 3 year old daughter.  I would have thought the flight could go either way with the placement of my seat, but it was great.  The little girl was flying home from Grandma’s house and couldn’t wait to see her dad!  She told me all about it!  It was very cute.

Once in LA, I tried to navagate my way to the International terminal.  I recalled the great information that my family travel agent provided as well as following another person that I saw had a USAP (United States Antarctica Program) tag on their carryon.   It’s a good thing too!  I came upon John (a mechanic I soon found out) and we instantly bonded over the LAX’s inabitly for proper and accurate signage.   We made it safely and early to the proper checkin point.  We realized that we had some time to kill (almost 5 hours) and vowed to meet up again at the gate.  I walked around the food court, read some of my almost outdated People magazines, walked thru the Duty free stores (but afraid to purchase anything that had weight to it for fear of being over my limit!), and made some phone calls.   The time went by pretty quick.  I purchased a sandwich just in case I didn’t like the food on the plan and headed to the gate.  At the gate waiting area, I ended up sitting next to Leon, another first year in the kitchen.  He had experienced a much more traumatic day than I did so far and we chatted about how we thought the rest of the day would go.  We were hoping for the best, but perpared for the worst.  Leon is from Michigan and a fiesty, young buck, but with a great attitude.  I think I will enjoy working with him if given the opportunity!  He seems FUN! 

After more waiting, we boarded a bus that took us to another terminal.  On that bus, since we were all cramed in tightly, I med a few others in the USAP.  I met John (soon found out that he worked for cargo) and had been doing this for over 20 years, and some of his buddies, but can’t recall their names.  We got to a little buildling and walked up a long and winding path and then boarded the plane.  I had an aisle seat as I had requested and was seated next to Chris, a nice gentleman from Auckland, New Zealand.  He was not part of the USAP, but familiar with the program.  He was taking his winter vacation in the Hamptons and returning home to get back to work as an architect that next morning.  He’s traveled this route many times and gave me some good advice. 

We took off and were shortly served dinner.  It wasn’t too bad.  It was Chicken Caccitore with Orzo and Vegetables.  There was a nice (small) salad with balsamic vinaigrette (some of which I ended up wearing on my top becuase I couldn’t control the portion pack.)  Dessert was a brownie that I enjoyed with a nice glass of wine.  Shortly after dinner I started my first movie, What Happens in Vegas (starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz), but shortly fell asleep.  I think the wine worked well.  I think I had a great deal on my mind and I didn’t get much sleep the two previous nights.  I was very concerned about my weight limits!   I tossed and turned a little bit, but for the most part slept.

At one point, I woke up and was told by Chris that we only had about 3 more hours until we landed.  It was time to eat again.  I freshened up in the lavratory and anxiously awaited my warm towel and breakfast.  I started watching movie #2, Sex in the City.  Breakfast was not as good a dinner, but how good can you make an omelette that you serve on a plane?  The muffin was tasty as was the fruit.  I tried to savor it knowing that my fruit supply would be limited on The Ice.

We landed in Auckland, New Zealend about 5:30am on Tuesday, September 2.  I was pretty groggy still but realized that I lost September 1 while traveling.  It was disturbing that I lost a whole day.  Now began even more fun!  I picked up my luggage…okay, hoisted my luggage onto a cart (as did all others) and headed towards customs.  I was prepared with my passport and work letter.  I met this very nice gentleman at the first customs window.  He asked me a few questions about my trip and then I was on my way.  I was a bit nervous after what Chris had warned me about.  Now I had to walk to the security point of customs.  There were many signs saying that you MUST discard or declare.  So, since my NZ friend suggested that bringing in nuts and dried fruit was worse than bringing in cocaine or meth, I discarded anything questionable and headed to the next line.  In this line, I met up with John (the mechanic) again and we got in the next line together.  Since he had done this twice before, I figured I would be okay and safe.  I was wrong.  We were asked if we had any camping equipment and I thought the answer was no, but hiking books are considered equipment.  Since John’s were new and mine were only washed, we were separated AGAIN!  I got in another line and had to dig out my boots and show them to the customs agents.  Not too bad, but I was nervous from Chris warning me about what they do to people if you bring in something improperly!   I was concerned I would get taken in the back room with the vicious  dogs. 

Next, I headed to check in for my next flight.  I did so and then began to look for the gate.  I was told it’s in the domestic terminal, either a 15 minute walk or waiting 20-30 minutes for the next shuttle.  I figured that since I had been sitting all night, (although I did get up and stretch my legs and body, thank you all for the suggestions) I could use the fresh air and some time to stretch.  I walked like what seemed like forever!  I was told to follow the white and blue lines.  The lines curved around construction areas, behind buildings, and under big tall structures.  I really thought I would get to a spot and someone would say that I was on canded camera.  I guess that’s just what they do in New Zealand, they walk! 

I finally found the domestic terminal and headed to the gate.  It was literally, up a flight of stairs and then there was the small boarding area that held only about 50 people.  Since my flight was not for another 2hours, I left that area and began wondering.  I was in search for breakfast, but settled on a fruit smoothie (again taking advantage of the fresh fruit before it was too late.)  As I was walking around the very small domestic terminal, I heard John (from Cargo) making fun of the ‘new girl’ and decided to join him and his friends.  I met a few others (can’t recall their names) and learned that I was in for quite an experience this year.  They discussed budget cuts, staff issues, food, and dorms, all while using a vareity of acronyms.  There were so many things to think about, I just sat back drinking my fruit smoothie soaking in ignorant bliss! 

We boarded the plane and it was a very short and simple flight to Christchurch, only 1 1/2 hours.  I slept the entire way.  I wasn’t even away for the beverage and peanuts.  We had a great landing!  There we picked up our luggage and found some people waiting for us to cart us off to our various hotels and bed & breakfasts.

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2 Responses to “August 31-September 2…Where did the day go?”

  1. Sarah September 7, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    Hooray!!!! You made it!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Patricia September 12, 2008 at 5:29 am #

    Enjoyed the update and fun details! Keep ’em coming!

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