Hello peeps! I’m blogging at you from a camper in New Zealand.
We got up this morning in Sydney and flew to Auckland, on the North Island, which is a flight of less than three hours. We moved up two time zones, so we’re now 16 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast.
But let me tell you about our further travel misadventures. I wouldn’t say I can laugh about them yet, but I’m not quite as unhinged about it as I was back in Round 1. My reaction to that incident was so severe that Pete and I have had some serious-ass pre-airport negotiations on this trip whenever we’ve moved from one location to the other.
When we had Round 2 of our misadventures, we had at least gotten to the airport early enough to make me happy. But then we had no incidents when we flew from Cairns to Uluru or Uluru to Sydney, so I relaxed, thinking that perhaps our bad luck was behind us.
Still, I initiated pre-airport negotiations last night to determine what time we would be arriving this morning. In a first, Pete didn’t even counter-negotiate. He accepted my decree that we would arrive for our 9:40 a.m. international flight at 7:40 a.m., even though it meant that we had to get up at 6:10, leave the hotel at 7:00, and allow 60 minutes for the 45 minutes it took to walk from our hotel to the train station, then take the train to the airport.
I was so surprised by his easy acquiescence that I did a double-take and checked to make sure he wasn’t messing with me. He wasn’t.
So we got up this morning and went through the schedule I’d set. All went well and we arrived at Sydney’s airport at 7:40 precisely. Pete started teasing me about getting there too early, but stopped when we saw the lines for checking in for our flight.
Thirty minutes later, we were finally standing in front of an airline employee, who was all too happy to check our suitcases and give us our boarding passes. Only, too bad we didn’t have a critical piece of paper — something emailed to us by the airline weeks ago and which we did not realize was so vital as to potentially keep us from leaving Sydney for Auckland. Yes, it’s true. Without that print-out, we would not be allowed to board the airplane.
And then Pete couldn’t pull the email up on our phone, so we had to step out of line and he had to go to another airline desk to get it printed. The very helpful airline employee went ahead and got our checked luggage ready to go and promised us that we would not have to wait in that loooooooong line again, which was all that kept me from bursting into tears at that moment, as I envisioned another nightmare travel scenario.
Now might be a good time to mention that none of us had had breakfast (or coffee), as we had planned to eat (and coffee-up) at the airport.
Pete headed off to get that all-important piece of paper, while the girls and I waited nearby. He was back within ten minutes and we went back to our kind and understanding airline employee, who helped us out in every way, short of actually rubbing my back and making me a cup of tea. She even handed us the cards we needed to fill out for immigration just to leave the country. Four of them, requiring a great deal of information on both side, and which had to be filled out completely before we could go through security. We headed to security, where I was delighted to have those aforementioned cards filled out, as we were able to zip through the line quickly.
American readers, you’re not going to believe this, but Aussie and Kiwi airports do not require you to remove your shoes and practically undress in order to go through security. It’s all very civilized and the TSA would do well to come down here and spend some time observing how things are done well, civilly, and with human dignity.
When we got through security, the girls and I made it through, but Pete got flagged to have his backpack searched. It turns out that he had stuck a bottle of water in there the day before and totally forgotten about it, so an eagle-eyed x-ray scanner spotted it.
After that, things got easier.
We strolled through the terminal at an easy pace.
We picked up breakfast (and coffee, thank GodBuddahOprahFlyingSpaghettiMonster).
Our flight left on time.
The one minor glitch was that Pete’s and my TV screens didn’t work, so we couldn’t watch a movie or TV show or track our flight’s progress, but that wasn’t a big deal at all. For some reason, however, the flight attendants were totally apologetic about it and, as we neared Auckland, gave us special passes to send us through a speedy line at customs. It was totally unnecessary, but we appreciated the gesture nonetheless.
We zipped through customs and our luggage arrived quickly and we were out of the airport in almost no time at all. The camper people came and picked us up and took us back to their office to pick up our home on wheels for the next several days. It took a little time to learn all that we will need to know — turning on the electricity, using the propane, how to flush the toilet, how to refill the water tanks, how to empty the “grey water” tank and “honey pot.”
Ah yes, the so-called honey pot.
All I’m going to say about that is that after nearly two weeks of insisting that my family eat fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water to stave off vacation constipation, my first thought after finding out how to empty the contents of the toilet was I’m crossing fruits and veggies off the grocery list and adding cheese and other bowel-binding foods because there’s no way I want to have to empty that thing.
I kid. Sort of.
Anyway, we went to the grocery store near the camper office and stocked up on supplies and then hit the road. We drove about an hour southeast of Auckland and are at a campground near the coast. It was dark when we arrived, so I don’t have any photos to share, but I’ll take lots of pics tomorrow.
Our little home on wheels is pretty cozy.
We had dinner and then the girls were dying to climb into their cozy bunk above the driver’s seat, so they put on their jammies and brushed their teeth in record time.
The heater is pumping out lots of warm air to counter the brisk winter temperatures outside.
Pete and I are sitting at the table and he’s watching the Olympics while I blog.
Ah yes, my husband bought mobile broadband for our time here in N.Z., which delights me so. very. much. With any luck, I can stay in touch with the world no matter where we are.
I’ll end now with a photo that I snapped from the airplane shortly before we landed.
As you can see, this is a lush, verdant, GREEN country. Pete and I loved it when we were here 14 years ago and we’re looking forward to showing it to our girls over the next several days.
And I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.