Off and Running

As dawn rose on our last day in the USA, we had a long list of tasks to accomplish.  First on the agenda was Sarah taking her driver’s test.  She and Tim headed to the Department of Public Safety at 6:30 and were the first in line outside the door at 7:05.  The early start paid off and Sarah had her license in hand by 8:15.  Whew! and well done, Sarah!

We were blessed to stay with our long time friends, Tom and Lynn, the last few days before we left.  Lynn was our chauffeur and helped us run errands.  We took over their living room with our suitcases and carefully filled each bag and weighed them with a 50 pounds as the target weight.

On Tuesday afternoon, we loaded the cars and headed to the airport. We checked in and didn’t have any problems with the weight of the bags.  I noticed the weight of the last one – 22.8 kg.  The limit is 23 kg.  Tim’s careful weighing paid off.

Two families met us at the airport as well as Emily, her roommate and Sarah’s friend, Jordan. They gathered around us for a prayer before we headed through security.

As we entered the boarding lounge, we noticed a large video camera.  Once we got on board the pilot said that the camera was there because someone was doing a documentary on this flight from Dallas to Brisbane because it is the longest commercial flight in the world at 16 hours.  Not the most encouraging thing to be told as we started the journey.

Being exhausted from all the running around we did the last few days was a blessing in a way – we slept on and off through the long flight and were in reasonable shape when we arrived in Brisbane.  We got off the plane, went through security and reboarded the plane for the trip to Sydney.

We expected to have a couple of hours in Sydney, but after sitting in the departure lounge for a while, we overhead passengers talking about the flight being cancelled.  Sure enough it was cancelled and we were told to wait and see what Qantas would do about getting us to Auckland.  After a while they gave us each a $30 food voucher for the airport restaurants.  We went and bought lunch and went back to find out what was happening.

We were told that we would be on a Jetstar flight that evening. We headed to the departure lounge only to hearing an announcement that we were to go to the Qantas transit desk.  At the transit desk they gave us our boarding passes and thrust another three $30 food vouchers.  We weren’t at all hungry, but headed back upstairs to see where we might spend the vouchers.

As we left elevator, what was in front of us but a Godiva Chocolate shop.  We asked if we could use our vouchers there, and were told enthusiastically that they were happy to take our vouchers.  We carefully calculated our best values, found some half price specials and even got a free box of biscuits.  It was satisfying to score some deals and we headed out to see what we could score with the last $30.  A trip to the Lonely Planet store found us picking up some fun items that we never would have bought with ‘real’ money and off we went to the departure lounge.

By the time we got on the flight to Auckland we were really feeling the jetlag.  Jetstar is similar to Spirit Airlines in the USA – NO frills and NO space.  Our seats were in the last row of the plane and we felt like sardines.  The bag of chocolates felt like a small compensation for low budget seats to Auckland, but at least we were getting there.

Our friend, John, met us a the airport – by then it was 1 am on Friday morning.  It took two trips to get us and our gear to the flat where we stayed.

We are thankful for the cozy flat where we could stay for a couple of nights and leave most of our gear while we make our road trip in New Zealand.  The adventure begins!