Up, Up, and Away

We woke up excited that today we would be finally heading back to New Zealand! The only hard part is that we had to wait until 9:50 pm before the flight took off. Bummer. It would be an anxious day of waiting again. One last wait in the long process of waiting. Can you tell that we are excited to get back to Aotearoa?

The hotel was nice, but there was no real coffee shop in the hotel or nearby. I went to the restaurant and ordered an Americano and a Latte, double please. That set me back $27. Yikes. Coffee can be an expensive drug…..but it is yummy! Susanne’s nephew accused us of being coffee snobs. Guilty as charged.

We walked around the marina area checking out the multi-million dollar yatchs. Wow. It would be awesome to have one, but who can afford something like that? Oh yea, Joe Manchin….but let’s not go down that road.

Maybe I’ll get something like this in New Zealand…..uh, probably not

We couldn’t afford Biz class tickets and I didn’t have enough miles for them, so we had purchased the “Sky Couch” seats in economy. They are pretty cool in that you get a whole row and they can be turned into a couch that two people can lie down on. Now, you have to really like each other because it is not a roomy couch, but it does give you the ability to attempt to sleep. We were hopeful. The other luxury I sprang for was the Kora club membership with Air New Zealand. This gave us access to the lounge.

We had lunch with Anita (Susanne’s sis) and David (nephew) and hung out at their house for a while. We were anxious to get to the airport and get checked in. David gave us grief for wanting to get there so early, but we didn’t care. So at about 3, we headed out and dropped off the super-sexy minivan with a few drops of gas in it (range left was 30 miles). Perfect. The stupid shuttle van didn’t stop at the international terminal, so we had to lug all our stuff quite a way from the domestic terminal. I hate LAX. It is a terrible airport and it gets a solid “D” in my airport rating book.

Come on man! We need to go!

Of course we got there too early and the Air New Zealand desk wasn’t checking people in yet. Bummer. So we waited there in front of where they would be checking in. A bunch of kiwis started showing up and lounging about with us. One woman (Nerida) just struck up a conversation with us. She was an ob/gyn from Hamilton and did a TV series in the US on health topics. She was super nice and told us to look her up when we got settled in NZ. Both Susanne and I looked at each other and said “we are really going to like it there.” Another guy struck up a conversation with me as well. Dang, I like these kiwis.

Finally, the Air NZ people showed up and started to check us in. Sadly there was no TSA pre-check, so we had to go through the whole “pull out your laptop, take your shoes off” routine. Ugh. I hate that. We headed up to the lounge and got a glass of wine and breathed a sigh of relief. We were really going to make it! There is a nice outdoor area in the LAX lounge so we went and hung out there. Nice to get some fresh air before being cooped up in a tin can for 13 hours.

Cheers! We are going to make it!
All masked up

We had some food and some wine and finally it was time to board. I thought the flight was going to be empty, but it was chockerblock full. Bummer. But at least we had our skycouch row. We got settled in and the flight attendant showed us how to use the couch. He was very chatty and was excited to hear that we were trying to move to New Zealand. He told us all the great places that he liked. He loved the Nelson area, especially Golden Bay. The thought of having to wear a mask for 13 hours was less than appealing, but I was not going to complain.

The plane started to push back from the gate and I will confess I started to cry a bit — both from joy and some sadness. It was an exciting end of an era and the start of a new adventure. I was both happy and sad to be leaving my home country and very excited and nervous about moving to a new one.

We taxied to the end of the runway, the engines fired up and we were off.

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