|Richard & Stacy's Round the World Trip 2001|
Wednesday, June 6, 2001.
Time to go home. We started out the day in Totara Lodge in Manukau, back with our hosts John and Gail. Jeanette, Graeme and Liz had come up as well, the evening had been a lot of fun. Liz had a seven hour English exam at the Auckland University, which is why Jeanette and Graeme were up. Since our flight wasn't leaving until 6:30pm, we thought we'd have lots of time to go exploring around Auckland before heading out.
After a reasonably expedient breakfast, there was some discussion of what sights to see, and the route to take to the university - just because Jeanette and Graeme live in New Zealand doesn't mean they know their way around Auckland. And besides the university, there were a number of other places on the agenda to visit, including some high-quality woolen garment shops and possibly Kelly Tartlens, a privately-owned aquarium type place.
There was some debate on the best way to travel, but in the end we decided to go together in Graeme's car, a big old Holden Commodore Elite. Richard was elected to drive, on the decision that being familiar with urban driving was more valuable than being familiar with right-hand drive (which, by now, he was relatively familiar with, having put 1,500kms on the CRV). And since no one actually knew the area, that point was moot.
Our first stop was to drop off Liz at her exam, then we headed toward Kelly Tarltens, which is out on Takaparawha Point on the road along the seawall.
Kelly Tarltens is part aquarium, part penguin breeding facility, part Antarctic preserve and the collection of a lifetime of the adventure Kelly Tarlten. It took us a couple of hours to explore, then a quick lunch across the street at a cafe before heading back toward Manukau.
Stacy had wanted to find some New Zealand woolen garments to take home - Gail from Totara Lodge had some excellent places, but they were back the way we had come. So we headed first back to Totara Lodge to meet up with Gail, who was going to escort us to the stores in a place called Clevedon. While there we checked email one last time and got a message to contact the airlines - it turned out our flight was going to be delayed several hours.
So with even more time available to explore, we drove off toward Clevedon and visited the woolen stores.
The drive back from Clevedon was fairly disastrous - Gail had led us to Clevedon, and we hadn't played close enough attention to the route, so after much weaving and dodging we made our way back to Totara Lodge. We didn't stop that time, just went on to the nearby mall for some more shopping, time for visiting and so on. Finally it was getting dark, so we headed back to the lodge for the last time, checked our packing and took the CRV back to the hotel.
Dropping off the CRV wasn't a problem, and we still arrived several hours early to the airport. Turned out that the flight had been delayed by fog over Australia - the aircraft flew from Los Angeles to Auckland, then Auckland to Melbourne, and then back. Still air over Auckland caused fog, and fog delayed the landing, and the aircraft was still playing catch up, so we left about three hours late.
The flight was very comfortable - 747-400 with the cool super seats. Stacy slept most of the way, Richard worked on the web site (just trying to get finished) and watched several movies, hardly sleeping at all. After all, we were supposed to arrive home several hours before we left (gotta love the international date line).
We arrived in Los Angeles a couple of hours later than planned, meaning we missed our flight. But United had been hard at work and had booked us on three other later flights, whichever one we wanted we could take. We missed the first - it was only fifteen minutes after we landed, and it took us more than half an hour to get through customs. The next flight was three hours later, so we adjourned to the international lounge for a rest.
We had to change terminals to get to our flight - which was with Air Canada (actually a former Canadian Airlines plane). We had a short stop in a regular lounge before the flight - quite anticlimactic after dealing with all the excellent lounges of our previous stops. Finally we were on our final leg home - the three hour flight from Los Angeles to Vancouver, arriving around 10pm.
The walk through customs at the Vancouver airport was pretty minor, and then we were home. Erika was good enough to pick us up, and drive us home - after acclimating to right-hand drive, it wasn't a good idea to attempt driving. All that was left was a bit of hindsight on the results of our journey.