Auckland, New Zealand: First stop outside the borders of the US. 01/16/2020

Well it was a non-eventful, eventful day. Confusing, I know. The trip started out, oh, so casually from San Diego. We left bright and early as Kathy was a tad bit anxious about not being able to check onto the flight online. Since traffic wasn’t too bad and we ended up in LA about 2 hours earlier than necessary, a casual discussion ensued about what we should do in LA to fill the gap: Hollywood Walk of Fame, the beach, what sounds appealing? We instead opted to drop off the rental car early and head to the airport early to check-in for our flight, since we were unable to do it online. Phew! Our blessed St. Christopher’s medal worked as he smiled upon us. Our scheduled flight from LA to Houston was delayed by over an hour. Fortunately, there was an earlier flight to Houston that left in one hour, just barely enough time for the airline to rebook it for us. Had we waited to go to the airport by even 15 minutes, we would have missed the earlier flight. The later flight had only 20 minutes on the ground in Houston and we surely would have missed the connecting flight to New Zealand. Instead they got us on a flight leaving at 10:21 in the morning allowing us to board our flight on time.
We did have to spend several hours in Houston’s airport, but it wasn’t too bad since Dave had two passes to the United Sky Club. We relaxed (and snacked!) in the calm atmosphere before we boarded our long flight to New Zealand.

The flight was long and boring (did I mention it was long? Just in case, let me repeat it again: long and boring!) The seats were excellent, and the hospitality of the Air New Zealand crew was outstanding. Upon disembarking from the plane in Auckland, we zipped through customs meaning we were too early to pick up the rental car. We lollygagged around the airport where we had a lively discussion with some locals who gave us the rundown on the gangs of New Zealand. Totally different from the gangs of NY.

Finally, we were out on the road…not exactly lost, but not as efficient as we could have been. The stalwart GPS unit from Garmin that we have had for years gave up the ghost today. We got to see a lot of the local area as we looked for a store that sold the Garmin brand (since we have SD cards for all the other countries where we will be driving) Success!!! A mall had a store that had two units available. Of course, the Garmin was the much more expensive version. This GPS unit has Driver Assist which will nag Dave when he drives, so the burden on Kathy to remind him not to get to close to the curb or keep farther back from the car in front, will be lessened. (Driving on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road needs getting some used to!) It also has a dash camera, hence the large cost.

Lunch was in the mall food court, but it was nothing like what I was used to. They did have the typical McDonald’s and Chinese food, but from there it was an eclectic blend of food from different countries. The most unique offering in my view: “barbeque spaghetti.” Nope I did not try it, instead choosing something a little safer.

Time to wind down for the day and relax. Stay tuned for some pictures!! Patti T, we will have some special just for you!!!

PS. By the way, Dave got an email alert that Saranac Lake was expecting a winter storm with 6-10” of snow coming, so he had to let Mark Yamrick know that it is 74 and sunny here in Auckland! The mall was having “back to school” sales! It is truly a topsy-turvy world.

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