Way back in June 2006, I wrote about a proposed quest to New Zealand.
Now, almost three years later, am there.
Had to leave Walt in Canyon Lake, Texas at a place where the lady Jane grooms dogs and allows the Lab the run of the place, so I know he is schmoozing with other canines and galumphing around the backyard, raising up that dry Texas dirt.
Doug and I left for New Zealand via Los Angeles. It took one Southwest flight, and the hitching of rides with three cab drivers of differing nationalities (Sudanese, Russian and Irani) who all held the same educational degree (civil engineering) from their old countries and who contributed to getting us to LAX in time for the flight Down Under.
The 12-hour, 40 minute flight from CA to Auckland left at 8:30 p.m. We lucked out and had a row of four seats to ourselves. The voice of our pilot, Captain Buttery, came across the loudspeaker, letting us know that all should go splendidly as we zoomed across the Pacific. The plane had a collection of entertainment films and cable shows, all viewable on a screen located on the back of the seat in front of you. Doug watched an interview with Steven Hawkins, and then one about CERN and the search for Higgs Boson. The excitement of that caused him to conk out, a Lone Ranger with a Qantas sleeping mask over his eyes, ear plugs and a couple of Benadryl helping him to slumber land, pardner.
Ms. Tonto stayed up and read for a while. Soon I was surrounded by three stewards, nervously inquiring about my health ("Madam, are you OK?") Confused, I replied, "Yes, I'm fine." Seems my elbow was leaning against the attendent call button on my arm rest, an action that caused multiple silent SOS signals to be hurled unceasingly to the back of the plane, as well as all automatic garage doors to open and close wildly on the island of Micronesia, I am sure.
People lined up like children preparing for bed, toothbrushes and towels in hand, waiting patiently to use the restroom. Across the aisle, a child named Tyler started to fuss. His pop would have none of it. The plane's cabin darkened.
I slept for nine hours across three seats. There was much turbulence as we flew over islands called Papeete and Noumea.
Three hours away from Auckland, the lights came on, and passengers were handed hot towels to wipe face and hands. Breakfast tray food included the British broiled tomato.
IMAGE: New Zealand Company Flag, 1839
Maker unknown, made on board "The Tory"
Wool bunting, linen / 1295 x 1880 mm
Te Papa Museum, Wellington, New Zealand