august 30, 2000
the most recent dispatch from the field... (more)
catch up on previous news postings... (more)
Sign up to get email reminders when there is new news... (more)
august 24, 2000
Last Day in Flagstaff... (more)
august 22, 2000
Project update and Fay Canyon hike (more)
august 16, 2000
Havasupai Canyon Hike (and flood)... (more)
august 09, 2000
Slickrock mountain biking near sedona (more)
I cannot believe today is finally here. With both excitement (for the adventure) and dread (for leaving home for 4 months) I leave Phoenix tonight at 6:00 PM, hop over to LA, and then take the big jump across the Pacific Ocean. I leave August 30 9:30 PM and arrive September 1 at 5:15 AM local time in Auckland (for time zones, see my clock from dateandtime.com).
Packing is more complex than planned! There is no time to make a fun movie like I did for the Havasupai trip Four months of what I should need are crammed into a large duffle bag. I must take a four month (plus extras) supply of my diabetic stuff, thanks to neighbor Shelly who works at the pharmacy for sorting through the nasty insurance details.
These past 5 days at home in Phoenix have passed too quickly! I even welcomed the late August heat of the desert. The rain that arrives but never seems sufficient (unless it floods the street you are trying to cross.)
This is about all to write for now, as it is pretty sad to even write :-(
8:30 PM Los Angeles Airport Now I remember why I loathe flying airlines! What a trip just to get this far. Around 3:30 in Phoenix the winds picked up quickly and the darkening clouds suggested some bad fast moving storms were coming in. And sure enough, as Natalie and I drove to the airport, we saw a lot of planes lined up on the ground and very few moving to the sky. At the United desk we learned that they were stacked up nearly two hours and my original flight would not get me to LA in time to catch my connection to New Zealand. But fortunately, Brian, the gentleman at the desk made some calls and got me booked on an America West flight.
today's photos - all photos o o o o
o o Bye from Flagstaff
last half of set
o o Hello to Auckland
But this meant going back to the car, driving to a different terminal, and fighting for a parking space on the 7th floor of the garage. As we rushed the ticket counter, the sign for my flight was blinking "boarding" and we found out that my baggage would probably not make the flight and might be late to connect my connection. Oh well, at least I could get on the plane in time to make it to LA close to my original plans.
There was one thing though. I had to run to gate A10! This meant no long romantic goodbye to Natalie, but a hurried deep embrace on the escalator. I hate running through airports, but I made it in time, and by the time I arrive at LA International Airport, I was partly relaxed. When I told the guy in the seat next to me where I was going, he thought I was from New Zealand (?) because of my accent? What was funny was when the couple behind us said in a true Kiwi accent, "We are from Auckland!".
But then it was not so clear as to how to find the International terminal. Busy place here...
But I got to the right area, checked in okay, grabbed an outrageously overpriced salad and now sit at Starbucks, sucking their electricity, typing this page. Is this too much detail?
10:30 PM Los Angeles Airport This plane was supposed to leave at 9:30 but it is very full, and it is a big sucker of a plane (a 747-400). This is okay with me as I figure the more time we are late the better the odds that my luggage can make it strip from Phoenix. However, I still am trying to think of what I would do if it were all lost...
05:15 AM Sept 1 Auckland Airport The trip is long (4 movies) but I am able to get a good couple of hours of sleep. It is still dark as we land at Auckland airport, with just city lights strung out in many directions. Off the plane, march through customs, wait wait wait at the baggage claim, and lucky for me I see my bag. The trip has gotten its wheels back on.
Walking out of the last customs check, I am greeted by Richard, my first host here in Auckland. He was kind enough to drive out at this early hour, not to mention putting me up at his lovely home the first weekend here. We drive back through Auckland and in the early light he provides a tour of his college, UNITEC, where I will be visiting the next two weeks. It is a large campus with unique architecture (parts were transformed from a psychiatric hospital) with unbelievable lush grounds. But more on this as the next 2 weeks unfold.
Richard's home has a lovely patio view of downtown Auckland from across the bay. Everything here is lush, lush green. It just smells like anything can grow here. along with some trees and flowers I have never seen is a familiar bouganvilla plant, the same as grows at mine in Arizona!
We take a short trip (it could even be walked) to nearby Cambells Bay beach, where we get some great views of Rangitoto Island, on of the 16 or so volcanic originated mountains. We even see a pod of 6 or 7 dolphins playfully arcing up and down as they plunge through the waves.
Because everything here is new, even a trip to a grocery store is an experience-- here "Woolworths" is not a dingy 5 and dime store, but a bright, large modern supermarket.
All in all, it is very relaxing here, even though they drive on the wrong side of the road (!). There will be plenty of pictures and tales to come.
|from .az to .nz & .au||what & why||where||references||photos||news|