Left the lounge about 9:45 to board. Looked around for Susan Thompson, but didn’t see her. After boarding, Susan passed me on her way to her seat and said she had been looking for me as well. Flight was supposed to leave at 10:30. Pulled away from the gate at 10:50 and drove around the airport to get to the longest runway. Took off about 11:30.

Now the game is to put my head into NZ time. 11:30 in LA is 6:30 PM the next day in NZ. So, we’ll have supper based on NZ time. Hope to stay awake until the equivalent of 11:00PM NZ time before converting my seat into a flat bed for, hopefully, sleep. But that didn’t happen.

Now waiting for dinner service! Nice food, of course. Looked back where Susan was in row 36, but she was fast asleep. Good for her. So, I will download images now and try to stay awake a bit more. Well, that lasted to about 9:30 on my new timeline. Fell asleep at the keys.

Time to convert my seat into a flat bed. You stand up, flight crew pushes a button, whole seat reconfigures with back folding down over the seat and sliding to meet up with the footrest. Then there is a sheet-covered mattress that is rolled out into place. A pillow. A blanket. Nice. Slept for over 5 hours, drifted in and out for another hour. Really got up around 4:30, brushed my teeth, put my lenses back in, had my bed converted back to a seat. And here I am waiting for breakfast. Ah, the joy of poached eggs with runny yolks and flakey croissant at 39,000 feet.

Landed around 7:00, quite late. Lots of fog in Auckland that delayed our takeoff and, thus, arrival. After passport control and clearing customs, I dragged my suitcase (45 lbs.) and wore my camera backpack (25lbs) and my computer bag (oh, a few more lbs.) on the LONG walk from the international terminal to domestic terminal. I seem to forget how very long this walk is. Nice to exercise after 12 hours on an airplane, but I was moving pretty slow by the time I got to the domestic terminal.

While lots of flights had been delayed by the thick fog, by the time I got to the domestic terminal my 8:00 flight had closed its doors. I waited in a long line to rebook. Lots of internal flights had been cancelled, so people took ages at the podium. Luckily, there was room on the 9:00 flight. Met up with Susan Thompson, who was always booked on this flight. Pulled away from gate around 9:15 and into the air about 9:40. Fog really screwed things up. Clear weather as soon as we took off. It’s an hour’s flight to Christchurch.

I had a window seat on the right side. As soon as we got over the South Island, I could view row upon row of snow-covered mountains. Really a wonderful sight. And the view continued for about 20 minutes all the way into landing at Christchurch. Susan and I got our luggage and took a shuttle to the City Centre Motel where I am in room 801 (first floor). About 1:00, Susan, Jeff, Donna, and I met and walked to a pub where they had eaten last night, Speight’s Ale House. Got my first order of green-lipped mussels. Yum.

Walked back to motel. I got my camera and took an hour’s walk over to North Hadley Park and walked along the Avon river down to where this park hits the Botanic Gardens. Then back through the city to the motel. I was only wearing my down vest and it got pretty chilly. Short days here with sunset a bit after 5:00. Love the Ulmon Pro City Maps to Go. You can flag places (like the motel) and the maps are on the phone so it uses the phone’s GPS and you can see the little moving dot where you are. Pretty neat. We used it in Europe last year on the Danube cruise. So, I used it to see where I was going and then to plot a completely different route back to the motel.

Tonight, we met at 6:15 (those of us who could still walk and talk given our travels) and went to Himalayas for Indian food. Food was good, but I’m tired and got full right away. Nice company and nice conversations. So, back at motel where I have clothes to wash and a nice hot shower and shave to enjoy. Then to bed. It’s only 8:00, but I think that I won’t be able to make it much later without falling asleep.

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