Feb. 14, 2006
Happy Valentine's Day to all. What a strange Valentine's Day it has been. It's the first Valentine's Day in quite a while I haven't spent in Ohio (or in a blizzard in Baltimore, hope you guys thought of us!) Bill understood that because Mom's birthday was Valentine's Day that she had a prior claim, especially these last few years. This is the first year without her, doesn't seem quite right not to be having a party for her, or at least calling her.
You're all heard of Murphy's Law, right? Well, Murphy is at it again. As Bill says, around us this week, Murphy was an optimist.
Packing went fairly well, couldn't believe I was actually ready to go before the driver got there! I even remembered to water my flowers. Not so our travel agent. Finally got the travel insurance certificate and identity cards, and finally got her to give me the actually times for some of the tours. She made our New Zealand cave tour for Friday instead of Saturday! Mary has classes and her roommate Lindsey has to work. I told Judith several times that there was no way we could leave Auckland before late afternoon on Friday, and she has us booked for a tour two hours outside of Auckland at 1 PM. So glad I caught it!
Then we get to the airport. We're flying business class (AMEX two for one special), don't think I would survive this long a flight in coach. So the line to check in looks pretty short, only about half a dozen people ahead of us, compared to the regular line. I talk Bill into coming with us, I'll sweet talk the agent to checking him in also, even though he has a coach ticket. We have all the paperwork we should need, Bill has an electronic ticket and Mike and I have paper tickets. We all have the printouts for our electronic Australian visas. We know there must be a problem when the agent checks Bill in quickly, but fusses with Mike's passport for a long time. Finally, he asks for the paper copy of Mike's visa because it's not in the system. He still can't find it, and leaves to go back to their office. He comes back out after a long time, and dear Judith has entered Mike's passport number wrong. His visa is invalid. Luckily, the agent can get a new one issued on the spot. Back to the office. (and Judith has very clear scanned copies of our passports that she got the numbers from . . . )
Ok, finally he's ready to print out the boarding passes. Uh oh . . . Bill's prints fine, but something else is wrong with Mike's or mine. Back to the office again, where he prints Mike's and my passes. He never did tell us what the problem there was, just came back out after another really long time with the printed passes. In the end, it took over 30 minutes, not counting the time standing in line, just to check in.
Next - security. Mike and I go ahead while Bill takes the luggage over for the TSA screening. He figures I'm so slow that he'll catch up with us quickly. Mike helps me put all my stuff up to go through the machine, including taking my laptop out and putting it in one of their little bins. Then he goes ahead of me to grab the stuff as it comes out. The people ahead of us are really slow getting their stuff and the little bins back up as the operator keeps sending them through. Suddenly, one pops up. Of course, it's my laptop, not my shoes. It goes flying onto the floor behind the belt, and the TSA guy has to come over and pick it up. Frustration! Mike turns it on, and it boots up. I'm using it now, and it seems to be working fine, so maybe Murphy finally gave up and went to bed.
The rest is pretty routine. Mike, bless his heart, agrees to take the seat in coach on this leg and let his dad set upstairs with me. After all, it's Valentine's Day. Dinner is good, the meds all work, and I got to sleep easily.
Feb. 15, 2006
Guess I slept through the entire day! Oh, we flew over the international date line . . . :)
Feb. 16, 2006 - on flight NZ 5
Woke up about 4AM, Auckland time, that would be 7 AM in Los Angeles. Nice and quiet up here. Hope Mike got some sleep, as he's planning to drive when we pick up the car in Melbourne.
Feb. 16, 2006 - onboard flight NZ 123
Well, at least the change of planes in Auckland went smoothly. I had a great view of Auckland as we landed, could pick out the Skytower easily. Then just a short walk to the next plane, a quick stop at the bathroom, and when we got to the gate they were already boarding. Mary was there, and had seats together for her and Bill. Mike and I are sitting together for this leg of the flight. Another two hours and we should be in Melbourne! Rough and bumpy, the seat belt sign is turned on.
Feb. 16 - Melbourne
We spent the afternoon exploring downtown Melbourne, had lunch at the Duke of Wellington pub, rode the City Centre tram stopping to see the Old Melbourne Gaol, Parliament Building, St. Paul's Cathedral, and then going to the Rialto Observation Deck for a view of the city. We found out hotel easily, and have a lovely room, a two bedroom suite for the two of us. We went to a local shopping center, the Jam Factory (named because it's in a old jam factory) hoping to find a pair of shoes for Mary and a place to eat, but just about the only things open at 9 PM were Borders, a Virgin Megastore, and a pancake house. We noted the pancake for breakfast tomorrow, and went off else where to look for food. We found a really great pizza place just down the block, and called it a night early.