Wednesday, April 27, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #1/2


This day began about 8AM when I arose to make coffee.  Jimmie had already showered so we were off and running - each with our own last-minute details to finish.  By the time Kieth and Ann Fields picked us up at noon to drive us to the airport we were tired but confident that we were as ready as we could be.


Check-in and security took almost a full hour, slowed only slightly by the new metal in my knee.  An hour's wait at the gate and we were able to board the plane headed to LA, our first destination.  Getting our carryon baggage stored and dropping into the tiny coach seats Jimmie and I both took that deep breathe of relief. Most of the work for a campaign is done before it begins, so generally the first moment you get to relax is when you are finally on your way.

That was also the moment that Jimmie leaned over to make me a solemn promise not to get mad at me "too much" on this trip.  I retorted that a much better offer would be to not get mad at me at all!  He just gave me his typical grin and told me, "I like to keep my options open."   Uh-huh. . .


Just beofre reaching LA after a rather bumpy 5 hours Jimmie noticed a mountain range out the window that reminded me of Iceland.  It was stark, bare peaks as far as we could see.  I checked the flight map on the computer screen in front of me and discovered we were flying low over the Chocolate Mountains.  Chocolate Mountains . . . I had never heard of them.  But I certainly understood the name for it looked like great globs of milk chocolate everywhere.  Suddenly, a huge, dark chocolate mountain jutted up far taller than the rest.  No doubt it's peaks were lightly coated in snow, but I declare it looked just like marshmallow topping to me.  My first thought was, "I have to tell Cole about this!"  But by the time we landed and cleared the numerous hurdles between us and our next gate, it was long past his bedtime. I searched LAX in vain for a postcard picturing those mountains.  Why would they assume all tourists prefer glitzy shots of Tinsel Town?

Changing airlines and terminals meant an agonizingly slow trip through LA airport security.  (I'll never complain about Atlanta again!)  Finally we reached our Air New Zealand gate and made a distressing discovery.  Ron and Carolyn had been delayed in Nashville.  Ron had left Jimmie a voice mail while changing planes in Dallas to let us know they would be a bit later than planned, but would still be able to make the connection "no problem".  We are now in the midst of boarding and still no Gilbert faces to be seen.


13 hours in the air and now it's official.  The Gilberts definitely missed the plane.  Something must have happened in Dallas.

We've been enroute for more than 24 hours now.  Jimmie managed to doze off and on for a good portion of the last flight.  I took one of the prescription pills the doctor gave me specifically to make me drowsy - and remained wide-eyed.  But since the pills are originally for nausea I at least was able to watch a movie without my usual motion sickness.  I finally concluded that I would have to take one of the high-powered pain pills I try hard to avoid because they usually make sleep impossible - and promptly zonked out for about 3 hours.  The nap helped.

Our layover in Auckland was short, only an hour.  By the time we cleared the security check station again it was almost time to board.  But first I had to pop into a bathroom stall and give myself another stomach injection of blood thinner.  Sunday was my first self-administeded dose and I had had to make 3 attempts before I got past the cringing.  Today's was a bit easier.

By the way, it is now Wednesday 4/27.  We flew right over Tuesday and missed it completely. 


As we settled into our seats for the flight here from Auckland Jimmie remarked, "This has actually been a good trip so far."  I'm afraid my startled expression surprised him for a few moments, then we both laughingly agreed, "Well, except for loosing the Gilberts!!"  But we have an almost 7 hour layover here on mainland Australia before our last flight on to Tasmania so we are really hoping they will be able to get connections here by then.

We have now been traveling for more than 35 hours so the exhaustion level is pretty high.  Time to break out the bottles of 5-Hour Energy I have stashed in my purse and hope they get us through.


The two empty seats to our left on the flight to Tasmania attest to the fact that Ron & Carolyn are still not with us.  But we have arrived at last . . . and there ended the "everything smooth" part of our journey.  We collected our baggage and headed out the doors, only to discover that there was no one to meet us.  We checked other doors and areas of departure.  Nope, not there either.  Finally we located a bench just inside the terminal entrance where I could man the baggage and we could wait, since we assumed a problem with traffic had problably caused a delay.  Finally, we began to realize that there must be another problem and Jimmie went on a hunt to find a way to contact the brethren.  And that's when this final 3 hours of our journey began to remind me of a Shakespeare comedy - because absolutely nothing we tried worked.  Phone - out of order.  Wii-Fii for his laptop - secure and unuseable.  Policemen - not interested.  But finally one came along that was concerned and tracked down our host to tell them we were in country.  It turns out that they had received an email from our travel agent earlier in the day saying that Ron Gilbert and his party were delayed for 24 hours, so no one was expecting us until tomorrow!  Thankfully they zipped right over to the airport then to get us.

This day turned into precisely 48 hours from getting up in Dacula to going to bed in Hobart, but it has felt like one incredibly long day.  We are very pleased to be here at last.

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