Saturday, May 21, 2011

South Pacific Campaign - Day #23

We made a new friend in Auckland.  The knee brace stowed in my carryon raised red flags at some but not all the airport checkpoints, as did the metal in my knee, so I grew accustomed to the extra searches that entailed.  Most of the security guards in these various airports were nice but rushed.  This one was different, possibly since the Hills and Gilberts seemed to be the only transient visitors arriving just then.  Once our guard had determined that I was not actually carrying a strange-looking gun he became very friendly, remarking that my brace reminded him of Forest Gump's.  (I had had the same thought weeks ago.)  He and Jimmie were off and running, talking about all their favorite movies.  Then later as we were sitting at one of the tables by Burger King waiting for the powers that be to decide which gate to use for our next flight, he stopped by to chat again.  It turns out that he had been part of the extra cast in one of my favorite movies, Lord of the Rings.  So now I have officially met an Orc!

The flight to California got underway about 10 PM Tuesday night, and it was excruciating.  I was impressed by the spaciousness of the Business Class we walked through as we boarded the plane, but soon realized that the airline had made up for it by getting as many seats as possible in Economy.  The flight was chock-a-block full as the Aussies say, so we were crammed tight.  And it was a bumpy ride for the next 12+ hours.  The only exception was the hour or so of the worst turbulence I had ever experienced.  As we were being jerked and bounced the flight attendants came on the intercom TWICE to apologize for the rough ride.  Then after a few more episodes that had me remembering all those airplane disaster movies that I now no longer like, even the captain came on the air.  He just wanted to assure us that the plane really was built strongly enough to withstand the stress even if the turbulence got worse.  Lovely thought.  But finally the feeling of being shaken by a dog smoothed out to more normal bumps.  We landed at LAX to learn it was now 2 in the afternoon on Tuesday.  This International Dateline thing could get just a tad confusing.

But none of us were confused by who we saw at McDonald's during our agonizingly long 7-hour layover in Los Angeles - the television evangelist Jimmy Swaggert.  I laughingly dared Jimmie to do his Swaggert impression, then rushed him out of there when he actually started it.

Carolyn managed to catch a nap at LAX.

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