Auckland 8 Stories Up

After 25 hours and little sleep, we walked into the main area of the airport. Thankfully, our driver was right there with all of our papers. As we drove through Auckland to our hotel, I thought that it looked much like Florida would look if settled by the British during the Victorian age. Overgrown gardens all blooming, strange blooms. Gables and cornices and gingerbread trim on pastel houses. Downtown initially looked like most cosmopolitan cities. After we checked into our hotel, which was a lovely suite connected to a room with two twin beds for the girls, I looked out the windows and discovered the first of many differences. there was a day-care, 7 stories up, with a play area outside under cover, on the balcony.

Daycare 7-stories up

We all showered and then proceeded to the hotel restaurant for breakfast only to discover another difference. There are serving times for breakfast, lunch and dinner and no service in between in many of the restaurants here. So we adventured out looking for a place to grab a bite and explore the city a bit. Two or three turns later we walked down an alley full of eateries and shops. We found a Belgian pub which was still serving and ate amazing waffles, eggs Benedict with spinach, and potato pancakes.Yummy food.

After that we walked to the harbor and halfway to the Sky tower when the effects of 25 hours of travel hit. Cranky kids, crankier Mom and tired Dad equaled returning to the hotel to relaxed for a while and try another plan of attack. We needed, and still need, some warmer jackets and some basic toiletries, so we looked for a shop, chemist or some place to get what we needed. No luck, like most cities unless you want Prada there is little choice. So we looked for someplace to eat in the SkyCity. No luck, but Joe and I could have hit the casino if we wanted. Finally, after some searching we found a food court. Here we discovered another difference, no McDonald’s or Subways, but a huge selection of Asian food. We settled on Thai and eat huge portions for a relatively reasonable amount. It was here that Beth Anne decreed we could live in Auckland since there was good food she could eat.

After deciding that Sky Tower would wait until our return trip we went back to the hotel, stopping at a market for dinner food and breakfast food, and tried out the pool, which the girls opined was salty and cold. Back up to the room for showers, food and we made it until 7:30 PM before collapsing into the bed and sleeping until Brigit woke up at 4 am. We might need a few more days to adjust to the time difference.

Uses of Children During Travel

We have kids who are awesome travelers.  We have always been in a position that has required if we want to see family or vacation, we had to travel.  We have driven with a 4 month old premie across West Virginia and Pennsylvania then down to DC and home.  We have driven to Boca Raton FL from Huntington, TWICE, once with a 9 month old and a 4 year old.  Generally, Joe and I believe that kids will travel if you travel with them.  This plane ride is proof.

We got to the “air station,” which is what Beth Anne is calling airports, about two hours ahead of our flight.  That, of course, ensured that everything went very smoothly.  We got our boarding passes with little wait.  We checked our luggage, 49.5 pounds for the largest bag. (Damn, I could have put another half pound in there.)  We went through security unloading everything from our seven carry-ons as I mentioned last post.  Then we sat and waited to board with one last phone call to Uncle Dwight before boarding.  United Air is typically a capitalist airline.  Our flight was at 5:30, a non-stop to LAX, and there was no food service.  Wait, that is not exactly true, if you are in economy you can buy food service. The girls were over moon with takeoff and so excited to see the Grand Canyon.

I was certainly glad that we took the longer stop over in LAX as we had to leave the terminal and take a bus to the international terminal.  This was the first indication that traveling with small children might be helpful.  As we were standing at the curb with two kids and 7 carry-ons, the Out of Service bus driver (who nodded when I told the girls was probably going home for the night) asked Beth Anne where she need to go.  After she told him, he told us to hop on.  Next it was security again and a fidgety wait to board Air New Zealand.  Air New Zealand is lovely.  Dinner 45 minutes into the flight, complimentary wine, water offered regularly throughout the flight, fabulous movies (I highly recommend “The Young Victoria.”) and breakfast right before landing.  I wouldn’t say that the twelve hours flew by but they did everything they could to make it endurable.

After landing we had to go through customs.  Traveling with children plus number two: we got pulled out of the huge line by a security worker and taken to the head of another line when he saw us juggling the girls and the carry-ons.  Joe had a lovely chat with the customs agent, where he was asked about Web-mastering and Google.  On to collect baggage where we waited at the carousel for about 20 minutes.  During that time the girls got to watch the beagles who are sniffing not for drugs but for fruits and veggies. I had a nice chat with one of the agents working with the dogs.  Jim, one of the airport volunteers, came to offer help when Joe had left to figure out where our luggage was.  He entertained the girls and told us how to find help if we needed it.  Joe returned having discovered our luggage was where it belonged and we were not.  After collecting our luggage and our luggage cart (free by the way), we went through the bio-hazard security check point and explained the farm visit and had our bags x-rayed one last time.  Finally we walked out of the secure part of the airport and into NZ.

Cures Diabetes, Backaches and Eczema

After customs and biosecurity, we walked out of the Auckland airport at about 7:00. We were very tired and happy to find our driver waiting for us. He delivered us to the City Life hotel in downtown Auckland. The hotel has much to recommend it, not the least of which is the “pillow menu” which includes a biomagnetic therapy pillow. I can only imagine that it is filled with dacron and neodymium magnets. If you sink your head in it deep enough the magnets snap the pillow together over your face thus relieving you of your suffering.

And Yes I Came Too

Our trip began long before we even got on the airplane. On Friday I ran the errands one needs to before leaving on a trip multiplied, of course, since our trip is so long. By 5 PM I still had very little in suitcases, so I did what anyone would do, went out to sushi and hibachi for dinner with Uncle Dwight and the Lavender family. Then, of course, I went straight home and packed, right? Nope, ice cream at Coldstone Creamery. Finally we got home and I began packing in earnest. The regulations about what you can bring made me nuts. I pack a certain way and I could not do it as some things have to be packed in checked bags and some need to be carried on in case the checked bags do not arrive. So while we only checked 3 suitcases, we traipsed through the airport with 7 carry-ons. We spent a good deal of time counting carry-ons to make sure we did not leave any behind.

Leaving Huntington

Since I stayed up until 4 am packing, leaving 1 hour past schedule was a major accomplishment. We drove with the dog to Joe’s brother’s house. Ruby is a great traveler, much better than expected. Well, except for the throwing up. We spent Saturday night and Sunday with Mike, Cheryle and Taylor. On Sunday we went to a pick-your-own farm which in retrospect we probably should not have done, since it meant that we had to go through a special line at customs in New Zealand. Also, should you ever pick apples with small children, you might need to limit the number that each of them can pick or you might end up with 27 pounds of apples.

On Monday morning we got up and went to Joe’s father’s house. In a surprising turn of events, I made 2 apple pies. 🙂 Joe helped out with some tree trimming. The next day Joe’s dad was nice enough to drive us to the airport, where our 25 hour adventure began.

It’s in the Flyover

We arrived at the airport well ahead of time. Fortunately check-in went smoothly and we were at our gates in less than thirty minutes. Unfortunately, this meant that we had nearly two hours to wait before takeoff.

During this time Beth Anne busied herself taking pictures and Brigit busied herself asking “When are we going to board the plane?” Needless to say we were greatly relieved to hear “Passengers requiring special help may now begin boarding” and we pushed and shoved our way through the 350 or so other passengers only to be told that small children no longer qualifies you for special help.

After slinking our way back past the 350 or so glowering passengers, we took up our place at the back of the line and tried to avoid looking at anyone. Fortunately for us the next announcement said “United flight 437 with service to Ohio is now ready to begin boarding.” Hearing this, Beth Anne asked, “Who would want to fly to Ohio?” and we were instantly redeemed (at least to everyone within earshot).

Picking Blackberries

On Sunday we went apple and blackberry picking with Aunt Cheryle and Uncle Mike. Beth Anne took these pictures (and lots others) with her new camera.

Our otherwise smooth journey met its first major hitch when my iPhone fell off somewhere in the field. After nearly half an hour of frantic searching – all the while calling the phone – eagle eyed Aunt Cheryle spied the phone in some tall grass. It turns out that it was on silent, which I had accidentally set when I put on the protective Otter case. Ooops!

That’s Just Crazy Enough to Work!

It’s immensely demoralizing to come home exhausted from a trip and realize that you have a lot of stuff to do around the house.  So it’s 7 days out and we’re rushing around trying to take care of all the little things that seem like they can wait on any normal day. But you feel like they need to be done before an extended journey. Because you know, if you get burgled while you’re gone, the police are gonna be in there and the first thing they’re gonna see is all that bit of dog hair piled up in the corner of the stairs and they’re gonna think, “Well, no wonder they got robbed, look how they keep there house.” But I digress.

So anyway we’re in Brigit’s room and we’ve just finished cleaning up and Carrie tells the girls that it’s especially important that they keep their rooms clean for the next week. And I, feeling that parental urge to flog an equine fully in repose say, “So when your done playing with something you should put it back where it belongs.”

To which Brigit replied, “What!? We’ve never done that!”