Today was literally the longest day of my life. Since I crossed back over the International Date Line and gained the time I lost on the way to New Zealand (skipped February 3rd!) February 27th was a 44 hour day for me! I had arranged for a shuttle to pick me up at the hostel to take me to the airport. It picked me up at 8am and took me the short distance to the Queenstown Airport. The airport is extremely tiny. I weighed my bags and my checked bag was right at the limit! I checked in for my Auckland flight and then headed through security. When it was time to board that lady just cals out “Who wants to go to Auckland”. Air New Zealand is such a laid back airline 🙂
This time the screens were working so I got to see the Hobbit Safety Video! We also got a choice of snack and I had the BBQ crisps – they were really good! The flight was just less than 2 hours. I spent the time watching the mountains outside and answering the trivia questions on screen. The flight went very fast and we were in Auckland in no time.
I had to collect my bag in Auckland because I booked it separate from my international flight. The domestic and international terminals are not attached so I had to haul my suitcase across the airport property. It was a 10 minute hike outside – I enjoyed the last bit of warm weather I’m going to get for awhile! Once inside I found the Air New Zealand check in and dropped my bag off. I had a long layover but decided to stay at the airport. I had spent 4 days in downtown Auckland at the beginning of my trip so there wasn’t anything I wanted to see. I also didn’t want to chance something causing me to miss my flight. I went through customs and then had a budget meal at Burger King 🙂 I spent the layover exploring the airport and watching planes. Because of the time difference it I would be repeating much of the day again in San Francisco.
Sadly I was not able to spot the Smaug or Hobbit plane. I spent the last of my New Zealand money on one more meal (I had the exact amount of change left!). It was then time to go to my gate and board my flight back to North America! Boarding ended up being about 20 minutes late. It was a full flight and I had a window seat again. All the video screens were working so I got to see the Hobbit Safety Video again. It’s so much better when you can see it on the plane – but a little sad because this flight is actually taking me away from Middle-earth 😦
I started watching An Unexpected Journey. It was very bitter sweet. I loved seeing the places we went to but I already miss our Fellowship. Dinner came and I had the chicken curry – again, quite good for airline food. I also had one last Speight’s beer. I finished the first Hobbit movie and then started Desolation of Smaug since I wasn’t tired enough to sleep yet. I made it about halfway before I went to sleep. I woke up and finished DoS and then when back to sleep. I slept for about 5 hours total. The second time I woke up I started watching Battle of the Five Armies (yes, there were some tears – some for the movie but mostly for missing the Fellowship). Breakfast came while I was watching the movie. Not as good as the other meals I’ve had on Air New Zealand but still better than other airline food.
Pretty soon we were landing in San Fran! We landed and it was just after 11am on February 27 – I had traveled back in time and landed before I took off! Once off the plan I headed towards the US customs. The line was super long but I had lots of time before my next flight. Eventually they opened more lanes and I got through to the other side. I had to pick my luggage up again. Once out of customs I dropped my luggage off and then headed to find my gate. The airport had free wifi so I charged my phone and re-connected with the world. Since my gate wasn’t posted I had to go to the Air Canada desk and figure out what terminal I had to go to since you can’t go between the terminals once through security. I had a meal at one of the restaurants and immediately missed New Zealand food.
3:15pm on February 27 – waiting for my third of four flights today!
My flight to Vancouver ended up getting delayed and there was no way I was going to make my Edmonton flight. As soon the the Air Canada rep got to the gate I went and asked about my connection. Luckily there was one more flight to Edmonton so I wouldn’t be stuck in Vancouver. The plane eventually showed up an hour late. We boarded and took off shortly after. The flight was Air Canada Rouge so there were no snacks but I fell asleep pretty quickly so I didn’t care. I woke up with about 40 minutes left in the flight and spent the rest of the time talking to the two ladies beside me. One had been traveling from Australia so she was just as tired as me! It was dark when we landed so I didn’t see anything. I got to customs and there was no line. The guy was super nice and even though I was over the duty free limit I didn’t have to pay (just be honest and nice and you are less likely to be charged). I grabbed my bag and made my way towards Air Canada check in. Its a pain to pick up your bag in every airport but at least this way you would know where it got lost! I checked in and got a new boarding pass and went through security. The pilots were sitting near me at the gate so I ended up talking to them for a few minutes. The plane showed up and shortly after it was time to board!
One more flight!
On this flight I got the window seat and no one had the aisle seat so I had lots of room. I watched about half of Guardians of the Galaxy before we landed. Since I did customs in Vancouver I got to go straight to the baggage claim. My dad was sitting there waiting for me. It was now 1:30am on February 28 so I had been traveling for 38 hours! Dad had my keys and dropped me off at my place. So nice to be home and have my own bed!
This was the most amazing trip I have ever gone on and I will not soon forget the friends I’ve made or the memories we’ve shared. Definitely going to plan on the reunion tour in 5 years! Now to start work on costumes…