Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Last, Longest day

We got things packed up, had a nice breakfast of yogurt, fruit, ciabatta and honey, and tried to drink up the last of the fruit juice, then headed out to the Howick Village Saturday market for a while. Saw a lot of interesting crafts and baked goods, picked up a few last minute gifts to take home with us. Still had some time to kill after we'd finished there, so we decided to go down to Maraetai beach and enjoy the sunshine. Went for a walk on the beach, sat in a café and had a great last meal of a lamb burger for me and a Thai beef salad for Michele, and watched the interplay of water, earth and sky for a while. Took a short drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, then we stopped by the farm in Whitford to say goodbye to Stu and Liz before we headed to the airport.

Our GPS decided to give us one last adventure, and took us on a crazy route that included a mall parking lot and a detour through a construction zone, where I had to have M shift a construction cone out of the way to get through to the other side, and brave a couple of one way narrow bits, but we were determined to get back to the car rental place one way or another. Turned in the car, caught the shuttle to the airport, then began the process of checking in and getting through outbound customs.

Boat ramp at low tide
Far too many hours spent waiting in the airport later, we flew out of Auckland around 7 PM. Air New Zealand does a really nice job, and they're one of the nicest airlines I've experienced, but it was still a horrendously long, claustrophobic affair. I really need to get wealthy so I can fly first class, with its extra leg room and comfortable reclining seats. Arrived in San Francisco around noon, local time, and worked our way to the customs/baggage claim area, where I managed to rip open a bleeding hole in my shin on a protruding bit of metal at the baggage carousel. No one there could successfully direct me to an aid station, so I rummaged through my luggage to find my own first aid kit (yay! finally came in handy to have packed this), and got a piece of gauze taped to it. My pant leg was soaked with blood, but I was wearing convertible, zip-off pants and removed the lower portions to wander the airport in khaki shorts, with dress shoes and brown socks, a most amusing fashion statement.

Breezed through incoming customs and took our bags to the re-check area. M and I took the opportunity to re-pack things, and put our duty-free items in the checked luggage, as well as all the cool weather clothing, but Law and Vicky didn't have room to shift theirs around, so they ended up losing two liters of liquid gold to TSA when it turned out we'd been sent outside of the secured zone and we had to re-encounter security to get to our outbound gate. SF airport did a poor job of marking the exit to the secure area, and there definitely should have been a way to re-check the bags that did not involve leaving the secure area.

Auckland on the horizon
Spent still more hours waiting, then boarded the plane and flew to Boise, arriving right on schedule. Picked up our luggage and headed to our waiting taxi - except he wasn't. They lost our reservation somehow and didn't have a taxi available for us, so we ended up walking home in 100 degree heat. Survived the final trek, and spent the next few hours getting things unpacked, with a wonderful interruption in a welcome home Facetime call from our daughter and her husband. We have lots of catching up to do around the house and yard, but it's good to be home at last.

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