Planes, Trains and Automobiles
06 January 2013 | Whangarei, New Zealand
Well, it was more like bus, plane, car and another plane ride to land us back to America and to Columbus, Ohio for Christmas. Our flight out of Auckland was a very early morning flight at 6:30am. So, we decided to get a hotel room, near the Auckland airport the night before. Since Auckland is about 3 hours south of Whangarei, we hopped on a bus called The Naked Bus and headed south to Auckland. The Naked Bus does not mean that everyone on the bus is naked or that clothing is optional, it just happens to be the name of the company and their slogan is "we stripped our prices". It's quite a catchy name!
Once we arrived in downtown Auckland, we took another short bus ride to the airport, and then hopped on a shuttle that took us to the hotel. As we were riding through downtown Auckland, we were happy to take in the sights of the city. Our first impression is that Auckland is a very clean and happening area with tons of stores, shops and restaurants. I don't think we saw one store front that was closed or out of business. Auckland appears to be a thriving city. The other thing we noticed is all the fast food restaurants that we haven't seen in many many months, such as Wendy's and Burger King, along with McDonalds and Subway, unfortunately, still no Taco Bell to be found.
Early the next morning, we left Auckland airport at 6:30am and flew 4.5 hours to Melbourne, Australia. We had about a 2 hour layover before our "long haul" flight to Los Angeles. Since we were hungry, we exchanged some New Zealand dollars for some Aussie money and went to a fast food place called Hungry Jacks. The place was a Burger King but with a different name. Same sandwiches, same symbol, and even found the paper bag said they were a trade mark of Burger King. We really couldn't figure out why they weren't called Burger King. Anyway, the time came for us to board the plane and begin our 14.5 hour flight back to America. The fight was uneventful and we both tried to sleep, we watched movies and TV shows, and I even sent Tom an instant message through our TV screens, even though he was seated right next to me. Before we knew it, we were on our final approach to LAX, arriving on the same day we left Auckland, remember we passed over the International Date Line, so we went back in time or maybe, time stood still.
We rented a car in Los Angeles and drove to Las Vegas for a little rest and relaxation before heading to Columbus, Ohio. We are so happy we decided to rent a car, because the drive to Las Vegas was beautiful and made us realize how much we miss the desert. We always loved the desert scenery with the cactuses, desert floor and the mountains.
Once we checked into our hotel in Las Vegas, we immediately went down to the casino and headed to a bar that had poker slots. With the amount of traveling we just did in the last 24 hours, we were both ready to take a breath and relax over a drink or two. The first thing that we both noticed about being back in America was the crowds of people. Too many people, it was a little overwhelming for us. Also, we noticed that most everyone was in a hurry and didn't look too happy, maybe more of a stressed out look. We only stayed down in the casino a few hours and because the hotel room was calling us. We were all about the hotel room because of all the space to walk around in, the big king bed and most importantly, the unlimited hot water in the shower and a flushing toilet all within a few feet. We were in heaven!!!
The next morning, we took our flight to the cold Midwest, to Columbus, Ohio. Tom's parents picked us up at the airport and drove us to my parent's house. All 6 of us had a great visit that night, telling stories of our past year of sailing adventures. It was great to have an evening reminiscing with just our parents.
The following 2 weeks was filled with lots of visits with most of our families, playing in the snow, eating too much wonderful food, shoveling and playing in the snow. We also got to see a few of our aunts and uncles that we haven't seen in many years. We also took care of several things that we could only take care of in America. We switched satellite phone providers from GMPCS (note to any future cruising: do not use this company. We have had a lot of problems with them and would never recommend them) and switched to OCENS. We also downloaded a ton of movies, shows, and music. Living without a radio and a TV for the last 9 months made us realize how little music and shows we had. So, we took advantage of the unlimited internet access and always had our computer powered on and downloading something.
Before we knew it, our 2 weeks was up and it was time to say goodbye to our families, good bye to America and to start traveling west again. We spent 2 more days in Las Vegas before we started our very long journey back through Los Angeles, to Brisbane Australia, to Auckland New Zealand and finally to Whangarei. We jumped ahead 2 days during our travels and spent New Year's at 30,000 feet in the sky. We arrived back aboard Tanga around 9:00pm. We were feeling exhausted from our flights but feeling relieved to see Tanga safe and happily tied inside her slip. It's time for us to catch up on some sleep; unpacking will happen tomorrow. There is always a tomorrow!