Friday, December 12, 2008

12/10/2008 - Over the Pacific

I am writing this just after takeoff on Air Pacific from LAX. I have been silently debating about whether the hardware that connects my headrest to the chair is in any way similar to the type of hardware that keeps the wings on. This is pertinent and highly important in my mind in that, soon after hitting 30,000 feet, the entire headrest came loose and fell behind me. I guess headrest technology has advanced, as I have not had this happen on other airlines.

Air Pacific uses a more "mature" fleet.


Fiji, for the 3 minutes I got to see it outside. I think you can see a visible hernia on the guys in the background moving my oversize boxes.

I feel somewhat privileged to be here at all. Or at least here with my ski equipment, bike, bike trailer, and fly fishing supplies. I was told that there would be a $250 additional baggage fee for Air Pacific (totally reasonable, I am bringing three oversize boxes with me). Given the complicated situation with two airlines and the aforementioned baggage, a second person was called on to help figure things out. He decided that they needed to charge an additional fee through US Airways as well to get the bags to LA - an additional $750. Given that I could have actually purchased a Hyundai, strapped my boxes on top, driven to LA, and then paid hooligans to burn the car (perhaps in the driveway of the US Airways executive that came up with the oversize baggage fees) for less than that, I was visibly shaken. I now "get" why people who are susceptible to heart attacks often actually have them during sudden stress. It's quite a rush to suddenly have your ticket price to New Zealand doubled on a casual comment.

Luckily, good sense (and a third person) prevailed, and all was well. No $750 additional fee. Suddenly, security did not seem quite as gruff, LAX didn't look quite as dirty when I got there, and my overall sense of worry evaporated. I am sitting next to a very nice couple (Jason and Aurossa), both software engineers, who will be traveling the south island via camper van. Fun stuff.

Food is best described and "microwaved", but the cabin crew is very nice. We get two meals (dinner and breakfast) on the 13-hour flight. Watched Dodgeball on the computer. Transferred over in Fiji, another trip through security, and back on for 3 more hours.

Coming into Auckland was much, much easier than I imagined. Everyone, from the customs agents to the people who let me leave my cardboard boxes along a wall, were fantastic and several came over to ask about the bike and the trip. The only way to explain it is. . . New Zealand.

IMGP0756.JPGHere is everything I brought. Ridiculous.

Made it to the I-Site past customs, and Skyped the parents. I am alive. Just about to jump on the bike for a quick 5-mile ride to the campground. Hope the GPS works as planned. . .

IMGP0757.JPGSkyping. It really works well!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Yes, the title is the number of hours I have left in the US. Getting a little. . . interesting as I am still notcompletely sure where I am going to be staying my first night, and as of now I am still working on figuring out how to send all of my ski equipment to Masterton (for when I finish biking) once I make it to New Zealand. Other than that, just have to pack! Figured out the amount of weight I am hauling. Without the bike itself, looks like just over 100 lbs of gear.

Took a short 10-mile ride today to knock the soreness out of my legs.

IMGP0748.JPG This is the picture taken just before riding today with full weight. Note the smile. Post-picture (not shown) may be less jolly and more shaky.

Well, on the upside, at least I can entertain myself during the long flight by reviewing lower extremity anatomy in order of soreness.

Want to give a shout out to all of my Missouri friends (as I just got back last night from St. Louis where I was able to visit everyone one last time). Will miss you all. Special thanks to Clint and Niki, who put up with me staying at their place pretty much every night. You poor souls.

All right, off to Skype more shipping people in New Zealand. And that packing thing.