Thursday, March 7, 2013

The long trip home (sorry, no pictures).

We arrive at our hotel near the airport the night of February 22nd.  We had booked a family room, but the hotel was originally going to give us a room with one double bed.  Then they asked if we had wanted one double or two singles.  Not knowing we had booked a family room, I said two singles and my dad told them about having booked the family room.  They switched which room we were in, and it had...two singles.  Also, the hotel did offer internet access in rooms, but not FREE internet access in rooms (although the kiosk downstairs may have offered free internet).

The hotel was near a grocery store, so we decided to go and pick up a few snacks to eat for dinner/breakfast/plane ride.  At the store, the cashier was asking us if grocery stores in the United States were similar.  I told her they were.   The big difference is that I think, in general, our stores are bigger, and also our food is cheaper (I didn't tell her that).  When we returned to our room, I showered while I had the chance (since I was going to be on such a long plane trip home).  One redeeming factor about the hotel was that the shower did have nice water pressure.  The rooms themselves were tiny.  Two single beds (one against the wall) with about 6 inches between them, and probably 12" to the side of the other bed.  But, when you just need to sleep, it works.

We awoke early the next morning for our 6 or 6:30 a.m. flight (after only a few hours of sleep), to start our extended February 23rd.  In the end, we awoke/left too early, as the check-in desk was not yet open.  Then, after checking in, the customs/security portion of the airport was not yet open, so we had to sit and wait even longer for it to open.  So, that whole show up to the airport at least 2 hours early...well, if you are flying out of the Auckland airport at 6 a.m., you are going to be doing a lot of sitting around and waiting if you show up that early.

We made it to the Sydney airport, and guess what? we had to wait in line again. Of all of the stupid things, if you are just transferring flights in Sydney, you have to go through another security screening.  I guess they don't trust other airports in something. We passed the second security check (although some other passengers had items taken away (and I think they were less than 3 oz, so I'm not sure what that was all about).  They were not happy about it.  We did have quite a long layover in Sydney, so it's not like the security screening wait made us worry about catching our next was just annoying.

We learned that our flight back to LA was full, meaning that there would be someone sitting between us on the flight.  Luckily, the man sitting between us was the last person on the plane, so we did have a bit of room during the boarding process.  Actually, the full flight wasn't too bad either, although I did notice that the bathrooms were occupied a lot more of the time.  A part of this was also probably due to the fasten seatbelts sign being on for a larger portion of the flight due to turbulence.

Needless to say, it was still a long flight, and I didn't sleep too much, but I was able to sleep for longer than I did on the flight to Australia.  I also talked for a couple of hours to the man sitting between us.  He was from Australia, and was going to some sort of conference on water pumps, or something similar.  It made time pass more quickly.  We flew Delta Airlines, and the flight was better than expected (based on previous Delta overseas flights).  No, they don't offer eye masks or earplugs like some other airlines, but they had quite an extensive FREE entertainment selection. There food was not as good as the food on my other flight, however.

We arrived in LA, quickly made it through customs,  and because we were not on a connecting flight, we reclaimed our bags.  I went to check my large bag in right away, so I wouldn't have to lug it around.  Then we found a place to sit, and I had some time to transfer pictures from my dad's iPad and camera to my computer.  Then, my dad watched my bags while I (kinda) slept on a row of seats with no armrests for a bit.  We then parted ways, and I headed towards my terminal to catch my flight.  I really don't remember much about the next two flights.  I do remember my meal at the Denver airport.  It was a burrito, from Que Bueno.  It does not even hold a candle to Chipotle or Cafe Rio.  If I remember this, I don't think I'll ever eat there again.  I also remember that I was having a very difficult time staying awake in Denver for about an hour before the flight.

When I arrived in Billings, I called the hotel where my car was at to get the shuttle back.  On the ride I asked the driver about the weather and how it was supposed to be, and he encouraged me to drive home that night, instead of waiting.  I wasn't sure if I would be able to stay awake for the drive, but I made it home safely, stopping a few times along the way to check in with family.  I was so exhausted the next day, however, that I only made it through sacrament meeting at church.  Then, I went home and slept for a good 6-8 hours more.  I did feel refreshed after that.  And then, it was back to work :(.

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