Sunday, December 28, 2014

Australia & New Zealand - Take Two

Aspen, Colorado

Yes, this is a new entry.  Yes, I know I was in Australia and New Zealand about this same time last year.  And yes.  I'm going back.

Last summer, my dear friend, Gail, said to me, "Julie, we should go on a trip somewhere."  To which I responded.  "That would be great!  Where do you want to go?"  

Gail said, "We have a trip to Australia and New Zealand coming up in December.  You want to go."  

"I was just there in February, (same breath) OK! I'm in.  Let's go." 

So that's why I find myself on my way back down under.  Although the trip is similar, cruising New Zealand on a ship will be quite different in a couple of ways.  One, we will be playing golf at each stop along the way in New Zealand.  And two, I'm traveling with some wonderful friends from San Antonio, Gail and Bruce, along with a group of their friends from the Vintage Club in Palm Springs.  AND, I have a different friend along this year.  I'll miss Stevie, but my friend, Jess has joined me for this trip.  I'm so excited about making new friends and going back to two beautiful countries for round two.

Our trip started off a little shaky.  We were scheduled to leave Aspen yesterday, the 27th on a United Airlines flight at 7:00 a.m., getting us to Los Angeles around 8:30 a.m., allowing plenty of time to stop by my house, check on a few things and get back to LAX for our international connection at 5:15 p.m.  I was very optimistic when I awoke to sunny skies.  Aspen is often not the most dependable airport for departures, and even though the skies were crystal clear, the sun was shining brightly and there were NO winds, our flight was delayed.  Not a huge deal, because check in for our international flight was hours away, 3:15, so as long as the flight got off the ground by noon, we would still be good to go.  The airport was filling with people.  Every seat in the terminal was full.  It was standing room only ... and not much of that!   Flight after flight popped up on the marquee "CANCELLED."  Tempers were flaring.  But I was standing patiently waiting for our incoming aircraft to arrive.  More people crowded into the already packed terminal.  Offers of $1000.00 were being announced to travelers willing to give up their seats and travel at a later time, due to over selling.  Despite the fact that we were closing in on our "drop dead" time to make our international connection, I still stood by even tempered and composed, occasionally checking my watch to see if we were still in the ball park to make it.  Then it happened.  Out of nowhere ...  flight number 5173 to Los Angeles CANCELLED.   All other flights to Los Angeles that day were booked and we didn't have a prayer of getting out of Aspen on the 27th!  Needless to say, my serene, unruffled attitude changed slightly.  But I quickly phoned American Express and got our international flight changed and went back to the house to a wonderful "gift" of an extra day in Aspen with Jacqueline and Jefferson.  

So today, it is snowing.  I dropped Jacqueline at the airport for her 7:00 a.m. flight.  Already the marquee showed flight delays.  I suspect we would not have gotten out of Aspen today either, but "cool, calm and collected, Julie" has no fear.  Because today ... I am flying on Scruffy's plane to Los Angeles.  Public transportation failed me and cost us one day of our Australian vacation.  Today  would likely be another disaster.  FlexJet is a much more civilized way to travel.  We should arrive in Los Angeles in time to go by the house for a while.  Then tonight, we'll board our Air New Zealand flight to Auckland and then on to Sydney.  A day late, but who cares.  We loose a day going there and I was so confused last year, that I didn't know what day it was for the first week.  As long as I'm there to see the fireworks over they Sydney Opera House, well, that'll be just fine.

... Later the same day

We've arrived at LAX only to be told that our Air New Zealand Flight has been cancelled.  Here we go again.  Public Transportation at it's best.  However, they put us on a Qantas flight non-stop to Sydney, so that's a good thing.  We'll arrive much earlier and not have a 5 hour layover in Auckland.  So it seems this one worked in my favor.  I'll keep you posted as events unfurl.