Tag Archive: us 2011


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on the wing again

hi from the eastern side of the pacific.  i’ve begun a three-week whistle-stop tour of the US, the timing of which was dictated by bestema’s 100th (next monday), but which is also providing me the chance to see many of my other favorite people as well.  and places.  and also the excuse/motivation i apparently  need to dust off this blog and get it moving again.  the huge online time-sink of the writing course i’m heading up at home can’t reach me here (famous last words), and so i can spend some recreational time online without feeling a compulsion to check/address work emails.  already on the trip over i found myself eagerly filing away observations and mentally cataloguing small mishaps to share later, so let’s get to it!

the trip started in auckland, as usual, although rather less usually for a departure day, we had already driven to the airport twice (costing us 3.5 hours in the car) before my drop-off.  tanuki had a final visit to the SPCA vet, located essentially at the airport, that required dropping her off in the morning and picking her up in the afternoon, so friday really was dedicated to traversing the well-worn (and stupidly circuitous) path between there and our house.  when not sitting in the car (cradling a remarkably calm, purring cat), we spent a significant portion of time sitting on our bikes – in the interest of preventing mid-flight jumpy-leg syndrome, i had suggested a ride if the weather was good.  the universe obliged with sparkling skies and calm seas, so the pebbles, who has been exploring our neighborhood by bike this week, suggested a fitting (if perhaps ambitious) route, and we set off.

apparently, last september,  we moved to a well-concealed mountain range without realizing it.  i suspect that the deceptively pleasant name ‘north shore’ is designed to encourage naive and optimistic cyclists.

over the next two hours and 18km, we traversed long hills and short hills, busy roads, fields, boardwalks skirting volcanic craters, and – oh yes – forested hiking tracks that required more of the bikes riding us than the other way around.  i think i built up enough leg exhaustion credit to prevent jumpy-leg not only on all US flights and the return to NZ, but perhaps also for australia in july.  there was one exhilarating downhill on the way home that lasted about 1km, which we zipped down gleefully (well, i did – the pebbles had to stop partway to release a startled bumblebee from his helmet, and actually, i almost got taken out by a car reversing out of its driveway). but then we were left at the bottom of perhaps the cruelest hill of all, which stood between us and home, and was made worse by the disheartening knowledge that it takes about 30 seconds to drive up in a car.  it left me breathless and extremely grumpy, and while i would like to say that i set my teeth and soldiered up its slow, grueling ascent, in fact i hopped off halfway and plodded the rest on foot, while the pebbles, still astride, kept pace and made attempts at cheery and supportive conversation.  this does not bode so well for our plans to cycle the otago rail trail in october, but does certainly highlight the necessity of some extra training before then.

anyway, this post is not supposed to be about the bike ride, so let’s move on, saying only that i survived and that we’re still married.  just.  ;)  we also managed to pick up my good camera from the shop (YAY), which was not cheap but does set me up for traveling.  i packed, including about 5kg of stuff for my parents, which i would luckily get to offload at my very first stop in the US, and bumbly came over to see me off in the afternoon.  we left home around 5, fought some traffic across the bridge, and had dinner at our favorite italian restaurant in our old neighborhood.  always good to have a nice helping of spicy, garlicky pasta before being crammed into close quarters with strangers for 24 hours – it helps forestall unwanted seatmate chat.

and then it was time to go.  check-in was miraculously speedy, so i bought a tepid and dreggy miso soup (the last one in the pot), which still tasted surprisingly good, then bade the pebbles farewell and headed off to begin the journey proper.  the flights were uneventful in the grand scheme of things, although i managed to dump my cup of water on myself once, and to not only dump my neighbor’s cup of water in a separate incident (all onto my seat as well, semi-luckily) but to actually break his cup-holder in the process (stupid new design).  because i’m awesome.  i also do not recommend eating a meal that involves peas when your fork-balancing space is restricted to a depth of 12 inches and you have to maintain t-rex arms in order not to elbow your neighbors.

the connecting flight to visit my parents should have been a breeze, having a nice short connection time in LA and being the first direct flight to omaha in history (as far as i know), but it was in fact fraught with all the minor complications possible.  delayed departure, slow refueling, pilot went for a walk and was slow to return (WTF), people couldn’t sort out their carry-ons, then kept getting up to go to the bathroom while the increasingly baleful flight staff tried to streamline our departure.  we had the requisite screaming child in the row behind us, and more drinks were spilled.  we eventually landed an hour behind schedule, near midnight, but my saintly parents put on a good show and took me home to a bowl of chili, a bath, a reunion with the household beasts, and – finally – bed.

so here i am, a beautiful spring day dawning outside my open window, daffodils on the lawn and birds singing.  my room has evolved to house  an interesting mix of my old stuff (books, model horses, mix tapes, trinkets) and newer furniture – perhaps i will write a bit more about it at the end of the trip, when i’m back here for longer.  my parents are stirring (dad actually just bought me a cup of tea in bed – the luxury!), the cats are growling at each other, and it’s good to be home.