Unlike our usual practice before going out of town we were packed the night before and just had a few odds and ends to finish up before leaving for the airport on Christmas day.
I was in somewhat of a panic on Saturday because my laptop started acting up (freezing) and then finally would not boot. This was a major problem because we wanted to be able to email folks back home and create/maintain this web site as we went.
I called the support center and, after 3 hours on the phone to someone in the Philippines it was determined that the motherboard had failed. My support contract provided for next day in home service but they said that they didn't think they could get a motherboard to me and installed since it would have to be done on Christmas eve. The alternative was to wait until we got to Auckland and get it replaced there. I convinced them that they should send the board and we would hope for the best. I called Unisys (they do the field service for Dell) on Monday to tell them that the part should be on the way and asked them if they could install it on Tuesday (Christmas Eve). They said "sure, no problem". Well, unlike my experience with U-Haul (see: How Not To Move From Omaha To Denver) they showed up Tuesday morning, replaced the motherboard and all was well :-)
Christmas Day we did final packing and headed for the airport. Here's Joan trying to remember if she's forgotten anything:
The flight from Omaha to LA was uneventful until the very end. LA had winds of about 15 mph but gusts to about 28 with intermittent downdrafts of 10 to 15 mph. I heard on the headset that a flight just prior to ours had executed a missed approach (go around) due to downdrafts and turbulence but we continued our bouncy approach. It was clear that the pilot had to work the plane hard all the way to the ground but all ended well.
Not knowing what the food service would be like from LA to Auckland we decided to grab dinner and then wait the rest of the 4 hours before our Quantas flight to Auckland. Here we are killing time:
The flight to Auckland was long (some 12 hours) but it was aboard what seemed to be a fairly new 747-400 which had personal LCD displays at each seat. Everyone had a choice between several movie & entertainment video channels as well as radio and about 8 video games and a channel which showed our flight path, altitude, speed, etc. A long way from the turboprop my sister Carol and I took from NY to Tampa when we were kids!
It turned out that we need not have worried about the in-flight food situation. Quantas seems to be from the "old school". We had a choice of two hot entrees for dinner shortly after we left and a hot and cold entree for breakfast about 2 hours before landing in Auckland.
This photo did not come out very well, but If you look closely at the plane in the far background (to the right of the tail with the sun on it) you can see that it's painted with a Lord Of The Rings scene. What you can't see is that it also says "The Airline to Middle Earth".
Our tour hosts Dave and Lynne Giles met us at the airport and invited us to their home for breakfast.
Next day: December 27