Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Zealand: Christchurch to Seattle (Monday, February 22)

Written at the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport at 5:35 pm (Los Angeles time) on Monday, February 22; and in Seattle after returning home

Today, we went out to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, a wildlife park on the outskirts of Christchurch.  All we really knew was that they had kiwi there.  It turned out that they are a three-part walk-through wildlife park/zoo.  One part for introduced wildlife — freshwater eels, wallabies, ostriches, lemurs, gibbons, capuchin monkeys, assorted birds.  Then a part for New Zealand farm life — chickens, cows, pigs, rabbits, and horses, many of them rare breeds only found in New Zealand.  And the third part was mostly native wildlife (although some introduced, mostly hundreds of years ago) — kiwi, tuatara, possums, ferrets, ducks, etc.

Willowbank has the most successful kiwi breeding program in New Zealand.  They have a nocturnal house, which allows the kiwi to be available for viewing during the day.  (If you can call it “viewing” when it’s very dark in there.  We were able to visually observe two kiwis in the house, though.)

While we were viewing the capuchin monkeys, Mom leaned her cane against the banister and >splash< into the water it fell.  The park staff was able to fish it out and hose it down for her, though.  To keep parity, I proceeded to drop my sunglasses into the eel pond (and recovered them).

We bought souvenirs at their gift shop — I got some paua shell stud earrings, a tocque with a Māori design on it, another Kiwi country CD (this one with older artists, I think), and a book on New Zealand foods (descriptions of foods, essays on New Zealand food producers, and some recipes, mostly for desserts).  We also had lunch there, and as beverage, we had Elderflower Sparkle sodas (one original and one with black currant); got to keep trying those local items!

We then got me to the airport for my return home.  Alas, I got to see absolutely nothing of downtown Christchurch in the process.

I bought a chocolate croissant at the airport with the rest of my New Zealand money, leaving me just a few coins.  I had also forgotten that I hadn’t finished the bottle of Southern Comfort I bought in Auckland, so it got tossed at security, as did the jar of Nutella-knockoff spread (which should have gone into the checked luggage, darn it).

Retracing the steps from 10 days ago, I flew Emirates Air back to Sydney and finished Julie & Julia.  Our plane was a Boeing 777; nothing special about the flight, but an ugly landing.  I swear the plane bounced twice.  Had a 3-hour layover in Sydney.  Pulled out my leftover Australian money and looked around for a small souvenir, something warranting the 6 hours total I spent in the Sydney airport, and bought a shot glass with kangaroo silhouettes on it.  That took just coins, so I have an AUS$10 bill left for some future conversion.

Then it was back on V Australia to Los Angeles.  finished an episode of Heroes I had brought with me (from December, we’re slowly catching up on it), and then watched The Hangover.  Sleep was difficult, and I have no idea how much I caught; probably just 3-4 hours, I think.  After waking up, I watched the recent version of Fame.

In Los Angeles, customs wasn’t too bad; in fact, the wait to get my suitcase was the longest part.  I found a table in the food court at the International Terminal and worked on the trip report, plus sent a few texts and a short phone call to my boyfriend.

I mentioned early in the trip report bringing an episode of Lost with me.  Well, I never got around to watching it until I was back in Los Angeles.  I thought about watching it on the Syndey-to-LA trip, but that would be just a bit too much tempting of fate.  (What, you forgot that the show started with a Syndey-to-Los Angeles plane crash?)

I read Bill Willingham’s Fables novel on the trip, Peter & Max.  A good light read, with a surprising and yet well preceded finale.  Completely in line with the comics, and hopefully with the upcoming television show.

I’ve also been reading the second omnibus volume of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City (followers of previous trip reports know I read the previous volume on my trip to Europe last summer; I guess my next overseas trip will have to cover Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener, and Michael Tolliver Lives?), having finished Babycakes and almost done with Significant Others.

When I dug the book out, I discovered a picture from when I worked at Frame Technology, over 15 years ago, which must be when I last (first) read the books.  I only recognized about half the people, it’s been so long.  I’ll have to put that pic up on Facebook.  (Which also serves to remind me that my Facebook contacts are people I currently know and those from high school.  I need to look up folks from college, grad school, and when I lived in the Bay Area.  For all that it’s great for having some form of contact with people I’m otherwise lost on the wayside, there are huge chunks of my life not yet connected there.)

I’m feeling quite ready to be home.  On Sunday, I found myself almost snapping at Mom at one point, due to one of her personal speaking quirk (explaining things way too much).  My neck is hurting, mostly because of working on the netbook in the car, bending my head down.  My $50 pair of headphones broke at the airport; I compressed them too hard when putting them in my bag and a plastic tab broke off, so one earpiece doesn’t stay on the bridge when they are stored.  (Still usable, just annoying to store and fish out again, becoming a jumble of cables.)  And on the plane, the waist button came off on my shorts; just a tiny thing, but still, one more thing.

Which brings me current.  Now to watch another episode of Desperate Housewives and call the trip good.

As with the trip to Europe, I’m several days behind in posting these updates, but I’ll just plod through them during the coming week, one or two a day (rather than churning them all out at once).  I’ll need to go back and do some second drafts on some pages, too.  And once they all get posted, I’ll revisit each page to correct place names and add a myriad of links.  And some day, I’ll edit together the photos and videos and get them posted to Flickr and YouTube, and then I’ll revamp the entire thing into its own set of web pages on my site, rather than a series of blog posts.

(Of course, I haven’t done the pics/video or web pages steps with either the OutGames or Dublin trip reports just yet.  Sigh.)

My boyfriend is picking me up at the airport.  I haven’t had sex with him in two weeks.  What do you think will happen tonight?  (Yeah, probably collapse into bed and sleep.)

Updated on May 14, 2010

Updated on June 15, 2010
Added links.
Added travel map.

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