Thank goodness we had so many months to prep for our departure. We used every bit of it with visa prep, updating passports, booking excursions for our time abroad, to getting awnings replaced on the house and starting the painting of the exterior of our house! With our house rented out, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to force myself to unpack and organize all the nooks and crannies of the house, to Corey’s dismay. I firmly believe that there are biological differences in how men and women ‘organize’. I want the kids toy pieces put with their respective counterparts and not all dumped into one big box! However despite my weeks and weeks of organizing, it still came down to the final hour of realizing that the bathroom vanity and drawers needed to be emptied for our renters, which resulted in stuff being piled into one big bag – along with the items that were sitting on top of my dresser – to wait for my return on the top of the bins of clothes stuffed into the back recesses of Caden’s closet. Back to the trip –
After the obligatory grumbling between Corey and I as we debate how to keep each of our singularly allotted suitcases at the 50 pound limit (a jump rope doesn’t weigh that much really, does it?) and whether or not we will be able to get my running stroller accepted onto all three flights (this was of great concern to me, as I explained to Corey, with my visions of running and walking with Gia everywhere, including daily walks to the market for fresh food to prepare for dinner, and walks to the coffee shop for our $8 lattes…) so to me the stroller represented the whole simpler life I was looking forward to living here. Did I mention we don’t have a car? Oh and my goal is to keep to a pretty strict budget of $20,000 for the entire 6 months we are here. If you have not done the math already, that works out to only 2,500 lattes J But I digress.
We departed Chicago at 5pm to Los Angeles – with 5 bags each plus one backpack per kid, all of which fit into my ThirtyOne bag (thank you Chrissy Henige) and one Ironman Bob running stroller.
After encountering a couple of hours of delay, we were off. The flight to LA was virtually painless, however our transfer to our plane to New Zealand was another matter. The delays left us feeling like we were in the Great Race! We had to depart the airport, go outside, and find the ‘A’ bus. We waited 40 minutes for the A bus, grappling with whether or not we should try and find a cab to take us the international terminal. Having no earthly idea where the terminal was, we decided to stay put and just snap at the kids as they voiced the complaints we were all thinking.
After being passed by no less than 30 Hertz buses, Lot B through Z buses, and everything in between, our A bus final arrived. We ran into the terminal to the announcement of ‘now boarding flight blah-blah-blah to Auckland New Zealand’ and got behind a smoochy Italian couple already waiting for the elevator doors to open. After a couple of minutes of waiting, we realized the button had not been pushed to even summon the elevator. I made a bigger deal than really necessary to inch around their embrace and push the button, and after another 10 minutes that felt like an hour, the doors opened – to use an Australian term – chock-a-block full! So Corey ran outside to look for another way up with all of our bags and stroller J while I kept vigil for another elevator. As the minutes ticked by, sweat began to prickle the back of my neck. Finally some employees of the airport came casually strolling through. We pounced and were instructed that if we could manage an escalator, we could again go outside and fine one a ways down. We took off in a sprint with the kids trailing behind.
It took both Corey and I to hold the stroller up – plus the other bags, and we ran in to the terminal to find another escalator and set of steps, being monitored by an employee who told us under no uncertain terms could NOT go up the last remaining escalator between us and our soon-to-be-departing-flight with a stroller, and to go to the elevator. We ripped Gia out of the stroller – literally, and piled her, the stroller and 6 bags into our arms and did a staggered kind of run up the stairs. Then of course we were denied access to the line until we emptied out the miniscule amounts of water from the kids water bottles. We made it through, took off running without reattaching the wheels to the stroller for about 1 minute, until Gia had an all-out fit and refused to run. Unable to run with her and the wheels, stroller and bags, Corey stopped and reassembled while Lily, Caden and I ran on. We were the very last ones to board the plane.
This was one of those double-decker luxurious planes with futuristic individual pods for the high-class – which included a handful of kids, yes kids, ages 3 – 10 that we passed by, who clearly had done it before. Our section was more typical, but still very nice. We had a row of three seats that had rising footrests to make a double bed sized platform that we could lay down on, and two seats across the aisle with no foot rests. Gia, Caden and I started out with the platform. It was niiiiice. We each had the custom personal video screen, and the kids were in heaven – watching The Croods at least 10 times each. We got some sleep, and then Corey and I switched seats. The kids were incredible. No melt downs yet. And the free wine kept Corey and I from having melt downs too J
Next part of the adventure was our 7 hour layover in Auckland. And no, that 7 is not a typo. We tried to figure out if we should leave the terminal, or try and fill our time. After hearing from the locals that the weather was chilly and there wasn’t much going on until after 10am on a Saturday (it was 7am at this point and our flight left at 2:30 for Perth) we decided to camp out and make the best of it. We made a list of ideas of things to do, and settled in at one of our three eating venues. Corey found a nice big table by a wall of windows with amazing views (only in New Zealand do you have awe-inspiring views at the airport) of the water, hills, and trees, while I waited in line to order our $75 breakfast… squash omelet with rocket (arugula), muesli, muffins and coffee. Yikes. I need to work on a singing act for the kids to raise some money to stay in budget! J
We passed the time with work books, reading, Uno, matching games, walks around the airport, and chatting up unsuspecting neighbors, and feeding a little bird that was flying around the airport. It was actually rather fun. We arrived at our terminal 2 hours before our flight left and had the place for ourselves. We did yoga, ran around, watched movies and completed workbooks. All have stayed awake for those 7 hours, so we were feeling good about the time change adjustment. We optimistically boarded our final leg of travel to Perth.
After another watching of The Croods, all 3 kids passed out into one of those deep coma-like sleeps – just before dinner arrived. Corey and I drank some more wine and did our best to stay awake for the 7 hour flight. We arrived in Perth down one suitcase filled with Lily and Gia’s clothes, and missing Gia’s little ND backpack with her baby doll and stuffed lion. Hoping that one will be in lost-and-found at the airport.
We were the very last international travelers to clear the terminal and were delighted to see our dear friends Dani and Tony waiting for us – looking the same as when we last saw them 15 years prior. It was 6:30 pm and pitch dark, a bit drizzly, and a perfect 65 degrees. They drove us in two cars to our new house on Holland Street. The kids slept the whole way.
We were beyond thrilled with the house. Beautiful dark wood floors, an office that overlooks the living room, two outdoor dining areas, and three well-sized bedrooms, one of which had two single beds, one with a trundle, where we put all three kids. We took showers and baths, ate some of the cereal that the ND Australia team left for us as provisions to get started, took some melatonin and fell fast asleep.