Steve and Mad's mini adventure travel blog

A very long day, in fact Thursday 23 March was 44 hours long! Our flight was at 18.40 on Thursday so we went into Auckland again in the morning for a quick potter about and then off to the airport. I must admit to having a little tear in my eye as we dropped off the crudbucket since it has been our faithful companion for all these weeks. There's a dead wasp in the back window that has been there since we picked it up - our lucky wasp, not so lucky for the wasp itself though. So, if you go to Ace Car rental and get AWP245 be sure to check for it as I bet it will still be there. Sniff...

It was at this point that Steve was forced to part with his beloved Teva sandals which had been part of his life for years. Apparently the smell was simply too bad for Mad to bear any longer and so they were dispatched on to the next world in an Auckland airport bin. Pity the poor cleaner.

The flight was alright. We were rather spoiled on the way to Melbourne as we had great seats but this jaunt with Qantas really brought home the meaning of the phrase "cattle class". The service was fine but it's a 12 hour flight and there really is sod all leg room and they don't give you any good stuff like toothbrushes, socks or eye masks although we did get a half decent goody bag of sweets. We had to change at LA for Vancouver which was actually a lot less hassle than we thought although it really is all a pointless waste of time. Why do you have to fill in the stupid green "moral turpitude" US visa form? Why do you need to be fingerprinted, eyeball scanned and stamped to get into the US, all to leave again in less than 2 hours? LA is a huge sprawling airport (to go with LA which is a huge sprawling mess) and once you have passed all the above checks you have to retrieve your luggage, find your connecting flight and terminal (which is no mean feat since nothing is signposted and all you get is vague directions about walking across car parks and freeways) and then check it all back in again AND go through security, to the point where you have to take off your shoes and put them through the x-ray. Nuts! It seems to be beyond the wit of the US authorities that somebody might just be transiting through. Anyway, we made our Vancouver flight in time, only to sit on the tarmac for 1½ hours while they tried to fix the air conditioning, by which time we'd been sitting so long with the engine running that we needed more fuel so had to wait for that to turn up... finally took off but missed out on the second round of free drinks as they shut the service early due to possible turbulence. The landing was pretty horrendous, very bumpy to the point where Mad thought about pressing the old sick bag into service but fortunately it wasn't needed.

By utter contrast, entering Canada was an absolute breeze - one simple customs form, 30 seconds of queuing, a friendly passport control official and we were in! The 1.5 delay at LA actually did us a bit of a favour as we would have had to wait 2 hours anyway to meet up with our next neighbour Andy who was flying in from London.

We are all staying with Andy's brother-in-law, Simon, in Vancouver and there he was waiting for us at the airport. Vancouver urbanites are able to use an amazing car pool system, where you can rent a car for literally an hour and then park it somewhere for somebody else to use. A fantastic system that mean you only get a car when you need one, which is not very often if you live in the middle of the city like Simon. More on Vancouver (with photos, of course) to follow in the next entry.

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