Sunday, June 12, 2016

Day 1: LA to New Zealand!!!!

So as excited as I was for this trip it started out kinda miserable. I got a cold right before, I tried to get over it but it just wouldn't let me go.

We made the most of it though and Tasha and I did our best not to focus on that. I flew in early to LA from Seattle and since our flight out wasn't till nine at night, Tasha and I had fun in LA. We went to Hollywood Blvd., starting out at the Wax museum where there were iconic figures we can pose with. We also took a open bus tour of LA's most famous locations and Actors. We saw where Elvis Presley and other big name celebrities lived, most of their homes were surrounded by bushes so that you couldn't see in very well. They were still beautiful big homes which was cool to see their design choices, there were even a few homes that were amazing just to look at. One home looked like a ice cream cake, very much in the style of Gaudi. Another home we saw was the house they used in Hocus Pocus and as odd as it was to see a witch's hut among the Beverly hills it was one of my favorites, it had a freakin' moat, who couldn't like that? Also we went up to the hills to see the Hollywood sign which is a must.

After the tour we walked around the Blvd. a bit, which was fun to see the stars on the ground and see the Chinese theatre. Got our free chocolate from Ghirardelli and then went to this amazing place which has cheap cookie sundaes which were a dream come true. Only three bucks for a cookie of your choice with ice cream of your choice on top! The line was long but totally worth it! I got a classical chocolate chip with peanut butter cup ice cream on top. So delicious! Despite the fact that I couldn't smell it tasted great!

We enjoyed our cookie sundaes and cookie sandwich then went and picked up Mom and Dad from the airport. We got dinner quickly then headed for the airport. Which was always a nightmare, but because of my cold it was worse! I got a freakin' bloody nose while going through security! So here is me looking at the ceiling holding a bloody napkin to my nose while handing over my passport, I was so afraid they were going to bar me because of some worldwide health issue. But the TSA guy was very nice even giving me advice to keep my head up and go get a beer. Yeah, I'm Mormon but I was grateful for his light heartedness.

We got on the plane with no issues and started our long flight to New Zealand. Movie selection was ok but my sinuses were having a hay day and did not let me sleep well. Nasty, just nasty, but I survived and we arrived in Fiji, for a quick layover then continued with a three hour flight to New Zealand.
We landed in Auckland around noon and immediately caught a shuttle to where we could rent a car. They were driving on the wrong side of the road! and the stirring wheel was also on the wrong side, so weird but that's just how they drive... As we were being driven out first thing I noticed was just how lush everything was. There were green hills everywhere! I was told it was their winter time but everything was still so green!

We got to our car rental place and while Dad and Tasha were sorting out our car it just started raining and not that light rain you get, it was a torrential downpour. But it only rained like that for about 15 minutes and then let up. By the time Tasha and Dad returned it was bright and sunny again. This became the norm for New Zealand while we were there.
 So the car we rented turned out to be bright green and purple, I think they made it those colors to either alert the other drivers of our presence or to always make sure we will never lose the car in a parking lot. It worked, we never lost the car. Occasionally we saw other people renting from the same business so their cars were as ghastly as ours but hey we waved and cheered each other on when we passed :)
Our first stop was Kelly Tariton's Aquarium. This was a cool aquarium because it showcased a lot of native species of fish that we of course wouldn't be able to see anywhere else. there was a shark tank tunnel that had a moving pathway so all you had to do was stand and it would take you through the shark tanks. In the tank was this really cool bottom dwelling shark called the Woebegone Shark, it was very cool to watch.

They also had long finned eels, massive lobster (seriously they were the size of basketballs), king penguins with their chicks and one of my favorites was the elephant shark. I didn't even know those thinks existed, but yeah! Elephant sharks! Tasha found some cool stamp game which was entertaining to look for and we got to go through an arctic expedition showcase which included this tunnel that was made to look like packed ice but they had it turning in a circle so while you walked through it you couldn't go straight. The whole place was really fun!

 We finished the Aquarium and headed to downtown Auckland where there was a free Art Museum. They showcased Maori portraits and contemporary art. The portrait were fun to see but I didn't care that much for the contemporary art. The museum had multiple areas but I think the main gallery area was the best with a overlooking balcony. Everything was painted white, which seemed to be a theme  of a lot of the architecture there.

We stopped at an ATM to pull out money and I found their money really cool. Every piece of currency has a bird on it. My favorite is their dollar coin which has a Kiwi on it.

By that time it was getting colder and later. Apparently everything closes at 5pm, we were all pretty tired from the flight still and hungry. When we got to our motel, that's when we noticed the early hours of closure. It was very difficult to find somewhere we could eat. We ended up going to a kebab place and sharing a dish. I didn't share I was still feeling crappy.

We got back to the motel and turned on the heater and passed out on the surprisingly comfy bed.

Not a bad start to the trip, more fun to come!

Adventure is out there!

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