••• tiff firth photography •••

Thursday, February 9, 2012

grand canyon - 9.2.12

The date above shows a date missing from the last post. With the time difference and the time taken to travel, Wednesday the 8th of February just didn't exist for me. It's a bit disconcerting that you can totally erase a day out of a life, because you never get that time back.          Ever.

I woke up for my very last day in the USA, fluey and running a temp.I had some panadol with me and that helped take the edge off for me. I was tied up in knots again about driving on freeways and getting off them via the exits. However I had done a little bit of homework on this. Now that I've found 'On Star' in the car, I rang them yesterday to enquire about setting my GPS remotely for me, or was there something else they could offer if that wasn't available. I was reassured that they had my answer and I could breathe a sigh of relief. Otherwise I had thoughts of having to go the Hotel Concierge and asking him if he knew how to, or if he knew of someone that knew how to program the GPS.

Even with the GPS dilemma resolved I still couldn't stomach even a piece of toast for breakfast     :(

By 9.30 I had checked out, had started the car to get the heater going, and had 'On Star' navigation sorted. I was ready to hit the road......... And it wasn't so bad. I didn't have any heavy traffic (one of the reason's why I left at 9.30am), I had sunshine, no snow or ice to contend with, and I didn't have to navigate my way thru Flagstaff to get to the airport, seeing that it's on the same side of city as the Grand Canyon Highway. The 'On Star' verbalized to me with plenty of time to be in the correct lane to exit each freeway, so I didn't miss a turn off this time.

The only thing I was unsure of was that if I stopped and turned off the car to refuel before returning the hire car, did that mean I lost the 'on star' directions and would I have to ring them again to reconfigure my route. This was the only question that I hadn't asked in the first place. So seeing that I had plenty of fuel to get me there, I just drove without stopping, even though I passed three (I think) fuel stops on the way.

Upon safe arrival at the Flagstaff Airport, I mentioned the 1/3 tank of fuel remaining, to which I was given two choices. One was that I could drive a couple of miles down the highway, make an exit to the 'gas stop' and pay the pump price  ($3 something per gallon) or I could leave the car in their hands and they refill it and charge my credit card $5 something per gallon, for that service. I didn't hesitate. They could fill it up and with thanks. The thought of driving that car any further just chilled me. The price could have been $10/gallon, and I would still had them do it. I was done with driving on highways.

So with no more driving in front of me I could totally relax. My suitcase weighed in 5 pounds under the 50 pound limit, so no excess charges there. Mind you to achieve that I was carrying the big heavy jacket, I had the wool lined jumper on and had the other wool lined jumper tied around my waist. Those jumpers nearly weigh a kilo each. Having them out of the bag, allowed enough room for the things I had bought for the kids, Kym and friends to fit in nicely.

The flights from Flagstaff to Phoenix and Phoenix to LA were uneventful. I do wish I had the iphone camera out as we flew not that high over Chase Stadium


I had a number of hours to wait at LAX for my long haul flight, and as it turned out Danny and Lee-Anne of Scrap Therapy were also leaving this day and only a couple of hours after me, so we all reconnected at the baggage claim from my flight.

I was unsure of what  was happening with my bags, if they were being put on the carousel or being forwarded thru to the next flight. The ticketing at Flagstaff ended up being hand written and I wanted to be reassured that they had been checked to go all the way thru.

Danny and Lee-Anne walked with me to find the Air New Zealand checkin desk where I was handed my boarding passes and I was told that yes bags had made it to LA, and yes they should be on the Air New Zealand flight, but to check in Auckland in case they were deplaned there instead of Adelaide.    :-/

We wandered our way to the adjoining terminal which has the food court, and spent the hours talking shop, people watching and laughing a fair bit. I popped panadol again as I was starting to run hot with the flu. They were kind enough to walk me back again to the other terminal  and made sure I made it thru the first security check.

We have to take our shoes off for this security point, and I noticed one of the staff spraying a lot of room deodairzer towards the floor. I did ask him when he was nearby, if it was for the stinky feet smell. He said 'yup sure is, it gets really awful in here'.  They must go thru cans and cans of the stuff as they seem to be very liberal with it. I made it thru and just was collecting my gear and putting my boots on, when they had a security breach practise drill. Not knowing that it was a drill, it freaked me out a bit, as we were all told to 'freeze' in a very commanding voice. No mucking around with that tone. I just about crapped myself. Then, after about 10 seconds, a voice called out 'resume' and then everything starting moving along again. The security guy next to me where I was picking up my gear, smiled and thanked us for participating in the drill. So that's how I knew what was going on.

Gina -  at every xray point I've kept my sharpest eye on the laptop and the camera backpack. I heard your words every time in my head when I start lining up to go thru.  :O)

And speaking of words of advice that I carried with me, Gina's laptop switch story, Janice's words of ' BE CAREFUL' and Sandra's words of  'No Regrets' resonated with me with everything I did, and every choice I made. And I can't thank those women enough, for those words really moulded my trip. I don't have any regrets at all, I didn't take any unecessary risks to get THAT shot, and I still have my laptop.  Words with Love are gold, and I'm a rich girl.

9pm and I was enroute from LAX to Auckland. Every passenger in our section was given a handshake welcome by the two male flight staff, and called by name. How's that for service???!!!!! I was started to feel a bit fuzzy again. More panadol, finished the delightful tea, and got myself settled for sleep. This time I made sure I used the little blowup neck cushion. And sleep I did. 8 hours of it. Bliss.

By the time we were getting ready to land at Auckland I was really getting quite hot. It felt that the first few rows of seats in the Premium Economy section were extra warm and the last few rows of seats were a bit chilly. It wasn't an even temperature at all, even the staff mentioned it. And of course I was sitting in the really warm area. I was feeling rather wilted and in need of a freshen up badly.

I made my way quietly to the loos and I peeled off all the layers of clothes except for a tee shirt and the jeans. Washed my face, brushed tea, hair, re-deodorised  and that's about the best you can do.

I ran hot again in the Auckland terminal as I had to make my way quickly to the International Transfer Desk to enquire about the whereabouts of my bags. I only had about 45 mins to sort this out, which sounds like heaps, but its not. If the bags were on the carousel, they had to be located by staff (I'm not allowed out of international), and reloaded onto the correct plane for Adelaide. And it's a big airport. But all was good and their screen showed that they had been transferred to the Adelaide flight without incident.

By the time breakfast was served on this flight, I was starting to feel fuzzy again. So I pulled out the neck cushion and slept again. By the time Adelaide was near, I was bright eyed, bushy tailed and felt I could last all day without needing to sleep again. Which worked out perfectly to knock off the jet lag syndrome.

Pete met me at the airport with a couple of camera accessories that I'll need for the next trip. I had asked him while I was away if he was able to ring Photographic Wholesalers to see if they had what I needed. Pete, being the generous guy that he is, organised it all, picked them up and met me at the airport to pass them on and spend a couple of hours yakking about stuff while waiting for my next flight. The last one to get home.

Pete took my tripod, its bag, my big heavy coat, and the two woolen lined jumpers home with him as I'm back in Adelaide in a week to begin a photographic tour trip with him and 8 others. There wasn't any point in dragging those things back and forth and coping the excess weight fine (flying with REX is limiting) by taking it all home.

We were all on board and strapped in when we are advised that due to the Captain's seat belt not working, we were being deplanded and bussed back to the terminal while it was being fixed. I did ask if it was a PHD  seatbelt, which lead me to say explain after the quizzical look, a Press Here Dickhead seatbelt. He laughed pretty loudly.

When we were allowed to come back via bus some 30 mins later, I discoverd my boarding pass was not in my pocket. I said to the staff that it must have on my seat in the plane, they rang forward and yes it was. And that lead them to being able to play a bit of payback for the PHD line. Upon entering the plane, I was told I needed to go back down to the ladder and wait for the remaining passengers to board so that the captain could verify me. My face must have dropped, and then the lady air hostess laughed loudly, winked and said 'gotcha'  !!!!!!!    :O) she got me good lol

Finally underway and landed only 30 mins late. Kym picked me up and we made our way back to School as it was about to end for the day. Kym diverted them from going on the bus and I hid behind the car in the carpark.  Boy, Annie was loud in her excitement and Sean just had a cling-on hug that couldn't end.

We arrived home and found myself wanting to start cleaning straight away. It wasn't too bad at all really,  just little things, but I refrained. I didn't even bother to unpack the bag.

We ended up going to the pub for tea and on our way home the light was just amazing against a dark threatening north east horizon when this just blossomed.

Sure is good to be home.

1 comment:

SueP said...

Back home safely!! Sounds like you had a great trip and it was good to read all about your adventure!! Wow....amazing ey??!!