Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Full Circle

July 6th and I am sitting in LAX (Los Angeles Airport) waiting for the flight home. The photo attached was taken in almost the same place on the way out, so I have come a full circle.  No photo this time as I am on my own. Russell has stayed on with family in Cleveland and then will head to Boston to attend Harvard. I am eager to get home and join the family celebrations with the anticipated arrival of a new grandchild. I am marvelling at technology as I receive updates on the progress of our new grandchild into the world in real time, and remember back to delivering a child in Papua New Guinea and my mother only hearing about it when it was all over! It would have been two days between her hearing that we were going to the hospital and finally getting news of the child's safe arrival from us.

Looking back over our adventures as recorded in this blog I feel like I haven’t recorded the half of it and hope to go back and fill in a lot of gaps before we forget the details. Every day we appreciate how blessed we have been to have received this opportunity and are thankful to the people who have enabled us to go away for twelve weeks. Obviously the Woolf Fisher Foundation who gave us the impetus, but also our family, friends and colleagues (who are friends) have added to their loads to make this possible and we recognise this and are truly grateful.

We have learnt so much and have simply enjoyed being curious and going from experience to experience and soaking up ‘stuff’ and making connections. We have connected ideas and people, dredged up memories long forgotten and added new ones.

This is not the last post, but there is a sense of rightness in noting that I was here on April 30th, looking forward to an amazing adventure, and here I am on July 6th having lived it and more.

Green Water

I had to laugh when I saw this sign in the shower at the airport in LAX. I am quite sceptical of the energy saving notices in commercial establishments when they relate to water.  In this case it meant that the water pressure was so low it took three times as long to shower and wash the shampoo out of your hair so they would have been better providing normal pressure and getting you out of the shower faster.

Many of the places we have stayed have displayed a sign similar to this telling us that if we reuse our towel we will be saving the planet.  I would be a lot more convinced if they also provided plugs in the sink.  We have stayed in 20+ different accommodations in our travels and the ONLY places to consistently provide plugs in sinks were the homes of our families.  In some places there was no plug in the kitchen sink, many either had no plug at all in the bathroom, or it leaked rapidly and was completely ineffectual.

In some places we had no option but to wash our clothes under running showers as they provided no washing facilities and no plugs in basins.

I will believe these signs are more than money saving gestures for the hotels when they do their bit by providing well sealed plugs in the basins.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Travelling Companions

There is no doubt at all about who was the best travelling companion on this trip - especially now I am completing the journey on my own.

But there have been a couple of other items that must be mentioned. The first is my trusty Trakdot. I bought this fabulous device back in 2013 after seeing it in a gadget magazine.  I had had a bad experience losing my luggage in LAX and this wee device seemed like just what I needed.  I have used it nearly every time I have flown since, from local trips in NZ to Asia to the UK, from Australia to Europe to the USA and it always delivers. When I land I get an SMS and an email from my suitcase telling me where it is in the world. And if I have my bluetooth on I usually get advance notice that my bag will be appearing on the luggage carousal any moment. It is wonderful.  I did note on one flight this trip that TSA seem to have taken an interest in it.  I had the notice inside my suitcase that TSA had been borrowing through it and my Trakdot had moved from the bottom of the case to sitting on the top. But nothing was said, so it must have been deemed kosher.
The notification emailed reads:
Your Trakdot device: NamedXX is indicating its location is within the area of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). If this is a final destination of a flight you are on, proceed to baggage claim to pick up your luggage. If you are at your final destination, but it is not the location of your Trakdot luggage, then proceed to your carrier's Baggage Claim Office and arrange for the luggage to be sent to you from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).Battery: Full.

The other must have is the app TripIt Pro. All your travels in one place. You download the app on your phone and you sign up to create an account with them. The Pro Upgrade costs a fee that is well worth it.  I had to allow access to my GMail, and then it takes every travel looking document and adds them to my TripIt account.  From there it handles all my bookings like a travel agent sending me notices 24 hrs in advance that I need to check in, what Gates and terminals and even tracks my seats.  It informs me of flight delays, Gate changes etc on the day right up to boarding. It provides maps and information about the arrival destination as part of the deal. My human travelling companion has come to accept that TripIt will always be the first to let us know of any travel changes.  I have stood in an Air NZ terminal, with the AirNZ app on my phone, and TripIt has informed me of flight changes before AirNZ themselves do - every time. It is well worth the investment.

Notifications received like this:
TripIt Pro alert: Connection summary for DTW DL 98 arrived at DTW and will disembark at terminal M, gate A3.Your connection DL 5264 (DTW to CLE) is currently ON TIME departing from terminal M, gate A61, at 5:45pm EDT. You have 1h, 53m to make your connection.For help or changes, contact FLIGHT CENTRE BROKER JIM: 09 815 6675; Delta Air Lines: 1-800-221-1212View your trip to access the latest flight status information.Happy travels,The TripIt Pro team