October 29th, 2015. The time had come! My trip to New Zealand by way of Los Angeles was finally here. I would be spending three nights in LA with two of my close college buddies, after which I would be boarding a 17 hour flight to Auckland, NZ.
It was starting to get pretty chilly in Denver when I boarded my flight to LA, so the warm California temperatures were slightly comforting to this Florida girl. Upon landing, a friend of mine who had been traveling around the states, picked me up and we headed to over to Venice Beach. Venice was full of interesting characters and fun booths selling various artwork and nick-knacks. After lunch we drove over to a beach in Malibu and walked around the somewhat rocky shoreline. There were quite a few surfers out in the water, but the waves seemed unusually tame for what I imagined California beach waves to be. We meandered along, admiring the luxurious beach front homes and eventually made our way back towards Hollywood, where a mutual friend of ours, who works on a couple Showtime series as a set designer, lived.
From his studio apartment, we could take a walk down Sunset Boulevard or catch the subway to another part of town. Sunset Boulevard was an experience all in its own, from impressive street performers to a questionable man selling baby turtles in jars, the hustle and bustle was all very exciting and very different than my slow paced Denver life. We made several stops in the massive record store, Amoeba, which I absolutely loved! It was so much fun picking out records and jamming out to them back at the apartment! We had a fun-packed few days, catching a bluegrass concert, the Gator football game at the local Florida alumni bar, and celebrating Halloween at a small house party.
My flight to Auckland came quickly and soon I was flying miles and miles over the Pacific Ocean. Flying with Air New Zealand was a novel experience for me. It was so nice! We had pillows and blankets, a personal t.v. with more shows and movies than you could possibly expect to make an easy selection from, and free dinner, breakfast, and wine. After an exceptionally long flight and more sleep than I expected to get, the plane finally touched down in Auckland. To my surprise, I was arriving in the country at the same time as their famous All Blacks rugby team. They had just gotten home from winning the World Cup and there were thousands of people awaiting their arrival at the airport. This caused a bit of a hiccup for me, as I was meeting a girl friend of mine that I had not seen in over 15 years. Somehow we found each other with ease despite the mad house, and my two week adventure of New Zealand’s North Island began.