Our North American Trip - April to June 2010.
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Trip Report for Jackson Hole - San Francisco, May 29 - June 8

(This will be updated as and when the opportunity presents itself, and we’ll add photos when time permits.  It could be a bit disorganised at times due to infrequent Internet access!!)

Saturday, 29 May:    Yellowstone National Park - Jackson
Weather:
    Snowing, cloudy and showers – v cold           Temp: 0 - 10oC

Woke to sleeting snow at the motel.  Had cereal, yoghurt & fruit and toast for breakfast, packed up and left our motel around 9.30am then drove up the road to a cafe, named KIWI  (the owner is from NZ & flies the US & NZ flags) for G to have one of her pies – Elk, mushroom and vege pie (she’s listed as first on Trip Adviser for a food place in West Yellowstone) – we also purchased two of her Buffalo mince & vege pies to have for our lunch later on.

Stopped at the Yellowstone Visitors’ Centre to check the state of the roads in the Park and whether they were open as it had snowed during the night, so we could drive through the Park to Jackson – the Craig Pass had been closed but was now open to vehicles with snow tyres and improving.. so we took the risk and went that way.  Driving through the Park we saw many Bison (walking along the road) and Elk.

When we drove over the Craig Pass we got as high as 8,500 ft (above sea level), it was still snowing with snow everywhere (had obviously snowed overnight), crossing the Continental Divide on 3 different occasions. 

Further on we stopped alongside the frozen Lewis Lake to eat our Buffalo pies for lunch (not something A normally eats) – absolutely delicious – go Kiwi go.   Just further down the road we briefly stopped at Lewis Falls – pretty area with all the snow beside the river.  We later drove out of the Yellowstone National Park, then stopped off at Flag Ranch Village, had a coffee & purchased a few Christmas decorations.

Drove off the highway to Leeks Marina – we both recognised this area as where we had eaten lunch sitting on the lake’s edge – with Andrew - when we visited in 2000.  Further down the road we drove over a lengthy area of road works before calling into Colter Bay Visitors’ Centre.

As we drove toward Jackson we could barely see the mountains due to the rain and snow.  We arrived in Jackson around 4pm and checked into the Ranch Inn, made a dinner booking for 6.30pm, then had a brief walk around the town.

We had dinner at the Sweetwater Restaurant – G had 2 “sliders” – 1 buffalo & 1 shrimp (mini burgers) followed by Buffalo meatballs with marinara (tomato) sauce on mashed garlic potato.  A had a Caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, red onion and basil) followed by ½  rack of lamb chops with sweet potato (orange kumera). Soups were chicken & rice and cold tomato with red onions.


 

Sunday, 30 May:    Jackson Hole (Wyoming)
Weather:
    cloudy & fine           Temp: 4 - 12oC

Took advantage of the free continental breakfast at the Inn (and they had Raisin Bran), then called into the Jackson Hole Greater Yellowstone Visitor Centre before driving along several roads, one being Antelope Flats Rd, as we had been advised we were likely to see wildlife in the area – just some Pronghorns (Elk) and plenty of Bison in the distance.

We then drove into the Grand Teton Park Moose Entrance Station (paid our $25 x 7 day Park entrance fee in Yellowstone).  Soon after entering the Teton Park Road we had to stop while two groups of large Elk decided to run across the road (Park roadways have slow speed restrictions – anything between 25 – 45 mph), stopped at the Teton Glacier Turnout to get a view of the mountains, continued on to the South Jenny Lake Junction, drove into the car park and walked around part of the Jenny Lake – lovely area.  Continued on to the North Jenny Lake Entrance where we drove down to the southern part of Leigh Lake, continuing on the one way loop road following down beside Jenny Lake and back out onto the Teton Park Road again.

At this stage it was close to 1pm so we decided to start driving back toward Jackson and turned into Wilson Road (part sealed and metal road) to take a shorter route to the Jackson Hole Teton Village Ski Area – part way along this road we noticed many people with cameras – a Moose was resting at the side of the road, then further along the road same again – two baby Great Grey Owls on one tree and their mother sitting on another tree nearby and a huge nest in the redwood pine tree. 

When we got to the Ski Village we had lunch at the Terra Café in Hotel Terra – A chicken soup & G a Tram sandwich (3 x meats etc).  We then bought some tickets ($20 ea) to have a ride up the mountain on the Jackson Hole Summer Aerial Tram up to the top of the mountain – a huge new gondola that carries 100 people (installed in 2008), takes you up from 6,300ft to 10,400ft; rising 4,139ft in 9 minutes, crossing over 5 structural steel towers – an unbelievable trip and so high up – amazing views from the top.  While at the top G had a Nutella waffle (highly recommended by some ground staff) and A bought a crochet black, grey & red beanie – nicely matched her clothing colours.

Took the car to a car wash as it was absolutely filthy after travelling down from Yellowstone over the road works – what a difference!  Called into Albertsons Supermarket to get a few items – what a huge supermarket and such variety – amazing fresh vegetable and fruit area.  Once back to our room A went to the Skinny Ski shop and did a bit of damage (tramping shorts, longs & a breathable trekking jacket) then we put on a load of washing (last 6 days worth) and had a soak in the spa pool – so relaxing.  Once again it’s like a chinese laundry in our room tonight.

We had some sushi and fresh fruit for dinner tonight – smoked eel and some tuna, salmon, eel & prawn sashimi – yummy.  The flavour of the smoked eel over here is very tasty.


Monday, 31
May:    Jackson Hole – Twin Falls
Weather:
    Fine & sunny then clouded over with a light shower or two         Temp: 5 - 18oC

Had the free continental breakfast at the Inn (adding our own blueberries, banana and jam/vegemite) before packing up and starting to drive to Twin Falls.  Before leaving we stopped at the Betty Rock Café (visited this café 10yrs ago when in Jackson) to have a coffee and purchase some food for lunch to eat while on the road today: 
G - had a Mozzarella sandwich (mozzarella, tomato, basil & infused oil) – on Turkish bread.
A - had a Thai Chicken Delight sandwich – on Turkish bread (chicken, coriander, red onion, pickled cucumber & Thai peanut sauce (the same as she had 10 yrs ago!!). 
Both sandwiches were delicious – as they were 10 yrs ago.

Also stopped at the Whole Grocer (finally found some tea filter bags) and Albertsons Food market to stock on some drinks and fruit as we drove out of Jackson.  Left Jackson late morning then after being on the road for a while we stopped by a stream and small waterfall on the side of the road to eat our lunch – so yummy.

A while after passing from Wyoming into Idaho we noticed some very high areas of dark grey like banks in two different areas – these were probably coal mining areas. 

We then had a soak in the Lava Hot Springs – temperature ranges from 39–43oC.  They were much hotter than we are used of so were not able to stay soaking for very long, but it was nice and relaxing.

Once on the Interstate 86 Highway, we drove past very green paddocks (we assume grains of some sort) for miles and miles with many of them being watered with irrigation systems. 

Quite a lot of road works on our travels today – not just for a few miles, but miles and miles long (8-10 miles), reduced to single lane and a travelling speed of 65 & 75 mph to 45 mph (in most cases).  For some time today we travelled on an Interstate 4 lane highway (75 mph) – huge big rigs, RV’s, huge animal/horse floats.  Today was a public holiday in the US (Memorial Day) so lots of traffic on the roads.

We arrived at Twin Falls around 5.30pm, checking into the AmeriTel Inn and settling ourselves into our nice large room (No 338) with king bed.  Went to Jakers Bar and Grill for dinner – G, had pork ribs with plum-hoisen glaze (his second and last attempt to have pork ribs in the US – so sad they always want to drown them in their sauces – normally BBQ) and A, a small prawn & avocado salad – very nice.

After dinner we drove to the Snake River Canyon nearby (at the entrance to the town if coming from the Interstate highway) and watched several sky divers jumping off the bridge over the canyon and landing down the bottom beside the Snake River.  There is a walking / cycling Trail all the way along the edge of the Canyon Rim.

We are noticing the increase in warmth in Twin Falls (at the beginning of desert like country) in comparison to the very cold temperatures we have endured in both the National Parks we have recently visited.


 

Tuesday, 1 June:    Twin Falls  (Idaho)
Weather:
    Fine & sunny, rain, fine & sunny again, clouded over with thunder & rain (late afternoon), then fine again (early evening)         Temp: 5 - 18oC

Had a great breakfast with fresh fruit and cereal then english muffins / toast with scrambled eggs (with bacon & sausage) and potato patties at the AmeriTel Inn we are staying at.

When we returned to our room after having breakfast it had started to rain so we spent some time on the computer catching up on e-mails and photos.  Late morning we went down to the Visitors’ Info Centre to get some info and maps of the area, then drove into the town to Buffalo Café for lunch (No 1 on Trip Advisor).  The café is in a commercial area and looks a real dump on the outside, however basic but nice on the inside and the woman waitress made it all worthwhile as she was so helpful.  A had a lovely small salad and G had a BLAT on sourdough.  For almost the first time we got reasonably sized meals (not huge as is so common in this country) and very tasty – one could actually taste the ingredients, they weren’t overpowered with sauces!.

Then drove to the Shoeshone Falls – several falls side by side close to a small power station.  The water was initially flowing over weirs before falling down into the Snake River - very picturesque.  As we drove back up the hill we spotted a Elk ( a great buck (male) specimen with huge antlers – in the middle of loosing his winter coat) in a paddock close to the road, so out with our cameras.  Just minutes down the road were the Twin Falls  – also very pretty but misnamed (as there is now only one fall) as the hydro power plant has been built where the second fall used to be. 

On our way back we passed a huge mobile crop watering system – we passed many of these systems watering lots of grain crops (continued for miles and miles) when we travelled along the Interstate Highway yesterday coming to Twin Falls. 

Drove back to the hotel and went for a walk along the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail as the weather was quite warm (a golf course takes up most of the area in the bottom of the Canyon) – there are lots of view points as you walk along the rim walkway and some of the newer buildings are being built quite close to the canyon rim.  However, after a short period the thunder and black clouds in the distance got the better of us and it started to rain – had our umbrellas with us thank goodness.  On our return to the hotel we went for a spa and swim – lovely facilities.

After doing a clothes wash we drove to Sushi Ya for dinner (we had checked it out during the day) – we were able to sit at the bar (in front of the Sushi makers) – a position we enjoy, as you get to see all the food that’s being made and can talk to the people making it.  We were able to keep ordering when we wanted without having to wait for a waitress to take our order each time.  We shared all the food we ordered:   fresh salmon and tuna sashimi;  salmon & avocado sushi;  eel & avocado sushi;  salmon, crab & salmon eggs sushi.  The sushi and sashimi was so delicious and we didn’t feet particularly full when we left.  Once again this place didn’t look very inviting from the outside but the food certainly made up for that.  The Thai restaurant next door had very few customers.

We also got them to make some sushi so we could eat it for lunch tomorrow while on the road driving to Winnemucca (Desert country).  They wanted to know where we were from and were very interested in what we had to say, hence when we left we got lots of good bye’s from the staff.  One of the most memorable meals we have had while on holiday in the US.

After dinner we called into an Albertsons Supermarket to get a few items to take with us tomorrow so we can make our own dinner in our motel room and eat the spicy smoked salmon we purchased at Pykes Market in Seattle.

The facilities at the AmeriTel Inn have been very good (even early evening cookies for guests – oats & raison and double chocolate & peanuts tonight) – one of the better lots of accommodation on our trip.


Wednesday, 2 June:    Twin Falls  (Idaho)  -  Winnemucca (Nevada)
Weather:
    Fine & cloudy                                            Temp: 14 - 22oC

Before breakfast, we went for a 30min walk along the Canyon trail - it’s a little scary seeing how close a restaurant has been built to the edge of the Snake River Canyon (golf course below), and lots of dog fountains on walkways throughout the US.  Had another lovely breakfast at our hotel before packing up and leaving around 10am for Winnemucca.

As we drove south along highway 93 (55 – 65mph) we were delayed several times by different lots of road works, one stop was for approx 20 minutes.  As we got the desert area became more obvious the land deteriorated and was mostly tussock with not nearly so many farms being farmed for grain crops etc.  Some of the area appeared unable to be farmed.

Part way down Highway 93 we crossed into Nevada (had been in Idaho) and into the Pacific Time Zone (had to put our watches back 1hr).  Once we had crossed into Nevada, the first town we came across was Jackpot - it soon became obvious we were now in Nevada because, even though the town was very small, there were several Casinos! 

Some time later we stopped for a coffee at Bella’s Espresso House in Wells (so we could use their bathrooms), we also sat in the car and had our sushi and some fruit for lunch on a back road in the residential area of Wells.  This was also the junction where highway 93 joined the Interstate 80 highway (4 lanes) – our speed also increased to 75mph.  Lots of huge trucks / big rigs on the highways and many trucks towing 2 trailers, especially the courier ones like UPS & FedEx. 

We arrived in Winnemucca soon after 3pm, checked into the Town House Motel – very clean and tidy unit with king bed – didn’t expect a king bed as have had several queen ones.  Went for a walk to have a look around the town – several hotels with Casinos in them – oooops we’re in Nevada after all!!!

Had a catch up skype with Andrew (in New York), then made our own dinner in the motel:  baby spinach, smoked spicy salmon (that we bought weeks ago in Seattle), tomato, avocado, walnuts & cranberries.  We also had strawberries and yoghurt.  Nice light meal.


Thursday, 3
June:    Winnemucca – Reno  (Nevada)
Weather:
    Fine & cloudy                        Temp: 14 - 22oC

After having our own cereal & fruit for breakfast we joined the Interstate 80 highway and headed for Reno, passing by several small desert towns (McDonald advertising signage high enough to be seen from the highway), dried up salt lake, a prison and several more Road Works areas.  We arrived at Reno around 11.45am so drove to our hotel - the Comfort Inn & Suites close by the airport – and checked in.  It’s a family owned and run hotel and it’s listed No 1 on Trip Adviser for this area.

We walked around the back of the hotel to a small shopping centre and found the Sushi Pier restaurant the hotel had recommended to us – we were seated at the bar and their sushi was very tasty.  G had all you could eat for $14.94 and A had two dishes.

We then caught the free shuttle van to downtown Reno to have a look around and have a walk along the walkway by the Truckee River – they have made a dam further up to control the water flow through the central city area (so it doesn’t flood) and have developed a recreation area for kayaks / canoes – have put in some weirs and a kayak obstacle course.  Police had blocked off some roads in the city, then we heard a loud boom – they had just set off a water bomb to break up a suspicious package that had been left outside the Supreme Court building.

We visited the National Automobile Museum.  Wow, the older exhibits (manufactured in the early 1900’s) and their condition was a credit to them – so many of these cars looked like they had never been driven on the road.  One of the best car museums we have visited.

Had a walk around downtown Reno and quite frankly, we couldn’t get out of there fast enough – rather a tacky area (Andrew had told us Reno has the seedy part of Las Veges but none of the good entertainment parts - we agree).   Around 6pm we phoned the hotel to ask if their shuttle could collect us and bring us back to the hotel again, and they did.

For dinner we went back to the Sushi Pier restaurant around the corner from our accommodation and had some more very nice sushi.


Friday, 4 June:    Reno  (Nevada)
Weather:
    Fine & cloudy in Reno / Light rain & low cloud in Tahoe                        Temp: 11 - 22oC

After having a pleasant breakfast at the hotel (we supplemented some items) we started to drive from Reno over the Mt Rose Highway #431 (over the Mt Rose Summit & Ski Resort – 8,900 ft above sea level) toward Lake Tahoe (where we visited Andrew 10yrs ago). 

When we left Reno (Nevada) it was fine and warm (11 deg C – 4,000 ft above sea level), but as we rose in height up toward the summit it gradually started to get colder then we drove into low cloud and light rain, hence our visibility also deteriorated.  As we drove down the other side of the summit toward Lake Tahoe, the cloud was still low and lightly raining – some very nice houses around the lake.

We drove to Tahoe City (California) to check whether Rosie’s Café was still operating (Andrew used to work in it when he worked at Squaw Valley Ski Field 10 yrs ago) – it’s still there so we called in and had a coffee and took some photos (so we can send some to Andrew) – it hasn’t changed one little bit inside and still open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We then started to drive down the western side of Lake Tahoe to try and find a house Andrew used to live in – we believe we found it at 335 Fountain Ave, so took a photo.  As we drove down further down the side of the lake G thinks he found the Deli / General Store (Tahoma Market) we previously had some sandwiches made at!   We drove about half way down the western side of the lake and on the way back A thinks she noticed the breakfast place Andrew used to frequent – The Old Tahoe Café & Pizza!!

We returned to Tahoe City and while G sat by the lake to have his sandwich, A visited the Information Centre.  We then started driving toward Truckee Village, passing the River Ranch (where we stayed 10 yrs ago) before reaching the road up to the Squaw Valley Ski Field.  When we arrived we saw the cable car returning to the bottom, but it was closed – not that one would get any views anyway, as the cloud was still low and drizzling.  We had a walk around part of the village before driving back down the road to highway 89 and up to Truckee.  We also noticed a huge new complex behind the Squaw Valley Golf Club building – it’s called the Resort at Squaw Creek – it’s totally black in colour so merges into the environment and backs onto quite a high hill.

Once we had arrived at Truckee Village we found Starbucks and went in to see if they still had dark chocolate coated Graham Crackers, and they did – Graham was amazed that after 10 yrs they still have them (the shape was preciously round, but they are oblong now).  Graham was really surprised finding these again, hence we bought a few packs of 2 of them!!  The weather had started to improve – it was much warmer and the sun had come out.

After getting a few groceries at the ‘Safeway’ supermarket in Truckee (saved 38% of total cost with the ‘Club’ card) we drove back to Reno (all the tall casino hotels were very obvious from the motorway) to find a car wash that had a vacuum cleaner so we could clean the inside of the car, as after living & eating in it for the last 7 weeks it was starting to get very dirty.

Back at the  Comfort Inn & Suites we had showers and hair washes then did some washing.

We had the rest of the smoked salmon on top of a salad (baby spinach etc) for dinner, followed by strawberries, blueberries and yoghurt.


Saturday, 5 June:    Reno  - San Francisco
Weather:
    Fine                                                                     Temp: 14 - 26oC

We had a pleasant breakfast at the hotel (we supplemented some items), packed up and as the weather was fine and sunny (a vast difference to yesterday with no clouds over Mt Rose), we drove from Reno over the Mt Rose Highway again, to Lake Tahoe, and on Andrew’s suggestion drove south down the west side (very pretty drive) and around the bottom of the lake through South Lake Tahoe before heading for San Francisco along Route 50 (the very picturesque Pioneer Trail), passing Sacramento on he way.   We stopped at a small town called Placerville for some lunch on the way.  Beautiful weather all day.

As we got near San Francisco we crossed the Carquinez Strait Bridge and then the traffic got heavier and heavier on the Interstate 80 (5 to 7 lanes) – eventually grinding to a halt as we approached the Bay Bridge into San Fran ($4 toll for the bridge).  It was stop / start from there on, but hey we got there, checked into the Donatello and then  and returned our rental car which was great.  The car served us well.  As they didn’t have a full sized car that we ordered we were upgraded to a Luxury model which was a Nissan Maxima model 4DSC (4 door sports car) with plenty of bells and whistles. Not really our idea of a sports car but it did perform with a 3.5 V6 developing just on 300 HP and a fully variable transmission, so no gears or gear changes.  It was amusing that in addition to the automatic gears it had a tiptronic type sport mode which simulated gear changes!!!

Booked tickets for the show “In the Heights” at a theatre nearby for tomorrow (Sunday) matinee session and then went to a little Thai restaurant nearby for dinner.


Sunday, 6
June:    San Francisco  (California)
Weather:
    Fine with light cloud (initially fogg)                       Temp: 14 - 26oC

Had our own breakfast of cereal with strawberries, blueberries and cherries before walking many blocks to find one of the buses that goes near the Golden Gate Bridge.  Got a bus part way and then walked the rest of the way to a bridge that didn’t really exist as it was completely covered in fog.  Walked someway onto the bridge before returning to the car park and catching a taxi back to the hotel as we were running a bit short on time.

Had a snack at the food hall in Westfield Plaza and then A went shopping for a short while before we went to the show “In The Heights”.  G was somewhat dubious about going as much of the music had a strong hip-hop base, but the show was brilliant, with great acting, great voices and very entertaining musically.   A bit more packing – after 6 to 7 weeks on the road it is amazing how much one accumulates – eating and drinking utensils, food, wine, water bottles, etc, and it all has to be thrown out to fly to LA tomorrow.

We then had a guacamole at the lovely Mexican restaurant around the corner and then went 2 doors along to the Thai restaurant and had one dish each.  The Thai was not as good as the one we went to yesterday.

Back home to a bit more packing!


Monday, 7
June:    San Francisco  -  Los Angeles   (California)
Weather:
    Fine with light cloud and some fog                          Temp: 14 - 20oC

Had our own breakfast of cereal with strawberries, blueberries and cherries in our room before completing our packing in readiness for our flights - a bit of a challenge.  After having been on the road for 6-7 weeks it’s amazing how many convenience items we accumulated on the way that enabled us to be so self sufficient at times, but they all had to be disposed of before we flew to Los Angeles later today:  eating and drinking utensils, raisin bran, glad wrap, olive oil, earl grey tea, salt & pepper self grinders, ricotta, hummus, paper towels, tissues, marmalade, berry mix jam, butter, laundry washing liquid, shampoo, wine, water bottles, etc.

We checked out then waited for our Lorries Go Shuttle (due @ 11.30am) – arrived at the airport at 11.45am, completed check-in for our flight to LA (had already checked in for our United flight on line) – G’s bag was 51.5lbs and A’s was 53lb – should have been 50lb or less!!  Tut, Tut.

Our flight was due to depart for LA at 1.50pm, and while waiting at departure gate #72 we continued to watch our departure time being continually moved forward, as the arrival of our plane was late.  Next delay was waiting for our plane to be towed from it’s location to enable it to progress down the taxiway, then another delay as there were lots of planes waiting to take off – we finally departed San Francisco at 3.15pm, arriving into LA just after 4.15pm, waited for our Super Shuttle and were dropped off at the Holiday Inn Express, in Marina del Ray around 5.45pm.

Sent a text to Lisa Monreal to let her know we had just arrived – immediately received one back to say she had also just arrived at our hotel.  We had arranged to meet Lisa Monreal for dinner at Brunos Italian Restaurant at Santa Monica (we had stumbled upon this restaurant 4yrs ago when in Santa Monica and it was fabulous).  Lisa had driven 1hr across Los Angeles with her daughter Jayda (6ys old) to meet up with us.  We drove to Brunos and no spare tables (for a Monday night that’s pretty good), one was soon available - we had a Mozzarella Marinara (shared it between 3 of us), a cheese & olive pizza for Jayda (& Graham) and a sausage, mushroom, peppers & olive pizza for Lisa, G & A, accompanied by a carafe of Chianti (red wine), then some tri-flavoured ice cream – the food was lovely. We had the same waitress we had 4yrs ago – her name was: “America”

Lisa drove us back to our hotel then left for her 1hr drive back home again.  It was wonderful to catch up with her again after nearly 10 years


Tuesday, 8
June:    Marina Del Ray, Los Angeles  (California)
Weather:
    Fine with light cloud and some fog                     Temp: 14 - 24oC

Had the complementary breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express hotel we are staying at in Marina del Ray – very good. 

Went for a walk into the Marina del Ray marina to look at some of the boats – thousands of them – and then went down to Venice Beach which is at the end of our road.  Had a marvellous ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery (G had dark choc ice cream with choc chips and roasted almonds all mixed together & served in a waffle cone.  A had French vanilla ice cream with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries & chopped almonds) and then a coffee at the café next door.  Wandered along Venice Beach looking at all the tacky huts selling all manner of rubbish, but the ‘pretty’ people were not out today as it was a bit cool!  We continued walking along the beach as far as the Santa Monica Pier.  All the lifeguard huts were manned and had been painted in very bright colours for the summer.  The beaches were already being patrolled by helicopter as well.  At 2.15pm we decided to go back to Bruno’s Italian Restaurant for a late lunch - a breaded mozzarella (large thick slice) in marinara (tomato) sauce – I have never had this anywhere else, but it’s delicious (had it last night too).  We then walked back through Venice to our hotel in Marina del Ray, getting back about 5pm (walked 17km today!)

We had a sleep for 1½ hours - had showers & hair washes then repacked again.  The shuttle picked us up soon after 9pm and took us to Terminal #4 to fly out of LA to Auckland on Qantas QF26 dep at 11.40pm (flying Qantas on Business Class, purely on air points).  All passengers duly boarded the Qantas 747 airplane (jumbo airplane) in readiness for take-off, but after our plane was initially toed out near the taxi way, we stopped for a while before the pilot announced we would have to be toed back in to our gate as there was a mechanical problem with our landing gear (mechanical problem with the steerable pods in the main landing gear) - the engineers eventually locked the landing gear so it was not steerable (we also took on board extra fuel in the hope of making up some of the lost time), so 2 hrs 10 min later (at 1.50am) we took off for Auckland.


Wednesday, 9 June
– this day did not exist as we crossed the International Date Line during our flight back to NZ.
 

Thursday, 10 June:    Los Angeles  -  Auckland / Wellington
Weather:
    Fine and cloudy – not too cold                                Temp: 14 - 24oC

After making up just over 30 mins during our flight, we arrived at Auckland airport @ 9.05am (1 hr 35 mins late).  Our connecting flight from Auckland to Wellington was to depart @ 9.30am.  During our flight the Purser assured us (on 3 different occasions) that Qantas staff (on the ground in Auckland) would look after us and rebook us on another connecting flight, even if we were booked on an Air NZ connecting flight, but our rebooked flight to Wellington will not necessarily be an Air NZ flight though.

We quickly proceeded through Immigration and Customs, then went to the Qantas Information Counter only to be told they had not done anything for us as we had a separate booking on Air New Zealand and no connecting flight with Qantas to Wellington (so much for the promises from Qantas staff on board our flight from LA to Auckland).

As we were too late to catch our Air NZ connecting flight in Auckland, we had to rebook our flight to Wellington – costing $243 ea.  Thank goodness we had taken out a separate Travel Insurance for this particular flight, and so much for the Qantas Purser’s promises!

We finally arrived at Wellington Airport at 11.30am.  Sue Couch was there to meet us and drive us home – makes a huge difference to be met at the airport rather than have to catch a shuttle etc.