Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Longest Day of our Lives (literally)

So we realized that we never actually finished telling about our honeymoon. A few months late, but here it is:

During our brief stay in Christchurch, we realized that we'd caught up with the travelling Leonardo DaVinci exhibit we missed while it was in Seattle. So we packed our bags and stored them with the concierge before heading out to hit some museums. The DaVinci exhibit was interesting and we're glad we went. The same museum also had fashion through the ages (which Melissa insisted on seeing and Travis put up with). We took a brief tour through the Maori cultural section and headed back out to the city.

Christchurch has been accused of being "more English than England," and it tried its best to prove it. We passed the town crier and the option to go punting on a river on our way back to Cathedral Square. When we arrived the evening before, the square was dark and fairly calm but by mid-morning, it was alive with street vendors and carts scattered about. There was a baked potato cart (with the option of kūmara or sweet potato as well) for Melissa and a sausage sandwich for Travis.

Just off Cathedral Square was another museum/aquarium that boasts a "real, live kiwi" (the bird, not the people). Since we'd come all this way and hadn't seen the famous bird yet, we thought we should do that before heading back to the other side of the world. The aquarium exhibits freaked Melissa out a bit (as might be expected if you've ever been to an aquarium or near water with her). She doesn't like the squirmy, swimmy creatures surrounding her, and they did have tanks in every direction. There was a salmon spawning display (weird to travel around the world to see that) as well as octopus, squid, eel, and snails. It's not that Melissa's actually frightened of any of these things - she just prefers them fried with garlic.

Finally, we got to the kiwi portion of the exhibits. We read a bit about them: there are five sub-species, all of which are now endangered. Although there's not a lot of kiwi hunting, these flightless birds had no predators (at all) until Europeans brought dogs & cats to New Zealand. It's interesting that these islands had such a specialized ecosystem that there was nothing large enough to hunt the kiwi until people brought their pets. Since they're nocturnal and skittish, we had to promise silence & no photographs whatsoever. Just 3 of us, plus the museum staff member went into the kiwi viewing area, which was dark and surrounded by faux woodland. After a bit, our eyes adjusted and we could watch two birds running about. They were ridiculously CUTE! They chased each other and looked for food and the whole time and were just adorable, with their crazy-long beaks and their waddling run and their feathers disguised as fur. Finally, a bird that Melissa likes (perhaps because it's the least bird-like of all the avians she's met?). She in fact liked them so much that she decided to purchase a souvenir stuffed-animal kiwi that sounds just like the real bird when you squeeze it. It's cute, too.

After museums and with a bit of time before heading back to the airport, we bought some roasted nuts from a vendor in the square and people-watched for a bit. There was some sort of bible recitation going on, and a singer with a karaoke machine, and several booths of knock-off designer sunglasses and purses. There was also a busload of children that were apparently on some sort of school trip. Their antics alone were enough for a show. It was eventually time to head back to the luggage and the car for the drive to the airport.

We returned the rental car, went through our traditional re-adjustment of luggage so it all fits within airline limits, and got in line for our boarding passes. The woman at the counter told us our luggage couldn't go on without fees for being overweight until she realized that we fit in the special exemption for domestic flights connecting with international flights. Before she realized that, there were a few moments of worry & discomfort as we thought we might have a replay of our trip to Colorado, where Travis re-packed our suitcases as a line formed behind us. We were fine though and got our passes and headed for the gate.

The flight to Aukland was uneventful (as you hope all flights will be) and kind of boring as a low cloud cover left nothing to look at. Then we took the long walk back to the international terminal and checked our luggage again. The flight back was interesting since we left at dusk on wednesday, watched the sunrise from the plane on wednesday (since we had crossed the international date line), and landed in San Francisco on wednesday at the same time that we were in Christchurch people watching. We decided that any "day" with two sunrises and two sunsets is just a bit overwhelming. After doing the math we realized that we were victims of a 43 hour day.

On our arrival in Seattle we went to our second dinner of the day with Melissa's parents who had picked us up from the airport. The airlines had left some of our luggage in San Fancisco (better on the return trip then the outbound trip) but brought it to our house the next day. When we finally got to thursday Travis got up and went to go get coffee, and promptly climbed into the car, someone had moved the steeringwheel to the wrong side of the car. Our final words of wisdom are if driving from the left side of the car keep right, if on the right, keep left.

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