March 11, 2023
And so begins the longest Saturday of my life. We checked the NZ traffic and travel website and there weren’t any new road closures! We got out the door around 7:45am with our first mission to get off the peninsula.
As we drove south on 25, we passed the slip that caused the road closure a few days ago. The only shocking part was that the road was now open. The entire cliffside lane was gone as if Pacman came and took a big bite out of the mountain. The hole was probably 2 car lengths in diameter.
Thankfully we made it past that section and off the peninsula without issue. We could breathe a little easier after that.
We reached the airport around 12:20pm where we dropped off our rental car, checked our bags, and hung out in the Strata lounge prior to boarding. Theresa had access for herself and guests through Priority Pass. This lounge was nice! I hadn’t ever seen one with a completely open bar where you can open any wine bottle you like. Thumbs up.
We boarded our 12 hour flight to San Francisco around 3pm. Because of the time change, we arrived in San Francisco at about 7am the same day we departed.
From there we had an hour and 25 minutes to go through customs, pick up our bags, recheck our bags, go through security and get to our gate. It was short but we made it to our gate just as our group boarded.
Five hours later we were in New Jersey, seeking out the United Club lounge for our four hour layover. This lounge was huge and very busy. After about an hour the crowd emptied out and we found better seats with a view of the New York skyline. Theresa enjoyed some vodka tonics, Josh some NA beer and I had two spicy bloody Marys. They tasted like the waning moments of vacation; wonderful but gone too soon.
Ok that last line is a joke. I’ve been gone a long time and though it was wonderful, I am ready to be home!
Before leaving the lounge, we each decided to try out the showers for the first time. I provided the attendant my boarding pass, and she assigned me the third room. It was a full bathroom with a shower, toilet and sink, bath towels, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
The water pressure gave out when flushes occurred elsewhere, but it was a great overall experience. Getting to take a shower after being in either planes or airports for the last twenty-some hours left us refreshed for our final leg home.
We boarded our last flight bound for Cincinnati around 8pm. To our surprise, we were three of about 20-25 people on the flight. Ending on a positive note.
We landed in Cincinnati at 11:07pm Saturday, March 11. 33 hours after leaving for the airport at 7:45am New Zealand time.