For this evening's meal, I made an egg sandwich, John Bain style. It was followed up by a lovely birthday cake and ice cream from my friends on the Ice who are in town with me. Even though my birthday isn't for a week, tonight should be the last night that all of us are together. It is weird to be saying goodbye until we meet up again in Colorado, back on the Ice, or who knows where else. No matter where we meet though, it is likely to be just after getting off a plane which takes me to today's story which is dedicated to John Bain (and why I made the egg sandwich).
After hiking the Milford Track, Brian and I had two days to get to Ohakune. Our original plan was to take a rental car and drive it eleven hours to the north end of the South Island, catch a ferry from Picton to Wellington, sleep over, and then take a morning bus up to Ohakune. The ferry sold out, so we went with plan B which was to drive to Christchurch, fly to Wellington, and then take the bus. This would let me attend ultimate frisbee pickup on Sunday with some of the players I'd be playing with at nationals and let everyone run errands.
We got the rental car and got to Christchurch a little late, but with no problems. I went directly to ultimate. Katie and Brian went to meet Rachel in Cathedral Square. Instead of running their errands, they hung out drinking at Bailey's with a bunch of other Ice people who were in town. At 6:15pm, they were going to pick me up in the car and we'd drive thirty minutes to the airport and check in for our 7:15pm flight. That didn't happen.
At 6:15pm, Brian walked to the ultimate fields a little buzzed from the drinking at Baileys. Then we walked back to Baileys. I said hello to everyone and then went off to fetch the car. By the time we left the bar, it was 6:40. With some erratic driving, I got us to the airport at 6:58pm. They said the check in must be completed by 7pm. Unfortunately, we had to drop off the rental car and there was a huge line to get to the drop off area. I cut into the premium parking section to dodge the line and dropped all the drunk/buzzed folks off with our luggage in hopes that they could check me in.
I sped away to the last gas station I saw before entering the airport. When I zoomed in, a young man came out to tell me that they were closed and the pumps were already turned off. I begged, pleaded, and might have even grabbed hold of his pant legs. He said that if I had exact change, I could fill up. I said I did, but really had no idea how much we'd need. I guessed that our car would need $80 based on my last car rental. After a couple minutes, the pump came on and I filled up. It turned out $80 was on the spot.
I sped to the rental car return area, which is luckily within walking distance of the terminal. I found a spot for our rental company, ran inside, tossed the keys to the lady, said I was running late and kept running. I headed directly for the Air New Zealand area. My friends weren't there. I went to the gate. They weren't there. I went back to Air New Zealand area, waited in a line a second before cutting over to the empty first class line. I asked about their 7:30pm flight and was told there wasn't one. After a quick panic, the lady said to try Pacific Blue. Off I went.
Brian was standing in line with my bag. He wasn't able to check me in. They didn't have e-check in. It was 7:10pm. The flight left in twenty minutes. Luckily, the three people in the line in front of me moved quickly and I got to the front. The woman quickly checked me in and even checked my bag. She said I had to hurry, but didn't give me a hard time at all. I doubted my bag would make the plane. We ran up the steps to the security gate, where fortunately there wasn't a single soul in line. We breezed through and literally ran on to the plane. About fifteen minutes later, the plane took off. I didn't lose my adrenaline rush until we were about to land in Wellington. When we did land, my bag was one of the first out.
I'd say this is just about the perfect airport experience with absolutely no time wasted. John Bain, I think we should try this sometime soon. Miss ya!