New Zealand 2014

Day 25

April 8

  The shuttle will be here at 4 AM, so we are both up and about way early.  
  The shuttle shows up right on time and we are ready to begin the 'long' trek homeward.  
  We are flying out of different concourses, so at this point we have to part company. I remember when we were on our Alaska trip and talked about making this one together. I will miss Alain, my friend, as only one friend misses another. He's a real joy to travel with and I am looking forward to the next trip we get to take together. But planes wait for no one, so I give him a big hug and we're off to our respective gates. Breakfast is a bit odd, but there's a Subway on my way to the gate, so I get one of their 'breakfast' sandwiches and some orange juice.  
  I'm at my gate early and that is just fine for me. Since I have some time left on my cell phone, I figure I might as well try to dial back to the States. Much to my surprise, it works just fine and I hear my lovely wife's voice. I let her know I'm on my way back and should be on the first flight shortly.  
  As we get airborne and on our way to Australia, I snap one last shot of New Zealand. It's been a great trip but this old boy is ready to get back to the Holler.  
  I have to say that Qantas is one of the best airlines that I have flown on recently. They serve us a pretty good breakfast once we get up to cruising altitude. This sort of surprises me since this is kind of a short flight across 'The Ditch'..  
  We are headed for Sydney this time as I will be landing in Dallas-Fort Worth on the last leg.  
  I grab a shot of the Australian coast line as we near the airport.  
  The Sydney airport has a pretty nice mall area that connects the concourses. I browse around a bit but don't see anything that pushes my 'purchase' button.  
  Then it's off to the gate in plenty of time for my flight back to the USA. Since this will be another 747 like the one I flew over on, at least I know what to expect. The nice thing about being at the back of the plane is you usually get on first which gives you first crack at the overhead storage and a lot fewer people to trip over to get to your seat. I get settled in my 'home' for next 14 hours or so, which is a long time to be cooped up in a flying cylinder of metal.  
  They serve us another nice meal on the way over before the 'lights' go out. When that happens, the human in front of me decides that their seat needs to be fully reclined, so once again the old knees will take a beating. But it's only for a while, not a lifetime, so I just make do and get as comfortable as I can get.  
  When I wake up early, I'm pleased to see we are over the California coast. In my sleep, we have crossed back over the equator and the International Date Line. So that means I've got 'back' the day that I lost on the way over.  
  When I land at DFW, I get a last shot of the bird that brought me back.  
  All my bags show up, and US Customs goes pretty quickly. With that behind me, I am headed for the 'world famous DFW railroad' to carry me to my boarding gate for Nashville.  
  The flight to Nashville is uneventful, and soon I'm on in the ground. Once again, all my luggage shows up and for that I'm thankful. My sweet wife is waiting for me out in the pickup area as I make my way outside. It's been a great trip, but as Dorothy said in the 'Wizard of Oz', there's no place like home.