Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Last Hurrah

And just like adventure is pretty much over.
Nelson Lake
I'm back in the States and easing very, very slowly back into reality.  I'm currently hanging out with my family in Ohio for a while and will then head back out towards Chicago, slowly but surely rebuilding a real life and getting back to work (in multiple regards).  I initially intended for my trip to be a bit longer, but there was apparently a hole in my wallet (or, I just didn't live quite as frugally as I could or should have and chose to settle in very expensive destinations).  Possibly more to the point, it was just time to be done. 
Last ride
Nelson Lake

I have lots and lots of thoughts and reflections, both on my trip, my experiences, and my future, but that's a bit boring and frankly, I haven't quite sorted my head out enough to put together a coherent wrap-up post.  No need for now, anyway, because I still have pretty pictures and what not from the end of my trip.
 Breakfast view
I spent my last couple days in Nelson doing a bit more of what I'd been doing the days before....eating amazing home-cooked breakfasts, riding my bike and trying to keep my heart rate up even with frequent photo stops (couldn't help myself), running on trails, hiking and exploring the region.
Amazing breakfast concoction by Lis
Then, I started the epic journey home.

First, I drove about six hours from Nelson to Christchurch through some of the most beautiful terrain I have seen in NZ, stopping every once in a while to snap pictures, not stopping every once in a while and still snapping pictures out the window, and thinking a lot.  I thought about New Zealand in general, I plotted immigration schemes, I got just a little misty-eyed a couple times when I turned a corner, saw a beautiful vista, and had to deal with the reality that I was leaving all of this behind.  Melodramatic, sure, but I never claimed to not be a drama queen.

A quick overnight in Christchurch, then to the airport at 6AM.  Flight to Auckland.  Almost 8 hour layover.  Flight to L.A. (12 hours).  3 hour layover (including a minor minor meltdown, it wouldn't be international travel without it, but I have nothing, absolutely nothing good to say about LAX Airport or its incredibly unhelpful employees).  Flight to Chicago.  1.5 hour layover.  Flight to Columbus.  And 37 hours after first leaving my accommodation in Christchurch, finally home.  All of those flights, except for the last one, sitting in cramped middle seats.  Quick naps here and there, but no real quality sleep.  It was, in one word, brutal.  
My eight-hour layover in Auckland was, by far, the highlight of that massive travel block.  Get ready for a little self-congratulations here.  I had a couple workouts scheduled for my travel day, and I decided that I wasn't going to let a little international travel get in the way.  Before my travels, I did a little googling and found a pool within 5K of the airport.  I got off the plane in Christchurch, loaded a little backpack with my swimming gear, changed into running clothes in the bathroom, dropped all of my luggage in storage, and took off on foot.  I got in a good 45 minute run, just exploring, turning down random roads, letting myself get lost, and stumbling on this:
Expected industrial parks, not horses and mountain views
Nor did I expect to find a trail.  Only in NZ
Then, when I was done, I walked through a somewhat dodgy neighborhood to the pool, swam for an hour, showered, walked back to the airport, retrieved my luggage, checked in for my flight, and still had time for dinner and a beer.  As I wrote in my TrainingPeaks log, my shoulder was a bit sore from all the patting of myself on the back I did for getting those workouts in. 
Just another random pool, but it gets picture mention because it was the only pool, of the 37 I've used, with free entry.
Re-entry has not been quite so outstanding.  I put a lot of effort into trying to figure out how to get my body to adjust to the time change (stay up late, work out during the day, take sleeping pills in an effort to get some sleep on the plane) but that was generally a complete failure and my body is so very confused.  I went to bed last night at 1AM (7PM in New Zealand), figuring I'd just sleep in really, really late.  No luck, I was up at 7AM (1AM in New Zealand), which makes no sense whatsoever.   I felt great all morning, almost hyper, super productive, ready to tackle the world.  I got a badly needed haircut (I convinced myself that I was rocking some sort of surfer casual chic look in New Zealand but I was, in reality, a split-ended disaster), dealt with some financial stuff, scheduled some doctors' appointments.....

And then came this >.< close to a complete melt down in the grocery store when I just couldn't find the chicken broth.  I wandered around, completely zoned out, confused, on the verge of tears (over chicken broth!), suddenly so exhausted that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to complete this shopping expedition.  I contemplating curling up for a nap in the produce section.  It took me about 20 minutes to find that damn broth.  When I got home, I slept for almost 4 hours.

As for the driving, left-side, right-side thing.  They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, and I had more than that in New Zealand to get used to left-side driving.  I did OK today with the switch back to right-side, had only one wrong-side! moment, and that was in a parking lot so no harm, no foul.  But I've had to focus REAL hard.  I've accidentally turned on the windshield wipers instead of the hitting the turn signal multiple times.  And here's the funny all of my time in New Zealand, the one thing I could never get right was approaching the car on the correct side, as in the side where the steering wheel sits.  I lost count of the number of times I tried to climb in the passenger side.  But now that I'm home, I'm still screwing it up, trying to get into the car on the side where the steering wheel would be in New Zealand.  I am so, desperately, in need of sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting reading - emotional yo yo's, horrid jet lag after a trip from hell - all sounds so familiar and about what I'm going to experience shortly. I find not stressing about the weird sleeping patterns is the best way to deal with it - unless you're at work of course. Amazing photo's as always :-)