By Sandy Grisham
We crossed the International Date Line on Monday/Tuesday, so we are arriving on May 4, while in Mississippi it is still May 3.
We arrived in New Zealand, and I felt like the mother of the bride on the wedding day. After all the planning, everything was coming off exactly as we’d hoped. The plane slowly approached from the north and west of the island with the soft, morning mists still clinging to the shore as the sun climbed over the horizon.
Through the light fog, the bright blue letters on the terminal spelled out “AUCKLAND” and I found myself unexpectedly tearing up. It is actually happening. Then, when we touched the wheels down, a lone New Zealander clapped his hands. We joined him. When did we get so “sophisticated” in the U.S. as to stop clapping when we set down on our own home soil?
The “Grisham Kids’ Trip Around the World” commenced with visits to our own children in advance of being separated for a long three months. Next on the list was one of our “pseudo-sons,” Bruce Ware, who was a kid from the projects when he entered Ole Miss in 1996. Today he is a graduate of Harvard’s Master of Business Administration program and is working in Southern California. In March he had called for Vaughn to perform his wedding at Harvard, so we had recently seen him and his new wife, but visiting them in Los Angeles was a real treat.
We ate at the famous In and Out hamburger joint, did a sushi lounge, traveled the 101 Pacific Coast highway and rode on a four-person bicycle around the shoreline of Santa Barbara.
Everyone seems to know that is one of America’s favorite places, and they are right. The mountains come down to the sea, the weather is a constant 70-ish with bright sunshine in abundance. Staying the night with their friends, who have the requisite swimming pool and grapefruit and lemon trees in the backyard, we got a good “feel” for the area that just seeing the Hollywood sights can’t give you.
On that Sunday, we rose, went to church and drove out to the Ronald Reagan Library and Memorial Garden. If you are ever in the area, this is a must on the “to do” list. The peace and tranquility of the location is simply beyond description.
Off to New Zealand
“… it’s a long time to hang
in the air. …”
– John Denver
Bruce and Rhondalyn let us out at LAX at 8 p.m., and we checked in. Our first stop was New Zealand (we had had two itinerary changes since I wrote the first article). Rather than a direct fight from Los Angeles to Auckland, we left for Guangzhou, China, where we arrived on China Southern after a 15-hour flight. I mention the airline’s name because they gave such extraordinary service, and when they dimmed the lights for us to sleep – they covered us with the warmest down comforters. Made you feel like you were at home.
The next flight took us to Seoul, Korea. We will stop for an overnight there next week, but this leg of the journey just had a stopover. The first thing I noticed about Seoul was the high degree of smog, and the density of condo/apartment buildings. We eagerly await our visit on the 14th/15th as we get to know the place better by visiting an economics professor who happens to be married to a colleague of Vaughn’s at the University of Mississippi in Sociology.
And, yesterday at 4:40 local time, we boarded the last plane (and a 10-hour journey) before we had our first stop. This was Korean Airlines, and again, their name is mentioned because they gave equally extraordinary service. While the blanket was ordinary, the food and drink was so much better than “airplane food” that we even asked for a recipe. And early in the morning of the 4th (tomorrow to you) we reached Auckland where the trees are just beginning to turn colors for the fall, and there is a winter feel in the air. We think that for the next week we will be wearing the jackets we have just been lugging along all this way.
Well, 38 hours in airports and planes have brought us this far. More next week from the Southern Alps.
Sandy Grisham and her husband, Vaughn, live in Oxford. She is filing a weekly report from their around-the-world trip.