JohnnyRebs US Travelogue 2009
Saturday 18 July
Going to America
It was a good flight over, in a Boeing 777, a smooth trusty little ship, and pleasing it wasn’t in one of those Airbus 300's that have had the misfortunes recently. This aircraft had the wingtip extensions I read about last week, that Air NZ claim substantially increase fuel efficiency.
Watched 4 movies, the NZ doco one about the bloke who got destroyed by IRD; a Clive Owen thriller; and re-runs of Utu, (Anzac Wallace and Bruno Lawrence), and Magnificent Seven, with young Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, and Napolean Solo.
Like catching up with old mates.
You get your own screen and remote.
We were all pretty pleased with the service and meals. The bloke who runs the bike hire company has visited NZ a couple of times and wasn’t at all complimentary about the standards on Quantas, so I guess the “you get what you pay for” rule applies. If you want the best of safety and service standards, you can’t really complain about the local carrier costing a little more.
On the other hand, the seats were too small for me, bit like sitting in the Wanganui Opera House for 12 hours, topped off with a stomach painfully full of wind.
San Francisco Immigration and Customs was great, contrary to a lot of opinion you hear of US officialdom. The Air NZ clerk who checked me in at Auckland was most concerned I didn’t have a US contact address any better than the hotel we're staying at for the next 2 nights here in SF, and that could have got me into trouble.
But no worries, no-one even wanted to know.
The Immigration officer who processed me was great, seemed tentatively eager to show he knew NZ was associated with sheep, after noticing I'd ticked the “been on a farm” box, and bagging me as a farmer, and asking all sorts of questions about farm size, number of animals etc. There are mission statements up all round the place about how they are determined to be welcoming to visitors and I give them a very good pass mark for that. You get both mitts finger-printed, plus a mugshot that happens while you're being interviewed, both straight onto the computer.
They took me at my word I wasn't carrying anything farmy that would jeopardise US agriculture, and the experienced people in the party agreed SF was a hell of a lot more agreeable port of entry than LA .
The cellphone latched straight onto AT&T, calls are $3/min on top of the NZ charge, so txts is all you can expect from me via cellphone. Data services cost NZ$10/mb, so that’s a bit out of it as well.
But the hotel has wifi free as part of the room-charge, so emailing is OK.
Thanks Marley and David for all your help setting things up before I left, great not to have to worry about stuff undone. Some of the others are still running things back home, with frequent phone calls etc