All those people, and there were many, who said to me in the US, "Oh, New Zealand's on my bucket list, everyone says how beautiful it is. But it's such a long flight!" really should stop being so feeble. All they have to do is buy a ticket with Air New Zealand and head out of San Francisco on NZ7 at around 8.15pm. You settle into your seat (and if you're going Premium Economy in the 777, you get a fancy leather seat and proper leg room, as well as other niceties not available to those down the back), have dinner, watch a movie, go to sleep, wake up for breakfast, and you're there. How easy is that?
Even better, arriving early in the morning means you've got a whole day to distract yourself - even to do all your washing, dry it, and iron it and put it away - before going to bed at a reasonable hour, and sleeping almost normally. After all, 20 hours behind is the same as just 4 hours ahead: very easy to adjust to.
So the trip's over. It was a good one. There were frustrations and disappointments, naturally - things I couldn't do, less time than would have been ideal - but overall it went very well indeed. We were lucky with the weather, the fall foliage this year, the people we met, and are happy with our choices overall.
Here are the stats:
Countries - 2 (USA, Canada)
Languages spoken - 3 (English, French, American)
Planes - 4 (Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Virgin America)
Trains - 6 (Amtrak's Acela Express & California Zephyr, light rail in DC, Boston, Chicago)
Funiculars - 1 (Quebec)
Boats - 5 (New York water taxi cruise, ferry to Salem, Chicago river cruise, Gaspé Peninsula, lobster boat)
Ships - 1 (Silversea's Silver Whisper)
Helicopters - 1 (Manhattan flight-seeing)
Segways - 1 (Washington DC)
Horses - 1 (Joey, Gettysburg)
Taxis - many (drivers - DC's are most intellectual, SF's was obligingly speediest)
Buses and trolleys - many and various
Journeys - 2 (10 day cruise, Boston to Montreal, 2 day train trip, Chicago to SF)
Hotels - (2 Peninsulas, 3 Fairmonts, plus 2 others)
Beds slept in - 9 (best: Peninsula Chicago then Silver Whisper; worst: California Zephyr)
Wifi access - free in most hotels, finally!
Weight gained - 0kg (oh, yes)
Items lost - 2 (sponge, umbrella cover)
Items bought - 9 (shirt, tshirt, maple butter, maple caramel, apple butter, ice wine, ice cider, beer glass, shower curtain)
Public performances given - 2 (speech at Rhino March, Boston; impromptu Wolverine cosplay at Second City, Chicago)
Public performances watched - 7 (Second City improv, Silver Whisper cabaret, La Fabuleuse)
Number of pigs seen on stage - 1 (La Fabuleuse)
Trivial Pursuit games played - 5 (one 2nd, three 3rd, one won)
Baseball games attended - 1 (Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins)
Abraham Lincoln connections - multitudinous: stalking level
Museums visited - so many!
Dates learned - 2 (1863 Gettysburg, 1692 Salem)
Photos taken - 1,828 plus phone pics (approx. 30 with lens cap on)
Blog posts - 24 (but you knew that, having read every one, right?)