Friday August 5th @ 1:00pm PDT The shuttle bus arrived and my adventure in (and heading to) New Zealand begins. I was surprised that there were not any more people to pick up so the trip was a quick thirty minutes. Checking in was painless and I just waited for the flight. That went off without a hitch. Then the wait of over four hours in LAX was to begin. The best thing was I contacted my friend KP because he was going to be visiting family in Los Angeles after the SIGGRAPH conference. He came out and we went to a hotel near the airport for some food and drinks. It was good to hang out with him and kill some time before my flight to Auckland. The flight to Auckland (AKL) was about twelve hours. It really wasn’t too bad over all. I did have to play musical chairs for some reason, but it all worked out in the end and I got an aisle seat with an empty next to it. The Qantas crew was very nice and attentive and pleasant. Had I not slept for about three hours two different times I think the flight would have been much worse on me, but as it was I came out of it with very little (if any) jet lag. The worst part of it all was that I not only had a ridiculously short layover scheduled in AKL, but that by the time my connecting flight left Auckland for Christchurch and then Queenstown I was just getting my bag off of the flight from LAX and still had to go through customs. The worst thing I feared was that my snowboard bag with all my gear wouldn’t show up and, wouldn’t you know it, it didn’t. We waited, we went and checked at the customer service desk, and nothing was to be found of the bag. I had my snowboard, boots, socks, jacket, pants, pads, helmet, and goggles in there. Pretty much every thing I needed for this trip and not having it was a big downer. That there was a friggin’ bar code on the bag and they had no idea where it was was even worse. I got a tracking number and a free phone number to call and check in on the status. I must have called ten times in the course of the rest of the day. The other bad part was that because I missed my flight I now had another four hour layover. It wasn’t all that bad. Keith (who flew in on another airline and overlapped with me a bit) and I hung out in the Air New Zealand domestic terminal for a bit and walked around a little. We got a chance to try local Coke made with sugar and it was by far the best Coke I’ve had in a long time (why it’s made in the USA with high fructose corn syrup, which is crap, is beyond me). Anyway, Keith got on his flight and I went to my terminal to wait for my flight. I met a team of hockey playing Kiwis and they were pretty cool to talk to. It was interesting to find that hockey is getting bigger in New Zealand, yet it’s got nothing on rugby and cricket. After about two hours flying I got to Queenstown. My bag wasn’t there, but Keith and Alain from Access Trips were. Getting to Queenstown was a relief as it had been more than 28 hours in travel for me at that point. That’s a long damn time to be going somewhere, but it’s going to really be worth it in the end. I met up with the rest of the people in the group. There’s Chris from Alaska, Bill from Truckee, Patch from Wyoming (by way of active duty in Iraq), Jason from Hong Kong, Philip, Mathias, and Gitte from Austria, Jake the ski instructor from New Zealand, and Mani the other snowboard instructor from Switzerland.