The A&E Adventure travel blog

Bye Bye Electron. You've been the best bright orange campervan we've ever...

This was where the the rugby ball sized dent was. $20 man!!!...

Yes I know it's only taken us 5 months to finish this puppy off and I would guess in the unlikely event anyone cared about our comings and going while we were actually travelling, even those hardened Journalizers would struggle to even fain an interest now.

Regardless, having been inspired by the Cheeses' heroic efforts to finish THEIR journal and even continue it into their DIY once they returned home, I will finish this mo fo off once and for all!!!!

Now think back to where we were.......................

Having trouble? Ok I'll set the scene...........

After the Sky Dive the day before down in Lake Taupo, we had driven up to just above Auckland to the camp site we had stayed in when we first arrived in New Zealand, and basically sorted the Baked Bean out to begrudging return to Spaceships - with no doubt a hefty fine for the damage and patch job on the back of it!

Ok so we basically had the morning to change our flight tickets (so we could get home!) and then after that if we had time Em was gonna do the Auckland Sky Jump which is jumping off a building in the City Centre 192 metres high up (attached to cables) and 'falling' at about 50mph! THAT'S how annoyed she was that she didn't do the Sky Dive yesterday!

Turns out, and bloomin luckily the Quantas woman mentioned it in passing, that we needed a Visa for America, even though we were only transferring there. DOH!!! We ain't got one of those!!!

So we had to stop what we were doing, run across the road to an internet Cafe and apply online for our US Visas......which, if accepted, can take up to 48 hours to be confirmed by e-mail. Bugger.

Luckily the confirmation came through a short time later (BONUS!) so we ran back across the road and finshed our flight stuff off.

By this time we were running a little bit late so unfortunately Em didn't get a chance to completely cement herself in the Extreme Hall of Fame, but now she appears to have a taste for some of the crazy stuff I would suspect we haven't seen the last of Extreme Em!!!

We said our goodbyes to Auckland and then drove Electron back to his home, which was between Auckland and the airport, so technically saved us half a Taxi fare.

The only problem now was how much we were gonna get charged for our 'little' repaired dent on the back of the van.

Ok so we parked up at Spaceships and, using all of our GCSE drama and stage school training, sauntered in all casual like without a care in the world, especially as we had in no way reversed into a tree and then had the panels beaten and touched up with bright orange paint, so why wouldn't we be overly relaxed about returning the van...etc.

We split up in the office to try and dilute our fidgiting and Em started talking to the girl behind the desk about where we had been etc while the other dude came over to where I was cooly flopped on a bean bag and just went through his van check list. Now being a man of increasing experience (and possibly overly clumsyness) I have learned through time to completey deny anything you think there is a good chance you can get away with, or in the very least where it would be difficult to prove you had anything to do with!

With this running through my mind, when asked about if we had had any speeding tickets or accidents, cooler than a liquid nitrogen popsicle and without hesitation I said "no" even part laughing, but not overly so, at the absurdity of it.

And that was that. I hadn't given the game away. He still had to do a once over on the van but at least I hadn't alerted him into being extra vigilant when he did this.

So Stage 1 was going to plan.......

That was until Em from the other side of the room stopping mid-conversation with her person to shout across to us "Accident? ACCIDENT!?!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!".

The next half a second went in slow motion. What had gone from a relaxed informal to-and-fro between two chilled out blokes just going through the motions on the form, had now jumped squarely into the 'a very suspicious over-reaction style situation'.

In a nano-second I turned to the bloke with a frown on my face and gave him a roll of the eyes and a shake of the head cos Em is just a 'crazy woman' (which obviously she isn't!!) hoping that he'd bite and luckily it seemed to do the trick. He smiled and frowned back in a 'I know the type and feel your pain brother' response and continued with his paper work.

Stage 1 saved again!!

Stage 2 was a bit trickier as he was going to go round the van and check it out, but luckily it was crapping down with rain at this point so we did a very quick once over in the car park and lthen legged it back in to the office, and that was it.

Tick, Tick, sign here, job done!!!

We couldn't believe it.

We were quoted about NZD 400 to repair it by a panel beaten but didn't have time to do it anyway, and ended up basically forcing the bloke who did repair it take NZD 20 for it, and he did such a good job that it wasn't noticed.

Honestly we didn't know what to do!

So were ordered a cab and got the fudge outta there as quick as possible before they changed their minds!!!

The Cabbie tried to over charge us but we were having none of it, we were seasoned travellers by now, so gave him what WE thought he deserved and then skipped on in to the airport!!

It was about midday by this point and was one of the rare occasions that we were actually early for our flight - Our flight from Auckland to LA was at 4pm. After this 12 hour flight we had 6 hours to kill in LA before the 10 hour second leg back to Heathrow.

We were wondering what we were gonna do with our 6 hours in LA but that ended up being irrelevant as our flight from Auckland was delayed, and continued to be delayed until 10pm (6 hours later than planned!). Just the 10 hours in the airport then...........Grrr that'll teach us to be early!!! Thank Christ they had a smoking lounge in there or I suspect Em may have killed someone/everyone.

So rather knackered from all the waiting around and looking in the same 6 shops in the departure lounge 50 times, we finally caught our flight.

I can't remember anything about it so I'm guessing it was happily uneventful.

I DO remember when we arrived in LA though!

Aaaaaaaaand this part was a right bugger!!!

Luckily, or rather 'less unlucky' than some others, when we landed we still had time to catch our connecting flight, other passengers had already missed their onward flights and where having to make alternative arrangements.

We felt lucky in that sense, however the 'time' we did have was only about 45 minutes I think (till the gate for our connecting flight closed!) from when we landed so we were properly on a mission when we landed in LA.

Shame then we had the typical Pentagon type security to get through when we landed!!!

Ok so we got through the customs/immigration part without a hitch (with our 'straight off the press' visas!), got our bags off of the carousel in a timely fashion, and just when we thought making our next flight was in the bag, we spotted the queue for the Baggage Transfer desk. Bugger. There must've been about 50 people in it. DO THEY NOT REALISE WE'VE GOT A PLANE TO CATCH!!!!

However, as we were just about to join the back of the queue a man in a Qantas suit told us that if we were in a hurry then we should just head over to the International Departure Terminal where our London bound flight was leaving from as there would be less queues over there. RESULT!!!

So off we ran, pushing our trolleys around/over/through anything that got in our way!!!

When we made it to the desk we needed we told him what had happened/was happening and that we had like 15 minutes to get to our gate...................

Clearly we had ruffled his feathers as this was the point that the arsey camp idiot decided to start showing off.

"Well it's not my fault you're in a rush, YOU decided to come up here instead of transfering where you should have".

"Errrr excuse me, we were TOLD to come up here!!!"

"Well I don't know why you were told that. I've got to change your stickers!!"

"Look mate, we've just got off of a 12 hour flight after being delayed for 6 hours and we have 15 minutes to catch our next flight, can you please do it".

[Que camp man with a face like thunder huffing at everything he had to do]

"Done. That'll be $55"

"Eeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrm what?"

"Because I've just changed your stickers your bagage allowance has now changed as well. You are now over your bagage allowance therefore you now owe me $55 excess".

"Are you shitting us!?!?! Why didn't you tell us that before you did it?!?!?!"

"Well you can go back to where you should have transfered your luggage and get your stickers changed back saving yourself the $55 but by the time you do that you'll have missed your flight, it's up to you............"

"You ~@$%^%$ idiot. Here's your ~@?>:%$&* $55. I hope you break a nail!!

I'm sorry but he was an absolute a-hole.

And absolutely what we didn't need at that precise time.

From here we then had to put all of our luggage through security scanners again because we hadn't transfered it. I have my doubts now that the helpful bloke in the Qantas suit even worked there, he was probably just a cleaner or a really big Qantas fan or something, because he buggered us right up!!!

After being made to stay and watch our bags queue up and slowly go through the x-ray machines "just in case we have to unlock them to be searched" we ran off to the gate. 10 yards later we found ourselves in another loooooonnnnnnng queue going through security and the metal detectors again!!!


At this point we were really getting poo'd off with the whole LA debarcle. Even more so when we noticed that out of the 6 security lanes there was only ONE open!!

It was here that I felt sure we had well and truely blown it and we were going to miss our flight, and even spotting Gary Wilmott next to us in the queue couldn't convince me otherwise!

We finally got through security and then pegged it to our gate.

As is always the case, especially if you're late, our gate was right frickin miles away..............................but we made it!!!!!!!

Literally it was the final boarding call when we rocked up in a sweaty stinky mess (no change there then I hear you say!!). I had my flop flips in hand so I could run faster and was holding my shorts up with the other as I hadn't had time to put my belt back on after the security gate.

Honestly I don't know how we made it but we did.

It took us about an hour to get our breath backs after that!!

Nothing sticks out in my memory about the flight but I suspect anyone within nose distance of us for the next 10 hours may have had a different opinion of it!


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