Saturday was here, the day of the Whenupai Air Show, on none other than March 21 (March 20 in the US), my birthday. It was an early morning, and because NZ is so laid back there is NO WHERE open to get coffee at 5am. Well, except one place. The place I loathe, yet had no choice if I really wanted coffee, we stopped at McDonald's. We purchase the cappuccino's and latte's at the McCafe and were on our way. Oh, corner cafe how I wanted YOUR awesome cappuccino. A little tip, if you are in NZ beware of the Long Black coffee. This is what you get if you just order coffee, black. I normally drink black coffee, and I don't mind it strong. I like European's in the fact they like coffee, strong, and thick. Well, this Long Black knocked my socks OFF! WHEW! I had to break down and add a little water to this stuff. So, Auckland holds the "strongest coffee I have ever tasted" title. The air base is VERY small, but we were in wide-eye shock when we drive up at 530am and there is a line to get on base. This surprised us so because the gates did not open to the general public until 9am! These were all military personnel trying to get on base. It was gonna be a busy day. After watching some of the pilots (Meghan, Todd, and Brett) play teeter totter on the plane's tow bar, I assigned myself a job. See, the squadron sent along t-shirts, glasses, pins, coins, etc for us to sell at the airshow. So, I volunteered to man the table. It gave me something to do while everyone else was busy working the crowd and minding the jet. One pilot, Meghan, became our "super-stahhhh" (Molly Shannon style!). It was Women's History Month in NZ and so she was interviewed by the local news and given mad props for being a female pilot. The entire day of the airshow, folks would ask, "Could you tell me where the female pilot is?" She was signing autographs, posing for pics, and was looked upon all day with eyes of wonder! So, of course much heckling ensued. Thanks for enduring!! The plane was PACKED - all day long! Everyone wanted a turn in the cockpit. So much so, they were waiting 2+ hours in line just to sneek a peek. This only got worse after Kevin flew the demo of the C-17. He totally rocked it in the air and everyone was totally amazed. The entire crowd kept their eyes pegged on the plane even after it had landed and other planes and helicopters were doing their demo's. The crowd was like, "WHO CARES, LETS GET ON THAT C17!" As soon as the barricades were removed the crowd literally RAN onto the plane. It was crazy, people were packing in so tight we could not move. One kid seriously passed out in front of me and Kevin!! So, me not liking being trapped in a mob like, crazed crowd put her pipes God blessed her with to work. Oh yes, controlling crowd control Mary came out in a BIG BOOMING voice! hee hee! "Move to the right side of the plane! Form a queue (what NZ'ers call a line)! Make way for an exit!" Then security got involved and my moment of control was over, MAN! Anyway, 5pm could not get there fast enough. We were all tired and relieved (well that was KJ, he was glad that demo was OVER!). The squadron there prepared a little BBQ for us for afterwards. Let me interject here and just pour out the compliments to the folks that hosted us. Not once did we every want or need anything. Their hospitality was amazing and they knew and had available every resource we needed, from water to food to an awesome party afterwards to hooking us up with local connections, etc, etc. We were even given offers of "If you are ever back in New Zealand for pleasure and need a place to stay, my home is yours". WOWSA! Very cool folks they are. So, we hung out at the base there enjoying the late afternoon BBQ.
One very important bit of info needs to be put in here. This day was my birthday. The entire day long everyone I came in contact with wished me Happy Birthday. I was given hugs and well wishes the ENTIRE day. To end this day, as we enter into the 40 squadron - the sq. hosting us - a cake was brought out (chocolate, I might add) and then everyone in that bldg began singing "Happy Birthday". On the day where my husband had to fly his butt off, he took the time to think of me and arrange this little candle on the cake of the day. How blessed I am to have HIM as my husband. A man who had a million things on his plate the previous couple of days, took time to make my day special and fancy his wife with her favorite birthday delight, chocolate cake. I love you KJ. Now, he has set the standard HIGH since birthday number 3-0 was in Paris, France and now birthday 3-1 was in New Zealand! Just say it, I am SPOILED by my hubby!
This same night we also met the owner of the StonyRidge vineyard we had visited the day before. We completely oozed our love of this place and he then proceeded to offer the ultimate hook-up. He told us, come out on Sunday and I will give you the VIP treatment. WOO HOO! So, our last day in New Zealand was PERFECT! I don't think we could have ended this trip any better. We got up Sunday morning (my birthday in the US, oh yes I milked it for all it was worth!) and got back on the ferry headed to Waiheke Island. This time we splurged a little and got a little convertible jeep cause the sun was shining and heck, it was our last day. Some of our friends rented scooters, which gave us plenty of laughter the entire day! We drive out to the vineyard where we have a table already prepared for us, overlooking the olive orchards, grave vines, and just gorgeous steep hillsides. It was so sweet seeing these little girls in fairy dresses running through the olive trees. TOO CUTE! We ate and relaxed in the sun listening to live music that was primo. The owner then spoils us all on awesome food and a huge discount. None of us wanted to leave, but we forced ourselves. We then headed to the beach. We then lounged some more in the sun and took dips in the water and thought the day had passed way too quickly. We climb back into the car and head back to the harbor to catch the ferry back to Auckland. Kevin and I then met up with some friends who had took Space-A from Hawaii and had dinner at the Sky Tower Restaurant. The Sky Tower is much like the Space Needle in Seattle. The Restaurant rotates to give you the entire view of the city while you dine. It was a nice way to end our time there in NZ. Oh yes, I will go back to NZ one day.
We left very early the next morning. We took the same route back. We landed in Pago Pago for fuel and then landed in Honolulu about 10pm for a night in HI before we made the trek to Alaska. 20 minutes after we landed I am waiting on a taxi to take me downtown when I get a call from KJ, "Mt Redoubt just erupted to 65k feet." My babies are at home without their momma, and MY momma is going to have to do the volcano prep at our home. I call mom, it is midnight in AK. "Mom the volcano erupted, here is what you have to do"...........
The flight home cancelled and we got an extra day in Hawaii. Although, this was very cool, a day in Honolulu to hang out, no kids, me and the hubby and he doesn't have to work......my mind kept wondering about the kids. I kept telling myself that ash wasn't going to Anchorage, but that didn't help. Finally, I found a remedy.....mai tai's! We also found ourselves in the midst of some pick-up beach volleyball games and that helped to take my mind off things. The wind was in our favor the next day and as the volcano erupted we boarded the C17, hopefully to make it home. We now had to go to Seattle and pick up some C17 crews that were leaving their jets in WA to keep them safe from volcano ash. We landed safely at 1am in Anchorage. I didn't want it to end, but it was good to be home.
Now, we are dealing with this bleeping volcano that decides to erupt every other day or every other 2 days. We have been hit with some ash. When this happened the outside smelled like sulphur with a touch of burnt. On top of that the snow then came down on top of the ash. This is good for breathing quality, but bad for getting to play in the snow. Others are letting their kids play, but I just can't let mine. Noah likes to eat the snow WAY too much.
My mom flew back home, THANKS mom for watching the boys! Hope you birthday (Apr 3) was AWESOME!
Now, I have officially signed up for the Gold Nugget Triathlon. I am submerging myself in training despite the fact I possibly have bronchitis. We have bought Noah a new pair of shoes. he got a pair of New Balance cause he thought the "N" on the side was there for his name! :) Caleb has begun to talk like an adult. His pronunciation is out of this WORLD! I don't' have "babies" anymore! sniff sniff! Kevin is busy with a base wide exercise, that is where he is now.
The kids have been interested in seeing the lava from the volcano - which takes a lot of explaining why we are not driving to the volcano to watch it blow. So, last night for family fun night Kevin and I went old school and pulled out the vinegar and baking soda. Of course, doing this in a bottle is not visual enough, so I get the paper mache and VOILA the we and the kids construct our version of Mt Redoubt. We did not have red food coloring so we used blue and green instead. When we went to make the "eruption", Caleb kept his ears covered! He thought there was going to be a BANG! It was too funny to see their excitement over the bubbling! Next time we will have to use diet coke and mentos for a bigger bang! Alright........
I think that catches you all up.