Any good trip around the world starts with a solid day of rest before officially departing the country — especially when it’s spent with a good friend’s mom.
My plan was to fly from Omaha to Los Angeles, giving myself roughly 36 hours in LA before catching a nonstop 13-hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand. I had originally booked a hostel on LA’s Santa Monica beach, but at the last minute my friend Madi asked if I’d instead want to stay at her mom’s place near Hollywood. Since I was feeling nervous about the trip, the prospect of having a familiar face for send-off was a major relief.
At 6am on Jan 4, I said a tearful goodbye to my parents in Omaha and hopped on the plane to LAX.
After touching down in Los Angeles, I took the Flyaway shuttle to Van Nuys, where Madi’s mom Barb (aka Barbie) picked me up with a big hug. My nerves had already dissipated, at least a little.
Around the corner from Barbie’s apartment is Aroma, a beloved cafe with incredible chai lattes and a salmon salad that made a multi-hour plane ride feel worth it.
After Aroma I caught up on some ZZZs before girls night at Barbie’s place, where a handful of her friends (mostly single, well-traveled women) shared stories over wine, cheese and the best flan I’ve ever had. I felt surrounded by wisdom and encouragement from all these women.
All that Manchego cheese helped me fall into a deep sleep before waking up at 6:30am the next day to go on a 9-mile hike in Pasadena. These LA people do not mess around.
Barbie’s friend Janelle led us along a sunny out-and-back trail in Angeles National Forest, which led to a dam structure with a waterfall. There were a few perilous log passes and I accidentally stabbed my hand with a yucca plant, but I was a pretty happy clam.
After the morning adventure, we grabbed some Cuban foodstuffs from Porto’s and headed home to sort out some last-minute details of my trip, including unlocking my iPhone (to get a New Zealand SIM card) and loading my credit card info into my password manager for safekeeping. Side note: There are so many details to sort out before going on a round-the-world trip, but I’ll save that for a future how-to post. 🙂
At long last, it was time to catch my flight to New Zealand. Thankful for everything Barbie had done for me, I hugged her goodbye and caught the bus back to LAX, where I waited in an impossibly far away and disorganized international terminal. Despite the chaos, I was excited to start the journey.
Next stop: Auckland. Oceania awaits.