The Hendersons Preparations for our 2004 Morgan tour of New Zealand
Moggie's Big Adventure - Morgans to New Zealand
(In Moggie's Own Words)
April 12, 2003 - La Conner Tulip Rallye
I didn’t get to go on the Tulip Rallye – it was very rainy, wet and muddy and Tom and Mel didn’t think I’d enjoy it. So, Sophia got to go – she came back a mess.
I heard later that while they were there, Ken Miles told Tom and Mel about a trip that was being organized for early 2004 by the English Morgan owners – they were taking their Morgans to New Zealand for a five-week tour. Tom and Mel didn’t think they’d be able to go – the airfare was pretty steep.
However, when they got home, they checked their frequent flier miles and found that Mel had enough for round-trip tickets, business class, and Tom was only 20,000 miles short. They had already committed to a trip to Britain for the summer, which would give Tom about 10,000 miles, so he only needed to get another 10,000 miles and they’d have enough.
Tom found out that you could make reservations on Qantas Airlines even if you didn’t have enough miles – they don’t ticket the flight until a few weeks before departure.
He sent an e-mail to Mel at work that he had made reservations for the two of them to fly to Auckland on January 16 and return March 1.
Looks like we are going to New Zealand.
For the next few months, they live on Tom’s Visa until they have enough miles.
Only problem is that the flights out were business class, but the return flights are coach (Tom and Mel call them ‘steerage.’)
Tom committed to calling Qantas every so often to see if he could change the reservations.
People make reservations months in advance and sometimes they find out that they won’t be able to make the trip.
Tom and Mel hoped that someone would cancel their reservations and business class seats would become available.
June - October 2003
Ken Miles has been busy arranging shipping for me and five other cars to New Zealand. In the meantime, Tom has been trying to figure out what the regulations are to get us into the country – and there are a lot of them. I can’t have any debris that I carry into the country – New Zealand being so heavily agricultural, and if Tom and Mel should fail to export me out of the country (not bloody likely) then they’d have to pay the GST on me. I also have to have a safety inspection. Tom, being a perfectionist when it comes to his cars, gets busy – I get a new windscreen (my original windscreen has a rock chip) and Tom has a Bimini or Surrey top made in a color that is close to my upholstery – they’ve heard that New Zealand has a hole in the ozone layer and that you have to be very careful about sun exposure. In the meantime, Ken has made arrangements for shipping all of the cars out. We’ll be loaded onto containers in mid-December and arrive a few days before Tom and Mel.
November 7, 2003
Tom and Mel drove Sophia up to the Stinson’s house in Kingston to meet with Ken and Pat and Dick Dice to make arrangements for putting together the shipping and meeting in New Zealand. There is still some confusion about the carnet (it’s sort of a passport for cars) versus just making a deposit for the GST, but they seem to have gotten it all straightened out. I have to have a USA (country of origin) sticker on my rear, but that’s OK – Tom is going to get a magnetic one.
Week of December 1-6, 2003
Tom has spent hours scraping all the mud off my underside – he doesn’t want to get to Auckland only to have me put in quarantine. So, the mud and related debris is gone and I’ve been cleaned up to the point that you’d think I was a new car except for a few rock chips here and there – I’m almost a Garage Queen. That would be nice, except I think that being a Run About is more fun – I wouldn’t want to be a Daily Driver – some of those cars are pretty beat. I had a few leaks that Tom took care of and Tom built a couple of tool kits that fit in the space behind the seats, so I think I’m ready to go. This is getting exciting.
December 7, 2003
We leave about 10:00 – the plan is for Mel to drive Sophia and Tom is to drive me – we are supposed to meet at Ken and Pat’s, get put on Ken’s hoist and make sure we are all clean, then on December 8th we’ll all go over to the place that prepares the cars for shipment.
The drive to Surrey, where Ken and Pat live, is uneventful. Eventually, Bob and Barbara Stinson, Dick Dice, and Lynne and Rod Dale-Johnson converge on Ken and Pat’s place. They all have a jolly evening while the Morgans sit in the driveway –there are five Morgans and bits of Pat’s Morgan that was severely pranged when they went to Boise in September (and was supposed to be making this trip, poor thing). A ‘basket case’ Triumph is in the garage, along with the Morgan drop-head coupe that Ken is restoring. The Morgans belong to the Stinsons, Dick Dice, Vern Dale-Johnson (brother of Rod), Ken and Pat, and, of course, yours truly. One Morgan from California was supposed to be there, but its owners had transmission problems on the way (seems the guy who installed their transmission may have done something wrong), so they were expected to arrive a few days later. Originally there were supposed to be nine Morgans from the UK, but Pat has learned that one of the wives was diagnosed with breast cancer and so she and her husband may not make it. We are scheduled to begin our adventure on January 20 – that’s when the North American cars will be there – we’ll all go through the various inspections together and then, hopefully, be free to go. We’ve heard that the Brits are a bit formal – they ‘dress’ for dinner – Tom and Mel are light packers, so we’ll see how this works out! “Dressing for dinner” for them is usually a skirt for Mel and a buttoned shirt for Tom. Jacket? Pearls? If you pack light, there isn’t enough room for that stuff, and these two pack light!
I stay up late chatting with Ken and Pat’s Plus 8.
Since we are going to be in the same container, he wants to make sure I am a good sailor and won’t get seasick.
He tells me he has been up the Inside Passage on a ship.
I reply that I was once on a Washington state ferry.
He laughs, but says, “You’ll be alright, kid”.
Well, the big day for us Morgans has arrived – the humans get up around 7:00 and have breakfast and get us packed up – we need to drive about 30 miles to Burnaby, where we’ll be left with a company that specializes in preparing goods to be shipped overseas.
Turns out that the insurance company insists that we be loaded and tied down by a person who is certified in tying down cars (I wonder what that professional designation is – CTD – Certified Tie-er Downer?) and that each of us is going to be shrink wrapped.
Five weeks encased in plastic in a container?
I hope the others used deodorant.
Ken and Pat are expecting their carnet to arrive today and have alerted a neighbor. While we are having our pictures taken the FedEx man pulls up in his truck. And they say I’M not very aerodynamic. He has the carnet.
We start out about 10:00 – it is rather a bleak day – overcast and rainy. Some of us, including Tom and me, get separated and Mel gets hopelessly lost in Sophia because she somehow missed the drivers’ meeting so she takes the wrong exit. Well, thanks to the wonders of cell phone technology, eventually we all get to the company that prepares us for shipment. First, everyone dries off the cars. Five cars, eight devoted humans doing their best to make sure we are spotless. Hey, this isn’t bad!
Then they disconnect our batteries. (So much for conversation during the trip). Then they make sure that the paperwork is in order. So here we are – five Morgans of various ages and models – ready to make a very long journey to a country where they drive on the wrong side of the road and speak a variant of English. I hope that five weeks in a container won’t be just too much for us. I’m having my doubts about that flashy red number in the front of the queue.
Dick Dice's Plus 8 (he still uses propane) will go in the container first, followed by Ken and Pat's Plus 8. I'll be Last In First Out. Mel will love that. She is really into LIFO.
Well, they’ve rolled us into the container, wrapped us in plastic (yuck), tied us down and closed the door. It’s dark in here and we won’t get out until January 20th. Reminds me of last February when I ran out of propane. Tom wasn’t very happy. My fuel gauge still read almost a quarter of a tank. Tom would find out later that the gauge measured pressure rather than volume. I had plenty of pressure but no volume. He had to call AAA and have them flat-bed me over to the Cenex station to get propane. When we got there Tom told them to put in 2 gallons. They thought that was rather strange under the circumstances. I was a little concerned when Tom drove me straight home and parked me in the garage and left me there. I thought Tom was mad at me and that this was the end of a beautiful friendship. At least there was light and I could see out whenever the garage doors were opened. Eventually Tom started taking me apart and taking measurements. I found out it was the propane he was fed up with. I guess that was the real reason I didn’t get to go on the Tulip Rallye. At the end of April Tom converted me back to running on petrol. Wow, I felt great and no longer smelled like a forklift! I guess, thinking about how long I sat in the garage, this won’t be that bad. I’ll just pretend I’m Rip van Winkle and take a nice long nap. When I wake up it will be summer in Auckland.
Christmas Eve Day
The ship (the Kapitan Maslov) has sailed from Vancouver, B.C. and we are headed out to sea. We’ll pass Hawaii around New Years and be in Auckland on January 14th. Somewhere en route it will instantly become tomorrow as the ship sails over the International Date Line. Well, see you on the 20th. Tom can take over this story for a while.
New Year’s Eve
It’s snowing! Fortunately it is only a couple of inches. However it is very cold, so this bit of snow will stick around on the lawn, etc. There is a forecast for more snow next week.
Well, perseverance has finally paid off. I called Qantas this morning, as I had almost every day for the last month. Around Christmas Alaska Airlines had called. They had received our itinerary from Qantas and were ready to ticket us. I had learned from Qantas that once we were ticketed we would have accepted the downgrade to Economy for the flight home and would be stuck with it. The gentleman from Alaska was very nice and said they could wait until the day of departure to issue tickets at check in to give us as much time as possible to snag Business class seats home. Today when I called Qantas, I gave my well-rehearsed spiel to the gentleman. He found two Business class seats on the flight from Auckland to Los Angeles on February 29th. So we get our seats and will leave Auckland only one day earlier. Perfect!
It’s REALLY snowing now. Mel and I watch it all day and it just keeps accumulating. By the time it finally stops we have a total of 6 1/2 “. I had setup a makeshift way of tracking Moggie’s progress on her way to New Zealand. I taped a piece of twine to our globe and marked off days with a pen. Each evening I have colored the string with a marker to show how far the ship has gone.
It is now in the southern hemisphere and approaching Samoa, while at home it looks and feels more like Siberia.
Oh, alright, not quite. I chain up the Honda and Mel and I mush out to order New Zealand $ traveler’s checks. We get to the bank only to find that they have closed early because of the weather.
Today Mel goes into work and checks with the Seattle branch of BofA. They tell her they don’t do New Zealand traveler’s checks. I call the Lakewood branch and they check their help line and tell me they do. So I mush out. The nice lady at the bank is very apologetic when she calls to order them and is told they don’t do them. It appears that BofA’s right hand doesn’t know what its left hand does. She lets me have US$ traveler’s checks without a service charge. That will work and will be safer than carrying cash. Nine days to go. Am I ever ready!
I call Qantas to ask about the note on our reservation email that says assigned seats subject to change. The agent tells me that airports reserve the right to change seat assignments. I guess we’ll just have to be among the early check-ins to ensure that we retain the upper deck seats. It is much quieter and more spacious up there. Those nifty sky beds should make the trip much more tolerable.
We’ve been refining the packing list and getting everything laid out. We will take only sandals and one other pair of shoes. We have decided to take our down parkas as they are comfortable over a wide range of temperatures and they compress nicely. This will prove to be one of the best decisions we make.
Finally everything is packed except last minute items such as my razor. What an adventure this is going to be. I sure hope everything goes smoothly getting Moggie on the road in New Zealand.