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Today began with an air of excitement and trepidation. Despite all the planning I felt disorganised. Being unwell didn’t help the situation. I had to make decisions and take action because time was marching by. I kept thinking of a mantra my husband, Lynsey, often recites: I’m efficient and effective and I get things done.

I needed to get things done, and fast. We had a plane to catch; the first leg of our journey to Denver, Colorado followed by Austin, Texas. I am now officially on holiday for the next two weeks and yet in between packing, an unexpected trip to the doctors, sorting out our son (who wasn’t coming with us), and securing our home in readiness for our absence, I was also checking my work emails. So many things were whirring around in my head and I needed to let some of them go.

As I became overwhelmed by everything I kept focusing on one thing; within the next 24 hours I would be reunited with my daughter Zofia and I couldn’t wait for that moment.

The day continued to unfold as it should except as one hour merged into the next time seemed to take on a different meaning. Zofia was flying out from Heathrow Airport, London at 2.25pm their time headed for Denver via Minneapolis. Lynsey and I left Wellington at 4.30pm NZ time also headed for Denver via Auckland and San Francisco. At some point, many hours later, we would all meet up in a different country and different time zone yet it will still be today. We will be travelling back in time as we make our way towards the United States. When we reach our destination we will be reliving the day we are already experiencing. This seems so unimaginable.

Apart from the time changes many other things made today unbelievably long … delayed flights, endless security checkpoints, navigating unfamiliar airports, trying to find out information, speaking English but not American, dealing with a different currency, finding food we wanted to eat, the inconsistency between the messages our bodies were sending us and the actual time in the place where we were, and the temperature differences as we moved from winter to summer. Why do we call this a holiday? Travelling is exhausting yet there is a certain exhilaration associated with it as you experience the many weird and wonderful things you get exposed to …

Tornados are not something we kiwis would normally worry about yet at Denver International Airport there are tornado shelter signs everywhere.

Tornado shelter signs at Denver International Airport

I was taken by the luggage carousels that catered specifically for oversized items like skis. This was a pertinent reminder to the fact that the Rockie Mountains with some of the world’s most famous ski fields were close by.

One of the baggage claim areas at Denver International Airport

I became excited when I saw this sign change to say ‘in range’. Zofia was getting closer.

Zofia was getting closer

And then she arrived!

Within minutes I would be seeing Zofia!

Holding my daughter in my arms made everything we had been through in the preceding hours insignificant. As we stood there hugging each other with tears streaming down both our faces my heart was bursting with love, pride and relief. Here we were together again. She was right there in front of me and not an image or a voice I could see or hear via my computer or the telephone. Our adventure could begin in earnest. No matter how tired we were after being up for the better part of 24 hours this time was precious. The clock was ticking and we wanted to make the most of our holiday together.

We headed to our hotel where our first priority was to get some sleep because in a few hours we needed to be up and ready to face the new day in whatever time zone we were in now.

Arriving at our hotel in the wee hours of the morning (Denver time)

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