29 March 2008
23 March 2008
Well, there's only a few more days to enjoy these couple islands before they load me on a jet plane.
Til the next one... enjoy your days! And see (some of) you soon!
19 March 2008
I'm in Taupo (center-ish of the North Island).
I took the plunge today and went sky diving with my friend Oliver. Something I've always wanted to do (since I saw Point Break the first time- LOVED that movie... did I really just admit that?) and the only disappointing thing about it was that it was over way too quickly. I did the 15,000 ft. jump (highest legal jump supposedly). The views were spectacular as well as the air rushing over your face and up your nose and the sensation that your ears were about to burst. From that elevation you could see the east and west coasts of the north island as well as the volcanoes I climbed around yesterday and of course Lake Taupo which I was over. I splurged and had the photos taken so you could all enjoy the scenery as well- because really... it's only something you do once, right?
Other than the first thing out of my mouth when I landed was... "I want to do that again!" So I may have to repeat... someday...
My tandem partner (the one in the yellow suit) is Freddy Hofmayer from Germany. He's completed over 10,000 jumps and has 6 or so World Records of which he was a bit modest about, so I'll have to check into that. But as you can see... a FUN guy!
Not sure if it was the adrenaline or just a fun time, but Oliver and I were in fits of laughter on the way back to the hostel. He was more a bag of nerves than I was and said as he saw me "whoosh" out of the plane and was just gone he almost lost it. Thus his exit photo out of the plane was simply priceless!
I have loads of photos as well as a rockin' dvd some of you might be lucky enough to see. All in all- a fun time in the sky.
The next few things on my agenda aren't nearly as wild and reckless, but should be just as fun. So stay tuned.
Over and out-
18 March 2008
So, I'm in Turangi and just finished a 18km hike through the Tongariro Crossing right through the heart of the volcano mess I mentioned earlier. Mt Ngauruhoe (which I skirted the base of) or Mount Doom for those of you Lord of the Rings fans out there, is still slightly active and spurting steam. Starting out at 6am gave me a slight advantage against the hords of other trekkers out there and the whole place is quite Lord of the Rings-esque and feels quite magical (thank god I watched those films before I left so I could have a few semi-intelligent conversations about that!). The way down had some hot springs and steam pockets of sorts and reminded me a bit of Yellowstone. Though the vegetation around volcanic activity contains such amazing colors and textures- it was quite an exotic environment I thought. In any case- here's (again) hoping I can walk tomorrow.
Speaking of walking- what is up with people walking around this country barefoot? It seems quite common to see people here and there in stores etc, just kicking around without any shoes on. Even happened on the plane over here. Curious thing really.
On another note: I think I've mastered the drugged out English rocker hairstyle I'm such a fan of. I do think the secret is washing your hair at night, going to bed with it slightly damp and never combing it really. Comes out quite nice. (You know what I'm talking about KT... don't you!)
Well, I'm actually rather tired and out of it from the days adventures. Just wanted to jot a few lines before too much time went by.
Here's hoping your St. Paddy's day was everything you'd hoped for and more.
14 March 2008
You know it's funny. I've have similar conversations in my travels and they tend to go something like this... "Where are you from?" "The US." "What part?" (slight hesitation on my part...) "Um, Wyoming." "Oh, that's in the mid-west huh?" "Well, kind of. We consider it the west, the mountain west.". "Oh." "Don't worry, a lot of people in the States don't know where it is either."
A few variations have ended in... "Oh yeah, Wyoming! Like Brokeback Mountain!" "Yeah, kind of- though it was filmed in Canada..."
Well, last night I was proceeding through the standard conversation when I was startled by... "Oh Wyoming- the latest state to reject Hillary."
So- this is a heartfelt thanks to all my loyal readers... Thanks for bringing me up to speed on that one, so I could come up with a semi-intelligent response! Whatever puts Wyoming on the map, eh?
Well, life finds me at the northern most part of the south island (the NW corner if you will). I'm in Collingwood, very near the Farewell Spit for those of you who know. I opted to forgo petting the tamed eels today and instead borrowed a bike from my hostel to bike out to the spit and Wharariki Beach (Maori pronunciation 'Farariki'). The guide books were spot on when they called this "a most fantastic beach". Indeed it was quite worth the 63 km round trip ride on the bike. (Here's to hoping I can walk tomorrow! ..Though I won't have too much time to walk with the 5 hr bus trip I have booked- phewf!) It was my first chance I've had to drive on the left hand side of the road. Biking or driving a car, you've got to keep your head in the game. Especially when it comes to the plethora of bridges there are to cross. Seems that NZ doesn't much want to splurge on 2-lane bridges. Make sure to note which side is required to yield (or as they say here: give way).
It's a 20 min walk after the parking lot through sheep pasture. I planned my trip to hit the beach at low tide. You come out on rolling dunes that lead out to an amazing strip of perfect beach and huge rocks and rock walls, as well as caves along the edges. At low tide you can walk out to a pool of small seals and stand only feet from them swimming and splashing and quite enjoying themselves really. Very pristine.
I also stopped on the way back to check out the spit (which you can't really go out on w/o being in an organized dune buggy tour) from the visitor center. It is host to a huge bird migratory path that stretches up through Asia, Siberia and Alaska. Amazing really.
Back I hopped on the bike into a lovely headwind for the 23 km bike back into town. I think I will deserve every beer and mussel I plan to have for dinner tonight!
Ok, more food for thought:
So- it was a funny encounter I had yesterday. I stopped into a small art gallery I stumbled upon and had a nice chat with the English bloke running the place. We talked for quite a while and the topic of accents and language came up. He thought I was fairly easy to understand etc etc and certain people from the states aren't... and then mentioned that certain things we say in the states are so funny. I was curious for an example (lord knows I come up w/ plenty of them here..) So he said he ordered breakfast once in the states and when they brought him his eggs he said "Thank you." To which the waitress replied, "You're welcome." He thought that was the funniest thing... and as I got to thinking about it... it is. Where are we welcome to? The grace of thanks? Quite odd indeed. I asked him what reply he would expect and he simply said, "That's all right."
Another great thing everyone says here is, "Righty-oh." In response to sealing a deal or agreeing upon something. Oh the vast world of English!
OK! On that note, I'll let you get back to your day. Tomorrow I start the journey back north. Stay tuned...
08 March 2008
I've resurfaced from the sounds. I had a relaxing and entertaining time at Hopewell and met a lot of fun people. It was time to move on to other things though- as I don't have much to spare, so I traveled out to Nelson on Thursday with some German's in their van (doesn't seem to be a shortage of those over here... German's... or vans). They dropped me off in the heart of Nelson and I found Susie Lees who I'd set up to WWOOF with. She works at a woman's fiber cooperative in town once a week and as you can imagine I was in heaven. Lots of knitting and felted fiber works... From wool, as well as llama and alpaca and opossum... did you know that opossum is the only other creature that has fur like the polar bear- which has a hollow core, thus being very warm? Well, supposedly it does, and since opossums were introduced to NZ from Australia and are considered a pest... well, it makes great warm fiber wears. (just a side note)
I headed out to the farm later that day with Susie just in time to help milk the goats with Amory (another WWOOFER who has been there for a bit). They are great, plus there is a baby goat named chalky bounding and kicking all over the place. So cute! Susie and her partner Kev make (and sell on the side) goat cheese as well. I haven't yet been involved in that full on process, but I plan to. They do feta, ricotta as well as some hard cheeses, and even have a blue in the works... 2 months so far. Simply fascinating! I think it's the perfect place for me.
Friday we all worked hard (there are also 2 other German wwoofers there.. surprise!) harvesting and prepping the veggies for the Sat market. I went in with Susie before sunrise (beautiful!) and helped her set up her stall. Then I was on my own for a bit to check out the market. Again- it was heaven for me!
Later that morning her friend Betty Rae showed up (a woman I'd met at the fabric coop) and I have been with her the last few days learning how to felt. She has a few llama's and alpaca's of her own and makes all these great things. So they've swapped wwoofers for a night and here I am. I will head back to the farm tomorrow afternoon. The bag I've been working on I've named Rufus after the alpaca who so generously shared his fur with me. I'd attach more photos, but these computers take so dang long to download them.
Betty is a character who left her 35 yr bad marriage a few years ago, bought a bus and spent 3 years traveling the south island on it. She has finally settled down and bought a house in town (due to her daughter's encouraging) and now has animals and a craft room. She also takes in boarders who are studying English at the school in town. There is a Swiss girl with her now. Yesterday the 3 of us wandered into town to watch the annual Trolley Derby. Basically they block off the street with the biggest hill and kids of all ages build go-cars and race them down the street. It was a hoot! There was a dj (so I got to witness the cars whizzing by to a soundtrack of Eye of the Tiger (go LVHS!!) and free popsicles for everyone! Hilarious to see what kids come up with!
The last few days here have been FINE indeed (that incidentally is the way they describe a "good weather forecast". ie- it will be rainy in the morning with strong south easterlies, turning fine in the afternoon.
On that note- I think I'll wrap it up for today. I plan to head elsewhere around Friday or Saturday, so stay tuned.
Take it easy kids,