Monday, May 30, 2016

The roach

Let us begin with a picture lesson:
Here we have what I was raised to believe is a cockroach:
Almost cute in their inferiority to the penny. Like Lincoln is ready to smash them with his tiny copper* head. 

Here is the "Palmetto Bug" that Florida tries to claim isn't a giant nasty cockroach by giving it an exotic sounding name. 
We know what you are roach. We know. 

And here, is the monstrosity that is the New Zealand native cockroach. 
He appears to be wearing a suit of armour. He is. 

I know him well for several reasons.
1. I frequently find him crawling from crevices in kegs.
2. I frequently smash him and rinse his lifeless corpse in to a drain.
3. He attempted to frame me for a murder-suicide off a cliff.

It was a beautiful day, as my comrade and I drove from Picton to Nelson. We had just left a lovely Air Bnb where a talented artist and her husband gifted us so much fruit our dietary fibre would not be an issue for the duration of our travels. Adam climbed a tree:
We made many stops to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings:

We laughed, we listened to an audio book, we talked about the weird amount of fruit in the car, and just as the bliss of the day was fully setting in, the sun was in my eyes. I had sunglasses, but it was the type of sunlight which reflects off of freshly damp pavement and the light came from everywhere. I needed shade. Shade which could only be provided by a Sun visor. For reasons unbeknownst to both of us, Adam was the one who reached to put the visor down.
The following tale is a completely accurate representation and in no way a dramatisation of the unfolding events.** 

Simultaneously we heard the most maniacal laughter, smelled the ungodliest stench, and felt a terror our hearts had not yet known. As he slowly released the sun visor we beheld the vilest creature permitted to roam, nay, scurry this earth. I could hear him daring me to swerve off the cliffside, taking us both to our doom, leaving him free to scavenge the fruit and leave the scene without a trace. In a moment of clarity Adam closed the visor and held his fist there insisting I pull the car over. Despite the conflicting dialogues I was able to take us safely off the road to an embankment, and with ladylike poise I promptly threw the door open and removed myself from the roach's vicinity. The next was a harrowing scene which pains me even now to recreate for you. Adam released the beast from the visor and proceeded to punch it, and attack it with a picture frame. Wounded, but protected by his body armour the monster escaped in to the centre console of the Peugeot, to mend to his wounds and plot his counter-attack. 

45 minutes of the most uncomfortable drive you can imagine later we arrived at the local store where we purchased 3 bug bombs. As I played Soccer, Adam removed every belonging from the car and attempted to rob the creature of his sanctuary by creating a toxic environment. 

So many words, so few visuals. Here is my team practising while the sun sets behind the mountains

Still unconvinced, and unable to attain closure of his demise we chose to once again poison the air of the car in case the first attack wasn't enough. Eventually, we eased our minds and decided he was likely dead. This story has a warm-hearted ending, which I will save for another time because I can. Yay for cliff-hangers!

Forgive the slight or not-so-slight changes you may be observing on this blog layout. I have been attempting for some time to update the aesthetic nature of this site to no avail. Turns out Google hasn't updated this blogging resource, likely since they created it. My apologies. 

*please don't waste your time explaining to me that they are in fact no longer made of copper, of this I am aware, and if you weren't then now you are. You're welcome. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

POST #50!

WHAT, look how committed I am to blogging. 50 posts. Go me. 

I have been told (by my mother) I have a flair for the dramatic. I apologise in advance for how underwhelming this picture video is, I just couldn't help myself. Please remember I in no way shape or form claim to have a skill for movie making. Know this. Remember this. Appreciate the sarcasm.

OKAY, now that we have that out of the way I feel no need to describe to you my adventure in Hobbiton. Onwards!

If you've been paying attention from the beginning, you will be well aware that I spent the first month of my life in New Zealand living in a magical place called Tauranga. Here I lived with some of the loveliest people to walk to earth and here I left them with my winter attire from my travels in Japan. The chill is setting in to New Zealand and I took the opportunity to head back to my roots, visit my adoptive family, and acquire adequate leg and arm coverage.* Here we had delicious homemade Japanese food and meaningful conversation. I can't post a picture with me in it because some how I look like I weigh 50lbs more than I do in real life in all the pictures and I don't want to freak everyone out.

Here is the only other picture I have from those dinners:

I also can't explain to you how wonderful of a time it was other than to appeal to your warm fuzzy side and tell you it feels like getting a hug from your favourite person when you didn't know you needed one.

After Tauranga we traveled back toward Wellington (Insert summary of a great Air BnB, and driving a lot). Before reaching Wellington we decided to take the suggestion of our Nelson friends and venture along the road less traveled to Cape Palliser and a fur seal colony. On we drove on the side of cliffs where parts of the actual road has recently fallen in to the sea. And on we drove until we became uncomfortably aware of our fuel gauge. We drove, in silence, praying a gas station would appear around the next bend. God heard our plea, and most likely chuckled at our discomfort, and chose not to tear through the fabric of time and place a conveniently located gas station in our path.

No fur seals in sight, eventually we pulled over to eat and at least walk around appreciating the scenery.

We soon discovered some of the rocks were actually fur seals which are giant and adorable but apparently also very dangerous. We kept a healthy distance and silently contemplated the likelihood of us having to snuggle up to those when we ran out of gas on the way out. 

We did not run out of gas, but we did find a gas station that said "Last stop for Petrol" on an inappropriately tiny sign considering the circumstances. 

Alright, cool. I'm really struggling with these recaps of travel because so much happened and I can't (I'm unwilling to) write a post for every single happening. Sorry again about the obnoxious Hobbiton picture video, it was out of my hands. (It was absolutely completely in my hands and 100% my idea and I laugh every time I watch it so, yeah.) 

*For those of you who still don't understand this whole hemisphere thing, here in New Zealand the seasons are opposite of those in, say, the top half of the world. Now we are heading in to winter, which is similar to winter at home only notably less terrible.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I'm really back now.

I know I know, I promised to post and then I disappeared again. Yes I should have informed people that my travels were not actually over and I had another 2 week stint coming up. I'm new at this whole blog thing, so just slow your roll.

Quick Comprehensive recap of the last two weeks:

I took 3 days to drive from Nelson to Queenstown, staying in Air BnB's along the way. It rained, I got lost, the wind was INSANE, it rained again and then I arrived at the airport to pick up two weary travellers.

The one they call Jordan (whom I call sister).

The one they call Rivers (whom I call Rivers). 

 Together we embarked on a journey filled mostly with rain and aggressive winds, but also kind old people and excessive desserts. First we hiked a mountain, met a lovely Irishman- who witnessed me hit myself in the face with my own walking stick- were pelted in the face with hail, fell several times going down the mountain*, and narrowly escaped hypothermia. We then met a lovely elderly couple with a ridiculously nice house and unbelievably delicious blueberry muffins. We teamed up to fix her macbook and go on our way with bellies full of homemade breads and coffee. Through the rain we drove, many a waterfall did we behold as we traveled toward ancient glaciers. We observed the near perfect reflection of New Zealand's first and second highest peak on Lake Matheson's glassy surface.

Finally greeted with clear skies we tramped through the river bed of our first ancient glacier.

Notice there is not a picture here, what we assumed would be an hour hike turned out to be roughly 15 minutes of walking before we couldn't go any further. Due to, you guessed it, extensive rainfall, approaching the giant block of ice was inadvisable.

The second glacier walk was notably more successful as can be seen in the picture of Rivers.**

(Insert summary of a 6 hour drive)
We saw a rainbow! 

Once again we were gifted with a sunny day and we walked/power walked/aggressively manoeuvred 6 hours of the famous Abel Tasman track and no one fell. Not even once. Part of this track can be seen in the picture of Jordan.*** We ate amazing indian food, walked to the centre of New Zealand,

and then promptly flew to Wellington to have adventures with family. So, minus the week of family fun, which I'm not willing to write about in the same post, there. you. have. it. 

I am back in Nelson now with nothing to do but work and write about my thoughts and memories and how incredibly grateful I am to have family and friends who flew to the other side of the planet and visited me.  I will get better at this I promise. End. 

*Four times. I fell four times. One of those times I fell so hard I broke my portable charger right in half. This was not a good day. 
**We got much closer, but honestly that picture is way cooler and I'm not in the business of wasting your time. 
*** Saving your precious moments once again.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Please Donate

From now on I will assume you all have the capability of Google Searching a Map of New Zealand and figuring out where these stories take place based on names I'm dropping.

As Adam, Simba, and I made our way north we stopped in Turangi to find our Air BnB.

Turangi can only be called a town by the broadest stretch of one's imagination. We soon discovered this fact when looking for food and realising everything was closed except one over-priced restaurant and the New World (Grocery store). Deeply bound by the clutches of hunger we went to New World and purchased ingredients for what ended up being mustard and ham tortillas with some kind of potato salad.* After our meal and walking around the three buildings which make up the town we headed toward our refuge for the night. 

We ventured in to swarm of bees and a tiny little farm-like area until eventually locating some WWOOFers who led us to our host. 
Lisa Runs Awhi Farm which is completely grass fed- for lack of a simpler description. We had no electricity, but in sunnier times the farm is completely solar powered, all food is organic, and cooked in what is known as a "Rocket Stove" or an "Earth Oven." Vegetables and fruits can be found in every corner of the farm, all grown with their own compost.
Compost, for those who have never encountered the concept, is decomposing organic material commonly used in farming. Composting is quite common in New Zealand. 
Lisa continued showing us around, she showed us our cabin (pictured above), fully equipped with one bunk bed and a wooden chair.
She showed us the sink
We toured the common areas
And she took us to a tarp in the back corner, which she referred to as the toilet. 
I'm sorry, the Compost* Toilet. She explained to us that when one feels the need to contribute, you simply lift the lid, make your donation, cover it with mulch and enzymes and VOILA, you've given life back to the earth. We listened, asked questions, and quickly determined that any donations would be made to the Burger King down the road.
Call it pretentious, but after seeing the farm around us we could only speculate on where these donations are being put to use. In the end we both claimed to have a fantastic night of sleep, with no light pollution we got our first glimpse of southern hemisphere stars, we contributed to actual sustainable practices (by paying for our Air BnB, not the toilet thing), and met a very interesting human. I also forgot my pillow, which was less fun.

So there's that. Here is a mural of two giant birds

*This would not be the most homeless meal we would eat during our travels. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The super normal post setting up all the other posts to come

I casually mentioned my recent car purchase in my previous post. 
To stir your memory here is a casual picture of it in front of Mordor. 

I also casually mentioned how I managed to drive right past my travel companion, Adam,  at the airport. To sum up our first adventures in Wellington here are a bunch of visuals with satisfactorily descriptive captions: 
I forced him to stay awake and bond with family by watching a free Football (soccer) game. 
We explored the national museum with a creepy giant baby
Wellington was excessively windy
We narrowly escaped trolls 
We drank Cuban Coffee 
We discovered how out of shape we are after running up a hill to see this happen
(Video courtesy of Adam's iPhone)

We ingested exceptional fish and chips, partnered with exceptional sweet potato fries

We also snuck naps on bean bag chairs, had a miserable time finding parking, and discovered we could have driven to the top of the "mount" we almost perished running up. 
 Wellington could not be left out, as it was the foundation on which we built our adventuring. I promise my next post will entertain you far more- or at least make you uncomfortable. 

Friday, May 6, 2016


Hi there.

Sorry for the delay. In hindsight I realise I should have warned of my extended absence, but alas I shall bear the fruit of my transgression and soldier on.

What was I doing that was more important than writing to you folks about my mundane life? Well let me tell you, and perhaps you'll find it in your hearts to forgive. I was collecting stories.

After having lived in the hostel for a couple of months and slowly convincing a few people to call me their friend I was getting a bit antsy to see the island I've been sitting on top of. I spend a lot of time reassuring people my life isn't as exciting as my blog makes it look, and at the time it was true. Now, however, I can say the last month was just as exciting as I'm going to describe it to you. Actually it was far better, but my literary prowess is not cunning enough to transfer the precise emotions to your heart. Rest assured, I will use many CAPITAL LETTERS, exclamation points!!!, and italicised words to help you approach an accurate understanding.

Lets begin in France, the year was 1995. An assembly line of machines, powered by man's ingenuity and imagination, formed what can only be known as a piece of artwork. As if God Himself reached through the pearly gates and wrote in to history a machine so excellent He could only write it in to the mind of a frenchman. He gave us the 1995 Peugeot SRI.

Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you my chariot. 

Since the first week of April this car has allowed me to: 
1. Meet a lovely British couple
2. Almost (accidentally) abandon my friend Adam at the airport 
3. Travel back to my New Zealand roots to claim my cold weather clothing
4. See many a mountain, river, beach, hill, sheep, lake, and stranger
5. Take unbelievably cold, free showers and 6 minute, $2, hot showers
6. See places my camera cannot contain and my mind cannot understand

All of this and so much more. I will be writing as fast as inspiration takes me to bring you the stories from Adam's and my adventure that had me laughing until I ran out of air, standing dumbfounded before creation, and wondering what leg musculature Europeans have that I don't. 
So there you have it, I'M BACK.