Monday, October 25, 2010

Eastern Walkway: still no penguins

We went for a beautiful walk today along the Eastern Walkway with friends Mike and Kate.

The weather was perfect for our little trek even though I think the newspaper missed the mark when it promised us 10 days of sunshine starting last Friday. It's been three days of clouds so far, but the temps are great so I'm not complaining.

The Eastern Walkway is one of my favourite walks here in Wellington because you get to travel high and low through so many environments, including forest, bush and beach (even sometimes nude beach).

We walked this track not long after we arrived in New Zealand, and I remember huffing and puffing much of the way. No more - this seems like such an easy walk after some of the ones we've done since then.

Still haven't seen any penguins though even though there are a few traffic signs here warning drivers about a penguin crossing.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Koalas, giant birds and a red raccoon

It's been quite a while since we've been to any zoo, and we were delighted with Melbourne's version. Although we were walking slowly and had to take lots of breaks after logging so many miles the day before, we got around to see nearly all the animals that day.

One of my favourites was the butterfly house.

Jake is a big bird fan, and he was trying to sneak up behind this one. It was a little startling to see him heading my way, so I snapped this pic and gave him a bit more room.

You can't visit Australia without seeing strange new animals like whatever that is above and your typical crowd favourites like the koala below. Koalas spend something like 23 hours a day sleeping because they don't get many nutrients from the eucalyptus leaves, so this was a rare glimpse at one in action.

We were quite surprised to find this raccoon look-alike (below) in an enclosure with a sign labeled "red panda."

The cutest of all was this sweet little baby elephant.


Monday, October 18, 2010

More pics from Melbourne

It's hard to get a good feel for a place when you're only there for a quick few days, but we had a good time trying to see as much of Melbourne as we could. In just the downtown area there are lots of interesting buildings, parks, art and architecture. The sun was shining, the streets were full of people, and buses and trams were going every which way.

I don't know if central Melbourne is normally a huge wedding destination, but we saw no less than eight separate wedding parties around town throughout the weekend. They were taking photos in the park, in front of old buildings, and set against the city's skyline.

They were so prevalent in fact that Jake and I accidently ran right through a photo shoot the evening before our race. I'm pretty sure Jake became an extra (albeit underdressed) groomsman in one of their shots.

I didn't snap any weddings, but did take a few shots of the city on that jog - partly to test the motion control on the new camera.

Melbourne has descent public transportation and a pretty cool bike-share program. I think it's something like $2 to borrow one for an hour.

For our first couple of nights, we stayed at a downtown hotel within walking distance to the race. For our last night we checked into the Nunnery, a nice little backpacker lodge/guesthouse to save a bit of cash. This is located next door to a church and actually used to house nuns, but has been converted into a cool little accommodation.

Like Wellington, Melbourne has a strong cafe culture, and we enjoyed a few treats - you know, to replenish a few of those calories we'd burned.

But I think our favourite indulgence was the amazing Italian food we had three nights in a row.

I'll post the third and final installment of our Melbourne photos in a separate blog. If you like baby elephants and other cute zoo critters as much as I do, you won't want to miss it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our running tour of Melbourne

Ever find yourself in a new city but don't have the time or money for the full tourist experience? This happened to us last weekend during our first-ever trip to Melbourne, Australia.

Our solution: take a 13- or 26-mile running tour of the city. This approach involves careful planning including an entrance fee, 12+ weeks of training and thousands of sweaty strangers doing it with you, but you sure get to see a lot of the city.

So Jake spent 10.10.2010 running the Melbourne Marathon while I ran the half. They were both mostly flat courses that wound through the city and finished in the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.

He started an hour before I did and even though we were mixed in with 13,000 other runners, we finished only seconds apart and celebrated together immediately after with plenty of water and a nice comfy sit-down in the stands.

What an amazing way to experience a new city! And congrats to my husband on his eighth marathon. We enjoyed the sites and sounds of Melbourne for another couple of days after the race, although we were a tad slower and limping a bit. We'll share some more photos and stories in our next blog post.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The good, the bad, and the ugly

At the risk of messing up all of my wife's blogs, I am back and I have a lot to say.

I wanted to start with an overview of the differences between the accounting standards in the United States and in New Zealand. Just kidding. Now that I've effectively lost 95% of our traditional blog audience, please allow me to get back to the task at hand.

I've got a couple of good updates to share. First, Jamie and I have completed our training and are looking forward to our marathon/half-marathon in Melbourne this coming weekend (more to come on this). Second, with work going well for us both and slightly less busy weekend schedules lately, we have been working our way through a full library of travel books. It is so much fun to think about all of the cool places that we might visit in the future.

Finally, I got as close to the Webb Ellis Cup as any yankee has so far. (Jamie please insert the picture here):

For those of a lower rugby intellegence level, this is pretty hot stuff. This is the actual Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted in NZ next year. Picture a world cup (soccer) type event (every four years), but instead of faking that they are injuried the players smash into each other as though their collar bones are made of steel (Jamie please insert the link for reference).

This blogging is wearing me out, so I'll revert to a bulleted list for the Bad (note: family and friend stuff - aka missing you - is implied), as follows:
  • not eating the smoked ribs at the American Royal (often immitated - not yet duplicated)
  • not drinking beer at the 4th Annual KC Beer Festival (have 17 for me)
  • not getting to watch my undefeated Cats live against Huskers in Manhappiness (go State!)
Ugly - The idea of again paying for health insurance and Jayhawks.

Until my next attempt...if there is one...