Sunday, January 23, 2011

Looking ahead

I’m home enjoying a three-day weekend thanks to Wellington Anniversary Day. And it’s nice we hadn’t planned any outdoor activities because it’s been windy and raining and rather dreadful outside all weekend long. But it’s given us a chance to catch up on some reading and work on some upcoming travel plans.

Jake and I decided a while ago that we’d be moving back to Kansas City, and we’ve recently booked our flights. We’re leaving on 2 April. During our transition, there is this incredible window of opportunity for a bit of traveling. And in this case, “a bit” is nine weeks! And we can’t say no to it. When else are we going to have this perfect combination of no rent, no jobs and no children? (Technically Jake will be on leave from his job in KC.)

We’ll share more details about the itinerary as it comes together, but basically we’ll be taking the long way back to the States via Asia and Europe.

In the meantime, we’re starting to think about all the details that we need to manage. (How much NZ wine are we allowed to ship to the States? How do we have a garage sale when we don’t have a garage or a yard of any kind? Do they let tourists into the weekly water buffalo auction in Borneo?) I’m a list-maker, and I’m having a great time drafting our checklists. But we’re also planning to make the most of this summer – our plans for next month include the Sevens Rugby and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. We’ll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Christchurch wedding & stroll on the beach

It's been a couple weeks ago now, but wanted to share some pics from our weekend trip down to Christchurch. Our friends Greg and Hannah got married on a gorgeous Friday afternoon, and we enjoyed a trip down to the little beach suburb of Sumner.

Christchurch is where a large earthquake struck back in September, and we still saw several damaged buildings in various states of reconstruction. They still receive occasional aftershocks but we didn't feel any.

Here are some examples of your typical Kiwi road signs.

And a view looking east into the ocean.

This trip ended, as all the good ones do, with a few too many leftover beers to fit in the suitcase.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Holiday adventures with Mom & Dad

Happy New Year! We're enjoying our third Southern summer, and we were lucky enough to get to share our warm holidays with my parents Carl and Deed during their recent visit. They arrived on Christmas Eve and we spent two weeks touring around Wellington and venturing farther out to see more of the country.

I could write a book on all the fun stuff we did and saw, but thought I'd just list the highlights.

Our Top 25 Memorable Experiences from Mom and Dad's Visit (in no particular order)

1. Climbing up to the lighthouse at Castlepoint on the windiest day I've ever experienced.

(See Dad and Jake below braving the gales.)

2. Kayaking in the Endeavour Inlet and walking part of the Queen Charlotte Track.
3. Riding the TransCoastal Railway from Picton to Kaikoura and watching the land and sea roll by from the open-air train car.

4. Hearing how Mom and Dad saw a whale in the ocean off the East Coast (Dad caught it on video).
5. Strolling through the beautiful botanic gardens in Wellington.
6. Mom and Dad tasting their first pavlova and green-lipped muscles at Ed and Heidi's barbecue. (Thanks guys!)

7. Singing Auld Lang Syne with the next door neighbors and their friends to ring in the New Year ... and realising I don't know any of the words. (Thanks to Phil and June!)
8. Looking for sea shells on the beaches.

9. Watching Mom frown and politely describe her first taste of Marmite as "satisfactory."

10. Bicycling between the vineyards in Martinborough and savouring the tasty wines there.

11. Feeling relieved when Mom was okay after her slow-motion bicycle accident (According to a source close to the scene: a member of the riding party directed her down a lone vineyard road then instructed her to abort, after which she "forsook the appointed mission and crumbled painfully to the ground.")
12. Perusing the vintage vehicles in the Southward Car Museum.

13. Pitching our tents and camping in beautiful Otaki Forks and finding some cool green rocks in the river there.

14. Antiquing in Greytown and stopping to admire every old tractor we came across.
15. Slapping at the ever present South Island sand flies.

16. Willing ourselves across a couple of very bendy and bouncy swing bridges.

17. Imagining the baby seals but not actually seeing any on the deceptively named "Baby Seals and Waterfall Walk."
18. Having a Kiwi sighting one evening outside our motel -- an impressive experiences as it is an elusive and rare nocturnal bird. See indisputable photographic evidence below. Or it may have been a hedgehog.

19. Appreciating the native bird songs, including that of the mischievous Lu Cup-Heer Robin.
20 Enjoying the harbour views from our deck at home and promising Dad I'll have breakfast out there every day from now on.

Thanks to my wonderful parents for making the long trip out here and visiting us! It's been heaps of fun, and it's also reminded us how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful and friendly place.

See a few more photos from our holiday adventures with Mom and Dad in this slideshow: