Wednesday, March 31, 2010

and we're off!

Off to the Routeburn Track for a four-day backpacking trip. The forecast calls for rain. Heaps of rain. Wish us luck.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

same difference.

We're leaving Queenstown so very soon. Monday to be exact. Yesterday was my last day at the shop, and to be honest I'd started to feel mildly anxious for the next phase of this adventure. I was ready to wrap up my last days on the clock and start logging the traveling experience. To celebrate, a few of us made plands to imbibe after work last night. Leading up, I wasn't significantly in the mood to mark the occasion. I now believe this is because I'm terrible with Goodbye's and well, the drinking scene hasn't really appealed to me here.

I must say though, I sat with Brittney and Jeff tonight and I haven't laughed that hard in probably a year. I mean, laughing to where I actually noticed and heard myself - paused - and wondered if maybe I was keeping someone awake in the vicinity of our outdoor table. I truly have the most obnoxious sounding laugh when its triggered in response to something I deem hilarious.

Amid the laughter, I had one of those moments where you sort of elevate yourself above the scenario, and marvel in whatever it is that's happening. Marvel because you see, I am a creature of comfort. I love warmth, routine, lists and people of familiarity. I love my house and more over, I love owning my house and making small improvements only to make it feel even more mine. Hosting dinners or sitting with good friends for small, genuine and REAL experiences is one of my favorite parts of being alive. I say all this in an attempt to convey my original apprehension for our trip to New Zealand -a trip sure to knock familiarity clean in the face, and inevidably walk away from all the things I'd been building over the past few years. I remember thinking, This isn't me. I haven't even had a roommate for more than six years. In fact, I don't DO roommates anymore. Frankly, I'm too old. I often wondered if friends also thought to themselves, "Isn't she a little old for something like this? She's not in her twenties anymore." or "Isn't it time to grow up?"...maybe because I secretly wondered those things myself. But when I was mentally hovering over the table during drinks and obnoxious laughter with my newest friends, I started to realize something. Isn't it interesting how adaptable we humans are? In this experience alone, living on the other side of the world, Fall is Spring and Spring is Fall. We were living with flatmates who were our friends when we got here, but then we decided to move closer to town. So we looked through the ads at the grocery store and BOOM, two weeks later we were living somewhere else, with two other people we didn't know and directed to a closet full of linens open for use. Lets see, my things aren't here, namely my bed, my bike, a set of coveted pots and pans for cooking and my favorite coffee shop. However, you just sort of figure things out, find a job, make things happen and astonishingly life ends up being life, just in a different place. I guess I just found it so strange that one minute I couldn't imagine life without my classic comforts, easy friends and all that is familiar and the next I'm at the grocery store where bell peppers are actually called Capsicums and I'm heading home to make dinner with my new roommates. Capsicums? Really? Its sort of given me this reassurance that whatever happens in my life, I'm going to find a way to navigate through it. The human spirit really is resilient, and if you're open to experiences, things eventually settle into new routines and a place of comfort where you never thought possible.

So I sat there. I laughed my arse off with my new pals from the southern hemisphere. And when I hugged them goodbye I felt truly sad. An experience I hadn't really felt that invested in, suddenly felt like a high interest savings account that I forgot I'd signed up for many years ago. Interest had accrued all while I wasn't looking.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Feeling the pull.

As I sit here, lap top appropriately on the lap while Tyson sits next to me with a matching Mac resting on his thighs. We listen to "Horchata" and discuss our plans for traveling over the next month before returning to Seattle. Its an interesting feeling that swirls through my insides = Sadness that this experience here specifically in Queenstown is coming to a fast. Thrill as we plan and book our travels to come. Travel is exhilarating for me and I brim over with delight just thinking about rolling into new towns and meeting other travelers. And lastly, Eager. Seattle in spring is fantastic and daily I happen upon familiar feelings or memories of places I cannot wait to see again. The markets. My favorite coffee shops. BRUNCH. The condo with my very own bed and the cutest little deck for sipping wine in the sun. I'm even feeling myself being pulled back into the world I inhabited before jumping ship to New Zealand - specifically, lately I've started reading blogs I used to check daily in Seattle and websites about home design and cooking. I literally can feeeeeeel the puuuuull. And that's cool. I've had an amazing experience here, and Seattle is too an amazing place. Its not all bad to be saying Goodbye, but also saying Hello, again.

So without further adieu, I reveal a smidge of the exit strategy we've managed to cobble together in the wee moments we've spent together over the past couple weeks. Its loose! But its gonna be good:

We leave a week from today to set out on the Routeburn Track near Milford Sound. We'll be backpacking for four days and three nights. Some camping, and also one night in a hut near a lake. I am beside myself excited.

Then we'll spend our last two nights in Queenstown before hopping into our rental that will take us north along the west coast of the south island, across on the ferry from Picton to Wellington and finally through Taupo and Rotorua to Auckland. From Auckland we'll fly to Sydney, catch another flight up to Cairns and stay there a few days while we check out the Great Barrier Reef. Today, in fact, we booked a two-day, one night liveaboard experience where we'll have unlimited snorkeling and also the chance to do an introductory scuba dive on the reef. Wicked. Truly.

Then its off on another road trip in our rental from Cairns to Byron Bay and Brisbane hoping to spend as much time as possible soaking up sun and sand on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Usually, beach vacations though lovely, aren't at the top of my list. But I think this will be well worth it and I'm ecstatic. Girl needs a tan! Finally, we'll fly from Brisbane down to Sydney, stay a few days and then ship out. Destination: The northern hemisphere and more importantly, Seattle, WA. I'm even excited for the long flight and time to just read my book and watch movies.

I'm feeling the pull, and also trying to enjoy the ride. Its really an odd line to walk but as I said to Tyson today, I feel so lucky. I know I'll try and capture these thoughts and reflections more as the days wind down, but this is just the beginning of the end...of a new beginning. Back to Seattle, and a whole new perspective, a new project and HOPEFULLY, a new job. Cross your fingers on the latter as my bank account is currently pissed at me. It needs a deposit badly.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Favorite things.

When in Seattle, or any city for that matter, one of our favorite things to do is Go To Brunch. Absolutely love it. Excitement brims over. Anticipation for the coffee and what exactly I'm going to pick on the menu of endless yummy choices. We discuss this at length too usually on the five-block walk that it takes to reach lovely Coastal Kitchen or some other place that rules in terms of breakfast. Savory? Sweet? The conversation usually turns to something of What about if you get X, and I get Y...and then we can both have a little of everything? Deal.

Well that was today. Finally.

Tyson and I spend a fair amount of time together in random and not-so-normal ways like at midnight when he walks through the door and I'm sleeping but we manage to have a ten-minute whisper chat and some giggles. Or in the morning when I wake him up to say hello because I can't help myself, and he doesn't seem to mind being woken up anyway despite the fact he's probably come through the door around 1am or if he's not lucky, even later, from work. Or on a lot of days when I have the day off but he doesn't work until five PM so we spend some of the day together. But Today! Today was the day where our luck landed on a Saturday and neither of us were working. (insert robust choir pandemonium)

I went for a morning jog and then it was off to brunch. Bob's Weigh was our destination of choice, and choice it was. I ordered the pancakes with both maple syrup and some form of delicious berries, and Tyson ordered toast and eggs and bacon. Accompanying were two orders of the latte sort. One small, one GIANT.

We sat. We sipped. We ate and chuckled. Oh how I'd missed these moments of brunch with Tyson. And when the plates were licked clean we noted that going to brunch is one of our top five favorite things to do together. That and cooking together. Biking. And I'm sure some other stuff.

Anyway, Good morning, Saturday. You were lovely.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Acknowledging again that I haven't really been into blogging, I asked myself the other day Why. Somewhere in the corners of my mind I think I know why, but its something I'm not totally comfy discussing with the general company in my world, let alone the ten people who read this blog.

The truth is, I'm considering writing a book. I've been talking and talking about it here and thinking about it nearly every five minutes for the past two months. I bounce ideas off of Tyson constantly and for those who I've sheepishly decided to "pitch" my book idea to, I am grateful for their patience, thoughtful anecdotes and in general for their positive support.

In some way its almost as if writing here on this blog has now become scary and intimidating because I am coupling writing this book with just about any writing I do. And now I'm scared and freaked out.

But if I put this dream here, maybe that will motivate me to make this happen.

Alas, I need to get back on the horse. Strap on a saddle.

I think so.

I think this is the longest I haven't posted in three years. Yikes. For some odd reason, I just haven't felt it lately. I'm not really sure why and I hope it isn't a permanent feeling. At any rate, I have some things to write about so that's exciting. Stay tuned. Posts are coming.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

**Updated, finally.

I wanted to post some photos because I'm dying to put them up here. Our trip to Fiordland National park and Milford Sound was truly incredible. We hiked up to Gertrude's Saddle on Saturday and took a boat cruise in the sound on Sunday - camping in between with banana, strawberry and peanut butter crepes for breakfast courtesy of Tyson. I'll be back to write about it tonight!

***Wow, I can't believe I haven't written in a week. I'm not sure what's behind that, but the natural urge to write and storytell just hasn't been flowing. I haven't been feeling well, and we had a friend from CSBSJU come to New Zealand and happen to pop by for a visit the last few nights making for less time and motivation to get online. Alas, I am here. Writing. Feels good.

I've quickly realized that some of lack of inspiration I've had for New Zealand is because I haven't really seen much of it. Living and working in Queenstown has been relaxing and wonderful, but I wasn't really feeling like I was actually living and working in another country. Most of the people I meet and work with aren't even from here and I spend my days working at the shop, making dinner and then reading my book or relaxing which isn't too much different than life anywhere in America. ...and then we went to Milford Sound. It was on that trip that I realized how stunningly beautiful this place is and that living and working are very different from traveling and seeing this place.

We set out around 7am on Saturday morning and from the moment we rounded the bend out of Queenstown until we rounded that same bend coming home on Sunday night, we saw amazing beauty around every bend inbetween.

Here's one. Yep.

Oh look, here's another.

And when we happened upon this golden field it was need-based that we pull that car over and just run around for a bit and play.

Zoom in and find a Fraggle in there! Look at my hair!

On Saturday we'd made plans to hike up Gertrude Saddle - an area between the town of Te Anau and Milford Sound. I hadn't heard much about this hike and Tyson had received endless advice from co-workers to definitely make it happen. Here's the range where Gertrude's Saddle lives.

The hike started out hiking through this valley with 360 degree stunning views. We walked along a little dirt path for about an hour in this valley and I knew it wasn't going to last forever. Soon we'd have to start climbing.

And climb we did. This was one of the more difficult hikes I've ever done, but totally worth it.

Clearly, worth it. We reached the top and munched on some snacks while looking out to the Tasman sea and Milford Sound.

Saturday night we made our way to the Cascade Creek camp ground (sounds familiar doesn't it?) and these were our views as we cooked up some dinner and sipped a little red wine.

And I have to say, Tyson discovered this genius breakfast concoction = Peanut Butter with sliced strawberries and bananas in a tortilla heated over the flame of a backpacking stove. YUM.

Sunday we headed to Milford Sound with a hot coupon in-hand for a buy one, get one free boat cruise! The cruise wasn't that great but it allowed us to get out and see the sound and the fiords up-close. With every announcement from the boat captain, tourists flocked to one side of the boat or other snapping picture after picture of the same things. It was mildly hilarious, and mostly irritating as the woman who crammed to the guard rail next to me snapped her gum like a teenager with a whole can of bubble tape in her mouth. Ha! I nicknamed her "Chewy" and we chuckled our way through the whole cruise.

On land it was a tripod explosion with the celebration (finally) of Doreen's going away gift = the bendy tripod that attaches to all things on earth.

And finally, a sunset on our drive back to Queenstown. A lovely weekend indeed.

So we are starting to make our plans for leaving New Zealand and heading home to Seattle. I'm both gutted and so excited. I cannot wait to get out and travel and meet people and see new things! Its traveling that gets my blood moving and my soul stirring. But I'm also very sad to leave. In some ways I don't feel quite ready, like we just arrived here. And in other ways I feel so excited to get back to Seattle and see friends and sleep in my bed and grab a coffee down the block at my favorite Joe Bar. It will be bitter sweet most definitely.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Should I?

So, I'm trying to figure out if I need to participate in this "adventure capital" before I leave. I mean, I'll probably only come here once. And Queenstown IS the adventure captial. So I've been told. Originally I was all about skydiving. Definitely was gonna do that. Now I'm being pulled in the direction of paragliding or some other activity where you strap yourself to something that will make gravity slow the eff down and then run and jump off of a mountain and float to the ground.

So, I ask...What, if anything, should I sign up for?

Skydiving - where I also get to fly in a small plane and see some cool stuff from that vantage point. Expensive and a bit terrifying but really cool!
Paragliding - where you run and jump off a mountain. Less expensive and less scary (at least in my head) but still cool.

Just throwing this out there.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My parents rule.

I just want to say, My parents rule.

I got off the phone with them the other day and just giggled to myself at how funny and fun it was talking to them. When I talk to them on skype, its all speaker phone-ish and at one point during our chat my mom and I were howling with laughter and Tyson just couldn't contain himself he was laughing and saying, "You two..." With my mother, we cackle like two little birds chirping our heads off. The conversation is endless and goes on for hours on end about nothing and everything all at once. She's adorable and I so love her to death. Then my papa gets on the line, who's just the person to talk to about nearly everything in life: cars, houses, loans, jobs, decisions, trips, advice, people, hikes, national parks bla bla bla. He's darling and I've appreciated his gracious help with my Minneapolis condo fiascos over this year. That's my papa = always there to help no matter what.

Most people who know me, know that like most children, I haven't always been super close with my parents. Side note, this use of "super" has been noted to me by several Kiwis as "totally American" by the way. Super fun, Super delicious, Super cool...yeah. I guess I'm American. Anyway, its not that we weren't close for any particular reason, I think its simply been an evolution of our relationship and an acceptance, from both sides, for who we really are as people. So often parents have to be, well, parents...and I think the fog of how they wanted or had hoped things would turn out can get in the way. My parents have always supported me and have been there for me no matter what, but something about the support has shifted and changed in the last year. I don't really know if this is true or not - I haven't asked them - but it feels as though its less about supporting me because they are my parents and more about supporting me because they actually do support my choices, what I'm doing, who I'm dating and who I am! This should be a drinking game. Drink every time you read the word 'support'.

I also think my parents are thick in a stage of adorableness. They're heading off on adventures to Sweden and Norway and never ending cabin weekends with friends. They're looking forward to summer and zipping up north in their camper "Matilda", en route to score a primo spot nestled right up next to Lake Superior.

I guess I just miss them being so far away here in New Zealand. And my mom was so sweet, telling me she really thinks the decision to come here was so good for me. Its not often you hear parents proud to have their daughter quit everything and move across the world. I feel so lucky they're my parents. SUPER lucky. Looking forward to summer and some quality time with those two.

On another note, Tyson and I have rented a car and are road-tripping to Milford Sound this weekend and I'm giddy. We're leaving Queenstown early on Saturday and plan to hike in Fiordland National Park, camp that evening, and then Sunday we're taking a boat cruise on the Sound OR kayaking. I've stolen someone else's photos of what I hope ours will look like considering the weather is supposed to be great. My sweetie and I are on the road again.

And a map: