Year: 2015

Back to life, back to reality

The psychologically minded part of me says I’ve procrastinated on an ending for the this chapter of the blog because it would mean the trip is really over.  It’s been a marathon, it’s now marathon time and we are now home, sweet home.  The snow here has mainly melted, our batteries and our car batteries are recharged, and its time to sleep in the same bed, go to the grocery store and pay our taxes.    It is an amazing privilege to chase a dream and to catch it.  We have been amazed by the stature of Dubai, the warm welcome of the Thais, the peaceful coolness of Laos, the entirety of Cambodia which we saw, the elegance of Malaysian Airlines against all odds, the raw beauty of the Great Southern Ocean Road, the new Zealand sheep with their wool and their flocks, the volcanic beauty of Maui and many, many more sites, sounds and tastes. We will be looking for new dreams to chase.  We will be waiting to hear about yours, to inspire …

Do over?

It was our last day in New Zealand, and the main activity was getting to the airport and hopefully not having to check bags.  We’d opted for a nine hour flight to Hawaii, which meant we’d leave Auckland at 11 am, and arrive in Hawaii at about 10 pm the previous day.  Thanks to the international date line, we’d gain a day and hopefully not have jet lag. A do over day- I’d wished for those before. With time, I’m sure we’ll feel clearer about what parts of the trip we want to do over and what we’d like to do again.  Mainly I think we are both grateful for the opportunity to have done what we did.  And grateful that what we used least of our supplies was the medicine! Thanks for traveling with us.  I feel we should skip Hawaii blogs as you’ve seen that but the photographer may apply his skills.  Going from volcanic islands to volcanic islands was an oddly wonderful experience! Here’s to future skipping 🙂

Auckland

We’d decided to take Auckland by storm.  With hiking time and travel distances, our city stops got compressed.  If the NYTimes can do cities in 36 hours, we’d cut a few things and make it 24! Actually, it’s more of a scouting day – is this a city we could come back to? It is. We wasted some time at the Icebreaker clothing outlet, where I couldn’t convince T he’d earned new shirts with all the attention his 5 had received these last 3 months.  Onwards! We arrived at the War Museum, which just sounds wierd.  So to build on weird, they had a Maori cultural show so we finally saw the hakka dance in NZ properly. This group had a sense of humor to go with intimidating war moves, and there’s just something about sticking your tongue out that’s effective when you want to be off-putting.  T enjoyed the statue carvers more than the half dressed men. But most impressive was the simulated volcanic eruption! The museum had a room like a living room, …

California?

We woke up to sulfur and clouds, and sought comfort in WiFi and french crepes.  It worked; our mood and the clouds lifted! We set out for the Redwood forest by town to get some fresh air and re-acclimate  for our imminent return to the US.  Dwarfed by these impressive trees, we enjoyed looking for the birds which now had countless more hiding spots.  By lunchtime, it was cool to see how many people were using this park for a run, mountain bike or stroll. We set back on the road, landing in a smaller town just south of Auckland, our final stop.  We took in a local museum, but found no one out and about here.  The cricket semifinal of NZ versus South Africa was on, and locals weren’t budging.  With T’s help we found a video that made a bit more sense of the game for us, and were impressed by the eventual victory for NZ.  

Smellovision

Damn good! That’s what the release was, watching the gates open to flood the canyon.  Less compelling was the elbowing of fellow tourists trying to get a snapshot, but win some, lose some.   We headed into tourists central at Waitpo park in Rotorua.  Known for its geological formations, the park delivered with bubbling mud, colored sulfur pools and a geyser.  There were two costs: entry, and our sense of smell.  When we left, we were impressed by the novelty and relieved.  Then when we got to town, we realized Rotorua’s geological prowress is indeed extensive! At the restaurant and later at the hotel, we smelled sulfur.  The inn’s attendant mapped out 43 possible tour options in town, but instead we got Indian takeout (smelling delicious! & powerful) and hunkered down with movies.  Yes, the Ring.  When in Mordor… 

“They don’t like people”

We’d found another good AirBnB experience, also with animals! Karen owned a blueberry farm, and kept a duck, cat, goat, llama, lamb, sheep and a kuene kuene pig! What is that?  T’s favorite!    So after picking and eating some blueberries, we were going back to hiking.  It seems everyone does this 7 hour “must do” crossing hike, but hiking in crowds and cold weren’t exactly our thing.  At the BnB, this somehow got translated as “they don’t like people!” To prove we aren’t haters, we did start the trail at 10:30, as we’d been told most hikers start between 6-8 am on one side and get picked up between 6-8 hours later on the other side.  We weren’t alone on the way in, but ready with layers and water we enjoyed the views of lava rocks.  About two hours in, Mount Doom and its surrounding vistas were well swallowed by clouds, and I who had been pushing the trek began to doubt myself. When we ended up trailing someone who preferred her hiking experience …

Mount Doom

I cut short our Wellington time as the sun was shining at Mount Tongariro National Park, and we were due for a little more exercise.  True to form, I’d skimmed through some material whereas T had opened twenty tabs on his computer and done comparative analysis. “You realize that for the ‘must do hike’ it is likely to be freezing along part of the route, right?” I recollected something about cold and layers but freezing hadn’t registered.  Fate managed it that day for us, as even with an early departure, we arrived after noon which eliminated the “must do.” Instead, we set out for a lakes hike in between the mountains and the volcano – Mount Doom. If you are not a fan of Lord of the Rings, then you may call it Mount Ngauruhoe. Looking like nowhere we’d seen before, we watched it cloud and clear as we made our way up to two crater lakes.  T made it down faster thanks to sliding rocks, and though I moved slower than a turtle, I …