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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 🙂

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.  

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 …

Shaken

We’d slept in Christchurch upon arrival in NZ, arriving at midnight and leaving with the campervan the next morning.  Now back and saying goodbye to the van, we were happy pedestrians.  We both recalled hearing about the Christchurch earthquakes, but seeing the city changed that memory.  Construction cranes marked corners, sidewalks were being remade, and a centerpiece downtown was a container with video displays of rebuilding plans.  The first earthquake hit in 2010 and then a second round came in 2011.  185 died, nearly 2000 were injured and in the downtown and surrounding area many of the buildings that did not fall had to be brought down due to structural issues.  Slowly, methodically, urban planners seem to be making lemonade by building a new city of dreams.  Stadium plans, convention center, green spaces all look promising, but perhaps tough on the impatient. We saw a famous debated Anglican cathedral which is a central point in the debate.  Some say it is too damaged, and must be torn down.  Some disagree, saying large parts of the …

“God bless a woman who gives birth to a brewer.”

A cool blast of air hit us on arrival at Adelaide, Australia.  The temperature was perfect, our skin tone blended in and our room was ready for an early check in. G’day indeed! In a bizarre shift, we were now 3.5 hours ahead. How they came up with the extra half will provide you with some good google searching! We’ve eh been too busy to figure that one out. With a nap and shower, we were off to the brewery tour. Coopers is apparently a home town treasure with a broad reach, as reflected in the 10 other Aussies, 1 Kiwi, and 2 Brits on the tour. I had ample opportunity to study the accents, but if only I could come up with the quick quips our guide had! “The beer is best after – that’s normally 10 days because it needs to be conditioned. So today’s February 24, it’s best after February 34.” In discussion of medicinal stout and pregnancy, one commented that maybe drinking stout lead to pregnancy. Our guide, “I prefer to …

Keluar

The end of our Asia time arrived, and one could say it was perfectly times as we were ready to say goodbye to the heat.  I only spent a few dozen hours second guessing the Malaysia over Vietnam choice, and then it was time to move on.  An engineer turned cab driver made our departure more interesting, educating us on the previous mandatory retirement at 55, the growth of electronics business in Penang and now competition from cheaper neighbors, and the country’s various quota systems. But the sweetest part of the exit was the upgrade.  Malaysia Airlines lets you bid on an upgrade, and my savvy partner in crime secured it with the lowest bid!  The legroom and extra wine may have spoiled is for future travels!  Yes, a success with Malaysian Airlines- fear not.