Monday, September 7, 2009
I have spent a fun and relazing three + months at home in Petersburg with my parents. I worked for the Forest Service primarly doing stand exams, for a timber sales prep crew. We also did a bit of wildlife and fisheries data collection. I had a great time with my crew and the other seasonal workers, as welll as spending time with my high school friends home again for the summer. We had a lot of fun weekend adventures, from camping up crystal mountain the weekend of the 4th of July to boating over to Cascade Creek cabin in Thomas Bay.
Now I'm preparing to leave and ferry/drive down to Las Vegas, where I am going to serve for a year as an Americorps member for the Nevada Conservation Corps. I am a little scared to being in the big city and desert so far from home, but it is a beautiful part of the country (from the photos, I've never been to Nevada). I don't know much about the details of the job but we will be working either 4 10s or 8 10s, with 3-6 days off at a time. We will be doing conservation and restiration work, including trail work, all around the state of Nevada. The organization I am working for is the Great Basin Institute, and they have hired 50 volunteers to serve on 5 10 person crews. Work starts the 28th of September, with a week of camping for orientation and trail building 101.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
After a brief stop in Auckland for a couple hours, I bussed to Tauranga. Hitching out of cities is difficult, and I don't like hitching in the later afternoon/evening in the dark. Winter has arrived here in the southern hemisphere, and the sun sets around 5:30pm. Anyway, I got into Tauranga in the evening, where Dee's mom picked me up. Nadine (Dee) is Susie's friend from Christchurch I have been staying with, and when my parents were in NZ two years ago they stayed with her family for a time, as well as Susie spending a month holiday with them. Therefore, I was the last in the family to visit, and it was something I didn't want to leave the country without doing. I spent two nights there and it was great to be with a family. Elsie, her mom, did my laundry and sent me away with a packed lunch :-) I felt well taken care of! The day I spent there I went to The Mount, a popular summer holiday destination with surfing beaches. I climbed Mt. Maunganui (only 250m) and soaked at the salt water thermal pools at the base afterwards.
Then next day I got an early start on a bus to Rotorua, a very touristy destination with thermal springs being the major attraction. I decided I needed some exercise, and wanted to take advantage of the hundreds of kilometers of mountain bike trails through native forest. I wanted to take advantage of the time I had the bike (5hrs), and that I did. Mountain biking can be quite extreme on single tracks, and without much experience it can be quite tricky, especially with mud and slippery surfaces after rain. I had the mountain to myself and only saw one other rider the whole time. I had a great time, but boy was I sore 30km later.... But I loved it! I only took one tumble over the handle bars, and have a colorful bruise on my leg to prove it :-P
After one night in Rotorua, two girls from my hostel with a van dropped me off two hours south, in a small town, Tarangi. I spent two nights at a great little backpackers there, where I had a double bed to myself in a share room! I decided to go rafting with German, Canadian, and Australian girls, and the four of us enjoyed the cold river and impressive scenery. I was a little disappointed by the class 3 rapids, it seamed quite mellow and un-extreme, but then again everything after ob feels that way to me. Neverless, it was a fun day, and the 4 hr half-day trip included a soak in the thermal pools and hot tomato soup afterwards.
Yesterday I decided to have one final hurrah of hitchhiking, the 322 km journey south from Taurangi to Wellington. Again, I couldn't believe my luck when not more than 5 minutes after holding my thumb up, a woman stopped who was going all the way to Wellington. She said she normally doesn't pick up hitchhikers, but I looked nice so on a whim she stopped. I get that response frequently, by the way. After starting on our way, she apologized for needing to make two stops, one at a cafe to get a late, and another at the icebreaker outlet store. I laughed and agreed to the stops, which were right up my alley. Icebreaker is the NZ brand that sells marino wool products, similar to smartwool. The products are so good, but expensive. I had a fun little shopping spree, and was very happy with my purchases. Sue then dropped me at Dane's door (ob watchmate again) where I was planning on staying for two nights, and insisted on giving me her cell number in case I needed anything while I was in Welly. She also offered up her spare room should my friend's flat not work out.
I have been amazed by all the kind people I have meet while traveling, both Kiwis and other travelers alike. I have made so many friends and connections here in NZ, it will be very sad to say goodbye for good and go back to the other side of the globe. It is such an easy country to travel around alone, and relatively safe too. It was such a good choice for my first true longer solo travel experience. I can't believe I have just 3 days left here... I know I will be back for sure someday, more likely sooner than later. I have a long list of things I still want to do in the country. The list is probably longer than my original list... but so it goes.
Stay tuned as my journey continues... It's not over yet! Tomorrow I am going to the national museum, Te Papa, and viewing the Monet exhibit currently on display. I fly back to Christchurch tomorrow evening (Monday 11 May), and back to see Anne in Sydney again May 13-23. Following my 1o days in Aussie, I return to Oregon for my graduation for a week, and finally June 1st I fly home with my fam to PSG.
It has come to my attention (thanks Gillian!) that some of my terminology is a bit confusing, so I thought I would do a brief Kiwi lingo guide for you.
kiwi- new zealand resident
kiwi fruit- the real thing, the eatable fruit. don't forget the 'fruit' part.
tramping- backpacking in america
backpacking- traveling around with a backpack, normally staying in 'backpackers'
yankees- what kiwis call Americans
zed- how you pronounce 'Z'
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Here area few pictures from Baylys Beach, one of the two places I spent a week at recently WWOOFing in Northland.
The first week I stayed at a remote backpackers outside Kerikeri, The Welcome Swallow, and did 4 hrs of housekeeping a day to earn my room and board. It was a beautiful little piece of bush, but quite far from anything. I had a fun adventure when I went exploring one day with a British couple staying at the backpackers. We went on a nice scenic coastal drive, and then headed to a thermal springs 45 min south. After a lovely soak at the local establishment, it was dark for our drive back. Not 10 min into the drive, the couple's van stopped, due to electrical problems. Luckily were were close to a driveway, so I knocked on the door and asked for assistance. The kind family helped us push the van into their driveway, and then proceeded to invite us in for dinner and offered us their two spare bedrooms for the night. We had a great night there, chatting and listening to music. The next morning we brought the van into a shop and the problem was fixed and we continued on our way back to the backpackers.
After a week at the backpackers, I hitched down to Dargaville, the cumera (sweet potato) capitol of NZ. I met Trish, my next host, and her work, and she took me to her home 12km away in Baylys Beach, as small coastal community of a couple hundred residents. Trish didn't have much work for me at her home, and I felt a little bad about that, but I had a great stay. She had a lot of family close by, and I got to meet the grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. I went netting for fish in the ocean with the family, as well as watched a 'hunt' the cousins were in, which is some type of British sport where hounds are released and chase hares on a farm, and participants ride horses to follow and watch the hounds... Baylys Beach is known for its 100km long drivable sand beach (see the photos above). I drove the beach numerous times, well I was a passenger driving along the shores at low tide. It was quite a stunning beach, another amazing little place in NZ.
Lunch in a tree with 14 was quite a project... lettuce and bread kept dropping down. Luckily I was the highest so I dropped things but nothing fell on me :-)
The whole gang tramping at sunset. Like I said, we made the most of daylight hours...
Aw, what a pretty sunrise.
We made it to the top! Yea!
I just got my CD of OB pictures that one of my watchmates put together, there are over 1000 picts total, and a few slide shows to music that are great! here are a few of my favorite ones, but there are so many to choose from!
Remember if you click on the small image the picture will enlarge.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
5 Skydiving pictures from WANAKA!
Skytower in Auckland
The OB gang out to eat in Auckland
Rochelle and Jason (OB mates) at the giant Kiwi fruit by Mukatu
Mountains of the central n island during my bus journey north
Sorry it has been so long! I can't write much now but I will add more later, and its about time I add something. Last I left you was in Wanaka I believe, right before I went skydiving there! Then I bussed north to Christchurch, where I spent one night before flying to the north island. I was able to meet up with 6 other of my outward bound watchmates in auckland for the weekend, and we had great fun hanging out and spending time together. I felt like I was meeting old frineds, and it was great to visit some of their homes and stay with three of their families for a night or two.
For the last week and a half I have been north of Auckland in Northland WWOOFing with two different hosts, one outside of Kerikeri and the other in Baileys Beach. It has been fun staying in one spot for awhile.
Sorry I have to run, but I will share more + pictures later!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
pretty souther beach in the catlins. i was hitching this day and the woman, who lived in the area, insisted she stop the car for me to get this touristy shot.
in the catlins at a long sandy beach with sea lions laying around. this is a random family i took a pic of but i kinda liked it :-)
hitching along the southern scenic route.
what a pretty morning in queenstown.
Hope you had a happy Easter!
Its been nearly two weeks since I last wrote, and I have spent that time hitching around the southern end of the south island. After Wanaka, I hitched over to Queenstown. It was a bit much for me really, very touristy with lots of attempts to get one to spend lots of money. But I had to stick around for awhile while I saw the doctor, waited over the weekend b/c the x-ray machine was down, and waited again for the doctor to review my case. Finally I got a positive outlook, after the initial threat of a cast and going home. The final conclusion was that I do indeed have a stress fracture of my fibula, but b/c it isn’t a major weight bearing bone I can be allowed to continue traveling, with NO running or tramping for the time being. I will see another doctor in a couple of weeks to check on how the healing is going…
I was happy to get out of Queenstown, and I happened to leave on my birthday, April 9th. I hitched a ride down to Te Anau, and ended up staying with three nice Canadians for the whole day, driving on to Milford Sounds and doing a 2 hour cruise there. It was a beautiful day, and the drive and cruise was gorgeous. I don’t know how many times that day I said ‘This reminds me of home…’ because there was fresh snow on the mountains and we were on the water. After Te Anau, I decided I had enough time to hitch the entire 440km Southern Scenic Route, which travels along fjordland down to Invercargill, and then up to Dunedin via the Catlins. I had a great time seeing the sights and meetings some great people! You get to meet so many people hitching, and I never felt unsafe. One kiwi couple bought me lunch at a café in the Catlins one day, and they sent me on my way again with a muffin and chocolate chip cookie J I was picked up by a mix of people though, from the Check Rebublic, Malaysia, Australia, NZ, … mostly families or couples.
After a night in Dunedin, a big college town on the eastern coast, I took a bus today back to Queenstown, picked up my tramping gear I had stored, and hitched over to Arrowtown, about 20km outside of the city. It is a very nice little place where I am now, the fall colors are in full form. I did a lovely 2 hour walk once I got here before dark, it was the first hike I have done in nearly two weeks, and it felt great to get out! I was in the best shape of my life three weeks ago… and its surprising how quickly that can change! But my leg didn’t hurt much during the walk. Comparing it to how it felt three weeks ago I do think it has improved, slowly but surely, and hopefully another three-five weeks of relative rest will do the trick!
Tomorrow I am headed back to Wanaka, my favorite place, for one last night, before bussing it back to Christchurch and flying to the North Island for a weekend reunion in Auckland with a handful of my Outward Bound watchmates!