Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer at home and now off to Nevada

It's been months since I have written, and while 'Angela's Adventures' was meant to be a blog of my NZ and OZ adventures last spring, why not continue it? So I will continue to blog and share my life adventures.

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.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aussie x 2 and home to Oregon

I have been back in Oregon for four days now, and boy was it nice to get back to summertime! It's been in the 70's + here since I got back and the sun has been shining. Its a nice change from winter in the southern hemisphere. 

I spent my last 10 days down under in Aussie (May 13-23), with Anne again in Sydney and NSW. I was feeling ready to go home and starting to count down the days, but neverless I had an enjoyable and very active time. My stress fracture was finally not giving me problems walking, and so walking we went! During the visit, we logged at least 100km (about 70 miles), backpacking and hiking. The weather was great for it, nice and cool (for OZ) in the 60's and 70's. NZ had been in the 30's and 40's, so it was enjoyable. We went on a 3-day bushwalking trip to the Blue Mts., and joined 3 students from Anne's UNSW Outdoors Club for two of the days. It was great to be with some locals that knew the trails and viewpoints. We also did one 30km day (18 miles) on the costal track, which had some beautiful cliff and beach views. 

After my 10 days in Sydney, I had a long 50+ journey back to good old USA, with one night back in NZ. Now I am getting ready for my graduation from Linfield this Sunday, May 31. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Road to Wellington

After WWOOFing for two weeks in Northland, I was ready to be on the move again and I was craving new adventures and travel. I am not sure how I am going to handle being home for three months at once after my journeys! I left Baylys Beach and Trish behind, and decided to hitch the 180km from Dargaville to Auckland. My hitchhiking luck persisted, and I got picked up by a German 24-M traveler, in the second car that passed me. He happened to be going all the way to Auckland, and was able to drop me at Tori's (mate from OB) house so I could get my camera I accidentally left there two weeks before. One of the benefits to hitching is that often the driver offers to drop me wherever I need to be in the town or city, so I get front door service to backpackers or friends. You can't pay a bus to do that!

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.
aussie- australia
tramping- backpacking in america
backpacking- traveling around with a backpack, normally staying in 'backpackers'
backpacker- hostel
togs- swimwear
yankees- what kiwis call Americans
mate- friend
tea- dinner
scroggin- trailmix
zed- how you pronounce 'Z'
pudding- dessert

Saturday, May 9, 2009

WWOOFing in Northland

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.


Sailing in action. Here was the easy part, just letting the wind do its job. As long as there was wind of course...

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

Journey north


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

Hey all,

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

The Deep South Journey

a pretty stormy day on lake wanaka. i took this photo from the city center right along the lake.
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 cafĂ© 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!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Hello all my friends and fam! This week I headed south on the south island, attempting to see it before we get too far into fall and the weather turns colder. I had a $1 naked bus ticket from Christchurch to Wanaka last Thursday, and I haven't moved far since!

Wanaka was an amazing town, it is outdoorsey and has heaps of tramping and trails, but isn't as action packed and busy as Queenstown, just 100 km away, the 'adventure capital of the world', where bunjey jumping and extreme sports are common. I loved the relaxed feel of Wanaka, and its on the shore of Lake Wanaka, one of the largest lakes in the country. This time of year the water is a wee bit chilly, but it didn't stop me from a few swims in the mornings, it sure was a good way to wake up! I stayed at a neat backpackers called Wanaka Bakpaka, with a cozy living space and great big windows with views of the lake. I intended to stay two nights, but added a third and then a fourth!

The second day I was in Wanaka, I ran into Tal and Galil from Israel, who I had met previously in Australia. It was a random chance meeting, but I was so excited to see them they seamed like old friends! As I was traveling alone for a few days, seeing a farmilar face was great... The next day I tagged along with them to do the 4 hr Rob Roy Track, up to Rob Roy glacier. My leg was of course bugging me, but it was a good test to prove I could do it, and once I got hiking the sharp pains weren't as frequent. The next day I rented a bike and biked some lovely lakeside tracks, as well as took a walk and read beside the lake for some time. In the afternoon I went to the local cinema with Tal and Galil, and saw Marley and Me. It was a great family film about a dog, and I would highly reccomend it! The cinema was unique with all couches and odd seats, and searved warm chocolate chip cookies at the intermission :-)

I registered for WWOOF NZ (willing workers on organic farms) earlier in the week, and had contacted a few hosts around Wanaka inquiring about working for the week. The organization is worldwide and is quite popular in NZ, in which travelers work, normally 4 hours per day, in exchange for accomodation and food. Anway, I recieved an e-mail from a woman in Makaroa, 65km from Wanaka on the other side of Lake Wanaka, that afternoon, saying she was coming into town and if I still wanted to stay with her she could pick me up that afternoon. I decided to jump on the oppertunity, I hadn't booked anything yet and loved the Wanaka area. So Heather picked me up Sunday night, and I have been in Makaroa for the week. It is a beautiful little valley, with around 100 residents, and so lovely! The home I am staying in is surrounded by bush, and it is so great to have my own room and big bed to sleep in! Heather has been an amazing host, she lives alone but her kids spend the weekends here, and she has traveled a lot herself so it has been great to chat with her. I did some weeding, pulling ragwoods from her fields and weeding her organic veggie garden, as well as cleaning the cottage, a small B&B rented out, and household chores. I feel like I am getting the better end of the deal, but she said the same today!

Heather works at the local DOC, and reccomended a hut to me. I spent last night (Wednesday) at Brewster Hut, which was absolutly amazing. It was a good haul up there, gaining 1000 m in elevation in just 2.5 k. The hut is well above the bushline, with gorgous views of Brewster glacier, an amazing sunset over the mountains of the West Coast, and so many stars at night! It was very worthwhile to go there, I got to the hut at noon, and spent the day reclining on the deck soaking in the sun. There were just two other people there for the night, and I decided to sleep out on the porch. It turned out to be a chilly night, and at 2am I went inside, but it was well below freezing. When I woke up everything was frosty and my drinking bottle, left outside, was frozen. My leg held up, although I felt many sharp pains. I have a doctor's appt. tomorrow in Queenstown and I will keep you posted on the status of what I think is a stress fracture...

I took many great photos this week, but unfortunatly I left my camera cord in Christchurch, so it will be two more weeks before I can add them. But I 'borrowed' a few from the internet for the meantime. Stay tuned :-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Here are a few more sailing pictures from ob i got off facebook... :-)
1. This is us rowing away when we didn't have any wind. But it was rainy and a bit cold so we all had on our wet weather gear- yellow jackets. You can pick me out, on the left second from the bottom, with my striped blue/grey wool hat on. That hat has gone a lot of places with me (and been well used as well)... in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Ecuador, Australia, NZ....
2. Rowing again. Early in the morning on our way back to Anakiwa, before we caught the winds that pushed us all the way back. The two dolphins loved us, and followed us for nearly an hour. A tourist boat- Dolphin Encounters- tried to come close to us and attract the dolphins away but they stayed with us...
3. Here we are rowing at sunset, and it was flat calm and peaceful this night, which we later slept aboard the cutter. The instructors on the Kurt Hann took this photo for us :-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Outward Bound NZ style

How do I sum up the last three weeks at outward bound? It was defiantly not what I expected, that’s for sure! It was more intense that I could have imagined- less sleep and longer days that I have ever had in my life, and no time to myself. It was great to really challenge myself though, both physically and to live/work/breath as a group. Every minute of every day brought new tasks, activities, and challenges. From 6am to well past 11pm most days there wasn’t a second to sit and think, everything was shared.

The course was from March 1-21, and we were picked up and dropped off in Picton, a town the size of Petersburg on in the north end of the South Island, the main port where Interislander ferries run to Wellington, on the North Island. There were heaps of students starting courses at the same time, and we all took a boat to Anakiwa, where the OB NZ’s base is. Anakiwa is a small town at one end of the Queen Charlotte Track, one of the famous great walks of NZ. We were welcomed to the OB school, and sorted into watches of 14 students, with two instructors per watch.

During the course, we spent a night or two in our watchhouse (mine being Hillary), which was a nice cabin/house with bunks, bathrooms, and electricity. Then we went away from school on schemes, which include a two day tramping scheme-map and compass, two days of river kayaking, two days of service, three days on sea scheme sailing on a cutter, three nights on solo, and three days tramping again. When we were at camp, we also spent some time rock climbing and on a high ropes course, among other activities. Every morning at camp we work up at 6am for PT, or physical training, at 6:20am. PT consisted of 20 min of an aerobic type warm-up and sets of push-ups, sit-ups, dips, and squats, and a 3.2 km race for time, followed by running right into the sea and back out into a cold shower.

The sailing scheme was possibly my favorite, since it was something I had never done before. We had some long, late, dark nights, one night sleeping on the boat, and another with cutter watch all night. Here is what I wrote in my journal to give you an idea:

“I never imagined sea scheme would be so much work/so exhausting! The lack of sleep (two nights in a row of 4-5 hrs) was difficult, as well as a shortage of snacks. We hope and prayed for wind, and boy did we get it that first night. Getting into the bay, in the dusk/dark, there were gusts up to 39 knots, and sailing with full sails proved a bit dangerous. The girls were all screaming (me too), as we pitched and rolled on the tacks. Finally, after a disagreement with Rich, who was the current captain, we rowed hard and strong, but went nowhere, if not backwards for around a half hour. After a slight argument, we pulled up the reg flag in defeat and got towed into the bay by the instructors. But the night was young, and many tasks remained b/f bed, such as our five attemps to place the anchor right and get to shore, swimming back after the cutter had been anchored in place, dinner, and an all-night rotation on cutter-watch.” The second day at sea, we sailed (well rowed mostly, the wind was low) to ship cove, where Captain Cook first set food in NZ. More adventures followed... The final day we had wind at our back and sailed effortlessly back into Anakiwa, where solo begun.

Here is an exert from my journal during our three night/two day solo: “When I first woke up, before I opened my eyes, I heard the loud hum of wasps and I wasn't sure what to think! After I realized they were not out to get me I relaxed a bit, and took in my platform and surroundings. I can see the water through the trees :-) so I got a room with a view. I slept pretty good but it took me awhile to fall asleep, and I woke up to a possum and other night sounds a few times. Luckily for me it didn't rain in the night, b/c I decided not to set up my tarp when we were dropped off in the dark last night... I feel completely in my comfort zone here, super content to sit here and relax, write, sleep, and think. I slept a good portion of the day today, and still could sleep more. It is weird not to know the time of day, but it doesn't matter... OB is such as special place, I am so glad I made the decision to do a course here in NZ...”

It was great to really get to know the kiwis- I initially thought the culture here wasn't that different than my own, but living, breathing, and thinking together, I discovered many differences. I frequently found myself asking what a word meant, and added greatly to my NZ vocabulary ( i.e. togs = swimwear, scroggin = trail mix, heaps, wee, …). We had a great group of 13- and now I have 12 people I can visit around the country in the next two months :-).

The last four days were possibly the hardest of all, with a 3 day tramping trip, following the golden rules and making the most of daylight hours. We walked for 12+ hours each day, ready to set out each day with camp packed up before the sun was up, and struggling to see for the last yards along the ridges at night. The tramp was all off-trail navigation with maps and compasses- something I enjoy, and I can proudly say with my help and knowledge we didn't get lost once, we were spot on the entire time with navigation. We got to the pick up-spot the last night at 9pm, and weren't back in Anakiwa until 10:30pm, where we had unpacking and dinner awaiting. Everyone was completely exhausted and in pain, limping and hobbling around with sore feet. But if that wasn't enough, we were told we must wake up at 5am for pre-marathon breakfast duty, followed by the 22km half marathon+ along hilly terrain. I did enjoy the marathon, 10km were on a road, and then 12km were along the Queen Charlotte Track back to finish at Anakiwa. If it wern't for Jase, one of my watchmates, running right in front of me, I would have been tempted to walk or at least jog, but no, we ran the entire way. I just watched the feet in front of me and plotted on, and reached the jetty and finish line at 2 hours 1 min.

After my course finished, I spent 2 relaxing nights in Picton in a hostel, and returned to Christchurch and Nadine's house for two nights. I used my $1 naked bus ticket to Wanaka yesterday. It was a long 7 hours, but a good deal :-) It is raining in Wanaka now, and my leg is sore when I put pressure on it, so I am relaxing, reading, and hanging out for a few days before I decide what to do next... Oh my leg. So the outer side of my shin/calf had a really sensitive sport with sharp pain after the half marathon, so I thought I would go to physio in Chch to check it out. The therapist told me it may be a stress fracture of my fibula, and it might take 6 weeks to heal while I “rest”. I am hoping she was wrong.. that would be a long time and I want to go tramping! But I will just wait and see.

Hope everyone is enjoying springtime in the states, fall has sure arrived here! I will post many more pictures later once we exchange them, there are some great ones I want to share! Luv ya all :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NZ Independent Travel

I can’t believe I have already been travelling for nearly a month! Time sure goes by quickly… I am back in Christchurch, and leaving on a bus later today to arrive in Picton, where my 3 week Outward Bound course starts on March 1st. I am super excited for the course, which involves many outdoor activities, running on the beach and swimming in the ocean each morning, and getting to know the 12 other watchmates in my group, which will all probably be NZlanders.

After leaving Hokitika and the west coast of NZ, I got a ride to Arthur’s Pass village, in the mountains of the pass, where I spent three nights. There was a lot of rain the first few days and rivers were high, so I did some great day hikes alone, read two books, and hung out at the hostel. My second full day there I summated Avalanche Peak, which was a great hike with 1100 m elevation gain up into the alpine region, and included much rock scrambling. I talked a German guy into hitchhiking with me back to Christchurch, and it was great! I felt safe doing it with someone else, and it was so easy to get rides, we were standing there 2 min max! Based on Susie’s suggestion, I decided we would stop at cavestream and do a 60 min hike halfway back. We stashed our backpackes in the bush, and did the walk through the stream, which was quite high b/c of recent rain. It was a great adventure! I don’t know that I have been in a cave before, and I suggested we try walking for awhile in the dark, just feeling the walls. The water was up above my waist at least five times. I don’t think the German understood English well, and he was surprised when I drug him into this dark and cold cave walk, but I think he enjoyed the adventure as well. I made it back to Chch safely, and got dropped just two blocks from Nadine’s place.

Yesterday I ventured on the city buses and ferry to Lyttelton and across by boat to Diamond Harbour, which was about an hour from the city and a great little village with fun walks. I felt like I got off the tourist trail and went somewhere not in Lonely Planet, which was great! I ended up finding a trail up Mt Herbert, the tallest mt on the Banks Peninsula. It was quite the hike through fields with sheep and cows, which I learned can be quite intimidating when there are 30 of them standing on the train mooing at you!

I have enjoyed travelling alone more than I thought I would, and it is great to not really plan ahead and do whatever I feel like doing that day. I have met a lot of great people in the hostels and travelling from around the world, which has been fun.

I won’t be able to post again for three weeks until after the course, so check back the last week in March!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New South Wales Mountain Treks

Bushfires, floods, shark attacks... Australia was full of natural disasters and dangers while I was there, but it was the rain and cold that was my biggest threat! I learned Australia is more than a coastline with beaches and surfing! I was glad I packed my raingear, thermal layers, and hat for a trip to the mountains! After 100 degree weather in Sydney, Anne and I headed off on two mountain adventures in my second week in OZ. We first went to the Snowy Mts. and Mt Kosciuszko (2228m- 7310ft- the tallest peak in the country), and then to the Blue Mountains. I had my first hitchhiking adventure, saw kangaroos and other unique animals, and had my first true Aussie bushwalking experience.

Mt Kosciuszko National Park is located about 400 km from Sydney. Anne and I woke up at 4am to catch a bus the first day to Canberra, where we planned on hitching from. The capital city proved a little difficult to hitch out of, so we bussed to Cooma, another 100 km south. In the visitor center in Cooma we met a couple from Israel in their mid twenties, who were headed into the park to bushwalk as well. We caught a ride with them, and camped together for the night in prime kangaroo hangout grounds, where we saw anywhere from 10-25 roos at once. There were total fire bans in the park, but no bushfires at the time. The next day we all did a 22 km loop hike, including summiting Mt Kosciuszko (which was more of a hill really, but I got my first of the seven summits completed!). On the summit the Israel man proposed to his girlfriend, and I was filming on his video camera! That was something I wasn't expecting. He was talking in Hebrew, but when he pulled out the ring and went down on one knee I knew what was happening! The next day the couple were heading back to Sydney via the coastal scenic drive, so we caught a ride with them and were back in the city much earlier than expected!

I was feeling a bit sick with a 'touch of a sore throat' :-), so we rested up in the city for a day before heading to the Blue Mountains, just a two hour train ride from the city. Anne and I had decided to walk the six foot track, a historic bushwalk that is the second most popular walk in the country. It is supposed to take 3 days and is rated hard, but we were done with all 52 km within 26 hours! The trek climbed a total of 1,528m and dropped 1,788m (1800 and 2000 ft). Both days had endless rain, and it only let up for a few hours the first evening. The second day we just pushed through and walked 32 km (20 mi), including all of the elevation gain, with 30 lb packs, and not a minute without rain. It was a long day for both of us, and my feet and body were feeling it by the end! We had a lot of fun, and at one point at our only real rest break for 20 min, were shivering and almost hypothermic, biting off chunks of cheese from a block and eatting nutella by the spoonful, and laughing hystericaly. We needed our calories somehow, right! :-) Needless to say it was a great adventure, and ended at Janolan caves, where we stood in the rain for nearly an hour soaked to the bone with huge backpacks trying to hitch a ride back to Katoomba where we could catch a train to the city. On this popular hike, we didn't encounter one other bushwalker even through it was a weekend, maybe due to the low visibility and wet weather...

Once back in Sydney I had one full day to rest and back, and then on the 16th flew over to Christchurch. I could have stayed in Australia a lot longer, and I am considering making another stopover in May on my way back to Oregon... It is such a huge country and there are so many walks and places to explore, and it was great to have Anne there to travel with. There are a lot of things I would love to do, but not alone, so having someone as willing as I am to do crazy adventurous things is great, but sometimes scary!

I spend my first two nights in NZ in Chch with Nadine, Susie's best friend from studying in Sweden in HS. I had met her only briefly in Sweden about five years ago, so it was fun to get to know her more and have a place to base out of in the city. After two days, I got a ride over Arthur's pass (one of three passes from east to west across the south island), from a friend of my dad's who has a house on the west coast in Hokitiki. I am now at Wayne and 's in Hokitiki, a town of 4000, for a few days, resting up and planning my next adventures...

By the way, if you click on any of the photos they should enlarge for you. And more pictures will be on facebook soon!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

SYDNEY Australia with Anne

I have been in Sydney 5 days now, and filled up my time with lots of walking around the city (2 hours of walking was our shortest day) and seeing the sights. I didn´t really feel like I was in Australia until spending time at the beach, and that we did! In 24 hours, Anne and I spent 5 hours laying in the sun and swimming at Maroubra beach, did an evening costal hike from Coogee to Bondi beach, and woke up at 5am to walk back to Maroubra beach to watch the sunrise. I haven´t seen the sun rise over the ocean in years, probably since I was last in Australia at 9 years old because it rises from the east.

Another day we saw the city sights, going to Darlign Harbor and walking around the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanical Gardens. In the gardens we took pictures with sulfer crowned cockatoos, and later saw possums at night at Hyde Park.

It has been fun to meet Anne´s Australian and international student friends. One evening we went to a Pub and played trivia, and another we went to a friend´s flat and made pizza and played card and board games. I relearned how to play poker and we played a game called Articulate which is similar to catch phrase.

Now Anne and I are off in the morning for an exciting adventure for 5 days hitchhiking to the Snowy Mountains, with poisonous brown sankes (among other things) and bush fire danger... I will write more when we return!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Outdoor Environmental Studies

The last three weeks of snow camping and backcountry skiing were absolutely amazing. I don't want to be back in the busy world with computers and technology, survival in the winter environment is difficult but ever so rewarding. I was the TA for the ENV 398 class, in which we spent January Term in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, outside of Bend, Oregon.  I began in January on campus helping shop for food and organize equipment for 9 people for 22 days. We spent the first few days of the course at an OMSI lodge, learning ski skills and spent two days with tele lessons on Mt Bachlor. We skied 3 days/2 nights in to a cabin at Elk Lake, which became our base came, and did several 2-4 night trips out from there. We pulled sleds and carried packs through varied terrain off-trail, navigated with map and compass, built snow caves, and adapted to whatever came our way. Some of my most memorable experiences during the course were skiing up Elk Mountain when we had a free day, puking in the tent at night over everything when I had a stomach bug, and eating our wonderful creations such as sushi at 0 degrees, as well as eclairs and cinnamon rolls. The group of students and instructors could not have been better, and we have so many memories.