Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Slightly Less Epic NZ Update

We are in Hokitika on the South Island, sitting in a EZY Video store and I have 30 minutes on my two dollar coin. That's right, they have a two dollar coin here. Wild, right?
We've been driving all over the place and have seen tons of NZ. We did not go to Christchurch, so if you were reading about the aftershocks that have been rocking the city don't worry about us. Thats not why we didn't go, though. We didn't go because I was talking to a local about our plans and mentioned Christchurch and he said, "Don't go to Christchurch, its rubbish. Just another town, innit? Fulla shops." Then he grabbed a map and showed us a way to go that would be much better, to see "Real New Zealand." So we took him up on his suggestion.
Spent the last two days driving through the mountains and being blown away. I've taken to pulling over at pullouts just so I can really get a look at our surroundings. Epic. Everything about this country. The mountain roads and fantastic and Captain Slow (the caravan, remember?) and I are working together very well to get us through. I still have motorcycle jealous and haven't seen a rental place, which is either good or bad.
Yesterday we stopped at a tiny little mountain town called Reefton which isn't in any of our guidebooks but Angela had found a brochure for them at an iSite (place for tourists full of information on the surrounding area) we stopped at. They are having a Summer Festival and yesterday was Reefton Trots, so we checked it out. Pretty cool. Horse races but the jockeys ride on little chariots behind the horse. We didn't bet. We couldn't understand the slip. All of Reefton was out, some in their race day finest, and that was cool to see. Told one teenage girl we were from Hawaii and she turned to her friend and did the little excited arm flap and exclaimed, "Hawaii!" Oh yeah, you probably don't get many tourists here. Cool.
The food here is excellent (helps that Angela is cooking it). Still shopping as local as possible. She has bag of yarn and a few slabs of lamb in the camper so when we pass sheep on the road she says to them, "I have summa you in here with me!"
This has been a lot of fun so far. The caravan isn't as cramped feeling as I thought it was going to be. Today is New Year's Eve and we'll be spending it at camp, relaxing. Should be very nice.
Miss and love all of you (except for you, you know who you are). Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

We Are Not Dead! (A NZ Update of Epic Proportions)

Aloha from New Zealand's South Island! I am currently in Picton at the internet cafe attatched to a hostel we aren't staying at. Hopefully the internet lasts long enough for me to hammer a blog out before it crashes on me (again).
We've been having a great trip. Aukland was awesome and there was some great cuty hiking to be done, which got did. Some shopping, siteseeing, and other touristy stuff also got did. Very much the fun.
About five days ago we picked up our caravan, who I have named Captain Slow. The Captian is an excellent vehicle and a welcome addition to our adventure. Adventure sometimes equals learning to drive on the wrong side of the road, from the wrong side of the car, shifting and using turn singals with the wrong hands, and doing all this for the first time in the middle of a major city. But we aren't dead! I think I'm doing rather well, actually. Except for occasionally using the wipers to signal a turn or *splash splash*ing the windshield to let the person in front of me know they have space to come over. (Note: If you do this, your wofe who you love will laugh at you about it for the rest of the trip. "Haha, splash splash.")
Camping has been fun and with the expetion of last night we haven't had any trouble finding a campervan site. So far all of our camping, again expect last night, has been in camping parks. We expect to do some free camping down on South Island, where it might be a little more open and feasible.
We tried to Sype home on Christmas (yours, not ours). McDonalds, "Bringing America's Obesity to the World," has free Wifi, which we learned from a nice Dutch couple we camped next to for a night. "Go for the internet, not the food," he told us. Well, for whatever reason McD's wifi and Angela's Skype on her phone doesn't work together. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all back in the states and pretend that you're talking to us on the phone saying that.
New Zealand is beautiful, as everyone knows from Lord of the Rings. That, by the way, seems to be the biggest movie in the world here. LotR stuff is everywhere. But no hobbitts yet. We will find them, those filthy nasty Hobbittses, yes we will. Thinking about hiking around Mount Doom when we get back to North Island.
We've done two museum, getting our culture on. We've taken over 600 pictures, which we are going to painstakingly go through with each and every one of you untl you feel like you were right here with us the whole trip.
Kiwis are almost clichely friendly. The worst service we've had in a restaraunt so far has been because our server was an American import from...wait for it....Texas! Ohhh, thank you for playing. But smiles, help, and wonderful accents from everyone else. I love listening to these people talk!
On our city hike through Aukland we passed the Aukland Grammer School, a massive all boys public high school. We wandered through just to get a look at it (and because when teachers visit other countries they have to see what schools look like) and accidently met up with the deputy headmaster (vice principal). The school is on Christmas holiday, like ours, but he was so proud of it he stopped what he was doing and gave us a full on tour. Amazing. My mind is blown both by the school and by Dep. Headmaster John hooking us up like that.
I'm suffering from an acute case of bike envy and bike sad and bike jealous. New Zealand's Ministry of Transportation does not believe in roads that cut through the landscape, opting instead to flow over and with the countryside. This means everything takes longer to get through but you don't care because the road is bendy and beautiful the whole time.
Angela has sampled some of the local wines (yes dad, we are keeping notes and there will be a full report) and says they are all very good. We've been going out of our way to be sure to buy almost exclusively New Zealand-grown and made food, and so far all of it is excellent. Such good stuff.
We visited Sheepworld (of course), Devonport, Rotorua, and a bunch more places too numerous to name. We pass sheep constanly grazing on the side of the road, and open field cattle too (Matt, we moo at them and think of you). I've been journaling and have pages and pages and pages filled.
Ok, I'm going to wrap this up. Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy New Years to all. Think in metric for us. We aren't dead! Yay!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dear America, (A To Do List While I'm Away)

Dear America,

-Could you please get rid of Don't Ask, Don't Tell? I'm tired of reading about it in the papers, tried of people trying desperately to justify how it might hurt our fighting ability, and tired of the defenders of the Land of the Free not actually being, you know, FREE. (Really, you should get over yourselves and let the gays marry already too. I'm looking at you, Hawaii. This is bullshit.)
-Could you also please pass the 9/11 First Responders Bill? It's disgusting that it hasn't happened yet. These people are sick and dying and not getting any help and you are bickering about tax cuts for the upper 1%. Which reminds me...
-Fuck the Rich. Fuck them in their stupid asses. They should be paying more taxes. These rich, white mutherfuckers do not need the Bush era tax cuts. I realize I'm behind the eight ball on this because the Dems already pussyed up, but still.
-Get rid of the Jersery Shore people's fame. Their fifteen minutes has to be up by now, why haven't they gone away? Why is one of them, The DoucheNozzle I think he's called, on the cover of Men's Fitness? This is insulting for all of us.
-Stop. Making. 3D. Movies. Just stop it. I blame James Cameron for bringing it back, and it was pretty cool in Avatar, I have to admit. But it's over now. It's been over for six months. When I get back I don't want to be offered $15 glasses so I can leave the movie with vertigo and a headache.
-The Palin should be eaten by a bear and her crew should catch it on film and the 24 hour news networks should loop it at least until my plane lands. That's not so much a To Do as it is a Christmas wish, but it belongs on the list.
-This one is for the parents. Parents, Holiday break does not mean its time for your kids to not read, write, or do math for three weeks. Their brains are little Etch-A-Sketches right now and if they shake too hard all the things we've been trying to draw will go away. Get the child a book for Christmas and watch them read it. Then ask them real questions about it. Make them do running totals in the supermarket. Anything to keep those little brains off life support.
-Don't go see the new Fockers movie. It only encourages them to make movies based solely on how the title will read on the poster.
-Leave Mike Vick alone. He went to jail for his crime, get off his back. There are plenty of potential felons actively playing today to jump on. Here's hoping he makes it deep enough into the playoffs to be torpedoed by Andy Reid's horrible decision making. And while we're on the subject of the NFL, stop carrying on about it being a "man's sport" and how the guys are "gladiators." Fuck that. Where are the lions on the field then? That'll screw up Brady's pass protection. The NFL should stop talking about an 18 game regular season and stop giving lip service to helmet to helmet hits and concussions. NFL Cares needs to be a real thing. Also, while I'm gone I'd like at least one Sure Thing to fall completely apart. And I'd like the Favre to announce his retirement, then have his leg cut off by his riding tractor after he falls beneath it while fainting from the shock of Jen Sterger serving him with a lawsuit.
-I'd like Phillies fans to crow just a little bit louder about their pitching line-up because that will make them losing in the first or second round all the sweeter.
-At least two good bands should book shows on Oahu for the coming year. Someone I care about and who isn't so old my parents could have gone to see them when they were my age.
-And a small part of me would be really amused if Facebook completely crashed after we spent the entire year worshiping Zuckerberg. So, even though I enjoy the Facebook, that would be neat.
Ok, America. I realize there are a lot of things on this list that you need to get done and you only have three weeks to do them, but I believe you can. This is a lot of responsibility I'm leaving with you while I'm away. New Zealand is going to be asking about you and I'm going to tell them about all the wonderful things you're getting done without my supervision.

Love and Kisses,

P.S. Really, DADT and the 9/11 Bill would be a great start. And the Palin/bear thing. Thanks.