A Travellerspoint blog

Sleeping Beauty

sunny 75 °F
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Well, I’m happy to report that I survived my first night of car camping. And I rediscovered how amazingly well engineered the human body is – a modern marvel. How did I come to this realization? Well, my body woke me up pretty much every hour on the hour to tell me to rub my little piglets (toes for those who are normal) to keep them from falling off. Yes, turns out a sleeping bag will probably be a good investment if I decided there is more car camping in my future. Actually, all other parts of my body stayed pretty warm, but I did spend a good portion of the night dreaming of my beloved uggs. Tucked safely away back in sf. looking sad in a dark closet. Probably lonely without me. keals, make sure you keep them company. Take them out for a walk every once in a while. Tell them I miss them.

All in all, a good night and good morning. No bad men came knocking on my window in the middle of the night. Success in my book. I left Purakaunui Bay Tuesday morning and made some stops along the way to my woofing destination. One at Purakaunui Falls and then to Curio Bay. Okay, so something I’m quite excited about. Curio Bay is the home to a colony of yellow eyed penguins (which I am bound and determined to see) and often a pod of dolphins. In the summer months, the dolphins supposedly come within 10 meters of the shore. Someone I met in Dunedin told me he and his friends actually had the great pleasure of frolicking with them. Sweet. Now adding that to my list of things to do in the Catlins. I also had this elaborate dream that I did in fact swim with the dolphins. Think King Triton from The Little Mermaid. It was all very exciting and so the anticipation builds. However, the other day it was not to be because it was overcast and I was still trying to get the feeling back in my feet. As much as I want to swim with the dolphins, hypothermia is not on the to do list.

On to my woofing spot at the Whistling Frog Café situated mid Catlins at McLean Falls. I met Paul, the owner, who gave me a run down on the place and what to expect. First order of business is to help him with his garden. He wants to plant vegetables to be used in the café. After that, baking! Yes, I told him I wrote a cookbook and watched his eyes light up. It’s like the golden ticket in a café. Anyway, he said they have plenty of scones and muffins, but he wants to add some biscuits (cookies) to their repertoire.

So this morning (Wednesday) I started out with the garden. I was quite excited about this because I haven’t done any gardening since I was about 14. That was the summer I finally wore down my dad enough that he said he would help me build out a plot in our backyard. I believe the term often used to describe me is “a dog with a bone.” Exhibit a. So the area is probably about 12 x 20 feet. It was in pretty good shape, but just needed to be tilled a bit. It was doubly exciting because it was a perfect 75 degree day with not a cloud in the sky. Which meant a little multi tasking for me – work on my tan and enjoy a little bit of manual labor. Anyway, after a few hours of working in the garden, I headed to the beach, did some reading, hung out a bit with fellow workers and now working on the old blog. I’m enjoying my time here, especially the staff dinners where the wine and beer flows freely. I have also found a couple of people interested in doing a surfing lesson down at curio bay. Hopefully, within the next week, I will catch the perfect wave, meet a dolphin and spy on some yellow penguins. Time will tell.

Posted by keoco1 17:47 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

On the road again

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Alright, friends, the tribe has spoken. It’s back to my long winded blog entries. Don’t hate the boy, hate the bullet points. However, I have decided that perhaps a compromise is in order. I did after all work in learning and development for a few years and as such, I know there are various types of learners. In an effort to appeal to the masses (perhaps a future in politics?), I will now include my novella length blogs and… a cliff’s note version. Tah dah!

Alright, so for the past week, I’ve been kicking it in Lawrence, New Zealand. While Lawrence is not much to write home about, the café I worked in was pretty cool. I’m thinking maybe I should work for a week in every job known to man to gain a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes. My week was filled with lots of different tasks ranging from busing tables, washing dishes, making puff pastries, chopping potatoes and carrots, learning how to make coffee drinks, trying to convince someone to go panning for gold with me in off hours and eating yummy food. Saturday night, two fellow woofers from France treated us to a delicious dinner of galettes (like a crepe, but made with buckwheat, instead of white flour) with sausage, cheese and tomatoes, followed by crepes with nutella, mashed banana and apricots. All washed down with healthy doses of sparkling Shiraz. Hoping pictures from the night do not surface on facebook. Along with many others.

So on Monday morning I headed out to the Catlins where I’ve lined up another woofing stint at a café starting on Tuesday. Unfortunately for me, there are two not so good things to report about my time in Lawrence. One, while cutting a piece of bread, I got the slice of bread and nice chunk of my thumb to go with it. The skin on my thumb was flapping in the wind for a good four days. I’ve finally managed to stop the bleeding and am attaching a look at the gruesome gash. Okay, maybe not that gruesome, but in my defense, I think I’ve lost about a millimeter of sensitivity in the area. That makes it sound a little tougher, right? Second, Black Beauty was being a bit temperamental and I had to get a jump start on Saturday followed by an hour plus drive to bufu to help charge the battery. When I left this morning and started the car, Black Beauty seemed to be talking to me. We have a special bond; therefore, I know this is what was said, “Tebs, I’m tired. I’m almost 20 years old which in people years is about 190. I deserve to be in that Guinness Book of World Records you seem so fond of. I need some of that magic elixir.”
Me: “You want some vodka?”
BB: “No. I think it’s called a battery. Please help me. I’m fading fast.”
Me: “No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you [a battery.]” This would all be more dramatic if I had a waterfall to jump from a la Daniel day lewis in the last of the mohicans. Instead, I just drove out of my parking spot, left Lawrence and headed on to the Catlins.

I will say, travel days are some of my favorites. I am probably 1 part extrovert, 2-3 parts introvert. An extroverted introvert if you will. As such, me, my music blaring, windows down and driving along the coast is like heaven on earth. I stopped off first at Nugget Point, but simply enjoyed the view from the car (too scared to actually shut off the car for fear it wouldn’t start again.) Then I headed up to Owaka which is the main service area for the region. I pulled into the gas station to fill up and asked if someone could check my battery. The garage happened to be closed on this particular day, but I was assured someone would be able to help me in Invercargill…a couple of hours past my intended destination. Alright, well, I’ll just keep the car running for the next week. That shouldn’t be a problem, right? Try to start the car…chug, chug, chug. Maybe not. Try again. Chug, chug, chug. Crikey. Lucky for me, I’ve gotten to be really good at handling jumper cables. Right as I was about to bat my eyelashes at the guy in the car next to me, the woman from the gas station came out and told me that the battery guy had just arrived for his monthly delivery. Seriously? Do I have a fairy godmother? I pop the hood so my new hero can test my battery which is in fact dead. Five minutes later, I’ve got a new battery and I’m ready to rock. I turned on the car and heard Black Beauty say, “You’re the best, Tebs. You’re so smart and pretty. Wow, I’m so lucky to be with you.” Who needs a boyfriend when I’ve got such unfettered admiration from black beauty? And I get to pick the music we listen to no less.

After my romantic moment with the car, I headed on to Jack’s Blowhole. Really just went here because I think the name’s kind of funny. Turns out it’s actually pretty cool, too. The water from the ocean water flows inland about 200 meters through a collapsed cave. Pictures below. After my walk, I was feeling a little warm and decided a swim was in order. I grabbed my bathing suit from the trunk and deftly maneuvered my tops and bottoms on trying to minimize flashing potential. It’s been a whole week without the beach and after a quick swim, I enjoyed a little laying out time and my book.

Since I’m not starting my next woofing stint until tomorrow, I determined that tonight would be dedicated to a new venture…car camping. I just paid what is probably the equivalent of about $110 USD for a new battery, so I figure that BB (Black Beauty. Not to be confused with brunette Brenna.) owes me at least 5 nights of shut eye. After a quick look at the map, Purakaunui Bay won out as my home for the night. And here I sit. Me and four camper vans all with front row seats to watching the tide roll in. It’s pretty incredible. I think everyone has times in their life they wish they could freeze frame. This would definitely be one for me. Not sure if I’ll be singing the same tune tomorrow. The great debate is front seat or back seat. But, I have great faith in my sturdy accommodation for the night. As the saying goes, “once you’ve had black, you’ll never go back.” Okay, until tomorrow or whenever the moment to write strikes me…

Version for people with limited/no attention span
• Woofing at the lemon tree café in Lawrence was fun
• I had a minor run in with a knife
• Me and my car are quickly developing a stronger than normal bond
• I am watching the tides roll in
• I’m in new Zealand in case you’ve really been lazy about reading

Top Travel Songs of the Day
Memories by David Guetta
Gravity’s Rainbow by klaxons
Hallelujah by gin Wigmore (I have not turned into a jc lover. Just enjoy the song)
I knew you before by justin kensrue

Posted by keoco1 12:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Ummm..well, you might want to think about bullets

semi-overcast 68 °F
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Alright, so I chatted with a friend of mine the other day who told me, yes, blogs are in fact supposed to be short. At least someone’s being honest. So on his recommendation; I am going to try something new: bullet points.

• I arrived in Lawrence, new zealand
• Woofing at a café called lemon tree
• Has delicious food
• Worked three hours on Monday and already get Tuesday off
• Staying in a place that resembles Miss Havisham’s house – stately and creepy wrapped into one nice little package
• Have the privacy of my own room and a proper bed for the first time since leaving sf.
• I’m pregnant
• I have to shut off the light with this really old school string. Picture below. Feel like I’m Gwyneth paltrow in Shakespeare in love. Minus the fact that I look nothing like Gwyneth paltrow and don’t have to speak in old English.
• I have to go up these really steep stairs to get to my room. Feel like I’m harry potter from harry potter. Minus the fact that I look nothing like harry potter. Although I may possibly have unknown superpowers.
• Just kidding about being pregnant. Curious to see who is actually reading this.
• Will be here for a week and then off to the catlins in southeast nz.
• Will write more as warranted.
• Probably not this week as there is almost nothing going on here. Took me a whole 2 minutes to look at every shop on the main street.
• Just watched Vicky Christina Barcelona. An excellent movie.

Posted by keoco1 16:41 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

I can’t feel my legs… I HAVE NO LEGS!

sunny 78 °F
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While New Zealand has many wonderful attributes (picturesque scenery, wonderful people, lots of sheep) wild and crazy nightlife is probably not one I would add to the list. So, when I made it to Dunedin which is the biggest city I’ve been in since Christchurch, I was pretty excited to stay out past 8:30 p.m. Big doins. After my relaxation time on the beach (ps. February goal: accomplished. I am now the proud owner of a pretty sweet tan. I’m not expecting it to last as the weather may be taking a nosedive shortly, but for the next couple of weeks, I will wear it proudly) I headed into the center of the city to stay with four delightful Otago University students. Upon arrival, I was told they were having a bake sale and clothing sale the next day to raise money for a very worthy cause… a kegger. I am always willing to support noble charitable endeavors, so I headed out with one of the roommates to grab some chocolate chips to make the true American classic…chocolate chip cookies. Side note: if you can find milk chocolate discs instead of bits, go for those. For some unknown reason, the shape of the chocolate actually seems to make a big difference. I think it may be the larger circumference because it means you’re more likely to get a taste of chocolate in every bite. Anyway, after a little flat baking session and then dinner, we decided we would venture out to a concert later on in the night. I arrived at the ideal time as students are just coming back on campus for orientation which means lots of events and parties. I felt as though I’d been transported back to Atlanta days. We pre-gamed with any alcohol and mixers we could get our hands on (try adding sorbet and a squeeze of lemon to vodka – fruity, kind of healthy and delicious. Genius. I believe the children are our future.) Then headed out to see a concert. Okay, this is where the reality of my situation hit. We went to see a band called The Datsuns. I guess you would call it modern rock. Think long, stringy hair, flannel shirts, etc. Apparently they’re a hot band in nz. Now, modern rock is not necessarily a typical genre in my musical rotation. It took me about five minutes to get over the fact that no, ear plugs would not magically appear to protect my precious ear drums. Once I finally managed to accept that, they were actually quite good…in a modern rock kind of way. Afterwards, we hit up the student lounge for beers. Ah, the good old days.

The next day, I decided to get in some physical activity by visiting the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street. For such a little country, I will say that New Zealand sure holds a lot of Guinness Book of World Records. However, the giant jersey is still more impressive in my mind. Anyway, I slogged my way up the hill and survived, but barely as the picture shows (possibly taken for dramatic effect.) Then I continued on my run to the Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately, I have this thing where I often get taken off course when curiosity gets the best of me. I saw a sign for Signal Hill which someone told me is a great place for a drive. Well, who needs a car? I’ll use my own two legs. Ugh. Bad call. After over an hour of huffing it up a never ending hill, I finally made it to my destination. Luckily, I was able to exercise my thumb on the way back down and got a ride from a very nice Kiwi. Later it was on to Aramoana beach and then eventually back to the apartment where I cooked up a Mexican fiesta for my hosts. Later on, we headed over to their friend’s house for more pre-partying, then off to another concert in Port Chalmers. Basically, the whole weekend was filled with good times, except for the crap movie we watched on Sunday night. Anyone thinking about renting The Day of the Dolphin, bad call. Put the movie down and step away from your dvd.

Posted by keoco1 16:39 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Oompa Loompa doompadee doo

semi-overcast 68 °F
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Yesterday I left Oamaru to head about two hours south to Dunedin. On the way, I stopped at the Moeraki Boulders which are perfectly formed spherical boulders lying on the beach. Intrigue is high on how this phenomenon happened, but thus far I’ve been too lazy to crack open a travel book to read up on it. Thus, I will continue to believe they are a gift from aliens until I hear otherwise. Totally plausible. Afterwards, I made a stop at what I like to think of as a secret beach called Doctor’s Point. Okay, I guess technically it can’t be that secret if it has a name, but it’s not listed in travel books, therefore I can think of myself as a great explorer, discovering parts unknown. This could actually be perfect for my future job application at North Face. Name: Kerryn O’Connor Mission: Never stop exploring.

Eventually, I arrived in Dunedin to stay with Ritchie, a 33 year old design engineer. I was greeted with a cold beer and barbecue. Perfection. He recently moved about 5 miles south of the city to an area called Brighton which is smack dab across from a beautiful beach. I went to sleep with the sound of waves lapping at the shore and woke up with a picturesque sunrise breaking over the ocean.

Later on, I decided that after a week of eating cocoa pops and cookies & cream ice cream, it was time to work off some of the fun and I headed out for a run. I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it (sorry, was just too easy.) Okay, so I’m out for my run along this beautiful white sand beach. I’m listening to Sigur Ros which is not necessarily typical running music, but I was kind of lost in thought and didn’t realize it. If you really want to be an active reader in this blog, download the song Glosoli so you can get the full flavor of what I’m talking about. Okay, so, as I mentioned, I’m running along kind of lost in thought. The fresh air is blowing in my face. The waves are crashing by my feet. Then, all of a sudden, when the song hits the crescendo (at about 4:30 if you decided to get into this), I awake from my fog, look up and there’s this massively vivid rainbow rising up over the water. Are you kidding me? Somebody please pinch me.

After my run, I headed out with a fellow couch surfer to visit the Otago Peninsula. The area is supposed to be teeming with New Zealand wildlife. We decided to drive out to the tip of the peninsula first where there is a large albatross population. It was about a 45 minute drive along this incredibly picturesque coastline of the peninsula. Upon arrival to the parking lot of the albatross reserve, I almost rolled over a couple of seagulls, but unfortunately missed. I thought I could have done new Zealanders a favor, but no such luck. Then off for a bit of a hike around the area to see what we could see. Unfortunately, not much. I’m still on the hunt for the yellow eyed penguins, but they seem to be a little shy and as such, I’ve not had any encounters with the wee ones. Afterwards, we went into the info center and poked around for a bit. And then I saw it. Hmmm. Pictures of seagulls plastered everywhere on the wall. Why do they have a seagull museum at the albatross reserve? Upon closer inspection, I was actually looking at an albatross. Oops. Now quite glad I decided to ease off the gas. Turns out we did see quite a bit. Next we did a bit more exploring around the peninsula and went to Sandfly Beach which we were told has occasional yellow eyed penguin sightings. It was that or pay $40 for a 45 minute drive in a bus to go to a private penguin reserve. I have the black beauty now. I do not mix with the commoners on buses. Sandfly beach was neither filled with sand flies nor yellow eyed penguins. We did see a seal which was a decent consolation prize.

Next, on to my main reason for visiting Dunedin. I was actually impressed with my restraint for holding out for a full 24 hours. I am talking about none other than, drum roll please, the Cadbury factory tour. Okay, so that may not have been my main reason for coming here, but it certainly sweetened the pot. Side note: traveling by myself is awesome because when no one else laughs at my jokes, I ALWAYS do. Just give me a brick wall and a microphone. Alright, Cadbury factory tour. Basically, an hour of deliciousness. They give you a plastic bag at the start for the collection of goodies they plan to throw at you throughout the tour. My thought, plastic bags are for wimps. Just eat all the candy as soon as it’s forked over and there’s no need for the bag. An excellent strategy. Except for the whole part about the stomach ache I walked out with an hour later. But, a fun fact was revealed on the tour. Kiwis consume about 6 kilograms of chocolate per year per capita. Decent. Australians 10. Respectable. Americans…22! Woohoo! Way to go for the gold, America! Therefore, I felt it only fair to do my country proud and throw back the sweet stuff. It must be all of the awesome republican chain letters I receive from my aunt on a daily basis that has made me so patriotic.

Alright, now off for dinner. Later.

Posted by keoco1 07:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

sunny 80 °F
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My loyal following (of two), so sorry I have been remiss in catching you up on life on the road. I have been living the dream. My dream of being a communist. Yes, right now, I am woofing at Chill a while backpackers and Art Gallery in Oamaru. It is billed as a place for lovers of life, people, music, art, literature, food and wine. A backpackers with heart and soul. After a week here, I can say, it has lived up to that and more. In exchange for two hours of work per day, I get to enjoy the amazing people that come through here on a nightly basis. Actually, that sounds kind of dirty. I’m not enjoying them in that way per se. Although, in related news, I had my first kiwi since being in New Zealand. Well, it was an imported kiwi, but still a delicious fruit. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

So there are usually about six woofers here at any one time and I feel as though I’ve been transported back to Andover days of hanging out in the dorms. Except you can openly drink alcohol, don’t have to get car permission and there are no house counselors. Perhaps Andover should think about delaying high school for 10 years. I think kids would have far more fun. When I arrived the first night, we had a delicious potluck followed by a fire out in the backyard. As soon as I stepped outside and heard, “for fuck’s sake, Paddy, you forgot the beer” I knew I was in the right spot. I think it’s in my dna to love all things irish – accents, leprechauns, pots of gold and, of course, lucky charms. Later on, we made a late night run to see the blue penguins. They are the world’s smallest penguins and only come out at night. Surprisingly cute little creatures. Unfortunately no pictures to share as the poor little guys would have had some issues with bright flashes going off in their eyes. Very diva like behavior. I didn’t want to risk one of them pulling a Naomi Campbell and throwing a foreign object at my head, so I decided it was best to show due respect.

Basically, the whole week has been, well, chill. I hit my one month mark last week, and while still exhilarating, constant traveling can be tiring. This has been the perfect week to do a whole lot of nothing. My days have been spent at the beach, lounging in the backyard hammock, partaking in community dinners, frequent runs to the liquor store, nights out to a local club to support the hostel’s burgeoning singers at open mic night and just general fun.

Someone asked me the other day if I’ve had any revelations while on this trip. While I can’t claim to have discovered Jesus or the meaning of life, I do have this feeling of total and utter happiness. I don’t think it’s solely symptomatic of being in New Zealand because I felt this way the last several months in San Francisco. But I do have this overwhelming sense of feeling incredibly happy. Plain and simple. I’m doing things that I love doing, meeting wonderful people and taking each day as it comes. Not to get too drama-rama, but I wish everyone could experience the great generosity that I’ve encountered in the last month because I think if they could, the world would be a better place. See, this is why communism (in theory) is a good thing. It breeds compassion for our fellow man. Ugh, months of reading Ayn Rand has taught me nothing. I’m still a bleeding heart liberal. Alright, tomorrow I am off to Dunedin for five nights of couchsurfing. Will be back soon…

Posted by keoco1 00:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Do you Wanaka?

sunny 80 °F

Alright, I’m pretending that these are two separate entries so that it breaks it up a bit. I guess I really don’t have to reveal all my secrets, but oh well. After Mount Cook, I headed to Wanaka on Sunday. And shocker of all shockers Wanaka is also beautiful. There’s a lot more going on here – i.e. they have a police station, fire station and more than one bar. It’s a really cute town with lots of adventure sports to partake in. However, a friend of mine has booked her trip (woohoo!) for the end of march, so I am planning to put a hold on that stuff until she gets here. I’m hoping over the next month, I will grow a pair and get over my fear of falling from bridges, airplanes and the like.

Alright, so Wanaka. After stopping in at the Info Center to see what’s going on here, I was given a flyer by a passerby. “Free barbecue at 5. What’s the catch? No catch. We just love God and want to tell you about it.” They had me at free barbecue. I’ve been eating pasta, rice and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the last week (the $10/day diet is in full effect.) So, on to the barbecue I went and upon my arrival, I realized most other people must be enjoying a similar cuisine as the park looked like the backpackers mecca. The bbq was fun with lots of good food and conversation. Until…

“Hi. I’m Seth.”
“Nice to meet you, Seth. I’m Kerryn.”
…exchange of some other pleasantries…
Seth: “You know, God really changed my life. It’s amazing what happens when you let Him in. He is great and represents all that is good in the world. He wants us all to be happy.”
More God talk. Blah blah blah.
Me: Trying to at least look like I’m listening. They did provide free bbq after all. And then at the first pause in breath. “You know, I actually have to run to the bathroom. I’ll be back in a few for the presentation.” Phew, couldn’t handle that much longer. I felt kind of bad lying to one of the big guy’s most devoted disciples, but I’m sure I’m already on the black last for other transgressions, so what’s one more? Good rationalization, until I went back to the hostel later and who do I run into at the door? You got it. Seth. “Errr. Hi. Great bbq! G’night!” Now trying to avoid common areas like the plague.

In addition to the bbq, I went to a movie theatre called Café Paradiso. They were playing Julie & Julia which I wasn’t particularly keen to see, but I’d heard really great things about the theatre. It’s kind of kitschy and filled with old, comfy couches for seating. They have yummy looking pizzas, quesadillas, salads etc. And the best part, about an hour or so into the movie, there was a delicious aroma of mystery baked goods wafting into the theatre. About 20 minutes later, the screen went dead, but not for the reason you may think. they take an intermission halfway through so you can stock up on fresh from the oven cookies, homemade ice cream or other goodies. Genius! And, as an added bonus, I met a lovely kiwi who has offered me a place to stay when I swing through the westcoast. Yeah for kiwi hospitality! To top it off, the movie was actually pretty good. Julia Child was a surprisingly interesting woman. I would recommend it to you if you can mentally prepare yourself for Amy Adams who played the most neurotic whiner alive. But I tried to edit her out in my head and it actually worked pretty well.

Today consisted of a run up mount iron, laying out on the beach (I take my responsibilities very seriously) and then a tasting at the Rippon winery. Okay, I know that many people are experiencing cold temps, so I will keep this description short. But, for my own sake, I want to document this so when I’m old and gray I’ll remember. First, the water is crystal clear. I’m now realizing that’s pretty much the norm everywhere in NZ because the lakes and rivers are from nearby glacial runoffs. But the best part was the sand in the water. It was so soft and the closest description I can think of is that it’s kind of like walking in a chenille pillow. I’ve also been lucking out on really good weather. Every day is usually 70-80 degrees. Even in Mount Cook which is typically overcast was warm and sunny. However, I’m heading to Oamaru in a couple of days for another wwoofing stint and the weather forecast is predicting 65. Eek! So I’m trying to cram in beach time here as the end of summer is rapidly approaching.

After the beach, I hightailed it to the vineyard to try to get there before it closed. Well, turns out I took a slightly wrong turn. I started walking down a dirt path (it has tire tracks so it seemed legit) where I then came upon a bull paddock and shed. Hmmm. Not the winery I was expecting. My time was quickly ticking down and it was already 415 and the tasting room closed at 5. Must hustle. Want wine. Look around at my options. A field to the right with no buildings in site, the lake ahead of me, the street back down the way, or a fence which may be electric. I’m going with the electric fence. Despite my week long adventure on the farm, I’m still a complete moron re all things farm related. A lot of farms have these makeshift fences made out of some kind of rope. They attach these clips to it which are in turn attached to some kind of battery charging looking device. David one time told me to jump the fence first to see if I’d get electrocuted. I assumed he was joking, but honestly not sure. So to be safe, I go into GI Jane mode. Obviously. I tossed my backpack over the fence. Then I dropped to the ground lying face up and did a full body shimmy to squeeze through. Can someone please tell me, have I been duped or is being electrocuted a legit concern? You never know how many more fences I may encounter. Gotta be prepared.

Anyway, after my death defying move I continued on and found the winery! Oh, wait. No, it’s a house. Ugh.
“Excuse me, I’m trying to find the tasting room, but I seem to be lost.”
Older woman with a sweet car: “hop in. I’ll give you a ride.”
Yeah! I made it to the tasting room and still with time to spare. After my first pour, I was looking around at the wall of articles about the winery and the woman in all the photos looked extremely familiar. Hmmm. Okay, yes, I know. She just dropped me off. And she is the matriarch of the joint. Turns out she and her husband were the first people to grow grapes in the region when no one thought it was possible. After reading a bit more about her and the family, I’m now getting the sense that they are the Kennedys of Wanaka. Which means, yep, I get to claim I met Jackie O! Score.

Alright, I’m getting a lot of emails from people asking me how long I’ll be gone, where else I’m going, etc. So a plan is starting to formulate in my little head. As previously mentioned, my friend is coming at the end of march and will be here for about 2 ½ weeks. I’m thinking about kicking it in the south until she gets here and then starting festivities in Queenstown. We will then work our way up the west coast through Nelson, Blenheim and eventually back to Christchurch (this is all unbeknownst to her.) I’m thinking at that point I may try to get a job and stay in Christchurch for a few months (Perhaps I would be so lucky if there’s a northface store in Chch? That way I can continue wearing my typical uniform of stretch pants, hoodie and flip flops.) Money is not a major concern for me right now, but I would like to stay ahead of the curve so that eating Ramen noodles doesn’t become a luxury. While I love exploring the south island now, I think in a couple of months, I will be ready to rest my weary bones for somewhere longer than a week. Plus, I think it’s fun to establish some kind of routine and really get to know a city by staying for a while. This is all dependent on actually getting a job, place to stay etc. But after that, I’ve been hearing great things about Melbourne and I’m thinking about potentially getting an Australian working visa to hang out there for a bit. I’m pretty much changing my mind as the wind blows these days, so tomorrow I could be informing you all that I’ve had a major epiphany and I’m heading to Africa to save the children. But, working can help extend this little foray to keep me going for as long as I want. Still not sure how long that may be, but right now I’m loving life and have no plans to return for a while. Again, tomorrow I could be sucking my thumb, rocking in the fetal position and screaming I want my mommy. But today, all is well. So that is the scoop.

Alright, sorry to all of you who managed to slog through this lengthier than normal blog post. I recently finished another ayn rand book and I’m feeling prone to 90 page soliloquies. I actually tempered my impulse to keep going if that makes you feel any better. Peace in the middle east.

Posted by keoco1 19:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Revelation and Fluff Sandwich

sunny 70 °F
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Okay, so a friend of mine is working on a startup called tripping.com. Basically, it’s like couchsurfing, but hopefully the plan is this company will turn a profit at some point unlike couchsurfing which is completely non profit. Anyway, I’m a fan on facebook (you should all join!) and they recently highlighted a blog from some chick living in Argentina. Wow – it was eye opening reading another person’s blog. After I read hers, I read others on the site and found that people are actually talking about legit stuff. For example, should you adapt to local customs when you travel? Comparing the merits of Argentinean transit with other countries. Etc. and you know what else? They all have a point they’re trying to prove. And they don’t write in lengths that make a double espresso a mandatory accompaniment to reading their blog. Absolutely fascinating.

Now flip to me. I like to go off on random tangents that very rarely have a point and eventually I just talk in circles until you end up scratching your head wondering where we started. My most recent blog was about working on my tan and going on the hunt for sun-in (not successful ps.) Scintillating. I openly admitted from the get go that I wasn’t a reader or writer of blogs in the past. But, have I got this all wrong? Should I be comparing and contrasting the local culture of New Zealand to the US? What about an essay on the birth of texting in NZ and how I believe it will eventually corrupt the social fabric of the country?

My thoughts on this, but again, very open to feedback. I blame my years of watching General Hospital after school (there was Lucky, Sonny, Jason, the list goes on… so much good drama. Can you really blame me?) and reading US (pronounced U.S. – sounds slightly more highbrow) Weekly for rotting my brain and reducing my writing to what would be the equivalent of tabloid trash. However, I can only be me and if writing tabloid trash is my destiny, well, I only have one life to live, so as the world turns, I will follow the guiding light. However, every once in a while, maybe down the road I’ll try to slip in a moderately serious one.

Alright. Side tangent is over. Back on track. So, I spent a few days in Mount Cook after my trip to Lake Tekapo. This place is just ridiculously gorgeous. While I am still anti Lord of the Rings (sorry, LOTR for the sci-fi nerds) I can see what all of the hubbub is about. I wish I were Ansel Adams to even be able to come close to capturing its beauty. Alas, I am not, so my photos will have to suffice. As I was driving into mount cook with my mouth agape, I was wondering how many people die in new Zealand from driving off the road because they are so transfixed by the beauty of this country. It’s really just incredible.

I ended up doing a sea kayaking trip while I was at Mount Cook. I saw a glacial avalanche (thanks, global warming – you rock!), ate ice from an iceberg and drank from the glacial runoff. It was awesome. I also went for a run down to the Lake Tasman glacier and hiked around there for a bit. And I’m happy to report, I had my first hitch hiking experience and lived to tell the tale. Okay, mom and dad, chill. I was running back from Lake Tasman and decided marathon distances really weren’t in the cards for me on that particular day. Everyone says if you’re going to hitch, New Zealand is the place to do it. Since I have my own car (more on that later), I have to take these opportunities where I can get them. So just as I was about to start up a giant incline, a VW van came thundering around the corner and I threw out my thumb, they breaked and I hopped in. Plus a VW is THE quintessential peace, love and hippie hitchhiking transport. How could I resist? So I had a nice ride with Andrea and Sascha, a lovely couple from Germany on a 6 week holiday. On back to the hostel where I was transformed into Kerryn from Canada thanks to the busload of American kids that arrived on the same day. Caution: Side tangent is about to commence. I’ll make this quick. It’s amazing to me the difference in someone just out of college with zero work experience versus someone with even a year. I like to think of the corporate world as more than just a soul sucking machine. Yes, for all the monotony and drudgery, it does give you a modicum of maturity that is often (not always) lacking in those who have yet to experience its wonder. But lucky for me, I’ve had a Canadian back story for years since most people at work mistook my accent. Yes, Ottawa was just a lovely place to grow up. Cold winters, but beautiful in the summertime. Plus, you can’t beat the healthcare system. That sounds aboot right, eh?

Posted by keoco1 19:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Mountain Mama

sunny 73 °F
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If you are a nature lover, I am about to dispense some excellent advice free of charge: run, don’t walk to new Zealand. Actually, you don’t even have to like the great outdoors. If you can answer the question: do you like air? in the affirmative, then you need to put new Zealand on your list of places to see. If you answered no to that, you’ve got bigger problems to deal with and an international trip is probably not the best idea for you. Okay, so that whole thing about New Zealand being a mix of Tahoe and Hawaii is very, very true.

I spent three nights at Lake Tekapo which has the most turquoise blue water I’ve ever seen. It was spectacular. Apparently, the color has something to do with the glacial sediment which reflects light in a certain way to give us the brilliant color. However, after a night, I quickly realized the only thing to do in Lake Tekapo is look at Lake Tekapo. I am still trying to get used to the fact that life in new Zealand is very sloooooooooow. I’m used to constant motion, but I am bound and determined to live stress free or die trying. Wait, is that an oxymoron? Actually, a fellow traveler gave me some good advice to only book one night and then figure things out from there. Note to self.

Anyway, I woke up the other morning and in the process of getting into the shower was caught off guard by my freaky Friday moment. I looked down to find… a rash? No, hmmm. What could that be? Don’t tell me. wait. No way. Tan lines. On my body. They have not made an appearance since hector was a pup. Since I had lots of time to burn (I will stop with the puns now) at Lake Tekapo, I decided to dedicate myself to a very important cause. I have decided that February will be the month when I release my inner bronzed goddess. She has been pent up for quite a while. Probably has not made an appearance since I was about 12. To add to that, my hair is getting lighter and I’ve been contemplating another serious change. I’m thinking about kicking it old school (or middle school) with some sun-in. Hopefully they’ve managed to perfect their formula since all those years ago. Otherwise, I may be rocking orange hair instead of blond. But like all great fashion trends (come on, you know sun-in was cool), they always reemerge at some point. I’m going to take one for the team and take the lead on what I’m sure will be a huge new trend. If someone else could bring back the mc hammer pants, I would be eternally grateful. It would really complete the great fashion circle.

So now I’m in Mount Cook. I’m planning to do some hikes in the area, hopefully book a kayaking trip and most importantly get a beer at a bar up the way that has a great view of the mountain. Also quick note to any retirees reading this. Youth hostels are not just for youth, but rather the young at heart. Anyone that wants to make a trip like this, but are unsure about costs, etc. there are a ton of older folk (is that the pc term?) staying in youth hostels. And I’m not even trying to find the “quiet” hostel. So, as a word of encouragement for anyone that’s retired and hanging out. Go out and do some travel. It’s really not as expensive as you might think. All you need is a slight sense of adventure and you’re ready to rock.

My 3 favorite roadtrip songs of the day:
Cause = Time by Broken Social Scene
Oxford Comma by Vampire Weekend
Mr. Jones by Counting Crows – an oldie but goodie!

Thing I’m very excited about today: United Airlines. Didn’t think those words would ever cross my lips, but they have done a great thing. One way award tickets! Woohoo – thanks United!

Ps. The largest jersey in the world was as spectacular as I thought it would be. Well worth the detour.

Pps. If anyone has nz winery contacts, can you give me a shout?

Posted by keoco1 08:44 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Cribs: Farm Edition

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Enjoy a tour of my farming days in Timaru. After you press play, hit the pause button and let it buffer for a while otherwise it will stop every few seconds. Enjoy!

Posted by keoco1 09:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

The running of the bulls

semi-overcast 77 °F

more exciting video to come when i figure out how to do some editing.

Posted by keoco1 10:43 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Hello, World

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I am emerging from my farming retreat faster, better, stronger (and slightly pudgier.) There’s nothing like whole milk, cream, butter and fat drippings with every meal to add some l-b-s’ to the old waistline. And so I venture onward to Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook to start whittling away at the impressive belly that has formed in the span of a week. A remarkable feat. I like to think of it as my own special talent. Everyone’s got to be good at something. But, before that, there is an important site in New Zealand that requires my undivided attention. In my mind, it rivals the highest mountains and the bluest waters as one of the most impressive marvels of this great country. It’s so impressive it has even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. I am referring to none other than the largest jersey in the world. I am backtracking a bit on my travels, but I have no doubt it will be worth the extra petrol to make my way there. Stay tuned, friends. I will be back with photos soon. Until then, I’m sure you will be on the edge of your seat.

Posted by keoco1 10:30 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Animal House

sunny 80 °F

Day 4 on the farm and I’ve officially decided that the simple life is not for me. Or at least not quite this simple. The big outing for the day was driving two miles down the road to get my oil changed and have my battery checked. Woot woot. At least it involved conversation with a new person. And it was a scintillating one about the American civil war. Sweet.

Back on the farm with 12 hours to kill, I did have the great pleasure of naming a cow. Mrs. Catherine Madpie is officially part of the Hunter Hills Organic farm. And she is a real looker. And great conversationalist to boot. Actually, all of the animals seem to be talking to me. I guess that means one of two things. I’m either on some serious drugs or it’s time for me to emerge back into civilization. Either would work for me at this point.

But, I did have a fairly productive day. I went on a little egg hunt for myself back at the hen house and tried to beat my prior day’s time for getting to 100 points. 10 points for the brown eggs, 5 points for the white. Why are the brown worth more? “Brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh.” Really it just added a level of complexity to my game. I also milked Tallulah Belle. Helped separate two bulls from the other cows. Made four jars of Strawberry Jam which I titled “Jammin’ Strawberries ” Perhaps a future business venture for me when I return? I made a batch of chocolate peanut cookies and made ice cream sandwiches for dessert. Actually, tonight’s menu was pretty stellar if I do say so myself. Homemade hummus. Meatballs stuffed with feta. Salad. And cheesy flatbread. I have a great future as Suzie Homemaker if my non existent career path doesn’t work out for me.

Actually, David is awesome, but I can hardly stand to be alone with me for this much time, let alone only one other human being. I had to refrain from doing a happy dance when his weed whacker broke today. “Oh, I can bring it into town for you to have it repaired!! I mean. Umm. If you want. No biggie either way.” But, we do have an outing planned tomorrow to his mother’s house two miles away to pick up a bathtub (I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to sell my car with the crazy mileage I’m racking up.) He’s building a greenhouse about 100 feet from the shearing shed (home base.) He’s planning to put in a bath tub and has a window that faces west. The goal is to set it up in the greenhouse and let people have a soak in the tub while watching the sunset. He’s using an air mattress filled with water on top of the roof to heat the water. Pretty genius. He’s kind of like MacGyver. Minus the random explosions with only 10 seconds to escape. He thought I should have a go at building a sundial. Hmmm. Unfortunately, I lack the MacGyver gene. I did volunteer to decorate a mirror for the guest bedroom. It involves a trip to the secondhand store in the hip and happening town of Waimete. Can you say score? Until tomorrow…

Posted by keoco1 12:48 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

I digress

Alright, so I’ve been getting a lot of the same questions from people via email and since I’m all about efficiency, I am going to dedicate a blog entry to answer the two that seem to be coming up the most.

Kerryn, does the water really spin down the drain the opposite way?

I am very sad to say that I still have no idea the answer to this question, but let me tell you, it’s a hot one. I’ve gotten about 10 emails from inquiring minds that demand answers. Here’s why I don’t know. The flush is more of a huge rush of water and doesn’t appear to go in a circular motion. Now, I could probably very easily google this or look it up on Wikipedia, but there is a logical reason why I will not do this. I am lazy. Plain and simple. That requires effort and I simply don’t feel like it. Second, I could probably make something up and say yes, the water does spin the opposite way, but I’m trying to keep 100% absolutely accurate facts in this blog and so fibbing just doesn’t seem right. And so the mystery continues. But, I can promise you this: when I know, you all will know.

Kerryn, have you met any nice aussie/kiwi fellows?

I’ll start with the simple answer and then break off into my typical, long winded side tangent. The simple answer is no. unless you count the guy who sold me my car. If you do, we need to get you out more. Now, here’s my side tangent. People, if you saw me right now, you would realize there is no way I could attract anything except maybe a Sasquatch. Our hair is probably about the same texture which might mean we’d be a great match. Up until a couple of days ago, I was working on some sweet dreadlocks for myself. In my effort to maximize space in my bag, my beloved flat iron got the boot. That alone leaves me looking like a mad scientist. But as an added bonus, extra underwear won out as a higher priority item than shampoo and conditioner. So what I’ve been left with is all-purpose soap. Great for getting you squeaky clean, but not so great for silky hair. So I’ve been walking around with matted hair resembling the bride of frankenstein. I’ve had to duck and cover more than a couple of time’s as a few birds also seemed to take a great interest in me. Alright, so we’ve got matted hair. Next is the clothing. Over the past couple of months, I developed an obsession with dry wick clothing. Since I wasn’t sure where I would be, if I’d have access to laundry facilities, etc I decided this would be my best option. Friends would make suggestions for things I should bring and my inevitable response was, “do they make it in dry wick? No? sorry, Charlie.” So, I could go on, but I think you’re starting to get the picture. Matted hair, smelly clothes, bushy eyebrows, no makeup. I am seriously questioning if I am actually a girl. If I start developing facial hair and a hoarse voice, I might start to worry. Until then, there are at least a few people reading this who can vouch for me so I’ll roll with it for now.

But, to be honest, I’m quite okay with this and happy to take a breather from the dating world. I had a little too much fun the last several months and I’m ready for a dating sabbatical on this trip. However, if you REALLY want some juice, I’d be happy to regale you with stories. Trust me, there are some good ones. To give you a flavor, I think my favorite was when I thought I’d been picked up by a college kid. A true high point in my adventures in dating. Yes, this revelation happened after I ran into his beer pong table… in his kitchen. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love beer pong as much as the next girl (or in my case, next guy.) But to be displayed with such prominence is something you don’t often see past the age of 20 or so.

Inner monologue: Oh, shite. Please let this kid be older than 18.
Kerryn: Ummm. How old are you?
“Friend”: (chuckles) You saw the beer pong table did you? Just turned 25.
Inner monologue: Phew, dodged a bullet there.
“Friend”: How old are you?
Kerryn: I just turned 27. Last night in fact. Happy birthday to me.
“Friend”: I guess that makes you a mini cougar.
Kerryn: I have heard that 27 is the new 40.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to live vicariously, shoot me an email and I’ll give you some good stories. But, as with the first question, I can promise you this: When I get some, you will, too.

Posted by keoco1 12:46 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Mary had a little lamb

sunny 78 °F

Monday morning, I was up and at em bright and early just before 7. I stepped out of bed, and literally dusted the cobwebs from my head and pushed the shutters to my window open. I was greeted by the brilliant sun rising over the ocean in the distance. I put on my crappiest clothes (not too hard as I have a wide selection) and headed upstairs. David made me some porridge with milk fresh from the cow that we had gathered the night prior. Shortly thereafter, the shearers arrived. The crew consisted of Chris (David’s cousin), Warren (David’s brother), Paddy (Chris’ son) and Jamie (Paddy’s girlfriend). Chris, Warren and Paddy were in charge of shearing. Jamie and I had to collect all of the wool and get it into bales. There’s a name for this job, which I can’t pronounce or spell, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because I just thought of myself as the floor bitch. Simple. Easy to pronounce. Works for me. I’m not sure I’ve done such physically demanding work in a long time, but it was all good fun hanging out with the crew. If anyone is looking for a good team building project, free of charge, go hit up your local farm.

After the full day we put in, David said I’d done my work for the week. I’m telling you all, retirement is fabulous. From what I’ve gathered, a lot of wwoofing spots are more along the lines of weeding for four hours a day. Get your meals. Go to bed. Repeat. David has a slightly more unconventional approach, both to farming and wwoofing. Pretty much I can take up any project that looks interesting. I’ve designated myself in charge of meals and made a grocery run this morning. Absolutely amazing by the way that they do not sell corn syrup in New Zealand. I was racking my brain for recipes that are simple and I’d know by heart. Both of us have a serious sweet tooth, so I decided to make O’henry bars – peanut butter, corn syrup, sugar and rice krispies covered in a chocolate/butterscotch mix. Kind of came out as hard dry lumps of rice krispies with a peanutty flavor. Turns out corn syrup is an essential ingredient. I’m also designating myself in charge of milking the cow and collecting eggs from the hens. I might have a go at making some jams, doing a bit of work on the herb garden and perhaps a pottery project or whatever else strikes my fancy. This place is definitely not for the faint of heart or for germaphobes (sp?), but I think the beauty is in its simplicity.

Posted by keoco1 12:38 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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