A Travellerspoint blog

Going off the grid

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For those of you who know me well, you know that when I get tired, I become a mute. A few of you might be nodding your head “yes” right now as you read this. That’s because it’s the truth. When I’m excited about something, I can quite possibly talk your ear off for hours on end, but if I’m tired, you’ll be lucky if you can get a grunt out of me. So, right now, I am exhausted and this blog entry will be the equivalent of me acting as a mute. I’m also writing multiple entries as I’ve been a little lax in keeping up. I’ll be sticking to the facts and I might even break out bullet points to help keep it snappy. You’re probably wondering, “why write at all?” Well, the reason for this blog is that I’ve realized over time my memory is not quite as good as I would like to think. In the past when I’ve traveled, I never wanted to be bothered with journals because I thought it was too much hassle. But, when I start talking to people about my travels and they say things like, “wow – you were in city x, did you see world famous y?” My likely response, “ummmm…. Hmmmm.. maybe. Sounds familiar. I can’t remember exactly.” No more. Hence, the blog. Hopefully, for the sake of anyone reading this, the next few will be my most boring entries. Sounds bad, but really it means that things can only look up from here. Congrats on hitting rock bottom.

The saying, “What a difference a day makes” could not be more appropriate for me than it is right now. Saturday night found me in Christchurch hanging out with Matt and his roommate Hassan, grilling hamburgers and lamb sausage, eating corn on the cob, drinking beer and having an all around good time. Sunday night, I could be found sleeping in a sheering shed with the sound of 500 sheep hooves tap, tap, tapping the night away right above my head. How did I get from there to here? I shall explain. Sunday morning, after a run to the car store with Matt (potentially more on this later, but the black beauty had some issues. Resolution involved a jump start in the beach parking lot. Needless to say, I want my number back from that guy) and a visit to the flea market to meet his dad, I headed south to Timaru with two German girls in tow. I had an overlapping night with Miriam and Jana during a couchsurfing stint and found that they too were headed in the same direction so I offered them a ride. After dropping them in town where they were planning to hitchhike the rest of the way to Lake Tekapo, I continued on my wwoof’ing way (willing workers on organic farms) about 30 kilometers south of Timaru. David (my host) gave me directions and told me to turn down a particular street and look for a white mailbox on the right and a shed on the left.

I had the great opportunity to meet many of his neighbors as it appeared there were a lot of white mailboxes and sheds along the way. When I finally arrived, I drove about 50 meters down to a shed. He told me to expect four barking dogs, but I didn’t see any around. I saw a motorbike and ATV outside of the shed, so I decided to have a peak to see if I might be able to find David. Instead what I found were about 50 cattle on a circular rotating platform with their udders hooked up to a torture chamber device (or perhaps an automated milking contraption. One or the other.) Errr. I had this awkward moment of feeling like I’d just walked in on someone going to the bathroom and you can’t really get away fast enough. “Oh, ummm, sorry to interrupt” I said to the cows. Wrong place. Finally, after a little more driving, I found a white mailbox on the right hand side of the road with a shed on the left hand side of the road. I pulled down the drive and drove toward the shed. I was greeted by four barking, but friendly dogs and I was in business.

Out came David and I soon discovered this was not really the family farm I had anticipated, but rather a one man show. David looks something like a mix between the janitor from the bodyguard, thor from adventures in babysitting and Prince Charles. Maybe a little bit of buffalo bill from silence of the lambs thrown in for good measure. I was already imagining getting thrown into a dark hole while he screamed at me, “put the lotion in the basket. Just put the lotion in the basket.” I tried to remain composure, but definitely had an “oh, shit, please, black beauty, don’t die on me in case I need to make a quick getaway” moment. David greeted me and invited me inside. I started looking around to see if there were perhaps any freshly dug holes. Potential past woofers? Didn’t see any. A small relief. Things took a turn for the even more strange when he brought me into the sheering shed and explained that this is where he lives. Hmmm. Okay. Not what I was expecting, but have to go back to my trip motto of expecting anything, prepared for everything.

David gave me the grand tour and explained how he came about living in the shed. This used to be a family farm and he moved back home after traveling many years for work to take it over. Five years ago, their family home burned down and he had then been commuting from the nearest town, about 25 minutes each way. He’s been working with wwoofers for about 10 years and one suggested that he convert the shed into his house. For the last three years, he’s been doing just that. Upon closer inspection, the shed is a truly incredible feat. I will detail more of this later, but he has the most breathtaking views through his “picture windows” which overlook the farm and provides a view all the way to the ocean on one side and the hunter hills on the other. I’ve put picture windows into quotes because there’s not actually any glass in them. There are shutters which he keeps open year round to take advantage of the natural surroundings. The shed is primitive, complete with an outhouse, but it has everything you need. I will try to detail more of it soon.

After a ride around the farm on his ATV (and I got a lesson and free reign to take it for a spin), we headed back inside for dinner. As we sat down to a delicious dinner of lamb, potatoes and salad, all fresh from the farm, I had this moment of thinking, is this really my life and how lucky am I? I’m sitting in New Zealand, enjoying a wonderful meal, great conversation and surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Although, I’ve had a lot of those in the short time I’ve been traveling, so I suppose it’s par for the course.

After dinner, David got a call from the sheep shearers saying they would be able to come down tomorrow to sheer his herd of just over 500. So, after dinner, David and I hopped back on the ATV to herd them through a series of fences eventually putting them into the shed. And there you have it. That is how I ended up in Christchurch one night and with the sound of 500 sheep hooves tapping over my head the next night.
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Posted by keoco1 12:29 Archived in New Zealand Tagged animal Comments (0)

I feel the need... The need for speed.

semi-overcast 70 °F
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Today is a historic day in the life of Kerryn O'Connor. That's right. I officially bought my first car ever! And what a beauty she is. A black beauty if you will. Yes, I am the proud owner of a 1991 Honda Vicor. Check out the pics. Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? Like any proud parent, I think she's quite perfect, but as with most aging folks, she gets little cranky at times. For example, the engine doesn't always turn over at the first go when I start it. But, no worries, a few pumps on the gas and that baby just purrs. It also makes a funny clicking sound for the first 20 seconds when I get it going. But, I like to think of it as a sweet melody for me to groove to for a bit.

In the past, I've been gifted hand-me-down cars. Whenever it needed servicing, I would take it to the garage, ask them for an estimate and then call my dad to ask him if i was being ripped off. His response would usually be, "Yes. Run." Unfortunately, I did not have the same luxury of calling my dad from New Zealand. So, after a couple of frustrating days scouring the internet and calling every ad in the paper, I finally struck gold. “Yes, dear, the car is still available. In great shape. Come on down and have yourself a look.” I tried to remain my composure, but was very tempted to break into a dead sprint to get to the garage. Sure enough when I got there, someone else had the car out for a test drive. Ugh. Just my luck. But I decided to hang out for a bit, trying not to let my high spirits dip. “Alright, he just got back. Said it drives like a dream. But, it’s for his daughter and he needs to talk to her before he buys it. So, you can go ahead and take it for a drive. You know we drive on the left, right?” Alrighty. Step into the car turn the key. And. Nothing. Err. Hmmm. Try this again. Turn the key. Chug chug chug. Nothing. “Umm, I think the car may be dead.” “You broke it already, did you? Alright, just give a few good pumps on the gas.” Back in action. I take it for a spin around the block. It stops. It goes. All good with me. Back to the garage. No dad to call. No idea what to look for. “Okay, pretend I’m your sister. Would you sell her this car?” “Oh, yes, she’s a good solid one there.” “You promise I won’t break down on the side of a deserted road.” “If you’ll give me your phone number, I’ll promise you.” “If you drop $200 off the price, I’ll give you my phone number.” “Hmmm. Yes.” Done and done. Very possible this could turn into the Fred Flinstone car, but if it gets me from point a to point b, I will be a happy camper.

On back home, where I am couchsurfing with Matt for 3 nights in Christchurch. A 31 year old chef/roofer. Quite possibly one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met. I think he would actually give you the shirt off his back if you asked. Upon my arrival yesterday when I told him of my car woes, he jumped into action trying to set me up with a car, job and apartment in Christchurch. Unfortunately, I’m trying to make my way out of city life and want to give farming a shot, but still the efforts were greatly appreciated. When I got back to the house, Matt declared I’d gotten myself a real winner. Yeah for me! He’s going to take a look at it for me and see if there are any major problems before I leave. Actually, all in all, today has been a truly great day. I’ve also set myself up with a spot on a farm (or at least 90% confirmed.) I’ll be making my way down south about 2 ½ hours to Timaru. The farm has sheep and beef cattle, hens, dogs, vegetable gardens. It promises farming, fun, food and good kiwi hospitality. Not sure how long I’ll be hanging out down there, but I’m ready to give the simple life a whirl… Should be interesting.
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Posted by keoco1 22:30 Archived in New Zealand Tagged transportation Comments (3)

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future

semi-overcast 70 °F
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No lie, every single person I’ve talked to about New Zealand raves about how everyone is “sooooo nice.” I thought, hmm, would be lovely if that were true, but hard to stereotype the personality of an entire country. Well, so far, I have not been able to prove anyone wrong. Starting with the customs officer (grew up in Christchurch, went to school in Auckland, Sagittarius, likes long walks on the beach) to the immigration officials who load your bag and take it off the x-ray machine for you…tsa could learn a thing or two from them. So, I arrived in Christchurch at about 12:15 am on Jan 27. I headed over to the information desk for transportation options on getting to my hostel. Options were as follows: 1) Cab $40 - $50 2) Shuttle $20 3) Bus $7.50. Can anyone guess which one I picked? If you guessed option 3, ding ding – you are correct!

Quick side tangent. When I started really getting serious about taking this trip, I was doing a lot of research on the internet and came across a weekly article published in the New York Times called the Frugal Traveler. At first, I thought this kid was living the life and had a lot of worthy penny saving suggestions. But to be honest, lately, I’m feeling like I could totally take him on. For example, one week in Sydney I spent about $225 – and let me tell you, Sydney is no bargain. I feel the endless hours I was forced to spend in TJ Maxx and Marshalls growing up, while my mom scoured the clearance rack (“Kerryn, look, it’s Ralph Lauren $150 marked to 50 cents!” “Yes, Mom, but it’s ugly”) has prepared me well for this trip. Quite possibly the perfect training ground for my current endeavors. Thanks, Mom. I guess the torture was worth it after all. And, frugal Matt, watch your back buddy.

Okay, back on track. So, I get on the bus and the bus driver is this really sweet, gray haired old man. “Oh, yes, the Dorset House. You’ll be off at the first stop, my dear. I’ll give you directions once we get there.” Sure enough, 5 minutes later, “Alright, you’ll get off here for the Dorset House. Just go back to that street we just passed and take your first right.” Sounds easy enough. Alrighty, got my bag and I make my first right turn. Except. Hmmm. That says Dublin street. Not dorset street. Oh, shite. Did that old man (I very quickly dropped the sweet from my inner monologue) hear me incorrectly? Errr. It’s really dark. I have no cell phone. The map I picked up at the airport SUCKS. The street I’m on isn’t even marked. Double shit, is that something in the bushes? Okay, going back to a conversation I had with a guy on Saturday night, “Nothing can kill you in New Zealand. Not people, not animals, not insects. Hospitable land breeds hospitable people. You drop a seed and it grows.” New mantra. Repeat. Over and over. Keep walking, and up ahead, hark, I see dorset street! And the mystery rustling in the bushes pops out – it’s a cat. In my defense, it was a very heavy breather. Alright, so on into the hostel. Really cute little place. I find my key taped to the door and head upstairs. I’m in a room with three other people and all of them are tucked into bed except for one who’s reading in bed with a pen light for illumination. He’s probably 20, got a bit of teen acne, but offers me his pen light to help me find my way. All is good in the hood. I dropped my stuff and used the bathroom then came back in. I found out his name is sean, but couldn’t really get much more out of him. I was a little amped up from the journey and was feeling like I had been transported back to summer camp. I almost rolled over to ask sean if there would be a campfire tomorrow night, but thought better of it.

Alright, up at 830 (first one in the room up – shock). I headed out for a run around the area. I stepped outside and thank Christ(church), it was only about 65 degrees. Yeah! I wouldn’t have to be on high alert for heat stroke. Upon first glance, Christchurch is a cute little city and I stress the word little. After that, I headed back to the hostel to shower and do a bit of laundry. The sunscreen I so lovingly applied for about an hour each morning before stepping outside had become like shellac on my clothes. Add some sweat. Stir and you’ve got a recipe for clothes that were beyond stinky. I had tried to do a bit of laundry in the sink at Claire’s, but I was kind of wimpy about it like Nicole Kidman in Far and Away before they become dirt poor. I hope by the end of this trip to be as expert as she became post-Ireland. We all need something to aspire to. Alright, after that, I headed out to open a bank account. I am now a proud owner of a Kiwi Bank account. Kiwi Bank can’t top the Stagecoach, but who can? Actually, maybe ING direct. Just kidding…kind of. Then to the post office to get an ird number. Since I have a working visa, I have to get a tax id number otherwise I will lose about 95% of what I’m sure will be massive wages to taxes. After that, off to Vodafone for a new sim card. Somehow, I managed to get sold on a 12 month contract and only 30 minutes of domestic voice for $29.95. even as I’m typing this, I’m cringing. But in my defense, all of the plans here are complete crap so i guess I don’t feel too bad. After that on to a late lunch, a grocery store run and walking a bit more around the city.

Tonight will probably find me laying low in the hostel - maybe trying to make attempts at conversation with Sean? I know you’re all jealous. But, I’m beginning a couch surfing stint tomorrow and not sure about the prospects of wifi and have also heard public spots are not readily available. So I’m trying to get in as much research time on the internet as possible. I have it in my head to buy a car. That will most likely be the subject of a future blog. Hopefully not titled “Car buying was a massive failure.” Also want to look for potential job prospects. Not too worried about that one. Quite content being fully retired for a little bit. Alright, if you’re still reading this, congrats on making it to the end!

ps. can you guess which movie today's blog title comes from? i had to reach deep into the trenches of imdb for that one.

Posted by keoco1 20:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Testing

1, 2, 3

sunny 83 °F
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Monday found me out for my second and last run of this trip to Sydney. For all of my stalkers, this is the time when you can bust out your second favorite stalking tool (tripit still stands as the clear winner) in your toolkit: gmap pedometer. I started from Claire’s at Watson Street in Neural Bay and followed Ben Boyd Road until I hit the water and followed that to Blues Point Reserve. I made stops along the way for some pull ups on the monkey bars and dips on park benches (you have trained me well jenn and Sandra!) and then headed back to the apartment. I’ve placed a prediction by the way for most likely way for me, Calamity Jane, to get hurt. Cars. Yes, my new mantra has become “look right then left. Look right then left. Look right then left.” After my run, I showered and headed on the bus back across the bridge to meet Tom to explore Darling Harbor, the Chinese Tea Gardens and the New South Wales Art Museum. Okay, I know a few of you are wondering if this person might happen to be a blond, curly haired surfer. He’s not. Think dreadlocks and Swiss accent. For all others, since my life is quickly becoming an open book, I will fill you in on this story.

I had the great pleasure of being down in la la land over New Year’s. After a $25 thai massage at a joint we found in a strip mall (actually really good and only a little shady), we decided what better way to end the day than with a psychic reading. Obviously. So this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of a psychic. After doing some in depth analysis to decide which psychic to go with (closed my eyes and pointed to a picture) out came the psychic to collect me and my friend. As we were walking down the hall, I started to get a little freaked out. I mean, what if she predicted death or bad fortune for me or my family? The possibilities of all the bad things she could tell me started racing through my mind. I asked myself, “do I really want to do this?” Well, let me save you the suspense, I need not have worried.

Psychic: “Are you changing jobs or getting promoted?”
Me: “Nope”
Psychic: “Hmmm… are you sure.”
Me: “Quite certain.”
Pyschic: “Is there some other kind of change going on in your job?”
Me: I’ll throw her a bone. “Yes, I’m leaving my job.”
Pyschic: “To do what?”
Me: Seriously? Aren’t you supposed to know this stuff? “to travel.”
Psychic: “where?”
Me: Repeat previous thought bubble. “New Zealand.”
Psychic: “okay. I see that you will meet someone. He’s..hmmm… a blond, curly haired surfer.”
Me: wow, you don’t say. You really went out on a limb with that one. “Oh.”
Psychic: “Or. Wait! Or, you might also meet a brown haired, medium build man.”
Me: refuse to even acknowledge this comment.
Psychic: “I’m sorry, you do like men, right? Are you and your friend, umm, together?”

Unfortunately for me, I hit the hookah a little too hard the previous night and had to excuse myself before vomiting all over my delightful psychic and so I missed out on the opportunity to hear any more of what I’m sure were 100% accurate predictions. She did also have the chance to tell me that I might get into veterinary medicine (specifically working with dolphins), become a sports television producer or a writer. As you can probably tell from my wicked wrong grammar, Misused Punctuation! – and massive run on sentences that sports television producer is probably the mostly likely choice among all three of the wonderful choices she has presented me for my future career!!!!....,,,!!
Anyway, after that, headed back on the bus to Neutral Bay where Claire prepared a delightful pizza dinner – homemade pizza dough, sauce and all. An excellent last night in Sydney!

Posted by keoco1 18:17 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Beer and Chocolate = Sunday Funday!

overcast 76 °F
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After sleeping in late (8 am, go me!) and hanging with Claire in the morning while she unsuccessfully tried to explain cricket to me (my fault, not hers) I headed back to Manly Beach for a little fun with some fellow couch surfers. They pretty much had me at beer, but add in chocolate and it’s a no brainer. We met up at Max Brenner’s chocolate shop in the ferry plaza and then made our way to Collins Beach for some rock jumping. Okay, so I will tell you that I was very much looking forward to trying my hand at making a jump, until I saw this right before I left:

http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-au&brand=ninemsn&vid=bf259c1e-04a7-4f56-8ae9-fa1c014f0e79&from=imbot_en-au_general&fg=rss

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJKRVkPAaHk

I really didn’t want to be that girl. I know, I’m a total wimp. Don’t judge. So instead I cheered on the brave ones. A tough job that someone’s got to do. After everyone got in their jumps, we headed to the market for some bbq fixins and then over to shelly beach which is just south of manly beach. On the way over, I was able to provide some entertainment where people took turns describing the shape of the burn on my back. Yep, after my first day at Manly beach, I just wasn’t able to get those hard to reach places on my back and got a uniquely shaped burn on my back. Clearly, my hatred for yoga has come back to bite me, or burn me if you will.

But, it did for a brief moment lead me to my million dollar idea. Imagine, only four days and already I had discovered the invention that would keep me in couchsurfing and hostels for the remainder of my days. Man, was I excited! So, here’s the idea. Creating some kind of portable extension device (think go go gadget arms) that would allow solo travelers to apply sunscreen to their back when no one else is around to help them. As I described this to someone, I was getting pretty excited just thinking of the possibilities. First, I’d have to get a patent for the genius idea obviously and then on to marketing. Until someone said, “you know they sell aerosol sunscreens right? You can just reach around and spray it on your back.” Oh. So we continued with the Rorschach ink blot game. One described it as a bat. Obvious mommy issues. Another described it as angel wings. Definite God complex.

After a short walk, we made it to the beach. I took a swim in the crystal water while on high alert for sharks. I’ve seen one too many episodes during shark week. Then on for some bbq and beers. At some point, a few of us ventured off for a short hike where we found some beautiful ocean views. Pictures never do this stuff justice, but I will try to download and post a couple. After that, back to the beach where someone was doing some fire twirling and then back on the bus for me to Neutral Bay. All in all another fabulous day.

Public Service Announcement for the day: Sign up for couchsurfing and host someone or attend an event. I guarantee you will meet at least one interesting character, hear a cool story or learn something you didn’t know before.

Posted by keoco1 13:08 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Hot in. So hot in herre.

sunny 106 °F
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Saturday morning found me up and at em at the early hour of 630 to get in my first run. I stepped outside to be greeted with a nice and balmy 90 degree morning...eek! Anything over 68 I consider to be a real scorcher. But, I will say this, it's a dry heat. Now, normally I hate when people say that. I mean, hot is hot right? But, it's not the drop 6 pounds of water weight within 2 minutes kind of heat. It's more of the drop only 5 pounds within 2 minutes. big difference.

Alright, so I wound my way over to the Harbour bridge (Claire lives only about a mile and a half north - awesome location) and ventured across. I was able to take in the stunning views and snapped a few shots along the way. I decided to head back toward the Botanic Gardens as I LOVE the area. However, after crossing the bridge I decided a big glass of water was in order first. Stopped in a store and asked for, "a gallon of ice water please." Shockingly, the largest they had was a liter, so I decided that would suffice. With my water in hand, I continued on my way winding through the Botanic Gardens, past the Art Gallery of New South Wales and finally out to St. James Park. Feeling slightly exhausted from the heat, I decided to take refuge in a place which has not seen the likes of me in quite sometime...a church. I went in to St. Mary's and took a swill of my refreshing 95 degree water. After thanking God for getting me to Sydney, I also asked if maybe he would mind helping me to not pass out. Now, many of you have had the unique privilege of peeling me off the floor after one of my fainting spells. While I'm sure the people of Sydney would love the same opportunity, I feel it's really only something that I like to bestow on loved ones. So the people will have to wait...hopefully.

Alright, on to the grocery store where i found sliced cantaloupe that was "priced to clear." Sold. I took that and a yogurt back with me to Hyde Park and relaxed for a bit in the shade. After a little relaxation time (and trying to figure out if the taste of the cantaloupe was a little off), I did some more exploring and then headed back across the bridge toward Neutral Bay. After a bit of a snooze, I ventured back across the bridge (on the bus this time) to meet up with some other couch surfers at a free symphony in the park. The Sydney Festival is happening at the moment which is 3 weeks of art, music and family events happening throughout the city. I was a little weary about going as there were massive rainstorms going on just an hour before, but it turned out to be an amazingly beautiful night (cooled down to about 75 - woohoo!) The concert and company were a lot of fun and it was great hearing stories from so many fellow travelers. Definitely a unique bunch. I met someone who has plans to walk from Washington state all the way down to the tip of South America and then back... no lie. But everyone that I talked to absolutely raves about New Zealand. One person described it as Lake Tahoe, Alaska and Hawaii all rolled into one. Hello, heaven. Alright, until next time my friends.
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Posted by keoco1 13:05 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Running out of witty headlines already...

sunny 100 °F
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Here I sit in Neutral Bay with all limbs (and orifices, Scott) intact. Three cheers for that. I made it here at about 9 p.m. last night (pretty proud of myself for not succumbing to jet lag throughout the day and cozying up on the nearest park bench.) I met my host, Claire, who is a nice, unassuming gal. After a hot shower and a bit of a chat, I headed to bed around 10:30. Managed to sleep through most of the night and now I’m fresh and ready to go. I’m going to do some wandering today and Claire recommends checking out Bondi beach so that I can do the full beach comparison. I’m really looking forward to getting a run in, hopefully tomorrow. She is out of the house at 830 and not back until 630 so the prospect of walking around sweaty, post-run all day in 90 degree temps is not a pleasant one, even for me. Tonight we’re planning to grab dinner and then see a bit more of Sydney this weekend.

Just a few unrelated things. I am LOVING my notebook (pen and paper) and netbook. I think I’d forgotten how much I enjoy putting thoughts on paper, but the last few days have been a great chance to rediscover it. Actually having time to write feels amazing. When I was working full time, it felt like the days just went by in a blur and it’s so nice having a chance to slow things down and enjoy the time. Granted, it’s been 3 days. I could very well be singing a different tune tomorrow.

Also, I was just downloading a few pictures from yesterday and want to give a shout out to Chickoo for the new camera. Love it! Over the last month, I’ve gotten cards, letters, emails, voicemails, phone calls, lunches, dinners, coffee dates, cocktails and gifts from so many of my wonderful friends and family. While I left for my trip with my pants quite a bit tighter (yeah for spandex!) I am one incredibly lucky girl to have so many loving people in my life.

Okay, same day, different location than previous paragraphs. This morning I took the bus into CBD (central business district) and walked around for a bit then headed over to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I will openly admit to being a total and utter disaster when it comes to art, especially modern art. I often think of the Emperor’s New Clothes when I make museum visits. Rather than speeding through and not really getting anything, I decided to attend a docent tour which happened to be starting just as I arrived. And lucky me, I was the only one! My very own private tour with a sweet woman named, Antoinette. After the museum I headed over to pick up lunch at the grocery store (already way over my $10 budget for the day, but I’m telling myself it’s the thought that counts.)Btw – Mikey, they round up to the nearest nickel in Australia. No pennies – you need to make a visit for that reason alone! I am now writing from the Botanical Gardens. It’s just past the opera house and wraps around the harbor. I’ve parked myself under a tree and after finishing this, will take some time to crack open my book, lay out on the grass and enjoy the warmth, tranquility and beauty of the area. I’ve often thought that my dream vacation would involve a morning workout and then a full day of reading. Boring to most, but absolute heaven in my mind. Plus I’m already trying to figure out what I can dump from my bag and books do take up precious cargo. Here’s to hoping The Fountainhead will be a quick read. you can add delusional to my list of personal attributes.

Current song obsession: Broadripple is burning by Margot and the nuclear so & sos.
My ipod is looking for new music. Shoot me an email if you have any suggestions.

ps. this blog has a drop down where you can describe the weather and select the temp. choices are sunny, over-cast, semi-overcast, raining, storming, snowing, all seasons in one day. i would officially like to add "hot as balls" to the list.

Posted by keoco1 18:10 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Adventures in public transit

sunny 80 °F
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Trains, planes, ferries and buses. While I didn’t manage to sneak in an automobile to today’s transportation list, I did have my first ride on the public bus.

Over the course of the last several months, I’ve been saving up good bus karma knowing that at some point (probably multiple points, let’s be honest) I will need to play the lost tourist and hope that someone will take pity on me. Luckily, in SF, I was on the all-time best bus line for helping to build my good karma reserves. Many a morning was spent in a dead sprint to catch the 28 at the Golden Gate bridge, only to watch the driver shut the doors and drive off five feet before I got there (I’m convinced this was their early morning entertainment.) But, all was not lost because it provided lots of time for helping wayward travelers on how to get to their next destination. So, I think Sydney will prove to be a city where I might cash in a little. A few confusing points on the Sydney bus system. There’s no posted fare, so you don’t know how much to pay until you get on and tell the driver where you’re going. There’s no bus signage at the stops, so unless you know the streets, you don’t know where you are. And to top it off, they don’t have any verbal or visual announcements on the bus about what stop they’re at. Good times! Although I think public transit adventures are my favorite kind so this could work in my favor. Anyway, through a stroke of pure luck, I managed to figure out which stop to get off at. Off to find my couch…

Posted by keoco1 18:09 Archived in Australia Tagged bus Comments (0)

Put another shrimp on the barbie

sunny 80 °F
View Where in the world is Kerryn O'Connor? on keoco1's travel map.

G’day, mates! Day 1 in Sydney! I arrived in Sydney right on time at about 8:15 am local time on January 21. The flight was uneventful and I was able to squeak out a few hours of sleep, but really felt so amped up that I couldn’t get much more than that. So like any long haul flight, I watched some crappy movies (Love happens – bad!), ate some crappy food and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the overnight flight. When I arrived to the airport, I made it through customs quickly and ventured forth to figure out how I would make my way into the city. After a cursory glance, the train won out and I decided to take it to one of Sydney’s beloved landmarks, the Opera House. I walked around for a bit and in the process of doing so, was almost crushed by a rush of people heading toward the manly ferry all decked out in bikinis and flip flops. I was wearing jeans, sneakers and a hoodie… in 80 degree weather. Something was very wrong with that picture. It needed be remedied immediately. So I decided to follow the cool kids onto the ferry to manly. It was a beautiful ride through the Sydney harbor which is truly gorgeous. Actually, before I go any further, I have to say that I fully believe San Francisco is one of, if not, the best cities in the world. I LOVE it. But, i will say, that Sydney isn’t too shabby either. Plus the whole not freezing your arse off while taking a ferry is also a pleasant change of pace.

Anyway, I arrived at manly and found a spot to dump my bag and hijacked a bathroom stall to change into my bathing suit and sundress. I made my way to the drugstore to stock up on sunscreen to protect my virgin skin. Then got to the beach and found a nice little spot for myself. I had a moment’s hesitation as I thought of all the poor aussie folks in my area who would surely be blinded the moment I took off my dress. I expected to hear screeches of pain, but to my great relief, I lifted the dress over my head and heard…nothing. Yeah! I guess most people were wearing sunglasses so it worked out. anyway, hung out at the beach for a while then decided better not to tempt the sun gods with the chance to leave some sweet burn marks on my first day. Better to leave that for the second day.

Then on to a late lunch. Okay, so I’ve decided (kind of, in theory) to live on a $10 per day diet. I figure I’m not sure how long this little venture might last, but better to have the option to stay longer if I want to. But running out of money would sure put a damper on that. So, I’ve concocted the idea of only spending $10 per day or less on food. Genius, right? So far, not going amazingly well. I think it may be a slow transition. Kind of have to get used to living college style again. I might start slow with things like personal hygiene. i.e. no waxing (hello, hairy American girl), haircuts, massages, etc. Eek, even as I’m typing out this list it’s making me sad. But I did forgo a restaurant meal in favor of checking out the local grocery store. After exploring a bit more, I found a coffee shop with free wi-fi and here I am! Well, hello.

So, as some of you know, I will be couch surfing this week in Sydney. If you don’t know what it is and are prone to panic attacks, don’t google it. But my host will be home at 9 tonight so I am eagerly awaiting the hour when I can go over, get acquainted and hopefully take a nice hot shower to wash off the grime of the plane, sunscreen and sand. Delicious combination. For those of you that went against my advice and googled couchsurfing, fear not. I signed up for this fabulous service called tripit. I like to think of it as the ultimate stalking tool. As a matter of fact, I think that could be their tagline. Simple. Catchy. I like it. Anyway, all of my info is entered in the tripit system, so should anything go wrong, my sister and mom (if they actually figure out how to access my itineraries) will know where I am. As I said, expecting anything and prepared for everything. Alright, I am off to continue exploring the area!
Manly_Beach__3_.jpgSydney_Ope..use_001.jpg

Posted by keoco1 17:38 Archived in Australia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

We have liftoff...

rain 60 °F

Happy, happy, joy, joy! Made it on the Tuesday night flight. I had already put in the call to my sister to come pick me up, when low and behold, “Passenger O’Connor, please come to the podium." Oh, my! I highly recommend everyone fly standby. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but when you actually get on – pure elation. I shouldn’t have doubted my instincts though. Even though I was informed by the United customer service reps during my multiple calls throughout the day that it was not looking good at all (5 seats open – 30 people in standby with me falling at lowly number 26), I had reason to believe otherwise. Okay, so I have this VERY weird story about how God spoke to me one time in church and then I ended up winning the lottery. True story which I will tell with much more flare for anyone who’s interested. But for the sake of not sounding like a crazy lady, I’m just going to keep it at that. So, during a Tuesday outing to my all time favorite store, Trader Joe’s, with my mom, I got my first sign from Him since that last fateful day. After a particularly riveting conversation about the merits of Trader Joe’s greek yogurt versus Fage greek yogurt, I begged the big guy to please save me from another day of torture, I mean, err, bonding with Mom. Sure enough, on the way out of the store, I heard a familiar jingle. Faint at first, but then the sound became more clear. “I come from the land down under. Where women glow and men plunder…” Done and done. Thank you, God! While I’m sure starting a blog about shit my mother says would have been fascinating, I still had slightly higher hopes.

So now I sit on the plane, still incredibly excited for whatever is about to happen. I’m expecting anything and prepared for everything. Case in point, I have been vaccinated for everything under the sun. Truly. Yellow fever, polio, h1n1, tetanus, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, meningitis. I went to the travel clinic in SF and they also want me to get rabies when I arrive in New Zealand. Something to look forward to! But basically, I have a one way ticket to New Zealand (with a week long detour in Sydney). A “friend with a couch” is putting me up in Sydney while I’m there. Then on to Christchurch where I have one night in a hostel booked and then will try to figure out my next move from there. I have no idea if I’ll stay in certain areas/cities/countries for long stretches of time or bee bop around. But, a few friends have talked about coming for a visit in April so I have promised to be in NZ at least until then if they book their tickets (hint, hint ladies.) And I would like to issue an open invitation to anyone else that wants to come over to hang out with moi. I can actually promise a good time. Seriously. I have references. Other than that, I have a working visa in New Zealand so I will probably try to pick up odd jobs (hopefully in the truest sense of the word) along the way. I will try to keep you all updated on the happenings.

Ps. If this blog is a) really boring b) giving waaay too much info c) not enough info d) any other possible combination, just give a holler. I am again putting out the disclaimer that I’m not really a blogger. Reader or writer. So, not sure exactly how these are supposed to go. Questions, comments, suggestions welcome!
Peace.

Posted by keoco1 21:47 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Chillin at SFO

rain 60 °F

Soy underwear. Yes, for some weird reason as I sit here at the airport waiting to hopefully board my flight to Sydney the thought running through my head right now is how insanely excited I am about my recent soy underwear purchase. I like to pride myself on being immune to marketing, but during a recent stop at Sports Basement, I got sucked in by the large sign that read: "1 pair of underwear. 17 countries. 6 months." For those of you cringing right now: fear not. I did not fully succumb and walked away with a few more pairs than they recommended. But given that I've got a carryon as my sole travel accessory, space is at a premium hence the great joy in finding this miraculous underwear.

Wow, so far this blog is action packed! Soy underwear. You're probably reading this, sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what I'll talk about next. The color of the sky, how many times a day I floss or something equally scintillating. I will admit I am new to blogging and I'm not totally sure I'll get too into it. But, I've been asked by everyone and their mother to keep them up to date on my travels and what is happening. So, I give you a warm welcome to the inner workings of Kerryn.

Alright, here's the blow by blow. I'm sitting at the airport keeping my fingers crossed I'll get on the flight to Sydney tonight. Beyond the soy underwear, I'm drinking in the incredible fact that I will have no responsibility or commitment probably for the first time since I was in the womb. I've been asked by almost everyone if I'm nervous. I've been waiting for the nerves to hit, but honestly feeling nothing but total and utter excitement and joy at having this opportunity. I can literally do anything I want to do. How cool is that? Anything or anybody that strikes my fancy is fair game. I have no idea where this will take me. Who I'll meet. What I'll do. But it's going to be crazy fun figuring it all out.

I've also been getting a lot of advice from my wonderful friends and family over the last couple of months as I've been preparing. I'm going to recount a few of my favorite tidbits. So, there's a big music festival in New Zealand and Australia called Big Day Out. I was trying to time my trip around it as I thought it would be a fun first outing in NZ. When I told my mom about this she responded by saying (again, imagining the thickest Boston accent you can muster), "Oh, great. Are you going to come back some bongo beating hippie with dreadlocks? Don't get into weird rock and roll stuff." Obviously, anyone who goes to a music festival is a hippie, right? Next from my sister, Brenna: "Don't do drugs. Seriously, I saw a special on the discovery channel and foreign jails are scary." Now crossing heroine off of my to do list. And one of my favorites from my friend, Kimberly. "You can keep having fun, but, ummm, yah, just want to give you the heads up that Australia and NZ are the STD capitals of the world." Good advice. Developing some weird rash in the land down under (I never met a pun I didn't like) would probably put a serious damper on my trip. So, I am journeying into the world with three basic rules: No sex. No drugs. No rock and roll. Or not...

Let's see what else. I've been asked if I'll miss anything, what I'll miss the most or some variation along those lines. I guess you can never fully say until you're gone, but right now the only thing I'm sad to leave behind are my nieces and nephews. Thanks to my truly amazing, wonderful and (fill in the blank for some equally positive adjective) sister, Kealy and brother-in-law, Michael, I've been living with the little munchkins for over 3 months and will miss the chaos, temper tantrums, laughing, singing, dancing and hilarity that ensues on a daily basis. I seriously don't think I slept a morning past 7 am since I moved in with them. Even during the week they spent in Tahoe after Christmas, I still woke up alert waiting for one of them to come bursting into my room asking me to play, help them get dressed, make breakfast, put a misbehaving sibling into timeout or have an early morning dance party. But not hearing Catherine and Madpie creep into my room every morning checking to see if I'm awake and then "whispering" to each other about their predictions for when Auntie Tebby will awake from her slumber will undoubtedly be the thing I miss the most. Although I taught Catherine how to use skype to keep in touch. I've been getting nightly calls from the living room to my bedroom so she can practice. Seriously don't want to brag, but a 3 year old using skype? She is one smart little bug. Okay, if anyone is still reading this (and I'm assuming you had to brew a pot of coffee by this point), is there a word limit on blog entries or is it all fair game? I could probably keep going for a while, but I will spare you all and check back in later. Later.

Posted by keoco1 20:48 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Welcome to adventures in...

rain 60 °F

San Francisco! That’s right – I am still soaking (pun intended) in my last days in the city by the bay. When I first planned to do this trip, I decided that flying standby would add to the adventurous aspect of my travels (and I’ll be honest the seriously discounted fare and prospect of a free business class upgrade may have had something to do with it) and so here I sit in this great city, waiting for the United gods to smile upon me.

Within only two days, I have officially decided that becoming a lady of leisure is probably not my calling in life. But, as my sister-in-law, Jennifer, said, it’s kind of like when you’re pregnant and past your due date. Now, stick with me on this one because while I’ve never been pregnant and can’t say for sure what that’s like, it seemed to make pretty good sense. Basically, by the time you hit your due date (my first possible departure date was January 18), you’ve mentally prepared yourself for the experience. You’re ready. No matter what’s to come, you’ve had months to prepare yourself. It’s go time. Then, the big day comes and nothing happens. A little bit of a letdown. All that build up for nothing. You don’t really want to make plans because it could happen at any minute. We didn’t get to the part about what happens when the baby just won’t come and you have to be induced. Not sure what the equivalent would be from my perspective. Maybe sucking it up and buying the ticket? That would certainly be pleasure and pain wrapped up in one nice little package. Moving on while I try to shake the mental imagery from my head…

To my great surprise, my mom arrived from Boston on Monday when she decided she just could not let her baby leave without seeing her just one last time. I would venture to guess that January 15, 2010 will go down as a great day in history for Mom. Why you ask? That’s the day I officially stopped working to enter early retirement. Now, for the average parent, gainful employment for their children is a basic point of pride. But Mom’s dream retirement may supersede this. Over the last couple of years, I’ve asked her, “what do you want to do in your retirement?” “Spend time with my girls.” Wish: granted. I’m a giver. What can I say? When I picked her up at the airport on Monday and I told her flights weren’t looking good this week, I haven’t seen a look of such unadulterated joy since…well, hmm, never.

I wasn’t planning to start my blog until my travels started, if ever, but all of a sudden I have a pretty serious amount of time on my hands. And as mentioned above, I am spending ALL day with my mother. Instead of laying on a beach. Bathing in the warmth of the sun and adventures of a new city. Nope, this is so much better. Really. Really. Moving on…

Recently, I’ve seen a few different friends on facebook that have become fans of “Shit my dad says.” While I have not had a chance to check it out (although I probably should before I try to rip off their idea,) I think I’m going to spend my time in limbo chronicling shit my mom says. And the shit she says comes complete with the best Boston accent you could imagine. Seriously, imitating my mom has provided my sisters, our friends and me with HOURS of endless entertainment. Okay, so here’s my fave one liner from today. We’re driving past the civic center area on our way home from dropping the monkeys (nieces and nephew – Catherine, Madeline and Connor)off at school when my mom says:
“I thought we were going to stop at Symphony Hall to try to get tickets for Yo-Yo Ma on Wednesday.”
Me: “Oh, sorry, I thought you were going down there later on to check on that.”
Mom: “You’re as que-ah as a three doll-ah bill. Why would I do that?”
Me: “Errrr. Not even sure how to respond to that.”

Hopefully I can get one blog-worthy line per day. That would be the dream.

Posted by keoco1 20:05 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (3)

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