Thursday, February 28, 2008

our alpine hike

god took everything beautiful & dramatic and placed it along one beautiful hike, called Rob Roy Glacier Hike. this explains why joe and i have jelly-like legs today. we worked hard yesterday, and loved every minute! joe must have gotten tired of hearing me saying over and over, "this is so pretty!" i'll admit, i said it a lot. this hike was incredible. it starts in the prettiest alpine meadows, and then across this scary bridge... around some winding paths that run just beside a crystal blue roaring river. the long path drops you off at the foot of an enormous glacier. it was some of the most concentrated beauty i've ever seen. i thought of all my hiker friends and family back at home. as most of you know, joe and i aren't big hikers... but yesterday you would have been so proud of us, we hiked our hearts out!

pay up folks

he did it. for reals, he really did it. joey maertz was the last person on wednesday evening to jump off the original bungy bridge! joe was all smiles! the only nervous person was me. i was shaking and so scared!! joe stepped onto the plank with a big smile and began rallying cheers from the crowd. joe was in the spot light, and he gave the everyone a good show! at the end of the big "3-2-1" countdown, joe leaped into the air, and took a dive to the bottom of the gorge!! the bungy guys did a good trick on him too... they gave him a little surprise dip into the river below! when it was all said and done, i asked him how it was. his first response, "where's my t-shirt?" (you get a free t-shirt when you jump). he proudly wore his new t-shirt the rest of the day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

we're good at camping

Well, we try at least. Four nights in the campervan down, eight to go! Our wheels have taken us from Christchurch past Mt Cook through Queenstown to Te Anau and Milford Sound, and now back to Queenstown again. Campervan rules--as far as we know--are that you can park and sleep anywhere out of town so long as there's no sign telling you that you can't. The results, after a stormy first night, look like the view above, and we awoke to clear views of Mt Cook from the south shore of Lake Pukaki.

Queenstown is charming. It's also very touristy. We like it, though, so we're back. When it comes to experiencing the place, you have two options: You can spend hundreds of dollars to eat, sleep, drink, boat down a river, ride a gondola, bungy jump, and use the internet, or you can do what we try to do by living on spaghetti out of the back of a van, skipping the speed boats, hiking an hour up to where the gondola would take you in three minutes, being bungy jumping enthusiasts (by jealously watching), and finding the only free wi-fi in town at the local ice cream joint. We're still suckers, though, and New Zealand is fairly expensive, so we've spent some cash. Should we just go for it? Are we missing out?

Te Anau and Milford Sound were beautiful and wet. We did fork over $30 in Te Anau for a spot at what's called a "holiday park". We were lured in by the guaranteed place to sleep, the showers, etc. They got us at Milford Sound too when we paid probably too much for a two hour cruise around the fiord. Wanida got sprayed and soaked by a waterfall!

New pics are up, so enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2008

let the shearing begin

our kiwi friend, warren the goat shearer, told us what to do and we did it. it's not easy and it's nothing close to clean. but adventurous and great fun? absolutely. it took about 3 hours, but we're proud to say that 38 goats are clean shaven and roaming happily around a new zealand farm. we're off... off to pick up our campervan! it's a hotel, kitchen and car all in one. we're saying goodbye to christchurch and headed south to queenstown today. joe's talking crazy bungy jumping, i'm saying he won't do it, because i did, now he probably will. love you all, we love your comments, means a lot.

gardens and goats in christchurch

this was great day. we roamed this charming town, and loved every corner. most of the day was simple discovery: a cafe, a bookstore, a museum, a beautiful garden and for just a few moments, a little sunshine. the highlight of today came in the evening, back on the farm. greg, our wonderful host, asked us to herd in the goats. he explained very carefully how to properly accomplish this task, i (w) heard nothing. during the whole explanation, i just envisioned myself running (frolicking, really) through the field, calling and chasing after the goats, in a graceful yet run-a-muck sort of way. so i did just that, and the goats did not like me. turns out his whole explanation entailed words like "calm, easy, slow and no big movements." missed that. it took a little more time, but the goats made their way. here's my favorite part... our host asked joe to pierce tags into the ears of the little baby goats. it was a sad moment when joe didn't clamp down hard enough, and the little goat would have to go through the whole piercing thing twice. what an amazing experience. stay tuned, the shearing comes tomorrow. p.s. a little bad news: we did our first load of laundry tonight. joe's favorite shirt is now pink, bright pink. look for it in future photos, i don't think he can handle tossing it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

down under!

L.A. traffic (thanks again Sam and Anj), three flights, two long layovers (Fiji and Auckland), and 24+ hours later--New Zealand is a breath of fresh air. We're here in Christchurch!

Departure did get emotional; we spent a few months preparing for what was just a pencil and paper plan until we actually lifted off from LAX on Tuesday night, so the weight of leaving finally pulled on us. We also shared some laughs as we pondered the question, "Now what?" It's true that with this trip come our own expectations for experience, so there's this sense that we immediately needed to accomplish something. Maybe the point, though, is that "now" is "what"--each moment is a gift from God. This is what we want to be doing. This is where we want to be. :)

Christchurch is our base for one more night. We're being hosted by the MacRae family at their warm and welcoming home, and they've been wonderful. Besides taking care of us, they take care of many a goat, and the two of us have been recruited to pitch in and help shear all 30-some of them tomorrow (Saturday) morning! Stay tuned, huh?

So far NZ has charmed us from the start (with a welcome at the airport of free tea and coffee). Tomorrow afternoon we hit the road--the left side of the road--to see the rest of the country.